December 2, 2016
Call for Papers - Building Asian American Studies in Polycultural New York City

Symposium Date – Friday, March 10, 2017

Symposium Location – BMCC Express (255 Greenwich St., NYC),

CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College


Keynote Speakers – Premilla Nadasen, Associate Professor of History, Barnard College, and Eric Tang, Associate Professor of African & African Diaspora Studies, Univ. of Texas, Austin


This symposium is part of a year-long, NEH-funded program focused on expanding and supporting the teaching of Asian American Studies in community college classrooms across the humanities, hosted by the Center for Ethnic Studies at CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College.


The symposium is an opportunity for faculty to share their research within the context of a critical Asian American Studies. We invite presentations that are grounded in the diversity of our local communities in New York City and thus cultivate what historian Robin D. G. Kelley calls a “polycultural” framework, or one that recognizes the interrelationships across different cultures that are neither fixed nor discrete.


A polycultural approach to Asian American Studies enables us to engage contemporary multiracial/multiethnic relationships in spaces that have traditionally been understood as ethnic enclaves. For example, a polycultural reading of Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood looks beyond its Chinatown to see the convergences and divergences between working-class Asian and Latino communities facing displacement in the context of urban development. This framing allows us to see Jackson Heights, Queens, not simply as a “Little India” but a site in which Latino, Muslim, LGBTQ, and new South Asian Nepali and Bangladeshi communities are differently affected by post-9/11 surveillance and policing. A polycultural approach helps us to attend to sites that are not associated with Asian American communities, such as the Bronx, where Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees build neighborhood resources with and alongside Black communities. We can also see racial/ethnic and religious dynamics within Asian American communities, for example, by looking to neighborhoods like Richmond Hill, Queens, home to the largest concentrations of both Indo-Caribbean and Sikh communities in New York City.


In highlighting scholarship about the dynamic and complex experiences of Asian Americans in New York City, especially the cultures of new, diasporic, and/or refugee immigrant communities, we hope this symposium will contribute to the building of a critical Asian American Studies that is always locally resonant and polycultural.


Submission Details


Presentations will be 10 minutes long and can be individual or collaborative. We especially welcome works-in-progress and creative or nontraditional academic presentations.  Community college faculty and contingent faculty, including but not limited to adjuncts and visiting faculty, are encouraged to submit.  We also welcome submissions from independent scholars, artists, and community-based researchers.


Please email your abstract (max. 250 words) and brief bio or CV (max. 500 words) to by Monday, December 19. Decisions will be sent by mid-January 2017.


Please email with any questions or concerns.





Asian American / Asian Research Institute 2016

25 West 43rd Street, Room 1000, New York, NY 10036   
Phone: 212-869-0182 / 0187   
Fax: 212-869-0181 | E-mail: