Research Projects

My research focuses on the strategic uses of remembering via the preservation of artifacts and participation in cultural activities among diasporic Asian communities in the United States and Southeast Asia. It addresses the interrelated physical and material, emotional and intellectual, and intimate and public processes of creating archives in ethnic communities, social organizations, and kinship groups. I am especially interested in how collective remembering within these communal circles reimages self-identities, group affiliations, and personal and public traumas. I explore how these communities manage and negotiate affect (i.e., feelings and emotions) when engaging in memory-keeping practices.  

 

The communities I have engaged include cultural heritage organizations, faith-based organizations, collegiate social groups, and family-owned food businesses. I collect oral histories, conduct ethnographic fieldwork as part of my research methods, and use primary source materials in institutional archives and special collections. 

The Chinatown Library Digital Archive Project

Developments in digital technologies are making it more possible for previously neglected and buried communities to document themselves, allowing diverse peoples to rediscover and reclaim their identities and experiences. These peoples and their communities act as agents in creating, collecting, preserving, and disseminating their historical and cultural narratives. Their participation in these archives projects not only reimagines the stories about their communities but also reshapes how these stories are captured and collected.

     How the stories are collected in archives are reconceptualized with digital media technologies. These technologies serve underrepresented communities and their aspirational desires to define themselves: their histories, identities, and experiences. Community archives are participatory practices; they build communities' capacities by creating solidarity and collaboration when people document, collect and preserve their histories and experiences. In archiving processes, people of color rediscover their past, renew their present, and inspire another future.  

     The Chinatown Library Digital Archive Project demonstrates how a community-based organization uses new technologies to produce information resources that give "voice" and make "visible" the early history of the Chinatown Public Library in Downtown Los Angeles.  

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Asian Greek Sisterhoods: Archives, Affects, and Belongings in Asian American Sororities

Asian Greek Sisterhoods: Archives, Affects, and Belongings in Asian American Sororities, 1929-2015, examines the kinds of archives produced by Asian American women in single-gender social organizations or Asian Greek-letter sororities, reconceiving them as transformative acts of affects: embodied memory-keeping practices that transmit knowledge, traditions, cultural practices, and social customs as collective identities and communal histories across time and space, among different, diverse groups of ethnic-Asian women from one generation to the next. Archives reconceived as the transformative acts and participatory memory-keeping practices in Asian American women sorority groups demonstrate collective and individual identities in complex, crafted social communities.

           The affective archives of the Asian American sisterhoods of Chi Alpha Delta and Theta Kappa Phi complicate the conventional understanding of the archives and memory-keeping projects of marginalized and disenfranchised communities of color in the United States. Their archives of affects and affection revise remembering as the recuperative practices motivated by the anxieties of personal and collective forgetting and loss. Furthermore, their archives of sisterhood are also the embodied performances of collective memories that celebrate identities, social culture, and shared histories and experiences.

          Asian Greek Sisterhoods is an ethnography study. It includes thirty-three in-depth, semi-structured oral history interviews conducted in 2013 of the active members and alumnae of Chi Alpha Delta and Theta Kappa Phi, the two historically Asian American sororities established at the University of California, Los Angeles. Chi Alpha Delta was founded in 1929, and Theta Kappa Phi in 1959.

Table of Contents

List of Figures viii

List of Tables x

Glossary of Terms xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Biographical Sketch xv

Chapter 1  Asian Greek Sisterhoods: An Introduction  1

Chapter 2  The Makings of Sisterhood: Chis and Thetas  41

Chapter 3  Crafting Sisterhood  84

Chapter 4  Serving Up Sisterhood: Contemporary Chi Cooking  123

Chapter 5  Succeeding Archives, Exceeding Belongings: A Conclusion  156

Bibliography  192