Winter 2014

Anne Cong-Huyen

“Asian Migration and Global Cities”
Asian American Studies 191E Seminar in Transnationalism and Diasporas

This intensive, student-centered, multi-modal seminar will take the “global city” as its starting point, primarily Los Angeles, Dubai, and Ho Chi Minh City. Alternatively known as the alpha-city, world city, or mega city, we will examine the global city as the site of Asian migration, labor, and cultural production. Such cities are broadly defined by their networked connectivity, industries, capital, large populations, in-migration, and so forth. Students will be asked to actively engage with the defining and reworking of the these terms within an Asian Pacific framework, decentering the supremacy of the West or Hemispheric North, which have long boasted the top tanked global cities by such sites as Foreign Policy, Forbes, or A.T. Kearney and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. This interdisciplinary course will draw from urban studies, sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies. Students will be engaging with critical scholarship as well as primary cultural texts ranging from literature, film, new media, and contemporary art. Each mode of scholarship and production will inform the others, and students must be prepared to actively contribute to and maintain an online class community that will directly inform classroom activities. By the end of the course, students will also be expected to produce a detailed case study of one global city and its Asian and ethnic migrants and populace.

Tentative Course Schedule:

(Students will have 1 short paper-length blog post due over the course of the class, and blog responses due each week. Original blog post will also include presentation and leading of class discussion)

Week 1-Introductions: Introduction to existing scholarship on global cities, course policies, establishing presentation schedule

Week 2-Problematizing the Global City: Review of scholarship and destabilizing the concept. Selected readings by Saskia Sassen, Manuel Castells, Henri Lefebvre, Arif Dirlik, Mike Douglass, Gayatri Spivak, Kuan-Hsing Chen, Jini Kim Watson

Week 3-Mediated Los Angeles –Western city as Asian Pacific City

Archival footage of Asian migration to LA official city websites and publications, excerpts/trailers of films: Little Tokyo, USA (1942), Chinatown (1974), Blade Runner (1982), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), episode of No Reservations. Literary excerpts. LA Times “Literary L.A.”

Drafts of Project Proposals/Pitches Due (hard copy to instructor)

Week 4-(Re)Mediated Los Angeles – Selected readings by Reynard Banham, Mike Davis, Edward Soja, Jean Baudrillard, David Fine

Week 5-Revised Project Proposals/Pitches Due (presented in class and posted to site)

Class review and feedback of project proposals. Collaborative rubric production.

Week 6-Mediated Dubai – Post-colonial, neoliberal capitalist playground, new Arab-Asian urbanism. Archival footage, official city websites and publications, newspaper reports, Flight Paths by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph, excerpts of films: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), Dubai: City of Dreams (2010), City of Life (2009), episode of No Reservations Literary excerpts.

Week 7-(Re)Mediated Dubai – Selected readings by Mike Davis, Ahmed Kanna,

Week 8-Mediated Ho Chi Minh City – Post-colonial, Post-socialist, Asian tiger cub

Archival footage, official city websites and publications, excerpts from Cyclo (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Bay Rong/Clash (2009), Lost in Paradise (2011), Episode of No Reservations, literary selections including Love like Hate by Linh Dinh, Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham

Week 9-(Re)Mediated Ho Chi Minh City – Selected Readings by Erik Harms, Bill Hayton, Nguyen-vo Thu Huoung

Week 10-Presentations and peer evaluation of Final Projects (Peer grades will be averaged with instructor grade)


Chase Smith

“Women Authors and the Postcolonial Americas”
English 132

This course explores twentieth-century literature about the postcolonial Americas by women authors. We will analyze how these authors represent legacies and ongoing forms of colonialism in different parts of the Americas, broadly conceived, including the United States and Latin America. Our focus will be especially on issues of gender, feminism, racial identity and national belonging, as thematized and theorized in our selected literary works. Authors may include Jean Rhys, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Julia Alvarez, among others.


Alvin Wong

“Queer Asia”
Comparative Literature 191/LGBT Studies 187

“Queer Asia” is an interdisciplinary course that explores queer cultures in various regions in Asia that emerged either before, coeval with, or after the sexual liberation of the late 1960s in the modern West. When queerness and non-heteronormative desires are re-envisioned outside of the developmental teleology of Western modernity, the possibilities also serve as provocations for the following questions: what is the relationship between local modes of capitalism that enable “gay” identities vis-à-vis global capitalism? What if the “homosexuality as cultural imperialism” thesis is re-examined under the rubric of Japanese imperialism? How do queers without formal legal rights and liberal “freedom” imagine other modes of survival in places like China, Hong Kong, and Singapore? And how do queer global cultures travel through Inter-Asian routes?