newsletter fall 2012 v.1 / i.2 - Chao Center for Asian Studies - Rice ...

newsletter fall 2012 v.1 / i.2 - Chao Center for Asian Studies - Rice ...



V.1 / I.2


This spring we sharpened the Chao Center’s focus on media. Already a key element of the Center’s profile, the

digital media will play an increasingly important role in how we distinguish CCAS from other elite Asian Studies centers. We

already host two mature research databases and this spring we took a step into the future. Anne Chao, Hilde De Weerdt

(King’s College, London) and Judith Pfeiffer (University of Oxford), with the support of the CCAS and Rice University’s Humanities

Research Center, invited scholars to teach faculty and students basic skills including TEI-Markup, Historical GIS and

Network theory. These techniques do transform how researchers gather new kinds of data. But they also generate new

scholarly questions and provide new answers to old ones.

The Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA) is one of our signature archives, and HAAA enables us to reach

beyond the hedges to constituencies we would never otherwise seek. Also, to leverage growing expertise in data collecting,

data mapping, data archiving we have also initiated a Asian Studies-Sociology cross-listed course in qualitative field

research. This coordinates HAAA with the Asian American Survey conducted at the Kinder Institute, raising the quality of

our data base and material to professional levels. Director Stephen L. Klineberg has supported our efforts to improve the

quality of our interviews and to maximize their usefulness to his quantitative project, Diversity and Transformation Among

Asians in Houston: Findings from the Kinder Institute’s Houston Area Asian Survey (1995, 2002, 2011).

We graduated eighteen Asian Studies majors this year, a 50% increase in our numbers. It is more than we had

expected, and although it does not yet signal an end to our efforts to raise the number of majors, it is a hopeful sign of

expanding student interest. The number of students taking Asian Studies classes continues to rise, and we expect it easily

to exceed the 50% mark by the end of 2013.

Titles2, our annual Indian film festival, brought another constituency to the Center. Curator Ratheesh Radhakrishnan

(Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay) focused on experimental Indian films this year, and each film brought in a

different ethnic group of Indians as well as avid film buffs. Three Indian American newspapers carried articles about the

festival and the Rice student newspaper, The Thresher, featured it on the front page. To stabilize Titles, the CCAS has begun

to create a Titles3support group of interested India film aficionados, including faculty from University of Houston, and immigrant

scholars who have special expertise and a reason to support the CCAS.

We’ve been working more extensively with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston than ever before. Asian Art curator

Christine Starkman and Associate Curator Yasufumi Nakamori, who also teaches Asian Art History in our program, have

joined us to co-organize the April, 2014 Contemporary Art Festival. An offshoot of the Class, Capital and Culture Collaborative

work group, which met at Rice for a second round of discussions this spring, the festival will feature contemporary arts

and theories. This Arts Festival is scheduled for April 2014 and consists of multi-workshop discussions, arts performance,

and installation art by Asian artists.

And, finally, we are all caught up in the excitement and anxiety of our first five-year report to the Board and to the

Chao Foundation. The process of creating the presentation and analyzing our work has been wonderful. We look forward

to presenting it to you in the fall.


Tani Barlow, Ph.D.

Senior Editor

Haejin Koh, Ph.D.

Copy Editor

Rachel Ross




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5 8




A profile of Associate Director Haejin E. Koh, Ph.D.

I understand that your undergraduate degree is in engineering.

How did you get from engineering into Asian Studies?

As I like to say, I took a round-about path to Asian Studies. It’s

true: my undergraduate degree is in electrical engineering. After

graduating with my BS degree, I worked as a technical writer for

a couple of years, and then I worked at an Asia-focused nonprofit

organization here in Houston. In 1994, I headed to the

University of Hawaii at Manoa where I earned my MA degree in

Asian Studies. Asian Studies is, by tradition, interdisciplinary, and

I took courses in history, sociology, political science, and even

music and dance. I considered getting another MA degree in

linguistics, but I was advised that it made more sense to go for

the PhD degree, which I did. In 2002 after completing my PhD

degree in Korean linguistics, I accepted a teaching position at a university in Korea since I had never lived in Korea before

and had only spent short bursts of time there, no more than six weeks. I knew I would like it, but I didn’t know

I would love living in Korea. What did I love so much? It’s hard to say. The teaching was great. The social life was fun.

The food was fabulous and cheap.

What do you like about Asian Studies?

I feel like there are two answers to this. First of all, Asian Studies’ strength is its breadth. I love the freedom that

interdisciplinary programs allow. Korea is also a fascinating place, so it was good to be able to learn in depth about it.

After a number of years teaching in Korea, I returned to the United States and worked at a language center, somewhat

similar to the CSL on our campus, at a public university. Since my position involved teaching and advising, I had

a lot of interaction with students, which was both fun and rewarding.

What brought you to Rice University and the CCAS?

Last year, I came across this opportunity at the Chao Center, and I felt that it would be a good move for me, a former

Asian Studies major. Also, since I came to Rice in 2012, I was able to enjoy the Centennial festivities. By now, I’ve

worked in the Asian Studies world for a long time. Here at the Chao Center I have a strong sense of the future: there

are so many possibilities opening up over the next years. We will be strengthening the student program not only

by increasing the number of majors but also, qualitatively, by offering students more opportunities for research and

for study abroad, among others. For instance, we are going to make the HAAA program a year-round project so that

students can learn qualitative research methods and contribute to the documentation of the history of migration to

Houston. Also, we are planning to develop a Certificate for Research Distinction so students can pursue a year-long

research project of the student’s own choice, mentored by a faculty member with expertise in that area.

Why do you like working at the CCAS?

At the Chao Center I can see the big picture. While I by no means interact with students on a daily basis, I get to see

them when they enter our program and when they get their degree. I guess I am a human Sallyport of sorts. This

gives me a sense of process and accomplishment. Also, because we are such a new organization on campus, our

future is much bigger than our past. I like the experience of planning for that future.



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chao Center for Asian Studies Conference Room

“The American Dream in Vietnamese:

Fantasy, Desire and Community in Vietnamese American Popular Culture”

The Chao Center hosted Nhi T. Lieu, Assistant Professor at the University

of Texas at Austin for a lunchtime talk based on her book The American

American Dream in Vietnamese. Pictured to the right is, from left to right,

Kimberly Hoang, CSWGS Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Lieu, and

CCAS Instructor Linda Ho Peche.

February 11 - April 15, 2013

Susanne M. Glasscock School fo Continuing Studies

“Spotlight on the Chao Center for Asian Studies

The Chao Center for Asian Studies and the School of Continuing School collaborated to offer a continu- ing

studies course this spring on the Center and its research. Eight individuals (Haejin E. Koh, Aynne Kokas,

Yasufumi Nakamori, Kerry Ward, Betty Joseph, Ratheesh Radhakrishnan, CJ Chen, and Anne S. Chao) gave

lectures on the Center, the Ephemera Project, the Houston Asian American Archive and more.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kyle Morrow Room, Fondren Library

“Verdicts of Science, Rulings of Faith: Transexuals in Iran”

The Chao Center, along with the Department of History and the Center

for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, hosted the Women’s

History Month Talk, given by Harvard University Professor Afsaneh Najmabadi.

Professor Najmabadi was also available for intimate discussion,

and is pictured here at the Brochstein Pavilion with CCAS Director Tani

Barlow, Instructor Linda Ho Peche, The Ephemera Project Postdoctal Fellow

Jing Chen, and Visiting Professor Anne Chao.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Herring Hall 100

Film - “Jai Bhim Comrade” & Discussion with Director Anand Patwardhan

Director Anand Patwardhan screened his film, “Jai Bhim Comrade,”a documentary,

made over 14 years about a Dalit community in Mumabi. The director,

pictured to the left, answered questions about his work after the film. The program

was co-sponsored by the Chao Center; Voices Breaking Border; Asia Society, Texas Center;

the Center for the Study of Gender, Women and Sexuality; KPFT Pacfica Radio 90.1 FM; and

the Houston Institute for Culture.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sewall Hall, Room 309

The Sustainable City:

Responses to Migration and Urban Growth

The Chao Center, along with the Kinder Institute for Urban Research,

sponsored the panel, “Responses to Migration and Urban Growth,”

including Rice University Professor Sergio Chavez, CCAS Associate

Director Steven Lewis and Fudan University Professor Ren Yuan. Also

pictured to the left are Kinder Institute Co-Directors Michael Emerson

and Stephen L. Klineberg.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shell Auditorium, McNair Hall

Film “Datong: The Great Society” & Discussion with Director Evans Chan

The Chao Center, along with the Department of History, welcomed director Evans

Chan to Rice University. He screened his award-winning film, “Datong: The Great

Society,” a docu-drama about Chinese philosopher and reformer Kang Youwei.

Following the screening, Mr. Chan answered audience questions.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Asia Society, Texas Center

“Returning Souls”

The Chao Center, along with the Asia Society, Texas Center and

Taiwan Academy, sponsored the film screening “Returning Souls,”

organized by Shepherd School of Music Professor Shih-Hui Chen.

The screening was preceded by a live music performance of the

film’s score and ended with a Q & A with the violinist Cho-Liang Lin,

composer Shih-Hui Chen and director Hu Tai-Li, pictured to the left.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chao Center for Asian Studies Conference Room

“Introduction to South Asian American Digital Archive”

South Asian American Digital Archive Executive Director and Co-Founder

Samip Mallick gave a presentation on the importance and influence of

archiving. Mr. Mallick, pictured to the right, was hosted by the Chao

Center’s Ephemera Project and Houston Asian American Archive project.



on the

Frank and Cindy Liu Distinguished Visitor Lecture Series

This semester the Chao Center was pleased to host two

speakers as part of the Frank and Cindy Liu Distinguished

Visitor Series. In January, Mr. Park gave a lecture on the

importance of having a design vision in city planning, and

in April, Mr. Steiner spoke about the evolution of blending

of retail and residential development.

Peter Park

Yaromir Steiner



A profile of Doctoral Student Samhita Sunya

What brought you to Rice?

After my BA at Texas A&M University where I could take random

classes, change my major as necessary, and generally dabble, I

was looking for focus in graduate school. Meeting my would-be

advisers, recognizing how supportive they would be as mentors

and the extent to which they encouraged interdisciplinary research

were the things that settled me on Rice.

In what directions have your research taken you recently?

I returned from a 6-month-long research trip ending in Dec 2012, largely spent in Pune at the National Film

Archive of India. The material I encountered there forced me to ask questions differently. I study the relationship

between “circulating” film and film songs. Analysis of popular film songs usually occurs in relation to their

role in a film’s narrative. I analyze older songs that appeared on the film’s widely circulating record-album and

might even have had tongue-in-cheek cinematic references but that song never made it into the movie, was

never “picturized.” The circulation of media described as being “viral,” “pure form,” “noise” etc, where analyzing

content or narrative is secondary, is associated with more recent history of digital forms and media. I look at a

longer, wider history of these newer forms.

How has the Chao Center been helpful in your research?

Firstly, CCAS is committed to transnational research, in theory and practice. I became self-aware about “knowledge

production” at the Chao Center. We do better research once we understand that our projects are embedded

in the context(s) from which they arise. Thus, comparative and collaborative work becomes crucial for

rigorous, well-rounded research. Secondly, CCAS programming has given me invaluable mentorship from CCAS

postdocs and visiting scholars, and a chance to have a peer group beyond American universities. CCAS’s graduate

student exchange made this possible. I would never have gotten the support I needed to go on my research

trip, because my new colleagues helped me in terms of letters for grant applications, advised while I was overseas,

and I had a network of friends, colleagues, and mentors who were a great resource and great company

while I was in India.

Ultimately what contributions do you hope to make with your work?

I want to translate my research into teaching. I want students to see film studies and film history as a fundamentally

global narrative of the twentieth- and twenty-first century, and not as “American and European film,

and its others.” I want students to realize that it is far better to ask questions than find answers. Intellectual integrity

comes out of relishing the process of questioning on and on and on and on. I taught and now volunteer

as an “Edutainer” in an integrated-arts program, “Arts Alive!,” at schools, libraries, and senior centers all over

Houston. The program is a music-and-movement-based teaching method that seeks to foster and mutually

reinforce intellectual creativity and physical agility. This inspires me to find better ways to operate at the university

level. Some digital humanities and contemporary media studies explore notions of interactivity as well, like

social media, and I want to stay abreast of these possibilities in my own research and teaching.


Below: Director Gurvindar Singh, center, and

Chao Center Director Tani Barlow, left, enjoy

the opening weekend of the festival.

This year’s festival was another success.

Expanded to two weekends after the great

success of the 2011 festival, this year’s event

featured a more diverse range of films,

languages and genres.


A Festival of Experimental Film from India

Above: Former CCAS Postdoctoral Fellow and

TITLES Curator Ratheesh Radhakrishnan opens

the second festival at the Rice Media Center.

The audience for this year’s festival was quite diverse

as well, including members of the Punjabi-

American community and others.


This year’s festival was highlighted in local media, including Voice of Asia and India Herald.

We are so pleased with this year and the previous festival that we have formed an organizing

committee to ensure the event’s continued success.

We hope to see you at next year’s festival!



A profile of Board member Cathryn Selman

What attracted you to the Chao Center for Asian Studies?

and How did you develop your passion for Asian Studies?

I have a bachelor’s degree (1978) from Rice is in History and

Economics; I always joked that I studied history because

I loved it, and I studied economics because I was good at

it. After taking Dr. Richard Smith’s Chinese History survey

course , I was totally hooked on Chinese history (I believe I

took all of Rich’s courses over those years) and emerged with

a deep respect and affection for Chinese culture.

ExxonMobil financial executive I lived in Hong Kong, 1990-1992, and traveled extensively in Asia. Naturally I

came to appreciate the tremendous differences, as well as some similarities, among Asian nations. That topic

continues to interest me.

When I returned to Houston in 1992, I renewed my Rice alumni activities, and gradually made new friends

who were also committed, including Anne and Albert Chao. I was pleased and excited for the university

when I learned that the Chao Foundation was creating such a significant initiative for Asian studies at Rice,

and my husband Doug and I were honored to be invited to be Chao Center Advisory Board members.

How would you explain Asia and Asian Studies?

As the Chao Center formed it made sense to me that an integrated and holistic approach to so-called Asian

Studies could lead to real insights in both academic understanding and a more informed understanding

among non-academics. I think the Chao Center targets a study approach that makes a meaningful contribution

to what was obviously a rich, but perhaps somewhat fragmented or one-dimensional, field.

How has Asian Studies enriched your life?

The single greatest gift of my undergraduate experience was the opportunity to be a student of so many

inspiring, brilliant teachers. In the case of Asian Studies (and I never thought of it in those terms at the time),

the simple fact is that Rich Smith’s classes in Chinese history created a lifelong interest and appreciation that

has enriched my life in ways I could never have imagined at the time. I’ve traveled extensively, learned polite

phrases in several Asian languages, sought out Asian novelists for reading pleasure, and engaged in conversation

with people from different backgrounds. I would like to think that I’ve modeled a way of relating to others

that has encouraged my family and my friends to broaden their own horizons and ways of thinking.

In what other ways are you working to promote Asia and Asian Studies?

Hmmmm…I haven’t really thought of myself as “promoting,” except in being eager to share with what Rice is

doing. I enthusiastically supported my nephew’s passion for China – he’s only a few years out of a northeast

college, speaks excellent Mandarin, and is an Asia Policy Analyst in D.C.. His sister, my goddaughter, graduated

recently in Asian Studies – she’s living in Nagoya and teaching English in Japanese elementary schools.

Their parents encouraged these pursuits, so I think it is very exciting that today there is a much greater appreciation

of Asian Studies than when I graduated 35 years ago!



O-Week Academic Fair

August 20, 2013

Graduate Activities Fair

August 21, 2013

The Sustainable City: Global Metropolis

October 18, 2013

The Ephemera Project

“Ephemera: Present and Future”

December 7-9, 2013

The next meeting of the Chao Center for Asian Studies

Advisory Board will be held on Monday, October 14, 2013.

Congratulations to the 2013 Asian Studies graduates!

Christopher Kong Ho Chan

Benjamin David Chou

Kevin Hwa-Ding Chu

Navtej Singh Dhaliwal

Claire Marie Garney Alison

K. Hightman

Maxwell David Bell Hirsch

Robert K. Ip

James G. Keenan

Emily Liljestrand

Joscelyn Claraluz Mejias

Erick Alvaro Miller

George Andre Romar

Sabrina Shahbaz Toppa

Saima Toppa

Stephanie Wu

Youxin Xiong

Tianlong Kevin Yi


Mailing Address

Rice University

6100 Main Street, MS 475

Houston, TX 77005-1892

Physical Address

Rice University

Mechanical Laboratory Building

Rooms 205-210

Phone: 713-348-5843

Fax: 713-348-6129



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