Loubna Qutami

Loubna Qutami is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Qutami is a former President’s Postdoctoral Fellow from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (2018-2020) and received her PhD from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside (2018). Qutami’s research examines transnational Palestinian youth movements after the 1993 Oslo Accords through the 2011 Arab Uprisings. Her work is based on scholar-activist ethnographic research methods. Qutami’s broader scholarly interests include Palestine, critical refugee studies, the racialization of Arab/Muslim communities in the U.S., settler-colonialism, youth movements, transnationalism and indigenous and Third World Feminism.

Jolie Chea

Jolie Chea is an assistant professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at UCLA. Her research draws from the work of historians, Native, Black, Latinx, and Asian American scholars to produce a narrative that situates the emergence of Southeast Asian refugees from the region formerly known as “French Indochina” to the settler state known as the “United States of America.” Her book manuscript traces a critical genealogy of the “refugee” that does not reinforce or reimpose normative understandings of citizenship and belonging but rather, traces the refugee figure back to a history of global racialized warfare and imperialist state violence, where she argues that the incorporation of the Cambodian refugee figure into the US body politic is an extension of ongoing efforts to discipline and contain radical opposition to a US nation-building project founded on war, racism, genocide, and the colonization of racialized bodies. She has spent two decades working alongside various immigrant, women, and queer youth of color communities, and one decade organizing with prison abolition movements in Los Angeles, where she combines social justice activism and scholarship. She is a former UC President’s postdoctoral fellow at UC Riverside, having prior completed her doctoral work in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC and a master’s in Asian American Studies at UCLA.


Cindy Sangalang

Cindy C. Sangalang, PhD, MSW is an assistant professor of Asian American Studies and Social Welfare at UCLA. Drawing on theory and knowledge across disciplines, her program of research examines how race, migration, and culture intersect to shape health and well-being in immigrant and refugee communities, with a focus on Southeast Asian youth and their families. A primary concern involves understanding developmental and health-related effects of racism and war- and migration-related traumas. These scholarly commitments are fueled by a broader goal of informing interventions that promote social justice and health equity.

Professor Sangalang has been a principal investigator on research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She earned her Ph.D. and Masters in Social Welfare from UCLA and trained as a postdoctoral fellow in health disparities research at Arizona State University. Previously she was on the faculty in Social Work at Arizona State University and California State University, Los Angeles.

Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi

Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi is an associate professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (Tovaangar).  Her interdisciplinary research engages critical refugee studies, comparative ethnic studies, and transpacific studies. Dr. Gandhi’s first book, Archipelago of Resettlement: Vietnamese Refugee Settlers and Decolonization across Guam and Israel-Palestine (2022), is published open access by the University of California Press. It examines Vietnamese refugee resettlement in Guam and Israel-Palestine as a means to trace two forms of critical geography: first, archipelagos of empire — how the Vietnam War is linked to US military build-up in Guam and unwavering support of Israel; and second, corresponding archipelagos of resistance — how Chamorro decolonization efforts and Palestinian liberation struggles are connected via the Vietnamese refugee figure. This project analyzes what she calls the “refugee settler condition”: the vexed positionality of refugee subjects whose very condition of political legibility via citizenship is predicated upon the unjust dispossession of an Indigenous population. Dr. Gandhi is the co-editor with Vinh Nguyen of The Routledge Handbook of Refugee Narratives (2023). She is also working on a second book-length project, Revisiting the Southern Question: South Korea, South Vietnam, and the US South, which asks: How were South Korea, South Vietnam, and the US South connected during the Cold War period? What are the political, cultural, and affective afterlives of these historical encounters?  You can check out Dr. Gandhi’s films on Vimeo.  She also hosts a podcast, Distorted Footprints, through her Critical Refugee Studies class.

Lee Ann S. Wang

Lee Ann S. Wang is Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies. Her current work is an ethnographic study of immigration law and enforcement at the site of gender and sexual violence, focusing on the work of service providers and legal advocates with Asian immigrant women and their communities.  She examines how the law writes and maintains the meaning of protection under the Violence Against Women Act’s immigration provisions, the enlistment of the non-citizen legal subject towards policing, accumulative cooperation, and the visa petition’s role in neoliberal punishment practices.  At its core, the work strives to take up the already gendered and racialized task of writing about people and life, without re-inscribing victimhood in legal evidence and the violences of legal archive.  She has taught courses on Asian Americans and law, gender and sexuality studies, feminist theory, immigration law and public policy, gender violence and policing, social welfare policy, and legal intimacies.  Dr. Wang is a former UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley School of Law and held faculty appointments in Law and Public Policy, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington Bothell and visiting positions at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa.

Courses Taught

  • Foundations of  Social Welfare Policy
  • Gender Violence, Policing, and the Law
  • Asian Americans and the Law
  • Critical Approaches to Emerging Issues in Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities 


Jennifer Chun

Jennifer Jihye Chun is Associate Professor in the Asian American Studies Department and the International Institute at UCLA. She was previously on the faculty at the University of Toronto (2012-18) and the University of British Columbia (2006-12). Her research explores the interconnected worlds of gender, race, ethnicity, migration and labor through a comparative and critical ethnographic lens. She is the author of the award-winning book, Organizing at the Margins: The Symbolic Politics of Labor in South Korea and the United States (Cornell University Press, 2009) as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters on informal and precarious worker organizing; Asian immigrant women and community organizing; gender, migration, and care work; and global labor movements. Currently, she is writing a book monograph on protest cultures in South Korea with Ju Hui Judy Han.

Karen Umemoto

Professor Umemoto’s research centers on issues of democracy and social justice in multicultural societies with a focus on US cities. She also examines and pursues planning processes that include a diverse array of voices, acknowledges different ways of knowing, and allows for meaningful deliberations. She is equally concerned about the structural, procedural and relational obstacles to attaining a just and democratic society. Her research and practice thus takes a broad view of planning in the context of social inclusion, participatory democracy and political transformation.

Her recent work has focused on the problem of overrepresentation of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander youth in the Hawai‘i juvenile justice system. Professor Umemoto’s co-authored award-winning book entitled, Jacked up and unjust: Pacific Islander teens confront violent legacies, features youths’ narratives in an ethnographic study of youth violence in Hawai’i examined within the historic role of colonization and racial domination in the US. It critiques the punitive turn in juvenile justice and disciplinary policies and offers alternative approaches that focus on healing and restorative practices. She has also worked on juvenile justice reform initiatives as a researcher, evaluator, planner, and advocate.

Prof. Umemoto’s current research focuses on the history of placemaking in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. She is also working as the Co-Editor/Co-Director of Foundations and Futuresa multimedia textbook on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Editorial Boards

  • Editorial Board, Planning Theory, 2005-present
  • Editorial Board, AAPI Nexus: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Policy, Practice and Community, 2002-present

Lucy Mae San Pablo Burns

L MSP Burns is an Associate Professor in the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA, a land grant institution in the homeland of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples.

Areas of Interest
Burns’s writings include Puro Arte: Filipinos on the Stages of Global Empire (NYU Press, 2014 Outstanding Book Award in Cultural Studies by the Asian American Studies Association) and the co-edited anthology California Dreaming: Place and Movement in Asian American Imaginary (2020, University of Hawai’i Press). Burns is working on a second monograph, Asian American Elsewheres.

As a dramaturg, Burns has collaborated with BIPOC inter/multidisciplinary theater- and dance-makers David Rousseve/REALITY; Leilani Chan/TeAda Productions; Priya Srinivasan; Jay Carlon; and R. Zamora Linmark.

Burns is also a member of a research group consisting of artists, scholars, and art professionals who have been conducting research and conversations about the impact of COVID-19 closures and the COVID-19 pandemic on BIPOC theater artists and organizations. Information about this project may be found here: https://www.bipoctheatresurveys.com/.

Purnima Mankekar

Areas of Interest

Feminist Media Studies, Post-9/11Public Cultures, Affect Theories, Outsourcing and Information Technology, Transnational Cultural Studies; South Asian America, South Asia

Jinqi Ling

Jinqi Ling’s teaching and research focus on Asian American literary studies as a discourse constructed out of its engagement with and articulation through a specific set of historical contingencies and contexts. He is particularly interested in exploring the referential or cognitive function of this literature, as well as the conditions of its production and reproduction open to symptomatic reading and ideological transcoding. His research method is chiefly informed by versions of Russian Formalism and, to a lesser extent, of structuralism and poststructuralism, with an emphasis on historicized aesthetics and formally motivated cultural criticism.

He is the author of three monographs: Narrating Nationalisms: Ideology and Form in Asian American Literature (Oxford UP, 1998); Across Meridians: History and Figuration in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Transnational Novels (Stanford UP, 2012); and Asian American Literature (Bloomsbury’s essential criticism series, 2022). He is currently working on an article titled “Open Realist Genre, Riven Humanism: Rehistoricizing Yanghill Kang’s East Goes West,” and a book manuscript titled “The Experimental Temper: Early Asian American Prose Fiction and Its Formal Search, 1937-1968.”

Areas of Interest

Critical theory; Asian American literature; genre studies; and representational concerns at the intersection between realism and high modernism/early postmodernism