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Jean-Paul R. Contreras deGuzman


Areas of Interest:


AASD Lecturer
UCLA Alumni



Dr. deGuzman is an historian of 20th century America with a particular focus on comparative racialization, urban history, Asian Americans, and Los Angeles. His book project, tentatively entitled A Touch of Danger: Southern California’s San Fernando Valley and the Racial Politics of An American Dream, explores how communities of color claimed and contested that iconic American space. The rest of his publications focus on three major areas — comparative race studies of Los Angeles, Asian American communities, and the (inter)discipline of Asian American Studies — and cover topics as varied as the genesis of boba cafes, student activism for Asian American Studies, the evolution of Shin Buddhism in Los Angeles, and various flash points in San Fernando Valley history (from Cold War civil rights activism to the secession movement to the place-based politics of historical memory and preservation).

A past recipient of the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, Dr. deGuzman’s pedagogy focuses on project-based learning and requires students to become engaged scholars adept at using historical analysis to understand themselves and the worlds around them. In addition to executing traditional research papers, his students have excavated and built a digital archive of a nearly century-old local Buddhist temple, created an ongoing catalogue of interethnic spaces in Los Angeles on Instagram, and, several successive Asian American history “pop-up” museums in the rotunda of Powell Library. Beyond the Asian American Studies Department, Dr. deGuzman regularly teaches a seminar on race, power, and Los Angeles in the Interracial Dynamics GE Cluster. He is also on the faculty of Windward School in Mar Vista where his greatest honor was getting selected to compete in the Windward Improv Troupe (W!T) annual student/faculty match.

Committed to public history, Dr. deGuzman helped found the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition, a network of civil rights activists, educators, descendants, and residents focused on the preservation of that World War II-era alien detention camp in Sunland-Tujunga. He has been an advisor to the L.A. Office of Historic Preservation and is a member of the archives and historic preservation committee of the Buddhist Churches of America, the oldest and largest Buddhist organization in the U.S.

Dr. deGuzman is an alumnus of the department having completed his M.A. thesis, portions of which were published in Adolescent Behavior Research Studies, under the direction of the late Don T. Nakanishi and Valerie J. Matsumoto.



Ph.D., History, UCLA
M.A., History, UCLA
M.A. Asian American Studies, UCLA
B.A., Asian American Studies, CSU Northridge

Research Interests

Comparative race studies, urban/suburban history, Los Angeles history, history pedagogy


  • “Contesting Los Angeles: Nodes of Race, Space, and Power in the Modern City,” Journal of Urban History, (forthcoming).
  • “Japanese Americans and the Birth – and Rebirth – of Buddhism in the City of Angels,” Religion in Los Angeles: Religious Activism, Innovation, and Diversity in the Global City, eds., Diane Winston and Richard Flory (New York: Routledge, forthcoming).
  • “Reconfiguring Asian America: Asian Immigration Since 1965,” Asian Americans: Past, Present and Future, eds., Eunai Shrake, et al. (Dubuque: Kendall-Hunt, forthcoming).
  • “The Founding of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center,” in Mountain Movers: Student Activism and the Emergence of Asian American Studies, eds. Russell Jeung, et al. (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 2019).
  • “Japanese American Resettlement in Postwar America: The Los Angeles Experience,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, eds. Jon Butler (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). Reprinted in: The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Urban History, ed., Timothy J. Gilfoyle (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), 757-770.
  • “Resisting Camelot: Race and Resistance to the San Fernando Valley Secession Movement,” California History 93:3 (Fall 2016): 28-51.
  • “‘History Could Save the Verdugo Hills Golf Course:’ Preservation, Coalition, and Tuna Canyon,” Southern California Quarterly 98:3 (Fall 2016): 321-341.
  • “Finding Buddha in the Barrio: Reflections on the Unanticipated Consequences of Archival Research,” UCLA Historical Journal 27:1 (Fall 2016): 27-34.
  • “Race, Community, and Activism in Greater Los Angeles: Japanese Americans, African Americans and the Contested Spaces of Southern California,” in The Nation and its Peoples: Citizens, Denizens, Migrants, eds. John S.W. Park and Shannon Gleeson (New York: Routledge, 2014), 29-48.
  • “The Twenty-Year Tale of Interpreting a Multiethnic Urban Uprising: Towards an Historiography of Sa-I-Gu,” Amerasia Journal 38:1 (2012): 175-192.
  • “The Possibilities for Pacific Islander Studies in the Continental United States,” Amerasia Journal 37:3 (2011): 149-161. Co-authored with Alfred P. Flores, Jr., Kristopher Kaupalolo, Christen Sasaki, Kehaulani Vaughn, Joyce Pualani Warren.
  • “Understanding Oppositional Behaviors of Asian Americans: Critical Race Theory Approach” in Adolescent Behavior Research Studies, ed. Rene S. Grenell (New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2007), 9-32. Co-authored with Eunai Shrake.
  • “Beyond ‘Living La Vida Boba’: Social Space and Transnational, Hybrid Asian American Youth Culture,” Amerasia Journal 32:2 (2006): 89-102.


  • University Council-American Federation of Teachers (Local 1990) Unionist of the Year
  • UC Center for New Racial Studies/UC Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award
  • UCLA Laura Kinsey Outstanding Teaching Award
  • John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation Haynes Lindley Fellowship
  • UC Humanities Research Institute Research Grant
  • USC Wallis Annenberg Research Grant
  • Autry National Center Research Fellowship
  • UCLA Institute of American Cultures Research Grant
  • UC Center for New Racial Studies Research Grant
  • UCLA Tritia Toyota Asian Pacific American Community Research Fellowship
  • UCLA James and Sylvia Thayer Fellowship
  • Western History Association Sarah Jackson Award
  • UCLA Eugene V. Cota Robles Fellowship
  • UCLA Rose Eng Chin and Helen Wong Eng APA Women Studies Fellowship

Jean-Paul R. Contreras deGuzman