What is Asian American Studies?
Asian American Studies is a multidisciplinary field of study that grapples with the pressing questions of identity, belonging, and power from the perspectives of Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Asian/Pacific diasporic histories, communities, and cultures. Since its emergence out of the 1960s-1970s social movements, Asian American Studies has aimed to create knowledge that is relevant and useful for solving big problems of inequity and injustice. Scholars, practitioners, and students approach these puzzles from a variety of disciplinary perspectives spanning the arts, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences. Indiana University Bloomington’s Asian American Studies program (AAST) established in 2007, maintains this vision through our research, creative activity, teaching, and programming with the goal of generating novel possibilities for the globalizing world of the 21st century.
Why does Asian American Studies matter to Indiana University?
The history of Asian American Studies at IU chronicles significant contributions of students, staff, and faculty to the university’s mission to “create, disseminate, preserve, and apply knowledge.” Asian American Studies thrives as a robust way to embrace diversity and its potential for community engagement. Those who supported the establishment of Asian American Studies between the 1980s through the 2000s recognized its generative possibilities for embodying this three-fold promise. Asian American Studies continues to matter to Indiana University because it provides a unique entry point for exploring big challenges in our world today.
Yet, because of Indiana’s stereotypical image as a Midwestern stalwart, the story of Asian American Studies at IU is little-known beyond those who directly pushed for its creation. This timeline tracks the program’s evolution and documents this vibrant facet of Indiana University’s story. We hope that this project energizes the future growth of Asian American Studies throughout all the IU campuses.