News and Announcements

January 7, 2022 | FACULTY NEWS

CSER Professor Marie Myung-Ok Lee had an appearance on CNN’s podcast. Listen at the attached link.

December 17, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS
School of the Arts awards Deborah Paredez for the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award
December 2, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS

Between 1848 and 1899, thousands of Chinese labourers travelled the West in search of Gold. Friction between Chinese and white settlers on the goldfields of California, Australia, and South Africa catalysed a global battle over “the Chinese Question”, that would shape economics and politics to today.

Mae Ngai is Lung Family Professor Asian American Studies and a professor of history at Columbia University. Her book The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics is published by W.W Norton.

November 21, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS
Mae Ngai was interviewed by China News Service on Nov. 21, 2021, on her book The Chinese Question and the origins of anti-Asian violence in the United States.
November 3, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS
Mae Ngai delivered the annual lecture on immigration and citizenship law at Rutgers University Law School and discussed her book The Chinese Question, with Rutgers professor Jack Tchen on Nov. 3.
October 27, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS

Mae Ngai spoke at an event on the Global Histories of White Supremacy at the Lepage Center for History and the Public Interest at Villanova University on Oct. 27.

Mae M. Ngai
October 19, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS

Mae Ngai was in conversation with Jia Ling Yang on October 19 at a virtual event cosponsored by the Brooklyn Book Festival, the Boston Public Library, State Library of Massachusetts, New England Historic Genealogy, and GBH Forum Network.

October 15, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS

Greg Jenner, comedian Desiree Burch and Prof Shana L. Redmond from Columbia University discuss the astonishing life and legacy of Paul Robeson: the epitome of the American Renaissance man. Famous for his unparalleled bass-baritone voice and relentless struggle for civil rights, Robeson was an exceptional athlete, actor, singer, scholar and civil rights activist who the American government persecuted during the McCarthy era.

October 13, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS

“WE’VE ALWAYS HAD ACTIVISTS IN OUR COMMUNITIES” With her focus on the 19th century, Ngai uncovers the coolie myth’s origins, hoping to address its current forms and, ultimately, dismantle it. After a decade of research and writing, she published The Chinese Question. The following interview is an edited conversation she and Public Books had over Zoom about her life and latest work.

Jennifer Lee
October 13, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS

Jennifer Lee has joined the Board of Trustees of the Russell Sage Foundation.

“The Russell Sage Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Jennifer Lee and Thomas J. Sugrue to its board of trustees. They will officially join the RSF board at its November 2021 meeting.”


October 13, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS

Eric Foner and Mae Ngai were in virtual conversation about her book The Chinese Question, live at the New York Public Library on Oct. 13. The historian Mae Ngai explores the intertwined 19th-century stories of the Chinese diaspora, an emerging global economy, and the rise of enduring anti-Chinese racism.

October 11, 2021 | STUDENT NEWS

Amanda Ong was awarded second prize in the 2021 Bristol Short Story Prize for her story, Sifters.

Literary agent, Irene Baldoni who was on this year’s judging panel, says: “Sifters is literature in action – a touching, heartfelt act of memory and care, in this case even before someone we love has left us forever. The narrator knows that words cannot, ultimately, enclose a human existence in its wholeness and uniqueness. And yet they keep writing, gracefully, committing to paper one memory after the other, and we cannot but keep reading, thus becoming part of this attempt to defeat time.”

October 6, 2021 | CURRENT AFFAIRS
Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2021: What Can Columbia Do Better?
by Elsa Stamatopoulou*


We are very glad that Columbia now celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The University has followed the appeal of Native American students and numerous other students, faculty and staff over the years asking for this Day to be honored. The celebration of the Day is a clear trend among various other universities as well as cities and states in this country.


History of the Day

Efforts to rename Columbus Day go back to 1977, when the historic Conference of Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere was held at the United Nations in Geneva. Indigenous leaders had gathered for the International Conference against Racial Discrimination. The conference recommended to replace Columbus Day and to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day to express international solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an important step in dismantling the “Doctrine of Discovery” that has plagued the US and other legal systems.
Thanks to the advocacy of the global Indigenous Peoples’ movement, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is marked annually on 9 August. The date was selected to honor 9 August 1982, the first day of the very first UN human rights body established to deal with Indigenous Peoples rights, i.e. the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations. This Working Group worked tirelessly with the Indigenous Peoples’ movement and laid down the groundwork for the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13th, 2007.


What can Columbia do better?
Honoring Indigenous Peoples and their history and heritage is obviously not just a matter of one day out of the year. I would like to see a commitment in our University, so we can say that “every day is Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
Increasing Indigenous students and faculty at Columbia is crucial. So is increasing the number of courses on Indigenous issues in the various disciplines and departments. There are also many other actions we can take, inspired by other universities such as:
  • Including Indigenous Peoples’ rights or similar courses in the core curriculum so that the broad student body is exposed to the issues.
  • Building an active meaningful relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of our area and of NYS more broadly.
  • Naming a building or one of the walks in our campus with a name of the Lenape people, who are the people of the land on whose traditional territory Columbia is built.
  • Placing Native American art in prominent places on campus, to honor Indigenous heritage.
  • Appointing a Senior Adviser on Indigenous Affairs to the President.
  • Creating a strategic plan for Columbia.


Academia in society
American society is hugely under-informed about the existence and history of Native Americans. I believe the education system has a big responsibility for that –from elementary school onwards. People in the US should know the history of colonization, land grabbing and deliberate policies and practices of physical and cultural erasure of Native Americans. They should be able to recognize such practices to the extent they continue today. We have to understand, to appreciate and respect the fundamental importance of Indigenous governance systems, Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty and self-determination. In other words, there is a profound need for the country to visibly recognize and reconcile with its past and to draw conclusions about how it has to act from now on. For any such effort to be effective, Native Americans have to participate fully. And academia has an important role to play.


On 12 October 2021 the Institute for the Study of Human Rights is organizing an event, with many cosponsors, on The Role of Courts in Defending Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. For more information and registration click here.
For events at Columbia on 11 October for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, click here.


*The author is Director of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program, Institute for the Study of Human Rights
September 23, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS

NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with Renzo Aroni, historian of modern Latin America, about the legacy of Abimael Guzmán, founder of the Shining Path, who died on Saturday.

September 21, 2021 | FACULTY NEWS

Jennifer Lee’s paper based on her Presidential Address to the Eastern Sociological Society has been published in Sociological Forum, titled, Reckoning with Asian America and the New Culture War on Affirmative Action. In it, she dismantles the tropes that propel the war on affirmative action, rewrite narratives about merit and moral deservingness, and re-imagine the linked fates and linked futures of Asian Americans and other minority groups.

CSER continues to be Columbia's main interdisciplinary space for the study of ethnicity and race and their implications for thinking about culture, power, hierarchy, social identities, and political communities. The Center also offers a wide range of public programming, including Artist at the Center, Indigenous Forum, and Latino Public Speaker Series and the Transnational Asian/American Speaker Series. CSER's most recent spaces include the Media and Idea Lab and Gallery at the Center, a space dedicated to curating artistic and thematic exhibits around the Center’s key areas of interest.
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