Welcome to Asian American Studies

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The Department of Asian American Studies (AAS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is committed to expanding the traditions of knowledge within academia to address Asian American epistemologies, activities, and experiences. The department also seeks to render scholarly intellectual efforts integral to those of local, regional, national, and international Asian American communities.

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Nancy Abelmann passed away on January 6, 2016. She was at home, surrounded by friends and family. She was 56. Nancy was a brilliant scholar, a beloved and dedicated mentor, a respected colleague, and a cherished friend.

A celebration of Nancy’s life will be held on May 21, 2016 at 3pm the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, at the University of Illinois.

She was the Harry E. Preble Professor of Anthropology, Asian American Studies, and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also held appointments in the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies. She served as the Director of the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies from 2005 to 2008; and, since 2009, was the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research - Humanities, Arts, and Related Fields.She co-founded and co-directed the Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI). Additionally, Nancy served as president of the Society for Urban, National and Transnational Anthropology (2012-14), on the Korea Advisory Board of the Social Science Research Council, and on the North American Advisory Committee of the Korea Foundation. Nancy was a founding member of the Asian American Studies Committee that helped establish the program and what is now the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois.

Nancy was world-renowned anthropologist of Korea and of Korean America. Her publications addressing social movements in contemporary South Korea, women and social mobility in post-colonial South Korea, South Korean film, Korean America, and Asian and Asian American education and migration established her as a leading scholar in Anthropology, Asian American Studies, and Korean Studies.

Her publications include Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots, with John Lie (Harvard University Press, 1995); Echoes of the Past, Epics of Dissent: A South Korean Social Movement (University of California Press, 1996); The Melodrama of Mobility: Women, Class, and Talk in Contemporary South Korea (Hawaii University Press, 2003); South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, Genre, and National Cinema, co-edited with Kathleen McHugh (Wayne State University Press. 2005); The Intimate University: Korean American Students and the Problems of Segregation (Duke University Press, 2009); No Alternative?: Experiments in South Korean Education, co-edited with Jung-ah Choi and So Jin Park (University of California Press, 2012); South Korea’s Educational Exodus: The Life and Challenges of Early Study Abroad, co-edited with Adrienne Lo, Soo Ah Kwon, and Sumie Okazaki (University of Washington Press, 2015). She also authored numerous articles that appeared in journals including Amerasia, American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Anthropological Quarterly, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Journal of Studies in International Education, Journal of Korean Studies, and Social Text. Her co-authored book with Sumie Okazaki, Making Family Work: How Korean American Teens and Parents Navigate Immigrant America is forthcoming. She was also co-Principal Investigator of The American University Meets the Pacific Century research project on the internationalization of the undergraduate student body at the University of Illinois.





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