Spotlight on Prof. Ed Chang’s Research: Uncovering the History of America’s First Koreatown

Spotlight on Prof. Ed Chang’s Research: Uncovering the History of America’s First Koreatown


Jill Cowen at The New York Times highlighted Prof. Ed Chang’s groundbreaking research on Pachappa Camp, the first Koreatown in the U.S., which was located here in Riverside, CA. Excerpt below:

The biggest thing that set Pachappa Camp apart, however, was the fact that it was a distinctly Korean community — the first in the United States, predating the founding of Los Angeles’s Koreatown by the businessman Hi Duk Lee by more than half a century.

And while Ahn [Chang-Ho]’s life and legacy have been deeply studied, extensively documented and honored, his role in founding a Korean community in Riverside was virtually unknown until about five years ago, when Chang stumbled across a 1908 map issued by an insurance company. It had a caption labeling a Korean settlement in Riverside.

“I thought, ‘Korean settlement? In Riverside?’” he said.

Chang said it was known that Ahn spent some time in Riverside. He had seen an image of Ahn picking oranges there. And a 1913 episode known as the Hemet Valley Incident — which involved Korean fruit pickers Chang later determined had come from Riverside — has been widely cited as a pivotal moment for the Korean national identity.

But what Ahn was doing in the Inland Empire for more than five years before he moved his family to Los Angeles in 1913 was a puzzle. That puzzle turned into what Chang described as the most gratifying research of his career.

“People said it’s like destiny,” he said. “I’ve been teaching in Riverside for almost 30 years, and I didn’t know anything about it.”

As it turned out, Pachappa Camp was also a place where Ahn honed many of the democratic ideas that he brought back to Korea, which had been a monarchy and was occupied by Japan.

“I was able to trace the birth of whole democratic institutions to here in Riverside,” Chang said. “I was uncovering all of this and I was so shocked.”

With the help of graduate student interns from Korea who translated documents from older Korean, Chang last month published a book of his findings, “Pachappa Camp: The First Koreatown in the United States.”


Read the article here. Image above: University of Southern California, Korean American Digital Archive

On Transnational Abolitionist Relationalities: From Mandalay to Minneapolis, by Prof. Emily Hue

On Transnational Abolitionist Relationalities: From Mandalay to Minneapolis, by Prof. Emily Hue


Ethnic Studies Prof. Emily Hue published an essay entitled, “On Transnational Abolitionist Relationalities: From Mandalay to Minneapolis.” Excerpt below:

These last months, my social media feed has been in constant throes that bounce between disparate coverage of racialized misogynist violence throughout the US and another lineage of state-sanctioned violence against women in Southeast Asia. I write this nearly three months into the most recent military coup in Myanmar, in which military police have detained hundreds of  government officials, have extrajudicially killed 776 civilian protesters, and either maimed or indefinitely detained 3,813 additional protestors. Some of the most visible figures in popular media out of the Civil Disobedience Movement have been youth and women. International calls to support have meant increased visibility for, not just democracy activists, but also garment workers on strike, and advocates from ethnic minority and feminist struggles for sovereignty.

It has been hard for me to separate these simultaneous moments of social upheaval; their connections stem from historical legacies of Asian women’s bodies being indexed as violable, as fungible, and as collateral damage of war and neoliberal globalization. Often, service industries, including sex work, massage work, and garment work have been further entrenched by political and economic equalities wrought by intra-Asian, European, and US imperialisms. More now than ever, a call to transnational feminist internationalist solidarity and sustained attention to workers’ and dissidents’ world-making remain crucial.

In the midst of a global pandemic, increasing global fascism, a spate of mass shootings in the US, and spectacular upticks in masculinist supremacy, what does this call to solidarity entail?

Read the full article here. Image above: Rows of htamein hang above lines of barricades in the Kyaukmyaung area of Tarmwe Township on March 8. The women’s garments are hung to deter superstitious members of the security forces. (Frontier)

New Report: Advancing Equity for Undocumented Students and Students from Mixed-Status Families at the University of California

New Report: Advancing Equity for Undocumented Students and Students from Mixed-Status Families at the University of California

Announcements Events

A new report from the UC Collaborative to Promote Immigrant and Student Equity (UC PromISE), co-led by Ethnic Studies Prof. Jennifer Nájera, establishes that immigration policy is disrupting the educational experiences and wellbeing not only of undocumented students, but also those students who are citizens from mixed-status families.

Advancing Equity for Undocumented Students and Students from Mixed-Status Families at the University of California features data from a survey of 2,742 UC undergraduate students and compares the experiences of three groups: undocumented immigrant students, U.S. citizen students with undocumented parents, and U.S. citizen students with immigrant parents who are permanent residents or naturalized citizens. Drawing lessons from undocumented student programs at the UC, it identifies areas of improvement that can aid all universities in advancing equity for all students impacted by immigration policies.

Download the full report on the research website:

You are also welcome to join host a virtual panel discussion of the report on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 12pm (PST).

Register here:

Mellon Foundation awards $2.9 million for ‘Latinx Futures,’ co-led by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales Toribio

Mellon Foundation awards $2.9 million for ‘Latinx Futures,’ co-led by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales Toribio


Congratulations to Prof. Alfonso Gonzales Toribio, Ethnic Studies, and Prof. Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Hispanic Studies, on securing a $2.9 million grant from the Mellon Foundation for the new initiative, Latinx Futures: The Civil, Cultural and Political Stakes for Southern California Latinx Communities! More details from the UCR news by Sandra Baltazar Martínex:


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $2.9 million grant to UC Riverside — the Foundation’s largest grant yet to the university — meant to support College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences research.

Alfonso Gonzales Toribio, associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies, and Claudia Holguín Mendoza, assistant professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies; will lead the “Latinx Futures: The Civil, Cultural and Political Stakes for Southern California Latinx Communities” project under the new Center for Latino and Latin American Studies and Research, poised to be the first of its kind in Southern California based UC campuses. The center is expected to open February 2021.

Latinx Futures is designed as a unique multidisciplinary research project that will bring together community organizations such as Mayavision, a Guatemalan indigenous rights organization; the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice; San Bernardino Community Service Center, Inc.; the Mira Loma Oral History Project; and other regional labor and social justice organizations. The project will also include collaborative opportunities with researchers from universities across the United States, Mexico, and England.

The Mellon Foundation, that largest funder of the arts and humanities in the United States, awarded more than $72 million to 16 teams across the U.S. for its Just Futures Initiative, including the nearly $3 million grant to UCR. Funding is over a three-year period.

“Through extraordinary collaborative exploration and rigorous humanities-driven inquiry, the Just Futures Initiative will expand our collective understanding of our country’s history,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We are thrilled that the work of these multidisciplinary teams will propose and implement solutions to real social problems, and also mark new milestones in the effort to better capture the contributions of the many different communities that make up the American story.”

Alfonso Gonzales Toribio (UCR)
Alfonso Gonzales Toribio (UCR)

Opening the Latino and Latin American Studies and Research Center at UCR is necessary, Gonzales Toribio said. There are close to 5 million people in the Inland Empire and nearly 50% of that population is Latino.

“Yet, we are marginalized from the institutions of power and our history and experiences in the Inland Empire are virtually absent in the academic literature, in Hollywood, and in the media,” Gonzales Toribio said. “But our dreams, triumphs, and struggles matter. We are launching this project with support from Mellon to better understand our history, social, cultural and political experiences, and to create a more democratic and inclusive future for all in the region.”

Securing the $2.9 million grant is of monumental importance to UCR and to the Latino communities of this region, said Gonzales Toribio, who was born in Tijuana, Mexico and grew up in the working-class community of Mira Loma.

“The time for such a center at one of the nation’s largest Hispanic Serving Institutions is now, and UCR is poised to have one of the first centers of its kind in the UC system,” Gonzales Toribio said.

He noted the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies and Research seeks to study the history, culture, and experiences of Latinos and Latin Americans in general and of Mexicans, Chicanos, and Central Americans that inhabit this region in particular.

The multidisciplinary research projects will be organized into two teams, with support and coordination by the Center.

      • “Latinx Civil Society” will be led by Gonzales Toribio, the center’s director and principal investigator for Latinx Futures. The project focuses on countering racial authoritarianism in the Inland Empire through building humanistic and civil society structures with community partners. It includes national collaborators at UC Merced, UCLA, University of Texas at Austin, University of Southern California, as well as scholars at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana de México, as well as the London School of Economics in London, England.
      • “Inclusive Pedagogies for Critical Sociocultural Linguistic Literacy” will be led by Holguín Mendoza, who serves as the project co-principal investigator. This project will harness the power of the research university to counter the systematic racism directed against Latinx language and knowledge. Aiming to dismantle testing and curricula policies that marginalize Latinx language varieties, this research group works to challenge institutions to inclusively reflect the vibrant plurilingualism of borderlands Latinx communities. The team includes collaborators at California State University East Bay, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, University of Oregon, and Western Illinois University.
Claudia Holguín Mendoza (UCR)
Claudia Holguín Mendoza (UCR)

Latinx Futures will include oral histories, indigenous music and storytelling workshops, community documentary, and the development of ethnic studies curriculums that incorporate insight from some of the leading humanities-based scholars from across the United States and Mexico in partnership with community partners.

Project activities will also include inclusive language and literature workshops with area educators; conferences; visiting scholars, artists and activists; research publications aimed at shifting policy; and robust opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration, student involvement, and community partnerships.

Holguín Mendoza said this multisite project expands on antiracist research methodologies and pedagogical approaches for linguistic justice.

“Our interdisciplinary team engages in research and educational practices that take into account the complexity of human communication and a deep understanding of how language variations are linked to complex racial relations, among other intersectional social elements,” said Holguín Mendoza. “What brings us together as collaborators is a commitment to counteracting sociolinguistic stigmatization and introducing Latinx students to critical approaches that allow them to take control of their academic and intellectual development.”

Latinx Futures will build the center’s infrastructure so it can serve as a home for visiting artists and scholars, a campus hub for students and faculty, and a point of contact for collaborating local groups.

Gonzales Toribio, Holguín Mendoza, and collaborating researchers support other campus entities to promote equity and justice for Black and indigenous peoples, as well as all working class people of color. The center and these project activities have the support of UCR’s vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Mariam Lam; and expand the long-standing community-based research practices conducted by the California Center for Native Nations, known as CCNN, with direct support from Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox.

The project reinforces the centrality of the humanities and UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, which serves the majority of UCR’s Latinx and first-generation students, Holguín Mendoza said.

Why abuse and neglect of immigrants proliferate in ICE detention, by Prof. Jennifer Nájera

Why abuse and neglect of immigrants proliferate in ICE detention, by Prof. Jennifer Nájera


Ethnic Studies Prof. Jennifer Nájera published a Los Angeles Times op/ed entitled, “Why Abuse and Neglect of Immigrants Proliferate in Ice Detention.” Excerpt below:

The conditions of detention continue to worsen. In 2017, a nonprofit group filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security for sexual assault, abuse and harassment in ICE detention facilities. The Adelanto detention facility in San Bernardino County was listed among the top five facilities in the country with the most sexual assault complaints.

In 2018, people all over the country watched in horror as ICE agents forcibly removed migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Audio recordings of children crying for their parents and images of kids in cages caused a moral dilemma partially resolved by courts that ordered reunification. But many of these families, though reunited with their children, remain in detention. The cruelty of their condition was revealed in heartbreaking drawings by migrant children released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The recent whistleblower complaint has prompted a call for an immediate investigation by more than 170 members of Congress. It demonstrates yet again the shortcomings and failures of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. We need an agency that understands this country’s complex immigration history and the needs of our communities. Central to that mission should be treating migrants with basic human rights.

Read the full article here. Photo by the Associated Press.

Trump’s ‘historic bloc,’ like fascist movements, unifies groups with opposing interests, by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales

Trump’s ‘historic bloc,’ like fascist movements, unifies groups with opposing interests, by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales


Ethnic Studies Prof. Alfonso Gonzales published a Los Angeles Times op/ed entitled, “Trump’s ‘historic bloc,’ like fascist movements, unifies groups with opposing interests.” Excerpt below:

Although the base of the Trumpian bloc is overwhelmingly white and male, 26% of Latinos support Trump over Biden. Many conservative Latinos identify with macho political posturing, pro-2nd Amendment rhetoric, simple law-and-order solutions to complex problems, demonization of the left and disdain for the Black Lives Matter movement.

This bloc, under the “Make America Great Again” banner, requires its supporters — particularly subordinate groups — to accept a degree of cognitive dissonance in submitting to the emotional appeal to a mythical moment of American greatness. For many of the white working class, that moment is before the rise of the civil rights movement, Latino immigration and multiculturalism, the idea that diverse people should have representation and rights in pluralist society.

For right-wing Latinos, this means ignoring both the historical and the contemporary injustices inflicted on their community, such as the lynching of Mexicans by the Texas Rangers in the 1920s, the deportation of at least 1 million Mexicans in the 1950s, the separation of children from their parents at the border or the alleged coerced hysterectomies of Latina migrant women in immigration detention centers now.

The point of the MAGA slogan is to bury history with its deep class and racial disparities and to conceal the crises of our time: savage inequality, climate change, pandemics and racial conflict.

Racism and xenophobia have historically provided the ideological glue that has kept the white working class supporting the most rabid sectors of the capitalist class and from seeing their fate linked with racial others and immigrants. Even during the current economic disaster, it is easier for many working-class whites to identify with the Trumpian bloc, led by a billionaire rooted in the transnational capital class, than to have a sense of solidarity with Latinos or Black people.

Historic blocs of the right emerge precisely at that moment when the left is strong and when the right decides to stop playing by the rules of liberal democracy, the system for resolving conflicts through representative government and respect for individual rights.

Read the full op/ed here. Photo by Oli Goldsmith via CC 2.0

Feminist Praxis in Ethno-Fiction, by Prof. Emily Hue

Feminist Praxis in Ethno-Fiction, by Prof. Emily Hue


Ethnic Studies Prof. Emily Hue published, Feminist Praxis in Ethno-Fiction, a review of the film, Nobel Nok Dah, for the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Excerpt below:

Transnational feminist ethnographic film collective, Ethnocine, comprising Emily Hong, Mariangela Mihai, Miasarah Lai, and others, creates a compelling time capsule that deftly weaves between feminist oral history, the ethno-fictive, and touches of the cinematic avant grade, in their short film, Nobel Nok Dah (2015). The film is succinctly named for three Karen women refugees from Myanmar and reflects these women’s stories after their encampment at the Myanmar–Thai border, and subsequent resettlement in the central upstate New York; journeys that also precede Myanmar’s first civilian government elected in 2015 after decades of military rule.1

During the initial years of this ongoing political transition, international aid for refugees and displaced ethnic minority communities in encampments on the Thai–Myanmar border was surreptitiously cut with the rationale that it would be safer for refugees to return to homes from which they fled military violence. However, as noted in the Asia Times, as of April 2019, many Karen refugees and internationally displaced people who returned in post-election years have struggled to re-establish livelihoods amid continued land grabs. In 2019, armed conflict in southeastern Myanmar has also increased, forcing thousands of those recently returned to flee their homes once more. Additionally, international ire around ongoing massacres of Rohingya peoples in Myanmar has cast further doubt on the country’s claims to political transition.

Amid these upheavals, the filmmakers have shed a distinct light onto the microcosmic ways in which cataclysmic world and regional events have shaped recent refugee migrations. Ethnocine necessarily intervenes into topics and approaches not often covered or integrated into films about Southeast Asian communities for U.S. audiences.

Full review here. Photo above by Emily Hong, Miasarah Lai, and Mariangela Mihai.


Marguerite Casey Foundation names Prof. Alisa Bierria as a 2020 Freedom Scholar

Marguerite Casey Foundation names Prof. Alisa Bierria as a 2020 Freedom Scholar


The Marguerite Casey Foundation launched a new $3 million initiative, the Freedom Scholars, to support social and economic justice scholarship. Ethnic Studies faculty member, Prof. Alisa Bierria, has been named as one of twelve members of the initiative’s inaugural class. Announcement excerpt below:

The nation’s boldest scholars stand at the forefront of movements for economic and social justice – they are creating the catalytic ideas for transformative change. Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation are placing power in the hands of these changemakers through new Freedom Scholars Awards, $250,000 grants that give leaders greater freedom to build a truly representative economy that works for working families and people.

The $3 million Freedom Scholars program is a commitment to scholarship that is rooted in and supports movements led by Black and Indigenous people, migrants, queer and poor people, and People of Color. The awards support scholars who are shifting the balance of power to families and communities that have been historically excluded from the resources and benefits of society. With this award, Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation are recognizing the role that scholars play in cultivating the intellectual infrastructure necessary to nurture movements toward freedom.

Today’s Freedom Scholars work at the forefront of abolitionist, Black, feminist, queer, radical, and anti-colonialist studies and critical fields of research that are often underfunded or ignored. Support for their research, organizing, and academic work is pivotal in this moment when there is a groundswell of support to hold our political and economic leaders accountable.

‘Vivitos y Coleando’: The Cultural Politics of the Paisa Periphery, by Prof. Adrián Félix

‘Vivitos y Coleando’: The Cultural Politics of the Paisa Periphery, by Prof. Adrián Félix


Prof. Adrián Félix published a review of Charros: How Mexican Cowboys are Remapping Race and American Identity, by Laura Barraclough. Excerpt below:

Octavio Paz once wrote about the zacatecano poet Ramón López Velarde that “irony is his rein and the adjective his spur.” Not so for Barraclough, who is more of a straight shooter; her writing is neither flowery nor poetic, careful not to over-stretch charro metaphors in her prose. However, my main critique of this book is not in its form but rather in its method. True to her formation as a geographer, Barraclough opens the conclusion by stating: “Hover over virtually any city in the U.S. West using the satellite view of a web mapping service, and you will almost certainly spot the distinctive keyhole shape of at least one lienzo charro” (196). Her argument about “place-making”, “vernacular spaces” and “ranchero landscapes” on the “metropolitan fringe” is an important one, as “lienzos offer an important space for cultural affirmation and transnational collectivity” (196) and an “invocation of a shared rural Mexican ranching past left behind” (197). As is the central argument that positions charros as the “original cowboys”: “Asserting the historic presence of ethnic Mexican ranchers and vaqueros as the ‘original cowboys’ in the region that became the U.S. Southwest, they have transformed core narratives of American identity centered on the cowboy, ranching, and the rodeo” (200). Yet for all her focus on “scalar dynamics” and “scaling up”, it would behoove Barraclough to descend from the bird’s eye view, and the historic “long view”, and scale down. It is the task of the ethnographer to, as charros put it, “entrarle al ruedo” (“enter the rodeo ring”), with all of the political ethics that implies, plunging into the depths of the paisano periphery. This, however, would require oral histories and deep ethnography, something Barraclough entirely avoids. Those who are up to the task will find charros not as long-gone historical figures but as living, breathing, flesh-and-bone denizens of the paisano periphery, with all of our contradictions, as the charro adage goes, vivitos y coleando. Alive and bull-tailing.

Read the full review here. Photo courtesy of Al Rendon.

Sep 24: Native American Pedagogies in Remote Teaching

Sep 24: Native American Pedagogies in Remote Teaching


Native American Pedagogies in Remote Teaching: An Initial Discussion led by Prof. Wesley Leonard

Thursday, September 24 at 2:30pm to 4:00pm

More info

Please join the Reclamation and Native American Communities Faculty Commons for an informal discussion on implementing Native American and other Indigenous pedagogies in the current context of remote teaching. Through a series of informal presentations and discussion, we will consider how we can beneficially draw from Indigenous educational traditions in how we design and teach our courses. The final part of the session will turn to a discussion of ideas for a possible 2020-2021 series of events on this topic.

Indigenous pedagogies might be defined as those that emerge from and center the peoplehood, cultures, values, and intellectual traditions of Indigenous communities in relation to the particular places those communities come from. Though pedagogical methods vary across Native American and other Indigenous communities, common are approaches that focus on the whole individual in relational contexts and on the related idea that knowledge is produced and interpreted in the context of relationships. Specific examples of Indigenous pedagogies include teaching through storytelling and through engagement with land.

Registration required: