Conveners: Alice Ming Wai Jim, Lok Siu, and Beatrice Glow


The presence of Asians in the Americas can be traced back to the sixteenth century with the launching of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade that connected the Americas with Asia. This was followed by 19th century labor migrations of Chinese and Indian “coolies” (indentured laborers) to Latin America and the Caribbean, the recruitment of Chinese to build the transcontinental railroads in the United States and Canada, and Pacific Islanders annexed by the U.S. government. Despite the long history of Asian presence, the “Asianness" of the Americas has not been particularly embraced as part of the "New World" identity. In fact, anti-Asian sentiment has been clearly evidenced by state-condoned practices of racialized exclusionary immigration policies, forced removal and expulsions, and episodic violence against Asians throughout the Americas. The result of this historical legacy has meant that the widespread presence of Asians in the hemisphere has been largely ignored, marginalized, misrepresented, and silenced. The objective of this work group is to acknowledge and critically address the histories and experiences of Asians in the Americas, focusing on how they actively and self-consciously negotiate and perform their cultural-political identity and sensibility. The notion of performance, then, is intentionally broad in scope to include the full spectrum ranging from everyday practices and spontaneous responses to orchestrated acts and organized efforts. To ensure the recognition of not only the many different ways in which performance is undertaken but also the regional diversity involved in performing Asian/Americas throughout the Western hemisphere, we will be especially interested in works that address Latin America, Caribbean, and Canada. Ultimately, the work group is committed to thinking through Asian/Americas comparatively and intersectionally in order to be attentive to the convergences as well as divergences in terms of cross-ethnic and cross-racial identifications, political strategies and practices, and processes of gendered racialization.


This will be the first meeting for this work group dedicated to fomenting and sustaining an ongoing dialogue committed to performance and politics in Asian/Americas during and between Encuentros. Approximatey 12-15 scholars/artists/activists representing diverse regions in the Americas will be selected to participate. The structure of the sessions will be determined upon confirmation of the final selection of participants in order to tailor the sessions according to the interests of the participants. Work group sessions may comprise of open critiques to workshop current projects, spaces for presentation of one’s work and/or performance, brainstorming future concrete deliverables (for example, in the form of a curatorial framework for exhibits or submissions to a tentatively forthcoming new Journal “Visual Culture: Asian/Americas”), and a collaborative final or work in progress to be presented at the end of Encuentro. Materials will be solicited to be shared amongst participants prior to the Encuentro as a way to kick start the process of cultural and creative exchange.


The Workgroup is receptive to artists, scholars and/or activists. Please submit the following: A description of past experiences in this field, current research interests and projects, and insights on developing the future direction of an Asian/Americas project (300-500 words); a curriculum vitae or resume, and ceative materials (up to 10 images of relevant work as well as links to websites and videos). Materials should be uploaded via the online application form before October 9th, 2013.

Approximatey 12-15 scholars/artists/activists representing diverse regions in the Americas will be selected to participate.

Convener Biographies:

Alice Ming Wai Jim is an art historian and independent curator based in Montreal. She is currently Associate Professor of Contemporary Art in the Department of Art History at Concordia University in Montreal. Before joining the faculty at Concordia, Jim was curator of the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (Centre A) in Vancouver (2003-06). Most recently, she curated Yam Lau: A World is a Model of the World (Montreal: Darling Foundry, 2013). Jim has convened many major academic meetings including the international workshop “Contemporary Art and the Inter-Asian Imaginary” for Inter-Asian Connections IV (Istanbul: Koç University, 2013) with Henry Tsang, and the national conference "Can-Asian, Eh? Diaspora, Indigeneity and the Transpacific" for the Canadian Asian Studies Association (Vancouver: CASA, 2009). She is currently researching on the convergence between global art histories and contemporary Asian and Asian Canadian art histories.

Beatrice Glow is a New York-based Taiwanese/American artist visualizing marginalized identities in diaspora and postcolonialism via performances and site-responsive installations. She holds a Studio Art BFA from New York University. As a Fulbright Scholar to Perú (2008) researching Asian diaspora, she published Taparaco Myth in English, Spanish and Chinese, performed at Bienal DEFORMES 2008, and exhibited Migratory Museum in Universidad Nacional de San Marcos, La Universidad Católica de Peru, Centro Cultural El Eje (Colombia), Museo de Bellas Artes de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Enlace Arte Contemporáneo in Peru. In New York, she has performed at El Museo del Barrio and created the Aquarium from Austronesia installation on the Lilac Steamship Museum that explored 5,000 years of transpacific human interconnectivity and migration. She was the 2012 Emerging Artist Fellow at the Hemispheric Institute, and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University.

Lok Siu is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Coordinator of the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Program at UC Berkeley. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, she works in the areas of diaspora, transnationalism, cultural citizenship, gendered racialization, cultural politics of food, and Asians in the Americas. Her books include Memories of a Future Home: Diasporic Citizenship of Chinese in Panama (Stanford U Press 2005) and two co-edited volumes, Asian Diasporas: New Formations, New Conceptions (Stanford U Press 2007), and Gendered Citizenships: Transnational Perspectives on Knowledge Production, Political Activism, and Culture (Palgrave Press 2009). She is currently developing a book manuscript on Hemispheric Asian America that recovers the inter-connections among Asians in the Americas within the context of coloniality and competing nationalisms.

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