Asian American Studies Minor

The Asian American Studies minor at WashU is designed to build and sustain the spirit of critical inquiry in and beyond the classroom to students’ professional and personal lives. As an inter- and multi-disciplinary program, the minor privileges an intersectional approach that showcases the varied ethnic, national, linguistic, and systemic collaborations that constitute Asian Americanness. Reflective of the collective strength of our faculty, the minor facilitates intellectual exchanges and academic inquiries surrounding Asian American histories, migration, cultures, race, labor, justice, gender, sexualities, disabilities, popular culture, representations, food, environment, materiality, and many other interdisciplinary areas. Echoing the spirit of the Asian American student body, at WashU the minor furthers current conversations about equity, justice, empowerment, and redressal surrounding Asian American presence in the U.S. Through community engagement, research, critical thinking, and professional engagement, the minor focuses on holistic student growth that continues the spirit of intervention, action, and change through scholarly and community settings. 


In addition to American Culture Studies, Asian American Studies collaborates with departments and programs across campus, including East Asian Literatures and Cultures, South Asian Languages and Cultures, African and African American Studies; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The multidisciplinary minor will inspire you to draw on the methods and insights of multiple disciplines to engage complex, real-world problems that necessitate interdisciplinary thinking. Situated in the larger context of the university's commitment to diversity and inclusion, the minor in Asian American Studies is an integral part of diversity and inclusion initiatives at Washington University that nurture a culturally and academically stimulating environment.



Why A Minor in Asian American Studies? 

WashU’s Asian American Studies Minor celebrates, evaluates, and contributes to scholarly studies of Asian American presence, identity, politics, sexualities, and racial formation in the U.S. Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing and most visible minorities in the U.S., constituting 7% of the nation’s population in 2023, according to the Pew Research Centre. Nationally, ethnically, and regionally varied, Asian Americans are also one of the most diverse minority groups in the U.S. With diversity as an asset, Asian Americans can be found in all sectors of employment ranging from IT, law, medicine, education, media, public works, politics, sports, etc., necessitating their recognition and celebration as important national figures who have changed the nature of local, regional, and global politics in the 21st century. Who does not know of Jerry Wang, Former CEO of Yahoo, Sundar Pichai, current CEO of Google, Kamala Harris, current U.S. VP, Margaret Cho, actress, musician, writer, to name a few of our popular Asian American faces?

This minor will help you: 

Historically, study the history of Asian American presence in the U.S., struggles, stereotypes, diversity, and establishment

Academically, evaluate current issues of racial, class, gender, medical, political, legal, global, transnational, and immigrant concerns.

Professionally, present your education as a balanced set of socially immersed, and informed majors and minors that reflect your expertise in your subject and your dedication towards ongoing causes of social and humanitarian progress.

Ethically, reflect and contribute to social thought on questions of equity, justice, humanism, forced migrations, and conflicts, in a way that progresses us towards a fairer, and freer version of humanism in the 21st century.

This is the moment to make a change, and we are here to help you be a part of it! 


Students On Why a minor in AAS is Important

“I grew up in the South where I was the only Chinese person in a very white town. The literature I grew up on never once resonated with me nor did it tell my story. To know that your experiences are experiences other people can relate to is one thing, but to see that they are worth reading and writing about is a whole other” – Maggie Lu

“This AAS class was the first time in 21 years that I have been able to study a lot of the cultural implications, meanings, significance of my life as an Asian American” – Shelei Pan

“This Asian American Studies class has also made me more appreciative of my parents and what they have been through for us” – Christina Lin




L98 AAS 250 Introduction to Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies, Dr. Sabnam Ghosh

This course aims to build foundational knowledge of Asian American cultures, historical presence, internal diversities, and stereotypes to unpack the term “Asian American”. The general absence and silencing of Asian American presence in the U.S. has led to the widespread idea that there is no Asian American narrative. This course interrogates our selective knowledge about Asian America and gives us a general sense of the Asian American canon, timeline, major events, and popular discourses. We explore ethical humanitarian ways to read Asian American texts, and formulate critical frameworks to understand the physical and material conditions of Asian American survival in the U.S. No previous knowledge of Asian American and/or Pacific Islander studies is required. Texts of study include diverse literary genres, film, and popular culture.

L46 AAS 135 First-Year Seminar: Chinatown: Migration, Identity, and Space, Dr. Linling Gao-Miles MW

"Chinatown," as a cultural symbol and a spatial entity, links various topics and studies in this course. Our survey starts with a historical and geographical glimpse of Chinatowns and ethnoburbs in the U.S. through real-life stories of their residents. We then expand our horizon to global Chinatowns with selected case studies of Chinatowns in Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Australia. Our historical and ethnographic inquiries also investigate the ways in which Chinese food has been adapted to each local culture and society. Through the lens of Chinatown, this seminar looks into migration and settlement while tackling questions about representations of identity and culture as well as spatial constructions by immigrant communities. In doing so, we reconsider popular narratives about Chinatowns or ethnic enclaves in general. The assignments include ethnographic surveys of Chinese businesses.

L98 AMCS 3250 The Real and Fake: Identity, Conflicts, and Racial Formation in Asian American Literatures, Dr. Sabnam Ghosh

Who is a “real” Asian and who is “fake”? Why do stereotypes like “banana” and “coconut” exist? Is cultural identity real or are we just performing certain identities to fit into social positions? How is race experienced in Asian America? Drawing from identity and race theories that course will unpack real, fake and fabricated identities and discuss how identities have been historically shaped by race, gender, class, but are gradually moving beyond these categories into intersectional realities of selective racialization, desirable, and cosmopolitan Asianness. Unpacking the capacious nature of Asian American identity and racial formation, the course will help students reflect, question and realize their own identarian influences, improve critical thinking on modern issues and the habit of reflective reading and writing.

L98 AMCS 336: Is Colonialism Over? Global Power and Resistance, Dr. Sabnam Ghosh

The 21st century is characterized by numerous ongoing global conflicts in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Caribbean, and The Americas. Popular opinions blame these on poor choices in “third world countries”- dictatorships, corruption, failing economies, or the lack of people’s will for change. But, can we interpret these conflicts as reactions of historical colonial incursions? Is colonialism over? Has the empire ended? This course interrogates popular opinions - through commentary, photographs, maps, personal opinions, and literatures - about ongoing global conflicts to challenge the assumption that we are in a “post” colonial age where the era of colonialism has officially ended. We connect literatures from Kashmir, Sudan, Palestine, Haiti, and the U.S. to colonial politics, settler colonialism, and popular cultural instruments of colonialism, such as, religion, language, holidays, tourism, and other colonial vestiges. Finally, learn transnational, decolonial, antiracist, and humanitarian frameworks, and their connections to themes of power, biopolitics, transnationalism, and resistance.

L98 AAS206, The Korean Wave: Reading Korea Through Popular Culture and Media, Dr. Wonseok Lee

Korean popular culture has received attention from across the globe for more than 20 years through K-drama, K-cinema, K-pop, K-beauty, webtoon, video games, mukbang (a live-streamed eating show), and so on. This course examines the global popularity of Korean popular culture, known as the Korean Wave (Hallyu). Successful students will gain the skills to critically interpret Korea through popular culture and understand the impact of media on cultural globalization. No background in Korean language, history, or culture is required.

L98 AMCS 310 Queer Asian America: Literatures on Race, Gender and Sexuality, Dr. Chris Eng

What’s queer about “Asian America”? Historically, the legal and symbolic parameters for who counts as an American were fortified against the Asian body as a threatening alien Other. Cultural discourses invoked notions of deviant genders and perverse sexualities as proof that Asian/Americans are inassimilable to the heteronormative domestic ideals of the nation. Countering these tendencies, scholarly works in queer Asian American studies join a growing corpus of Asian American creative works that feature LGBTQ protagonists in foregrounding the rich intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality. Guided by the theoretical insights of these writings, this course explores how Asian American literatures envision queerness as a creative force for activating convivial practices, desires, and socialities that exceed disciplinary norms of the nation-state.

L98 AMCS 3131 Asian American Writings: Contesting American Constructions of Alien Others, Dr. Chris Eng

What does it mean to use “Asian American” as a descriptor for a person, group, set of issues and interests, academic field, or a piece of work? Most commonly, this term serves as a self-evident demographic category that indicates one’s ethnicity as being “of Asian descent.” Largely forgotten are its origins in the radical social movements of the 1960s, when student activists coined the term as a political identity. For these activists, arts and literature were central to the political work of both elucidating histories of exclusion, whereby Asian bodies were constructed as America’s alien other, and charting alternative radical visions of a more socially just nation. Accordingly, against dominant modes that read Asian American literary texts as ethnographic accounts of reified “Asian cultural difference,” this course analyses the intellectual, artistic, and activist work enacted by these writings in theorizing the exclusionary mechanisms of citizenship and formulating collective forms of interracial solidarity.

NEW COURSE!! What Are You Eating for Dinner? Politics of Exotic and Authentic Asian American Food, Dr. Sabnam Ghosh

Asian American food has become a staple in the American food scene. Adapted to American tastes, Asian food has moved from excluding early Asian migrants, to performing inclusion for Asian populations, stimulating curiosity in Asian cultures, and promoting global food tourism. This course unpacks the journey of Asian America from exclusion to inclusion through food! Evaluating the constructs of food as disgusting, foreign, smelly, to modern constructs of curiosity, authenticity, and liberalism the course encourages students to recognize, interrogate, and record their food journeys to unpack how food has been an instrument for marginalization, discrimination, labor exploitation, malnutrition, assimilation, beautification, sexualization, tourism, fusion, and new transnational illiberalism. This class will tie your personal “tastes” to literary theories. Bring your appetites, lunches, and critical thoughts with you to this class! Texts of study include diverse literary genres, film, shows, and surveys of your popular haunts in STL


For questions about the Asian American Studies minor, please contact

Dr. Karen Skinner
Academic Coordinator