My research interests include immigration and refugee studies, Asian American Studies, militarism and race and gender and nation.
My manuscript Contested Terrains: Family, Intimacy, and War Memories is a multi-genre analysis of Vietnamese refugees families and the intergenerational memory of the Vietnam War. Sociological analyses of the second-generation typically center family dynamics as either the predictor of social outcomes of adaptation or the source of conflict within the family. As the most studied refugee cohort in U.S. history, I argue that the over documentation of Vietnamese refugees by sociologists and policy makers has generated a “refugee reproductive,” which established the family as a site of heteronormative relationships (married, opposite-gender parents and children) and of successful assimilation, reproducing ideas of normativity through the heterosexual relations of family, and fixing Vietnamese as refugees deserving of rescue. This refugee reproductive has simultaneously marked the end of the war, both by providing evidence of “successful” resettlement and an apparent “solution” to national racial problems of poverty faced by Latinxs and African-Americans, outlined in famous studies such as the Moynihan Report. This dissertation turns to second-generation cultural texts, popular films, graphic novels as an alternative archive to explore new, contested meanings of Vietnamese resettlement in the U.S. Challenging the state-narratives produced by the sociological policy studies, which treat “family” as a variable, my dissertation explores how the refugee reproductive has effectively contained the experience of war within the family. I ask, how do second generation perspectives on history and memory disrupt the state-centered refugee frame and 2) how does the suppressed psychic and social persistence of war bear on the family?
My next project explores the relationship between Vietnamese refugees, as the most over documented (refugee / immigrant) population in the United States and Central American migration as an un(der)documented phenomenon and the role that social science and policy has had in normalizing these characterizations of each group.