Asian American Studies


Set in the richly diverse Central San Joaquin Valley, Fresno’s population of about 500,000 is 13% Asian American and Pacific Islander, with significant presence of people with Hmong, Asian Indian, Filipino, Laotian, Japanese, Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Korean, Native Hawaiian, Samoan and Guamanian heritage. The Central Valley has played a crucial role in the history of immigration from Asia to the United States, including the arrival of people from South Asia to work in agriculture and, later, people displaced by the wars in Indochina.

The Asian American Studies Program has a four decade history in the Department and is a valued part of the Department and University. The Fresno State student body is over 15% Asian American and Pacific Islander and our AAPI students lead many vibrant and active student organizations, including the Hmong Student Association, Lao Student Association, Magkaisa Fresno State, and Amerasia, a pan-Asian American organization  Every fall, Amerasia hosts Amerasia Week, a festival highlighting the history and culture of Asian peoples in the Valley and on campus.  Other Asian American student organizations have their own cultural heritage events throughout the year.  The campus newspaper, The Collegian, publishes the Asia Pacific Review, a periodic showcase of Asian American student authors and news.

The campus also has an activeAsian Faculty and Staff Association and a new Cross Cultural and Gender Center. Our campus is actively engaged in efforts to ensure the success of students from all backgrounds, and participates in the CSU system’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative.

Minor in Asian American Studies Requirements

The Asian American Studies Program offers a minor with classes that focus on the history and contemporary experience of Asians in the United States. These courses explore themes in local and ethnic history, trans-Pacific contact, the experience of various Asian diasporas, cultural change, gender relations and interethnic relations.

Courses in Asian American Studies familiarize students with the historical, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions experienced by peoples from Asia in the United States. The program seeks to provide a foundation for self-understanding among Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, and an understanding of US society in light of the Asian American experience.  The Asian American Studies Minor complements any major dealing with human society and culture.

Asian American Organizations

The Asian American organizations on campus welcome new members. For further information about the Asian American Studies Program, contact the coordinator, Dr. Franklin Ng, at 559.278.3002, or write him at

Asian American Studies Minor

Select from ANTH 2, ASAM 110, AFRS 1 (6 units)

Select from ASAM 15,30 (6 units)

Select from ASAM 150,180T; ANTH 123,124 (9 units)

Total (21 units)

Note: The minor also requires a 2.0 GPA and 6 upper-division units in residence.


Franklin Ng is a professor of anthropology and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fresno. He is the editor of the Asian American Encyclopedia (1995), the author of Taiwanese Americans (1998), and the coauthor of Asian American Issues (2004). He is also the editor of the Routledge series, Studies in Asian Americans: Reconceptualizing Culture, History, and Politics. From 2004 to 2006, he served as president of the Association of Asian American Studies. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Amerasia Journal, The Journal of American Ethnic History, and Chinese America: History and Perspectives, and was the former editor of the Journal of American-East Asian Relations.

Gena Lew Gong is a Lecturer teaching Asian American Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Fresno State. She is active in campus-wide initiatives, including launching a research project to measure Southeast Asian students’ sense of “campus belonging,” designing and directing an Action Research Project to improve the academic success of Southeast Asian American freshmen, and serving on the board of the Asian Faculty and Staff Association. She also volunteers as the President of Central California Asian Pacific Women, a local nonprofit that grants scholarships and convenes community leaders around issues affecting women and children, and is responsible for bringing Disoriented Comedy, the only nationally-touring Asian female comedy group, to Fresno for sold-out shows in both 2014 and 2015.  She has a wealth of nonprofit experience, holding staff leadership roles at A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Community Partners, Asian Pacific Community Fund, and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP).  She holds a BA in Psychology from UC San Diego and an MA in Public Policy from Duke University.

Certificate in Southeast Asian Studies

The Certificate of Southeast Asian Studies requires a minimum of 12 units. Select from the following upper-division courses:

ANTH 123, 190; ASAM 110, 138, 140, 190; GEOG 177T; HMONG 100, 101; LING 190; SWRK 181.

The Minor and the Certificate in Southeast Asian Studies focus on the cultures and peoples of Southeast Asia, and on their communities outside Southeast Asia, especially those in the United States. For further information contact Dr. Franklin Ng, Department of Anthropology, at 559.278.3002.

Center for Southeast Asian and Asian American Studies

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies at California State University at Fresno, was established in the Spring of 1995. The Center for Southeast Asian Studies is a multi-disciplinary unit designed to help foster a greater awareness of Southeast Asia at the university. The development of the Southeast Asian Center has been ranked a priority in the agenda of the University future plan.

The Southeast Asian people in the Valley, in particular people from Laos, are one of the fastest growing communities, and yet they are the least understood cultural groups in the region. The Center will help to build a bridge of understanding between these different groups and other communities. The Center's scholarly activities will bring appreciation and respect for Southeast Asia to the campus community, as well as contribute to the empowerment of the Southeast Asian students, the future leaders of their communities.

Center Coordinator, Franklin Ng, Ph.D.

Course Descriptions

ANTH 120. Ethnic Relations and Cultures (3)

Prerequisites: G.E. Foundation and Breadth Area D. The cultural and social origins of ethnicity, and its opportunities and problems for contemporary mass societies. Offers a critical review of major theories on ethnic politics, economics, and ideology in the light of cross-cultural evidence. G.E. Multicultural/International MI.

ANTH 123. Peoples and Cultures of Southeast Asia (3)

Prerequisites: G.E. Foundation and Breadth Area D.An introductory survey of the cultural and historical adaptations of societies in Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam; and of Insular societies in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Examines the major effects of culture contact between East and West. G.E. Multicultural/International MI.

ANTH 124. Peoples and Cultures of East Asia (3)

Examines cultural pluralism. Considers cultural adaptations and change among minorities such as Moslems, Tibetans, and Mongolians in China, and ethnic groups of Japan and Korea. Outlines kinship, religion, organization, and technological factors in the Asiatic culture complex.

125. Tradition and Change in China and Japan (3)

(Same as HUM 140.) Prerequisites: G.E. Foundation and Breadth Area D. Examines the current aspirations and problems of the Chinese and Japanese in terms of their traditional cultures, and explains how their histories, values, world views, and intellectual traditions affect their lifestyles and their international relations today. G.E. Multicultural/International MI.

ANTH 126. Cultures and Foods of East Asia (3)

(Same as ASAM 151.) Treats cuisine as a systematic product of the interaction between culture and ecology. Focuses on sociocultural rather than bio-nutritional factors in the preparation and ritual implications of food in Mainland and Insular Asia. Students learn to prepare and serve a variety of Oriental dishes.

ASAM 15. Introduction to Asian Americans

Prerequisite: G.E. Foundation A2. Historical, social, and psychological factors in the changing status and identity of Americans from Asia. Examines variables such as cultural heritage, family organization, intergenerational conflict, and the experience of racism in the changing world of Asian Americans. G.E. Breadth D3.

Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

GE Area: D3

ASAM 30. Japanese Americans in the United States

A survey of social adaptations and cultural changes among Japanese Americans in different communities such as California and Hawaii. Considers identity, marginality, acculturation, and cultural traditions in Japan and in American communities.
Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3
Typically Offered: Fall

ASAM 110. Asian American Communities

Prerequisites: G.E. Foundation and Breadth Area D. A multidisciplinary study of Asian American communities and their relations with the larger society. Analyzes values, lifestyles, processes of group identity and boundary maintenance, social organization, and cultural change. Examination of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and other Asian American subcultures. G.E. Multicultural/International MI.
Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
GE Area: M/I

ASAM 138. Asian American Women

Addresses the historic and contemporary experiences and cultural representations of Asian American women.  Examines race, ethnic, social, and class issues from the vantage point of immigrant, refugee, and American-born women in the U.S. who trace their ancestry to East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Analyzes topics such as immigration, gender roles, identity, stereotypes, relationships, workforce participation, and community activism. Helpful to students in sciences, social work, and applied fields.
Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3
Typically Offered: Fall

ASAM 140. Southeast Asian Americans

Since the Immigration Act of 1965 the Asian American population has grown dramatically. This course focuses on recent issues that are facing new arrivals and supplements a history of Asian American communities (e.g., ASAM 110). Useful to students in education, social work, health sciences, the social sciences, and many other fields. (Formerly ASAM 180T)
Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3
Typically Offered: Spring

ASAM 180T. Topics in Asian American Studies

Prerequisites: ASAM 15, permission of instructor. Detailed consideration of a single topic concerning the past or present position of Asian Americans in U.S. society.
Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 6

ASAM 190. Independent Study

See Academic Placement -- Independent Study. Approved for SP grading.
Units: 1-3, Repeatable up to: 6
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

ASAM 195. Diversity in the United States: Race and Gender Issues

Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3