Research

I am a historian of U.S. immigration and empire, with a focus on Asia after World War II. I was trained as a historian of US in the World in the International History track at Harvard University, where I also completed a secondary field in modern Korean history.

My current book project (under contract with Oxford University Press) uses the history of Asian American evangelicals as a lens to explore intersections of race, religion, and politics since the 1970s. Model Christians, Model Minorities: Asian Americans, Race, and Politics in the Transformation of U.S. Evangelicalism (title tentative) considers how post-1965 Asian immigration has changed U.S. evangelical institutions and politics. Asian Americans are currently the fastest growing racial group in the country, with more immigrants coming to the United States from Asia than from anywhere else in the world. They are also one of the fastest growing populations within U.S. evangelicalism. Today Asian Americans lead the National Association of Evangelicals, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Evangelicals (now, Christians) for Social Action, among other flagship organizations. Yet little is known about them and their history in the United States. Drawing from archival research and over fifty oral history interviews, I chart how Asians and Asian Americans have changed Christian higher education, parachurch organizations, church denominations, national evangelical organizations, and faith-based political lobbies. In so doing, my work connects two developments that have reshaped racial and religious politics in America over the past fifty years: the rise of the Religious Right and the demographic transformations resulting from the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.

In academic year 2021-2022, I will hold a Visiting Scholar fellowship at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. My research is also supported by a sabbatical grant from the Louisville Institute. For a preview of some themes explored in chapter 1 of the book, watch my April 2021 talk at Princeton Theological Seminary’s “Lived Theology in Asian America: Race, Justice, and Politics in Transpacific Context” conference. The talk is titled “The Asian American Movement and the Church.” 

For more on how my family’s immigration story has shaped my historical work, see my Fall 2020 interview with historian Lucy Salyer on the Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS) website.