Princeton hires first professor of Asian-American history

Historians in the News
tags: Princeton



Beth Lew-Williams, who will join the University next year, will become the first professor in Asian-American history.  She will teach a course called “Asian-American History” in the spring of 2015.

Lew-Williams is currently an American Council of Learned Societies New Faculty Fellow at Northwestern University.

Her appointment follows the University’s 2013-14 hiring of its first professor in Latino history, Rosina Lozano.

History department chair William Jordan said he sought scholars in both Latino and Asian-American history to fill what he saw as glaring gaps in the history department’s curriculum. Other factors leading to the creation of Lew-Williams’s position included the influence of English professor Anne Cheng, who has taught several Asian-American studies courses and pushed for an Asian-American Studies program at the University; interest of Asian-American students and alumni also contributed to the creation of the position.

Cheng declined to comment.

Lew-Williams explained that she hopes to introduce a diverse group of students to Asian-American history as a rigorous and intellectual enterprise, noting that her course will explore questions about identity, how immigration law has shaped race relations in the United States and how Asians’ long history in America continues to influence racial categories and racial stereotypes today.

Lew-Williams, a descendant of 19th century Chinese immigrants, said that, as with many Asian-American scholars, her interest began from personal experience, including a childhood with little classroom exposure to Chinese-American history....




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