I see the classroom as a space of engagement between persons. My students and I usually engage each other through the topical themes of these courses. In some ways, I see my task as modelling for them habits of thinking, reading, and writing and having in my lectures, but this is because actively engaging each other often turns the classroom into a workshop where my students and I try to articulate and flesh out concepts together. Often, this means that I understand our engagement as resulting in a final project of sorts – usually shorter papers and exams in lower-division courses and independent research projects in upper-division courses and seminars.
As a scholar of civil society ideologies, practices, and geographies with a regional focus on the Pacific Rim, I find that I am best equipped to engage my students through topics in human geography, religious studies, Asian studies, and Asian American studies. I tend to be in the habit of trying to discover my students’ topical interests, which means that I usually teach theory and methodology in geography, religion, and Asia and Asian America across broad themes beyond my own research. My teaching experience also includes working with students whose most proficient language is not English, usually exchange students who bring to the classroom discussion insights that make our conversation richer.
Northwestern University: Asian American Studies 203: Comparative Minority Conservatisms (Fall 2016)
As the 2016 federal elections arrive on our doorstep, much of the popular commentary has revolved around “conservatism,” especially the phenomenon of racial minorities embracing social, economic, and political forms of conservative ideology. But what is “conservatism,” and what are conservatives, especially those who are people of color, trying to conserve? In this course, we will explore the ideological content of various strains of American conservatisms as a way of exploring what ideology itself is and how it operates in communities of color. To do this, we will read texts in the “conservative tradition,” compare them to texts and events produced by minority conservatives, and discuss their relationship with the racial justice tradition of ethnic studies, especially (but not limited to) Asian American studies. In the first part of the course, we will read Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind in relation to student activist movements since the 1960s, the communities that they created, and the minority conservatives who challenged them. In the second half, we will read Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the French Revolution to compare “the conservative tradition” with contemporary articulations of minority conservatism. We will also spend some time on the stereotype of the “model minority,” which is why this course will be of special interest to those in Asian American studies. This course should also appeal to students in ethnic studies more broadly, as well as those interested in political philosophy.
Texts: Allan Bloom (2012), The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster; Edmund Burke (2009), Reflections on the Revolution in France. New York: Oxford University Press; select journal articles.
Simon Fraser University: Geography 420: Cultural Geography (D100) (Spring 2016)
In this course, we will attempt to practice cultural geography in a Vancouver setting. To do that, we will first have to figure out what we mean by ‘practice’ and who or what gets to ‘practice’ the making of spaces and places. Though we might end up having a productive disagreement as a class (unless we reach some consensus, which, given the state of human geography as a discipline, is not likely), I will propose in the second half of the class that we channel our possible tension into projects in cultural geography in Vancouver. Students will have an opportunity to choose case studies from Vancouver, including (but not limited to) geographies of affordable housing, the international property market, ethnic and migrant communities, intercultural initiatives, mediated publics, spaces of consumption, gendered spaces, simulacra, etc., and the final assignment will be a project to be submitted in some material form, either as a paper or in a creative medium discussed with the instructor.
Texts: Michel de Certeau (2011) The Practice of Everyday Life, 3rd ed., trans. Steven Rendall. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press. 2010; David Ley, Millionaire Migrants: Trans-Pacific Life Lines. Oxford: Blackwell; selected journal articles.
University of Washington: JSIS C 490C: Special Topics in Comparative Religion: ‘Trans-Pacific Christianities’ (Winter 2015)
As the title suggests, this course is a special topics class in comparative religion. There is a series of literary, historical, sociological, and even theological readings that I consider to be representative of a “special topic,” which I am calling “trans-Pacific Christianities.” We will work together to figure out what this topic is about. We will do this in the classroom by talking about the readings that I have assigned. There will be work outside the classroom, too, in a research paper where you write about something you are interested in.
Texts: Frank Chin, Jeffrey Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong. Aiiieeeeee! An Anthology of Chinese and Japanese American Writers. New York: Mentor, 1991; Reinhold Niebuhr. The Irony of American History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008; Mary Ting Yi Lui. The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005; Sung-Deuk Oak. The Making of Korean Christianity: Protestant Encounters with Korean Religions, 1876-1915. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2013; Peter C. Phan. Christianity with an Asian Face: Asian American Theology in the Making. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2003; Russell Jeung. Faithful Generations: Race and New Asian American Churches. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005.
University of Washington: JSIS C 254: American Religion (Winter 2014)
This course asks, “What do we mean by religion in America, and why does it matter to our society?” We will explore this question by looking at the different groups that have migrated to America and shaped its institutions and cultures. Beginning with American Protestantism, we will first examine why some strands of English Protestant theology shaped American culture. We will then turn to some groups that have been historically excluded from this consensus and how they have in turn contributed to newer understandings of American religion. Our course will conclude with an exploration of American Protestant fundamentalism. The goal of this course is to explore together how religion in America has shaped America as a whole, suggesting that we should care about American religion regardless of whatever religious background from which we come.
Texts: David Hackett Fischer (1989), Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press; Will Herberg (1955/1960/1983), Protestant-Catholic-Jew, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press; James Baldwin (1963/1992) The Fire Next Time, New York: Vintage; Jane Naomi Iwamura (2007), Critical Faith: Japanese Americans and the birth of a new civil religion. American Quarterly, 59(3), 937-968; David K. Yoo (1996). For those who have eyes to see: religious sighting in Asian America. Amerasia Journal, 22(1), xiii-xxii; Thomas A. Tweed (2010). Mary’s Rain and God’s Umbrella: Religion, Identity, and Modernity in the Visionary Art of a Chicana Painter. Material Religion, 6(30), 274-303; Andrea Smith (2010). Decolonization in unexpected places: native evangelicalism and the rearticulation of mission. American Quarterly, 62(3), 569-590; George M. Marsden (2007), Fundamentalism and American Culture, new ed, New York: Oxford University Press.
UW JSIS C 380 (Philip Tite), Spring and Summer 2014, Spring 2016: guest lecture on geographies of religion
UCSB RGST 190 GC (Steven Hu), Spring 2016: guest lecture/interview for May 9 session
SPU AAMP (Soong-Chan Rah), Winter 2016: guest lectures for March 4-5 session
UW GEOG 553 (Katharyne Mitchell), Winter 2016: seminar sit-in on postsecular geographies, migration, and sanctuary
UW JSIS 202 (James K. Wellman Jr.), Spring 2015: guest lecture on secularization thesis
UW JSIS 201 (Jose Antonio Lucero), Winter 2015: guest lecture on Hong Kong protests
UW JSIS C 403/GEOG 403 (Katharyne Mitchell), Winter 2015: guest lecture on geographies of secularization
UBC Geography 321 (Wes Attewell), Winter 2013: guest lecture on medieval European Christian cities
UBC History 485 (Henry Yu), Winter 2013: Final Project on Migrant Faith (Jeremia Chow and Sarah Crutchfield)
UBC Geography 357 (Elliot Siemiatycki), Fall 2012: guest lectures on social geographies of religion
UBC Geography 350 (Nicholas Lynch), Summer 2012: guest lecture on Asia-Pacific transnationalism and urban geography
Teaching Assistantships (UBC)
Geography 357: Social Geography (as teaching assistant)
Instructor: Elliot Siemiatycki (Fall 2012)
Social geography is, at its heart, concerned with the relationship between society and space. How do people shape places and how do places shape people? Established more than a century ago as an academic discipline, and being one of human geography’s core sub-disciplines (along with economic geography, cultural geography, political geography etc.), social geography has had a rather turbulent status in the field. At times, social geography and social geographers have lead disciplinary debates while at other times they have been relegated to little more than an afterthought. This course aims to trace the development of social geography as a field of study by examining the themes, theories and trends which define the study of social relations from a geographical perspective.
I gave two lectures on geographies of religion in this course.
History 482/Exchange 582: Transnational Flows in the Global City: Cultural Identities in the Urban Economic Landscape (as graduate group leader on religion and migration)
Instructor: Dr. Henry Yu (History, UBC) [with teaching assistants: Junjia Ye (Geography, UBC) and Andreanne Doyon (School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC)] (Summer 2010)
This is an intensive field study course that brings students from both NUS and UBC to both cities. We will be exploring themes of contemporary migration flows and how these flows shape and are shaped by the identities of the actors and places involved in both cities. More specifically, we will study intensively the historical changes of each city’s transnational spaces through policies and practices, embedded within which are gender, ethnic/racial and national subjectivities that are always tied to people’s economic livelihoods. While there will be guest lectures, assigned readings and guided tours, much of the course will be animated by student efforts. The methodology of the course and in particular, for their individual assignments and group projects, will be ethnographic work where students are strongly encouraged to engage with various people they meet on fieldtrips. Outside of the classroom, time will be productively spent returning to fieldsites at different days/ different times of the day, collecting empirical data that will ultimately enrich the key conceptual tenets of the course: “getting a feel” of the place, conversing with people using the space, observing as well as taking notes and photographs of places and people. Each student group will be led by a graduate leader who will help guide the students’ ideas and to ensure that they stay “on track” with the course’s themes. I was a graduate group leader for a group of six undergraduates from the University of British Columbia at Vancouver and the National University of Singapore. Together, we conducted field trips in Vancouver and Singapore to explore the connections of immigrant integration and new religious landscapes. Groups that our field trips highlighted included: the No. 5 Road “Highway to Heaven” in Richmond, BC, Vietnamese Buddhists and Catholics (and in many cases, Buddhist-Catholics) in Vancouver, Hongkonger evangelicals in Vancouver, Filipino Catholics in Singapore, and Tamil Hindus in Singapore. Though the group had diverse geographical and religious backgrounds, we came to an agreement that religious institutions provided not only important social integration for new migrants to Vancouver and Singapore, but more importantly, a sense of emotional peace and spiritual grounding. Our field trips were turned into a documentary entitled Moving Faith.
Geography 281/Arts Studies 202: Canada, Japan, and the Pacific Rim (as teaching assistant)
Instructors: Dr. David Edgington (Geography, UBC) and Dr. Akira Furukawa (Economics, Ritsumeikan University) (Winter 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
This course is an introduction to the core geographical, historical, cultural, political and economic forces that shape the Pacific Rim, together with an exploration of the role of Japan and Canada in this region. The Pacific region today is the world’s most dynamic region in terms of economic growth, and is increasingly important in terms of technological development. Overall, the course seeks to interpret the Pacific region by offering an introductory explanation of its history and current economic and political situation.
Introduction to Canadian Studies (UBC-Ritsumeikan Exchange) (ESL) (as teaching assistant)
Coordinator: Dr. David Brownstein (Geography, UBC) (Fall 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
This course introduces the issues and debates that are at the heart of Canadian society. You will become familiar with some of the key cultural, social, political and economic issues that are unique to this country. Rather than simply providing facts about Canada, the aim of the course is to question the ways in which Canadian culture and identity have been both constructed and perceived. You will be encouraged to think critically about how Canada was shaped into a modern nation and how it continues to transform as people and economies move and shift. You will learn to articulate your ideas and insights about these issues, in both written and spoken English, as they relate to your own experiences. This course will also facilitate your integration into the UBC learning environment and will help you to prepare for second semester Arts courses.
I am especially thankful to the Society for the Philosophical Study of Education for helping me articulate my teaching philosophy and interests.