American Studies

Tamara Bhalla, Chair and Associate Professor

“My approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion is shaped by my scholarly and teaching interests in the fields of multiethnic literary studies, critical ethnic studies, and Asian American studies. These fields teach us how to effect change, build solidarity and coalition among minoritized groups, diversify canons, and include more voices in the privileged space of the university.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is inherent in the work that I do because–while my approach to cultural studies research is always intersectional–race is my primary category of analysis. Recently, I published a cowritten essay in The Journal of Asian American Studies called The Privilege of South Asian American Studies. The essay examines the role of class  in positioning South Asian Americans within paradigms of Asian American studies. My current book project looks at several settings in which US multiethnic literature is read publicly or communally—celebrity book clubs, literary academia, book review, and social media—to examine the racial and representational politics of this body of literature for its diverse array of readers. I was also offered an opportunity to write about my experiences teaching a public humanities version of her Asian American Studies course, Bringing Public Humanities to Asian American Studies for This fall I will be participating in the inaugural Breaking the Mold Leadership Initiative.  As a South Asian American woman in the academy, I am very excited to participate in this program particularly because Asian American voices are still underrepresented in higher education leadership.

While diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have recently gained prominence in universities across the country, I feel fortunate to be a scholar and department chair of American Studies where these values have been instrumental in the field’s inception and continue to guide its development through critical investments in addressing issues of race, class, and gender inequity.”