Jason Oliver Chang

Jason Chang, Assistant Professor of History, University of ConnecticutPh.D., UC Berkeley
Assistant Professor of History and Asian American Studies
Faculty Affiliate, El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies

Hours, Fall 2017: email for appointment
Office: Wood Hall Rm 331
Phone: (860) 486-2804
Fax: (860) 486-0641
Email: Jason.O.Chang@uconn.edu

Areas of Specialty

Asian American History; Comparative Ethnic Studies; Modern Mexico

I teach courses that bring together the fields of Area Studies, with emphasis on the Pacific and western hemisphere, and Comparative Ethnic Studies that stresses the dependent and contingent nature of race and its intersection with class, gender, and sexuality. I address topics such as global capitalism, transnationalism, diaspora, identity and community formation, indigeneity, inter-racial contact zones, governmentality, and the environment, as well as, the legal, cultural, and political economic foundations of colonialism, imperialism, and nationalism in the Americas.

Current Research Interests

Racial Transformation of Chinese in Mexico; Maritime Asian American History; Environmental History of the Pacific


After finishing my PhD from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley in 2010, I lectured in Asian American and Latin American history at the University of Texas at Austin. I also hold a Masters of Public Policy and Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Combining Asian American Studies and Latin American Studies, I have worked with colleagues in these related fields to push for a hemispheric conception of Asian America that attends to both the transnational features of Asian diasporas in the Americas and the importance of local, regional, and national frames of analysis. My first book, Chino: Racial Transformation of the Chinese in Mexico, 1880-1940 (submitted for review), analyzes the regional histories of Chinese migration and integration in Mexican society to show how the racial image of the Chinese shifted over the course of the 1910 revolution and subsequent reconstruction. The shifts in this racial form demonstrate how Mexican anti-Chinese politics, or antichinismo, influenced the formation of mestizo national identity; the exercise of sovereign authority by the postrevolutionary state; and the cultural politics of how Indians became racialized subject/citizens of the Mexican state.

My second project expands my interests in hemispheric Asian American history in several ways. My short-term research agenda focuses on Asian participation in Pacific and Caribbean seafaring culture. Drawing from business and government records I have begun work on a manuscript entitled Deep Waters: The Maritime World of Greater Asian America. Envisioned as a multi-ethnic survey of Asian and Pacific Islander participation in the economy, culture, and labor of the trans-Pacific passage, linking Asia and the Americas. I’m particularly interested in the historical development of oceanic occupations for Asian and Pacific Islanders as an abject source of maritime labor tracing its origins in the sixteenth-century Spanish galleon trade, to the British commercial fleets, then to the U.S. Navy and merchant mariners. My long-term research agenda attends to an environmental history of the Pacific. I’m interested in the ways that the pelagic environment of the ocean acted as an agent of history in successive imperial regimes, Pacific fishery politics and ocean voyages. I aim to build an understanding of the particular architecture features of maritime life as a an environmentally structured socially signified multi-ethnic/multi-racial contact zone. To this end I trace the influence of the Pacific through the dynamics of its currents and the technological evolution of oceanic domination from the seafaring occupational forces to gunboats to aerial bombing. Lastly, I examine the Pacific Trash Vortex as a material archive of trans-Pacific histories of toxicity, exploitation, dispossession, and imperialism.

I am a jointly-appointed Core Faculty member of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, as well as, Faculty Affiliate of El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies and American Studies.

I have received support for my research from institutions listed below.

UConn Office of the Vice President for Research
Institute for Historical Studies at UT Austin
Center for Race and Gender at UC Berkeley
Historical Society of Southern California
Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation
Huntington Library

Press Requests

Latino USA. Maria Hinajosa. “Asians and Latinos in the Making of the Racial Middle” 10/31/2014

Hyphen Magazine. Abigail Licad. “A Brief History of Collaboration Between Latinos and Asians in America” 11/4/2014

Dallas Morning News. Brooke Binkowski. “Brooke Binkowski: Chinese Influence Growing in Mexicali.” 2/20/2015

AlJazeera. Joe Jackson. “Calexico and Mexicali, twin cities separated at birth.” 2/21/2015

The California Report. Lisa Morehouse. California Foodways: The Chinese-Mexican Cuisine You’ll Find Only Along the Border. 3/28/2015

Selected Publications

Chino: Racial Transformation of the Chinese in Mexico, 1880-1940. (submitted for review)

Co-editor with Cathy Schlund-Vials and K. Scott Wong. Asian America: A Primary Source Reader. Yale University Press. Forthcoming


Chang, Jason Oliver. “Racial Alterity in the Mestizo Nation.” Journal of Asian American Studies 14, no. 3 (2011): 331-359.

Book Chapters

Chang, Jason Oliver. “Towards a Hemispheric Asian American History.” in Eiichiro Azuma and David Yoo, eds. Oxford Handbook of Asian American History. Oxford University Press. Forthcoming