At the University of Michigan, the Rackham Graduate School funds interdisciplinary graduate student working groups centered around a multitude of scholarly topics/fields. These student-led groups organize peer workshops and roundtables, invite guest speakers, and host conferences–all with the goal of fostering a robust intellectual community across departments at the University, as well as with rising and preeminent scholars in the broader academic community. I am involved with two Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops in a leadership capacity–The Border Collective and the Critical Ethnic and Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Graduate Student Group.
I also have up-to-date professional memberships with the Western Literature Association, the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, and the MLA, or Modern Language Association. Outside of strict academia, I have been a member of the Japanese American Citizens League since 2014.
The Border Collective originally focused on the U.S.-Mexico border, and has since expanded to consider the U.S. border with Canada, borderlands within the United States and the Americas, and environmental borderlands. We bring scholars, artists, and activists involved with borderlands studies and social justice to the University of Michigan, including: Celeste de Luna, Emmy Pérez, Julie Sze, John Gamber, Nancy de los Santos, Nadine Naber, Katherine Gibson, Daniel Gonzalez, and Sheila Contreras.
Colloquially known as the APIA Grads, this Rackham Interdisciplinary workshop focuses on rising scholarship concerning Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies. For the 2016-17 academic year, we focused our programming on Asian/Pacific Islander American mental health; in 2015-16, we focused on developing and maintaining APIA studies’ vibrant presence at the University of Michigan and the broader academy; and in 2014-15, we focused on intersections between APIA Studies and gender/sexuality. Scholars/artists/activists we have invited include: Mimi Khúc, Donna Nagata, Hoang Tan Nguyen, Mimi Nguyen, Eng Beng Lim, and Iyko Day.
In the Field
The Western Literature Association focuses, as you may have guessed, on literatures and cultural productions of the American West. In keeping with the traditional view of the West as rugged frontier, the WLA has a strong scholarly investment in ecocriticism and studies of the environment, but complicates this traditional mode by placing high value on new representations of the West and recognize its Native and ethnic presences, its urban spaces, and its transnational, global connections. Beyond its annual academic conference, the WLA maintains a variety of digital networks for scholarly communication via its members listserve, its Facebook page, and the WLA Graduate Student Facebook group. It also publishes the quarterly academic journal, Western American Literature. I presented at my first WLA conference in 2016, in Big Sky, Montana.
ASLE focuses on the many intersections between literature and cultural productions and the environment, ranging continents, hemispheres, space-time, and species. It is committed to expanding notions of the ecocritical from their U.S./Anglo-centric roots to include environmental engagements across the globe that have traditions just as long (if not longer). ASLE is also particularly interested in entertaining new modes of scholarship and experimental representations of knowledge. I presented at my first ASLE conference in 2014, in Moscow, Idaho. In 2016, my colleague Mary Renda and I won a grant from ASLE to put together ASLE’s first graduate symposium, Toxic Borders and Bondages: Intersecting Ecology with Capitalism, Racism, Heteropatriarchy and (Dis)possession. I was also one of the volunteer coordinators for the 2017 ASLE Biennial Conference in Detroit.
Read my reflections on the 2016 ASLE Graduate Symposium!
I joined the Detroit Chapter of the JACL in 2014, out of desire to connect with the Japanese American community in Michigan, and to engage in intersectional and cross-ethnic social justice advocacy in the metro Detroit area. I served as a Detroit chapter delegate to the JACL National Conventions in 2016 and 2017, and attended the 2015 National Convention as a Coulter Foundation fellow and alumna of the Kakehashi Project. As a member of the Detroit JACL Board, I manage the quarterly membership newsletter and maintain our online presence. For more information, please visit the JACL Detroit Chapter website, or follow our Facebook page.