LIVE 5/28/15 6pm EASTERN: I was excited to talk with James Ong, a young scholar about his take on the “mixed-race movement” (is there one?) and what the best way to move the needle on the conversation about multiracial identity and experience is. You can listen here or download the episode on itunes.–Heidi Durrow
James Ong is a recent graduate of the UCLA Asian American Studies Masters Program and current doctoral student in the UC Davis History Department where he studies racial and ethnic history, immigration, critical-race theory, and environmental history.
He recently completed his M.A thesis which examines how socially-constructed monoracial and multiracial dichotomies emerge from discursive processes and interpersonal interactions, creating contextually specific definitions of “racial normativity.” Multiethnic individuals are often subjected to multiple and contradictory racial frameworks which socially, culturally, and legally define “ethnic identity” based on monoethnic standards. However, these “standards” constantly shift depending on the external observer’s interpretation of an individuals’ “mixed” phenotype and prevailing notions of “normative identity.” This perpetuates a seemingly intrinsic multiethnic “racial otherness” engendering both positive and negative consequences. His thesis explores the effects of this dynamic for mixed Japanese/Americans over the last 100 years. He argues this racial formation process remains a significant social and political issue for many Asian American groups today.
James has co-taught and co-authored courses on mixed race in Asian American history at UCLA with Lane Hirabayashi (PhD, UCLA Asian American Studies) and Robert Romero (PhD/JD, UCLA Chicano Studies/Asian American Studies). These courses engage critical race theory, historiography, and media analysis to address past and contemporary issues.
Beyond ethnic studies, his research interests include Japanese and Japanese American history, specifically and transnational migration. He has also contributed to courses related to general Asian American history, Contemporary U.S. history, and the History of East Asia.
James is also involved in various community projects and occasionally writes articles on race and identity. He enjoys traveling, photography, film, cycling, and soccer in his free time. He is also the creator, CEO and lead author for the coffee website coffeeisforlovers.com.