The University of New Mexico (UNM) now offers an Introduction to Asian American Studies class for students this upcoming spring.
The intro course will cover Asian American history, geopolitics, migration and more from the 1800s to the present, according to a news release. Students will be able to reflect on the Asian American identity and diaspora through study of literature, arts, and activism.
“One of the really cool things about classes like Intro to Asian American Studies is it takes something that you think you don’t know about and it shows you how present it is in your life,” Ph.D. student in American Studies Shebati Sengupta, who will teach the class, said in the release.
“It’s in your bookstore, it’s in the things you watch and listen to, it’s in the migration history of the country where you live, and so, it’s important to take classes like this because it helps you focus in on something that is already in your life.”
UNM currently has three ethnic studies departments, including Chichana/o studies, Africana studies and Native American Studies, but no formal Asian American Studies program or department.
Director of the Asian American Pacific Islander Resource Center (AAPIRC) at UNM Farah Nousheen said in the release that this is the first step in rounding out academic offerings in ethnic studies. Nousheen also stated that she believes this is the only Asian American Studies university course in the state.
“It’s important for all students to understand their identity in the broader nation and their identity in the world,” Nousheen said. “By not having an Asian American Studies class, we are really closing opportunities for Asian American students and all students interested in critical race studies. We are missing a big piece when educating students about race, racism, colonialism, imperialism, and other such critical topics.”
According to Nousheen, New Mexico has a forgotten history with Asian Americans, referring to Japanese interment camps and the death of two Asian American women in Albuquerque massage studios. She hopes that UNM will be able to offer enough Asian American Studies courses for students to concentrate or minor in their education.
“It’s not that Asian America exists somewhere else in the United States,” Nousheen said. “It’s here and been here in New Mexico.”
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