Asian American Studies

Set in the richly diverse Central San Joaquin Valley, Fresno’s population of about 500,000 is 13% Asian American and Pacific Islander, with significant presence of people with Hmong, Asian Indian, Filipino, Laotian, Japanese, Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Korean, Native Hawaiian, Samoan and Guamanian heritage. The Central Valley has played a crucial role in the history of immigration from Asia to the United States, including the arrival of people from South Asia to work in agriculture and, later, people displaced by the wars in Indochina.

The Asian American Studies Program has a four decade history in the Department of Anthropology, and is a valued part of the Department and University. The Fresno State student body is over 15% Asian American and Pacific Islander and our AAPI students lead many vibrant and active student organizations, including the Hmong Student Association, Lao Student Association, Magkaisa Fresno State, and Amerasia (a pan-Asian American organization). Every spring, Amerasia hosts Amerasia Week to highlight the history and culture of Asian peoples in the Central Valley and Fresno. The campus newspaper, The Collegian, publishes the Asia Pacific Review, a periodic showcase of Asian American student authors and news.

Fresno State is actively engaged in efforts to ensure the success of students from all backgrounds, and participates in the CSU system’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative.

Minor in Asian American Studies Requirements

The Asian American Studies Program offers a minor with classes that focus on the history and contemporary experience of Asians in the United States. These courses explore themes in local and ethnic history, trans-Pacific contact, the experience of various Asian diasporas, cultural change, gender relations and interethnic relations. The program seeks to provide a foundation for self-understanding among Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, and an understanding of US society in light of the Asian American experience. 

Courses in Asian American Studies familiarize students with the historical, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions experienced by peoples from Asia in the United States.  The Asian American Studies Minor complements any major dealing with human society and culture.

Asian American Studies Minor 

Select from ASAM 15, ANTH 2, AFRS 1 (6 units)

Select from ASAM 110, ASAM 138, ASAM 140, ASAM 180T  (6 units)

Select from ASAM 151W, ANTH 123, ANTH 124, ANTH 125, AFRS 10 (6 units)

Total (18 units)

Note: The minor also requires a 2.0 GPA and 6 upper-division units in residence.

Center for Southeast Asian Studies

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies at California State University, Fresno was established in the Spring of 1995. The Center is a multi-disciplinary unit designed to help foster a greater awareness of Southeast Asia and Southeast Asian American experience on campus. The Southeast Asian people in the Valley, in particular people from Laos, are one of the fastest growing communities, and yet they are the least understood cultural groups in the region. The Center helps to build a bridge of understanding between these different groups and other communities in the Central Valley and Fresno. The Center's scholarly activities bring appreciation and respect for Southeast Asia to the campus community, as well as contribute to the empowerment of the Southeast Asian students.

The development of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies has been ranked a priority in the agenda of the University future plan.

Certificate in Southeast Asian Studies

The Certificate of Southeast Asian Studies requires a minimum of 12 units. Select from the following upper-division courses:

ANTH 123, 190; ASAM 110, 138, 140, 190; GEOG 177T; HMONG 100, 101; LING 190; SWRK 181.

The Certificate in Southeast Asian Studies focuses on the cultures and peoples of Southeast Asia, and on their communities in the United States.

For further information, contact Dr. Jenny Banh ( or Dr. Davorn Sisavath (


Jenny Banh, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Anthropology, University of California, Riverside

Interests: Labor, Transnational corporations, Student Success, Diversity in Higher Education, Asian/Asian Americans


Davorn Sisavath, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego

Interests: US militarism, war and global security, global political economy, waste and environment, Southeast Asia, Southeast Asians and Asian American Studies


Gena Lew Gong - Lecturer

M.A. Public Policy, Duke University
B.A. Psychology, University of California, San Diego
President, Central California Asian Pacific Women

Gena Gong has a wealth of nonprofit experience, holding staff leadership roles at A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Community Partners, Asian Pacific Community Fund, and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP).


Franklin Ng - Professor Emeritus 

Franklin Ng is a professor emeritus of anthropology and Asian American Studies. He is the editor of the Asian American Encyclopedia (1995), author of Taiwanese Americans (1998), and the coauthor of Asian American Issues (2004). He is also the editor of the Routledge series, Studies in Asian Americans: Reconceptualizing Culture, History, and Politics. From 2004 to 2006, he served as president of the Association of Asian American Studies. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Amerasia JournalThe Journal of American Ethnic History, and Chinese America: History and Perspectives, and was the former editor of the Journal of American-East Asian Relations.

Course Descriptions

ANTH 120. Ethnic Relations and Cultures (3)

Prerequisites: G.E. Foundation and Breadth Area D. The cultural and social origins of ethnicity, and its opportunities and problems for contemporary mass societies. Offers a critical review of major theories on ethnic politics, economics, and ideology in the light of cross-cultural evidence.

G.E. Multicultural/International MI.

ANTH 123. Peoples and Cultures of Southeast Asia (3)

Prerequisites: G.E. Foundation and Breadth Area D. An introductory survey of the cultural and historical adaptations of societies in Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam; and of Insular societies in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Examines the major effects of culture contact between East and West.

G.E. Multicultural/International MI.

ANTH 124. Peoples and Cultures of East Asia (3)

Examines cultural pluralism and considers cultural adaptations and change among minorities such as Moslems, Tibetans, and Mongolians in China, and ethnic groups of Japan and Korea. Outlines kinship, religion, organization, and technological factors in the Asiatic culture complex.

ANTH 125. Tradition and Change in China and Japan (3)

(Same as HUM 140.) Prerequisites: G.E. Foundation and Breadth Area D. Examines the current aspirations and problems of the Chinese and Japanese in terms of their traditional cultures, and explains how their histories, values, world views, and intellectual traditions affect their lifestyles and their international relations today.

G.E. Multicultural/International MI.

ANTH 126. Cultures and Foods of East Asia (3)

(Same as ASAM 151.) Treats cuisine as a systematic product of the interaction between culture and ecology. Focuses on sociocultural rather than bio-nutritional factors in the preparation and ritual implications of food in Mainland and Insular Asia. Students learn to prepare and serve a variety of Oriental dishes.

ASAM 15. Introduction to Asian Americans

Prerequisite: G.E. Foundation A2. Historical, social, and psychological factors in the changing status and identity of Americans from Asia. Examines variables such as cultural heritage, family organization, intergenerational conflict, and the experience of racism in the changing world of Asian Americans. 

Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
GE Area: D3

ASAM 30. Japanese Americans in the United States

A survey of social adaptations and cultural changes among Japanese Americans in different communities such as California and Hawaii. Considers identity, marginality, acculturation, and cultural traditions in Japan and in American communities.

Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3

Typically Offered: Fall 

ASAM 110. Asian American Communities

Prerequisites: G.E. Foundation and Breadth Area D. A multidisciplinary study of Asian American communities and their relations with the larger society. Analyzes values, lifestyles, processes of group identity and boundary maintenance, social organization, and cultural change. Examination of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and other Asian American subcultures. G.E. Multicultural/International MI.

Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
G.E. Multicultural/International MI.

ASAM 138. Asian American Women

This course explores the social, political, and economic issues related to the intersection of race, gender, class, and sexuality that have shaped Asian American/Asian immigrant women’s lives. Focuses on the complex relationships between local and national politics, globalized capitalism, formations of US imperialism, and individual histories of Asian American/Asian immigrant women.

Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3

Typically Offered: Spring

ASAM 140. Southeast Asian Americans

Since the Immigration Act of 1965 the Asian American population has grown dramatically. This course focuses on recent issues that are facing new arrivals and supplements a history of Asian American communities. 

Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3

Typically Offered: Spring 

ASAM 180T. Topics in Asian American Studies

Prerequisites: ASAM 15, permission of instructor. Detailed consideration of a single topic concerning the past or present position of Asian Americans in U.S. society.

Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 6

ASAM 190. Independent Study

See Academic Placement -- Independent Study. Approved for SP grading.

Units: 1-3, Repeatable up to: 6
Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

ASAM 195. Diversity in the United States: Race and Gender Issues

Units: 3, Repeatable up to: 3

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