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UMass Lowell Hosts Southeast Asian American Studies Conference

National Summit Focuses on Community Engagement, Research and Policy

Illustration: Southeast Asian Americans have common experiences but, as these three people show, have much diversity among themselves.
UMass Lowell's first Southeast Asian American Studies Conference will be held from Thursday, July 27 through Saturday, July 29 at various sites throughout campus and the community.


Media contacts:  Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or and Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or

LOWELL, Mass. – The cultures and concerns of Southeast Asian American communities around the U.S. will take center stage at UMass Lowell this month at a national summit of community organizers, policymakers, researchers, students and others. 

Set for Thursday, July 27 through Saturday, July 29, the Southeast Asian American Studies (SEAAS) Conference will reflect on the histories and current states of communities while also celebrating their cultures through dance, film, poetry and art. 

As the first SEAAS conference to be held on the East Coast, this meeting will highlight Southeast Asian American communities in New England and strengthen bridges between researchers, practitioners, service providers, policymakers and community members. Lowell is home to the second-largest Cambodian American population in the United States, as well as significant Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese and Bhutanese American populations. Nearby Dorchester and Providence, R.I., have significant Vietnamese and Laotian American populations, respectively. 

Featured speakers will include:
  • Khanh Dinh, UMass Lowell psychology professor and clinical psychologist, who has served as a consultant for the National Institute of Mental Health and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration;
  • Sophal Ear, professor of diplomacy and world affairs, who is an expert on how to rebuild nations after war. Ear will deliver a keynote address on his journey from escaping the Khmer Rouge to becoming an elected town councilor of Crescenta Valley, Calif.; 
  • Channapha Khamvongsa, executive director, Legacies of War, an organization that addresses the problem of unexploded ordnance in Laos and advocates for peace;
  • Katrina Dizon Mariategue, immigration policy manager, Southeast Asian Resource Action Network. Mariategue previously served as the president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance’s Washington, D.C., chapter and a national executive board member of the organization;
  • Hai Pho, UMass Lowell professor emeritus of political science, founding board member and program coordinator for the Indochinese Refugee Foundation; and
  • Cathy Schlund-Vials, president of the national Association for Asian American Studies and an English professor who is the author of “War, Genocide and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work.”
More than two dozen sessions will focus on Southeast Asian American education, health, political engagement, archives and oral histories, entrepreneurship, art and literature. 

Conference sessions and cultural presentations open to the public include Ear’s remarks, live performances by Flying Orb Productions of Lowell and TeAda Productions of Santa Monica, Calif., and a Southeast Asian American studies film series of eight movies and workshops that includes hands-on practice in writing and digital storytelling. 

The meeting will culminate with a banquet on the evening of Friday, July 28 that will include performances by Angkor Dance Troupe, remarks by Prof. Hai Pho and readings by poets Bao Phi, Peuo Tuy and Bryan Thao Worra. 

More information about these public events is available at Full details about the conference and registration information are available at

Sponsors of the conference include Enterprise Bank, the Lowell Cultural Council, Middlesex Community College, University of Minnesota Immigration History Research Center, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, SayDaNar Community Development Center and others. 

The UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Studies (CAAS) promotes research and education on Asian Americans, particularly Southeast Asian Americans in New England. With communities as collaborative partners, the center seeks to identify disparities in and develop ways to improve education, health, civic engagement and cultural preservation and innovation. The center aims to foster respect for all forms of diversity, enhance appreciation of intersecting identities and dismantle structural inequalities.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 17,750 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.