UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Studies researchers are pursuing a number of research projects, individually and collaboratively, across several disciplines.

  • Perspectives on East and Southeast Asian Folktales, edited by Allyssa McCabe and Minjeong Kim, Rowman & Littlefield, 2022

    Perspectives on East and Southeast Asian Folktales is a multidisciplinary examination of folktales that are unfamiliar to Western audiences. Examining folktales from countries like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, China, Japan, and Korea, the contributors consider various aspects: including identity issues, morals, collectivism, violence, scatological references, language socialization, representation of Buddhist values, emotional competence, as well as folktales' relationship to idioms and narrative structure. Highlighting differences and similarities between East and Southeast Asian and Western folktales, this volume promotes memorable understanding of East and Southeast Asian cultures and their oral traditions.

    The Curious Thing: Poems, Sandra Lim, W. W. Norton, 2021

    In this gorgeous third collection, Sandra Lim investigates desire, sexuality, and dream with sinewy intelligence and a startling freshness. Truthful, sensuous, and intellectually relentless, the poems in The Curious Thing are compelling meditations on love, art making, solitude, female fate, and both the mundane and serious principles of life. Sandra Lim’s poetry displays stinging wit and a tough-minded approach to her own experiences: She speaks with Jean Rhys about beauty, encounters the dark loneliness that can exist inside a relationship, and discovers a coiled anger on a hot summer day. An extended poem sequence slyly revolves the meanings of finding oneself astray in midlife. A steely strength courses through the volume’s myriad discoveries—Lim’s lucidity and tenderness form a striking complement to her remarkable metaphors and the emotional clamor of her material. Animated by a sense of reckoning and a piercing inwardness, these anti-sentimental poems nevertheless celebrate the passionate and empathetic subjective life.

    Dinh, K. T., McCabe, A., & Tein, J-Y (2020). Culture and well-being among Cambodian American adolescents: Mediating effects of parental, peer, and school attachments. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 11(2), 88-97.

    Bronze and Stone: The Cult of Antiquity in Song Dynasty China, Yunchiahn C. Sena, University of Washington Press, 2019.

    Uy, P.S., Kim, S.J., Khuon, C. (2016). College and Career Readiness of Southeast Asian American College Students in New England. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 1-23.

    "Chinese Language Narration: Culture, Cognition, and Emotion," Allyssa McCabe, Chien-ju Chang, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2013, Language Arts & Disciplines.

    "Chinese Language Narration: Culture, Cognition, and Emotion" is a collection of papers presenting original research on narration in Mandarin, especially as it contrasts to what is known regarding narration in English. One chapter addresses dinner table conversation between Chinese immigrant parents and children in the United States compared to non-immigrant peers.  Other chapters consider evaluation patterns in Mandarin versus English, referencing strategies, coherence patterns, socioeconomic differences among Taiwanese Mandarin-speaking children, and differences in narration due to Specific Language Impairment and schizophrenia. Several chapters address developmental concerns. Distinctive aspects of narration in Mandarin are linked to larger issues of autobiographical memory. Mandarin is spoken by far more people than any other language, yet narration in this language has received notably less attention than narration in Western languages. This collective effort is a critical addition to our understanding of cross-cultural similarities and differences in how people make sense of experiences through narrative.

    "On Anger: Race, Cognition, Narrative," Sue J. Kim (Univ. of Texas Press, 2013)

    "On Anger" opens a stimulating dialogue between cognitive studies and cultural studies to argue that anger is always socially and historically constructed and complexly ideological, and that the predominant individualistic conceptions of anger are insufficient to explain its collective, structural, and historical nature. Examining narratives such as Maxine Hong Kingston’s “The Woman Warrior” and the HBO series “The Wire,” “On Anger” argues that race is central to our conceptions and experiences of anger.

    "The Wilderness," Poems by Sandra Lim (W. W. Norton, 2014)

    Winner of the 2013 Barnard Women Poets Prize, "The Wilderness" is the second collection of poems by Sandra Lim. "In its stern, quiet way 'The Wilderness' is as thrilling a book as I have read in a very long time," writes former Poet Laureate of the United States Louise Glück.

  • Southeast Asian American Studies Conference (2014 and 2017) - Southeast Asian American studies encompasses multiple sociopolitical formations that intersect with war, immigration, race, citizenship and identity. It is a diverse field that spans multiple disciplines (social sciences, education, cultural studies, humanities) and multiple sites (Filipino/a American Studies, Vietnamese American Studies, Laotian American Studies, Hmong Studies, Cambodian American Studies, Thai American Studies, and diasporic Southeast Asian Studies). At the 2014 “States of Southeast Asian American Studies” conference on Oct. 2-3 at the University of Minnesota, researchers from CAAS will present at two sessions: “Session 1D: Advocacy, Resettlement, and Health: Refugees in Transitions” and the closing plenary, an interactive session on Southeast Asians in New England. 

    The UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Studies will host the next Southeast Asian American Studies conference in 2017.

  • Understanding Triumphs and Challenges of Immigration

    The primary goal of this study is to identify challenges, solutions, and triumphs in achieving economic stability using the ACRE model. The primary outcome is to develop a blueprint (in various media and formats) for replication of the ACRE model across MA and elsewhere. To accomplish these goals, we interview and collect life experience narratives of ACRE providers in four primary areas of well-being: Family, health, immigration and acculturation, and language. The information obtained from this project will highlight the significant contributions of immigrants to the local and global economy. Equally important, the information will be disseminated to the many organizations throughout MA and the U.S. who are interested in replicating the ACRE model.

    This project is funded by the UMass 2014 Creative Economies Fund.

    Healthcare Providers' Perception of Cambodian American Female Patients in Lowell, MA PI: Ivy Ho (Psychology)

    Southeast Asian American women face multiple physical health problems compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts. Research on the physical health of Southeast Asian American women in the New England area is scarce. In order to address the paucity of such research in New England, this study focuses on Cambodian American women in Lowell, MA. Because health is a complex issue that calls for multiple levels of analyses, from micro (e.g., personal characteristics) through macro (e.g., healthcare policies) factors, the present research takes an initial step towards this contextual approach by examining one group of stakeholders, namely, healthcare providers. Specifically, this study will explore how healthcare providers perceive their young female Cambodian patients (who are between the ages of 18-24 years).

    Using one-on-one interviews, healthcare providers respond to questions about their perceptions on young female Cambodian American’s adherence to provider recommendations, participation in preventative care, major health concerns, stress and coping, and substance use.

    This project is funded by the UMass Boston Institute for Asian American Studies 2014 Fellowship Program.

    Parental and Familial Influences on Southeast Asian American Students’ College and Career Major Decisions - PI: Phitsamay S. Uy (Education)

    This study examines how Southeast Asian parents and community members describe their understanding and influence on their students’ college and career decision-making process. Surveys (n=50) and focus groups (n=50) address the following questions:

    1. How do parents and / or family members influence Southeast Asian American students’ college and/or career majors?
    2. How do parents and / or family members describe and understand Southeast Asian American students’ college and career readiness?
    3. What resources do Southeast Asian American parents and/or family members access to help them prepare their sons and/or daughters for college or careers?

    Approximately 50 participants will be recruited through community-based organizations: Center for Southeast Asians (CSEA) in Providence, RI,  Viet-Aid in Dorchester, Mass. and Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA) in Lowell, Mass.

    This project is funded by the UMass Boston Institute for Asian American Studies.

    Southeast Asian American College Readiness - PIs: Sue J. Kim and Phitsamay Uy

    This study assesses college readiness among first-semester Southeast Asian American students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Through surveys (n=50) and focus groups (n=25), the researchers will address the following questions:

    1. According to a variety of standard metrics, how prepared are Southeast Asian American students for college?
    2. How ready for college do urban, low-income, college-aged, Southeast Asian/immigrant students feel themselves to be?
    3. What are urban, low-income Southeast Asian/immigrant youths’ aspirations during and after college?
    4. What resources – in the community as well as within the university – do urban, low-income, college-aged, Southeast Asian/immigrant individuals draw on that may help them reach their post-secondary aspirations?

    This project is funded by the UMass Boston Asian American Student Success Program.

    Sharing Our Stories: A Collection of Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian Stories About Schooling and Culture PI: Phitsamay S. Uy

    This research study examines how Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian (PISEA) community members describe their understanding of storytelling and their personal experience with the U.S. school system. In-depth interviews (n=40) address the following questions:

    • What stories do Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian community members describe as significant in their lives?
    • What stories should mainstream public school teachers know in order to teach Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian children and youth?
    • What is the Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian community members’ individual personal story and experience with the U.S. school system?

    With the help of University of Hawaii Manoa staff, college student participants and general PISEA community members were recruited.

    UMass President’s Office 2011 Creative Economy Initiatives Fund - PIs: Allyssa McCabe and Khanh Dinh

    Exploring Identity and Family Relationships in Latino and Asian Adolescents through Personal Narratives and Life Stories (in collaboration with Lowell High School).

    Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work Seed Grants - PIs: Khanh Dinh and Allyssa McCabe

    Exlores the Life Experiences of Southeast Asian Youth: Acculturation, Social Influences, and Well-Being (in collaboration with Lowell High School).

    The Asian Food Acculturation Study - PIs: Khanh Dinh and Ivy Ho

    Examines the influence of Asian food preference on cultural identity and orientation, family relationships, and well-being among diverse young adults.

    Cambodian Genocide Memorials (Working title) - PI: George Chigas

    The project examines the creation and function of Cambodian Genocide Memorials in Cambodia and the United States. The research focuses on the spiritual function of the memorials in the context of Cambodian animistic and Buddhist systems of belief.

    A History of the Cambodian American Community: 1980-2015 - PI: George Chigas

    The proposed project will research the history of the Lowell Cambodian American community from 1980 to 2015 in order to produce an academic article. This research will involve:

    1. Archival research, primarily using the Lowell Sun newspaper and Khmer language periodicals published in Lowell; and
    2. Personal interviews with members of Lowell’s Cambodian American community.
    3. The purpose of the research and personal interviews is to identify significant people, events and developments that “tell the story” of the Lowell Cambodian American community during this 35-year period.

    This project is funded by the UMass Boston Institute for Asian American Studies.

    The Literate Lives of Southeast Asian American Children in the Classroom: Rethinking Early Childhood Literacy Curriculum from an Ecological Perspective - PI: Min Jeong Kim

    This study explores narrative of young children and their mothers in a predominantly Cambodian American classroom.

    This project is funded by the UMass Boston Institute for Asian American Studies.

  • Claire Lee, 2022-2023 U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholar, Center for Strategic and International Studies

    The purpose of the U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Program is to help emerging scholars with an interest in Korean studies to develop public policy skills as they are called upon to provide commentary and expertise on issues related to Korea. The Scholars will participate as a group in three sets of programs:

    1. Washington, D.C. for briefings with policymakers in the U.S. government;
    2. Los Angeles for academic mentoring and media training;
    3. Seoul for briefings with policymakers and exposure to media and opinion leaders. Ten scholars were selected in a national competition. The scholars all displayed exemplary scholarship in wide-ranging disciplines, from political science, journalism, digital culture, criminology, geography to international relations.

    Health Hub - Asian American Health Research Hub

    The Asian American Health Research Hub (“Health Hub”), an initiative of the UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Studies, enhances Asian American health in the Greater Lowell area through equal and collaborative partnerships with community partners.

    Read more about the Health Hub in the Hub Report Fall 2017 newsletter (pdf).