Robert G. Lee
Chair, Associate Professor, American Studies:
American Studies Ph.D., Brown University, 1980
Phone: +1 401 863 1693
Phone 2: +1 401 863 2896
Robert Lee studies the history of Asians in the United States, racial formations, and relations between Asia and America. Three books include: Dear Miye, Letters Home from Japan 1939-1946 (Stanford, 1995; Japanese edition - Asahi, 1999); Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture (Temple, 1999, Japanese and Chinese editions, 2006); and Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas (Rutgers 2005).
Robert G. Lee (Ph.D., Brown University, 1980, History) is Associate Professor and Chair, Department of American Studies. He has published on a wide range of subjects related to Asian American studies, racial formations, and relations between Asia and America. Most recently he co-edited with an anthropologist, Wanni Anderson, a volume of interdisciplinary essays entitled Diaspora and Displacement: Asians in the Americas. These essays cover the diverse histories and contemporary experiences of a diverse range of Asian communities in North and South America and the Caribbean. Another recent project is a volume of conference papers entitled Race, Nation and Empire in American History, co-edited with James Campbell and Matthew Guterl. His current projects include a new book, Inventing Chinese America 1850-1950, which examines the varieties of ethnic identity formations among immigrant and American born Chinese between 1850 and 1950.
Robert G. Lee's current research is a study of how immigrant Chinese and their American-born citizen offspring constructed discourses of citizenship in the face of legal and social exclusion. Between 1882 and 1943, when they were excluded from immigration and prohibited from naturalization, American Chinese enacted a wide range informal citizenships: they made use of the courts; organized social, cultural and political institutions; and mobilized massive civil disobedience. Inventing Chinese America is an intellectual history of that experience and focuses on the ideas and cultural milieu in which American Chinese, immigrant and native born, established themselves as civic actors and in the process shaped and reshaped a distinctive Chinese-American identity.
Robert G. Lee has received four Best Book/Special Book awards:
Dear Miye, Letters Home from Japan 1939-1946 (Editor, Stanford University Press, 1995) received the Special Book Award (1996) from the Association for Asian American Studies.
Orientals, Asian Americans in Popular Culture (Temple University Press, 1999) received three Best Book awards from the Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association, the American Political Science Association, and the American Studies Association.
Orientals was awarded the John Hope Franklin Prize for best book in American Studies, and also received Honorable mention in 1999.
American Studies Association
John Hope Franklin Book Prize Committee
Association for Asian American Studies
History/Social Sciences Prize Committee
Executive Board Member,
Organization of American Historians
American Historical Association
At Brown, Robert G. Lee has taught several undergraduate and graduate-level courses that explore Asian American themes. Some recent courses include "Race, Immigration, and the Law", which examines Asian American struggles against exclusion and how they shaped American definitions of citizenship, race, and constitutional rights; "Asian American History" which focuses on the changing patterns of immigration, labor, community building, and civil rights struggles; "America and the Asian Pacific: A Cultural History", which explores the role of trade, migration and cultural exchange across the Pacific in the shaping of American culture and society; and "Asian American Political Movements to 1970", a research seminar that looks at political movements in Asian immigrant communities in the United States and the Caribbean before the emergence of 'Asian America' in the late 1960s.
Robert G. Lee also directed honor's theses,independent studies, PhD field exams; and directed or co-directed several Ph.D. dissertations. He is currently directing one, co-directing three, and a reader for four PhD dissertations.
Current Ph.D. Dissertations directed/co-directed/read by Robert G. Lee are:
Caroline Frank, American Civilization (director)
From Pirates to Period Rooms: The Chinese Dish in Early America, 1680-1820 director
James Gatewood, American Civilization (co-director)
City Lights Books: The History of A Community
Karen Inouye, American Civilization (co-director)
Trauma and Wartime; An Interdisciplinary Study of the Historical and Psychological Effects of Internment Across Four Generations of Japanese Americans
Go Kobayashi, American Civilization (reader)
Modernizing the Orient, Orientalizing the Modern, American Early Modernism and Japanese Art, 1876-1913
Laurie Mengel, American Civilization (second reader)
Beyond Picture Brides, Japanese Women, Migration, Marriage and Divorce, 1880-1930 second reader
Carla Tengan, American Civilization, (co-director)
Cultivating Communities Japanese American Gardeners in Southern California, 1960-1980
Suzanne Wiedeman, American Civilization, (second reader)
Berlin-ShanghaiSan Francisco, Ethnic Identity, Cultural Memory, and Nation in the (Re)Making of the Shanghailander Community,
Sarah Petrides, American Civilization, (reader)
Cardinal Indirections, Race and Regionalism in Modern America.
Recent grants include: the Group Research Project Grant, Office of the Dean of the College; Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies Travel Grant; Richard R. Solomon Grant for Faculty Research; Wayland Collegium Grant to support Diasporas and Displacements Symposium; Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies Grant to support Diasporas and Displacement Symposium.