New programs, faces at the International Institute
UCLA's Bunche Hall. The International Institute is located on its 10th and 11th floors. (Photo: Kaya Mentesoglu/ UCLA.)

New programs, faces at the International Institute

The UCLA International Institute has welcomed an array of new programs and center directors, as well as a new academic minor, during the 2016–17 academic year.

UCLA International Institute, January 23, 2017 — New ideas, programs and fresh faces are playing a big role at the UCLA International Institute this academic year. Many of its programs have welcomed new directors, received new contributions, added new components and/or created new leadership positions, all of which are summarized below.

New Program on Caribbean Studies

In fall 2016, the Latin American Institute (LAI) launched a new Program on Caribbean Studies, whose focus will go beyond the Spanish-speaking nations of the region to examine the commonalities among such diverse countries as Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The new program will build and expand on the activities of the LAI Working Group on Cuba and the Caribbean.

“The Latin American Institute is excited to add this program to its three current centers, which focus on Brazil, Mexico and the Southern Cone, respectively,” said LAI Director Kevin Terraciano, historian of colonial Latin America at UCLA. “We are very lucky to welcome Robin Derby, a historian who specializes in the French and Spanish Caribbean, as the initial program chair,” he added. “I look forward to new and exciting programming in the coming months and years.”

Derby, associate professor of history at UCLA and author of the award-winning The Dictator’s Seduction, is senior Caribbean editor of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. “I am delighted to be able to launch this new program under the aegis of LAI,” said Derby. “In view of the thaw in U.S.-Cuban ties, our timing could not be better.”

New directors and associate directors

Two new directors have also taken the helm of existing International Institute centers this academic year, while associate and/or co-directors have joined yet two additional centers.

Min Zhou, professor of sociology and Asian American studies and the Walter and Shirley Wang Endowed Chair in U.S.-China Relations and Communications at UCLA, joined the Institute as the director of the Asia Pacific Center (formerly the Asia Institute) in November 2016. The Institute expresses its sincere gratitude to Distinguished Professor of History Bin Wong, who served as Asia Institute director for twelve years, for his successful leadership and years of dedicated service.

Zhou recently returned to UCLA after three years as the Tan Lark Sye Chair Professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she also served as head of the sociology division and director of the Chinese Heritage Centre. An internationally renowned scholar of migration, diaspora studies and the sociology of Asia and Asian America, she has published some 17 books and more than 180 journal articles and book chapters. Her most recent publications include The Asian American Achievement Paradox (with Lee, 2015); The Rise of the New Second Generation (with Bankston, 2016); Contemporary Asian America (with Ocampo, 3rd ed. 2016); and Contemporary Chinese Diasporas (ed., 2017).

“It’s wonderful to be back at UCLA,” said Zhou. “I look forward to working with a diverse group of UCLA faculty and students using the Asia Pacific Center as a platform to launch new collaborative initiatives while continuing to support scholarship and education on the cultures and nations of this vital region. I am also eager to partner with USC as a National Resource Center on East Asia under the Title VI Program,” she added.

In another leadership change at the Asia Pacific Center, UCLA historian Nile Green stepped down as director of the center’s Program on Central Asia (PoCA) in summer 2016. He has been succeeded this academic year by Domenico Ingenito, assistant professor of classical Persian in the department of Near Eastern languages and cultures. Green led PoCA for eight years, during which it became a recognized center of Central Asian Studies. The Institute thanks Green his active leadership and significant contributions to the field of Central Asian Studies at UCLA.

“I’m thrilled to head the Program on Central Asia at UCLA,” said Ingenito, “and look forward to continuing its vital work in advancing research on this fascinating region.” Ingenito joined the UCLA faculty in 2013, having previously taught at Oxford, the Ottoman Studies Summer School organized by Harvard, and Koç University. He has published articles and book chapters in English, Italian, French, Persian and German on many classical Persian poets, including Sa‘di of Shiraz, Homām Tabrizi, Hafez, and Obayd Zakani. He is currently exploring the field of “literary archeology” for the study of royal gardens in medieval Central Asia.

Meanwhile, at the African Studies Center, sociocultural anthropologist Jemima Pierre has become the center’s new associate director and chair of the Institute’s MA Program in African Studies, replacing UCLA historian Ghislaine Lydon in both roles. (Lydon departed on sabbatical in summer 2016.) Pierre teaches in both the anthropology and African American Studies departments at UCLA and is author of The Predicament of Blackness: Postcolonial Ghana and the Politics of Race (Chicago, 2012).

“It’s a true pleasure to join the African Studies Center at UCLA and lead the MA program,” said Pierre, “both of which have a long, distinguished history at UCLA. Given my research interest in African Diaspora Studies, I look forward to continuing to nurture the center’s close relationship with the African American Studies department.”

And finally, Namhee Lee, professor of modern Korean history in the Asian languages and cultures department, has been serving as co-director of the Center for Korean Studies since the past academic year. Lee has been an associated faculty member of CKS for many years and is the author of The Making of Minjung: Democracy and the Politics of Representation in South Korea (Cornell, 2007), together with numerous journal articles and book chapters.

“It has been an honor to join my fellow historian John Duncan as co-director of the Center for Korean Studies,” said Lee. “I’m happy to be able to contribute to the center’s essential work in an official capacity. UCLA is a rare university that offers both a broad array of courses on Korean history, culture and language, and a center dedicated to Korean Studies.”

New gift for Indonesian Studies Program

In fall 2016, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) received a second generous gift for its Indonesian Studies Program from Julia and Ken Gouw. A native of Indonesia, Ms. Gouw was a professional in the financial sector before retiring in 2016, ultimately becoming president and chief operating officer of East West Bankcorp. She is presently a director of PacificLife Corp.

Her three-year gift will support undergraduate scholarships (including for study in Indonesia) and programming on this vital nation of Southeast Asia, one of the world’s largest democracies. Together with her previous gift and a grant from the UCLA Chancellor’s Centennial Scholars Match Program, her total contribution to Indonesian Studies at UCLA now stands at $500,000.

“We are deeply grateful to Ms. Gouw for her generosity and commitment to Indonesian Studies,” said George Dutton, director of CSEAS and a historian of modern Vietnam at UCLA. “Her continued support is invaluable to our center’s ability to promote serious scholarship on Indonesia, and ensures the program's strength and continuity.”

Academic Programs enriched by new faculty and program

At the outset of the 2016–17 year, two new faculty joined the Institute’s Academic Programs. Political scientist Maggie Peters joined the teaching faculty of the Global Studies Program in a joint appointment with the political science department, and Ippolytos Kalofonos, MD, MPH, PhD joined the faculty of the Global Health minor in a joint appointment with the Semel Institute of the Geffen School of Medicine.

The latest news from the Academic Programs is the launch of a new minor in international migration studies this year; students may apply to the selective program starting winter quarter 2017. The minor will draw on the deep expertise and guidance of the Institute’s newest full-fledged center, the Center for the Study of International Migration, led by Distinguished Professor of Sociology Roger Waldinger.

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As the above paragraphs attest, change, renewal and new initiatives are all features of life at the UCLA International Institute this academic year. Our public events and centers and programs are intended to serve the entire campus, so please feel free to attend a lecture, see a foreign film or simply stop by for a chat sometime soon.


Updated Feb. 2, 2017