Academic, Event, Lecture, Literary

Event: Book Talk with Dr. Nalini Natarajan

Friday, April 5th, 2013

12:30 p.m. — 1:30 p.m.

CFCH Conference Room
Capital Gallery, 2nd Floor

600 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20024
Google Map

Metro: L’Enfant Plaza

Free and open to the public.

The Indian American Heritage Project at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) present a brown-bag book talk by Dr. Nalini Natarajan, Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on her new book Atlantic Gandhi: The Mahatma Overseas.

Atlantic Gandhi examines Gandhi’s experience as a traveler moving from a classic colony, India, to the plantation and mining society of South Africa and argues that his diasporic life resonates with recent perspectives on the Atlantic, as an ocean that not just transported the victims of a greedy plantation system, but also saw the ferment of revolutionary ideas.

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Event, Lecture

Event: Election 2012 – Asian American Politics Today

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
6:30 p.m. — 8:30 p.m.

National Museum of American History
Warner Bros. Theater
14th St. & Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20560
Google Map

Entrance: Constitution Ave.

Closest Metro: Federal Triangle

Free and open to the public

From Protest Movements to Mainstream Politics

Update 11/14: Live webcast on Ustream! Click here to view from 6:30-8pm.

In 1867, 2,000 Chinese railroad workers organized a strike by walking off their jobs to protest their oppressive work conditions.  In 1965, Filipino farm workers joined their Mexican counterparts to form the United Farm Workers and staged the Grape Strike and Boycott of 1965. Since then, Asian Americans have been elected to political offices and are active in numerous advocacy organizations that address issues such as education, human rights, immigration, and electoral politics.  At every moment in American history, Asian Americans have been involved in protest and in politics, in realizing a more perfect union.

What is the state of Asian American politics? Has the Asian American community moved from protest politics to mainstream politics? What does the 2012 Election say about Asian American political trends?

Join our panelists, former Louisiana Congressman the Honorable Joseph Cao, Janelle Wong, director, University of Maryland, Asian American Studies Program and Deepa Iyer, executive director, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), as they discuss the trends and barriers affecting Asian American political participation and the recent election. Gene Kim, executive director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), will moderate this discussion.

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Event, Lecture, Performance

Event: Joe Bataan, the Afro-Filipino King of Latin Soul

Friday, October 19, 2012
Public Talk: 6:30 p.m. — 7:30 p.m
Performance: 8:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m

National Museum of Natural History
Baird Auditorium
10th & Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.  20530
Google Map

Entrance: Constitution Ave.

Closest Metro: Federal Triangle

Free and open to the public

“Latin soul comes straight from the streets of Harlem. It’s a cha-cha backbeat with English lyrics and a pulsating rhythm that makes your feet come alive.”
— Joe Bataan

Come learn about the power of music to move people—to get us on our feet and across borders of race, geography, class, language, and culture. The intersecting lines of heritage in Joe Bataan’s music and identity offer a unique entry point into the lives and community commitments of the civil rights movement and a deeper understanding of the American experience. Born and raised in Spanish Harlem to a Filipino father and an African American mother, Joe Bataan symbolizes the dynamic intersections between Afro-Asian-Latino histories and cultural forms.

Join us for a public discussion featuring Joe Bataan, activist and performer Nobuko Miyamoto, and African American Studies scholar Dr. Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar. With them we revisit the political and cultural ferment and collaboration of the late 1960s and 1970s in New York City when groups such as the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords Party, Asian Americans for Action, and El Comité contributed to dynamic social justice movements, catalyzed largely by young people, which inspired cultural pride, creativity, and activism. Miguel “Mickey” Melendez, author and former member of the Young Lords, will moderate the discussion.

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Parking info:
Please click here to download a PDF for more details on where to park at the Smithsonian.

Funding for this program is provided by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, Smithsonian Latino Center, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Americans All: The Immigration/Migration Initiative at the Smithsonian, Smithsonian Consortium for Understanding the American Experience, and the Smithsonian Asian-Latino Project of the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool.

Academic, Event, Lecture

(Re)Presenting America: The Evolution of Culturally Specific Museums

(Re)Presenting America Symposium

April 25, 2012
9:30am — 5:30pm

Rasmuson Theater
National Museum of the American Indian
4th and Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20560
Google Map

Metro: L’Enfant Plaza

Reception to follow in the
Museum’s Potomac Atrium
at 6pm—8pm

Free and open to the public.

Update: This event has passed. To watch video clips, click here.

Join an important conversation about the role of “ethnic” or “culturally specific” museums with museum directors and scholars from across the National Mall and beyond. Moderated by Ray Suarez of PBS NewsHour, the program features Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program; Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture; Claudine Brown, Smithsonian Assistant Secretary for Education and Access; and Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Participants also include Clement Price, professor at Rutgers University and director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience; David Hurst Thomas, Curator, Department of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History; Philip Kennicott, critic, The Washington Post; and Congressman Xavier Becerra. Lively panel discussions will feature David Penney, Associate Director for Museum Scholarship, National Museum of the American Indian; Lawrence Pijeaux, President & CEO, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Helen Samhan, Senior Outreach Advisor, Arab American National Museum; Beth Takekawa, Executive Director, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience; and Carlos Tortolero, President, National Museum of Mexican Art.

Performance artist Kip Fulbeck engages the symposium audience with a dynamic performance exploring multiracial identity. At a reception following the symposium, artist Bunky Echo-Hawk (Pawnee/Yakama) will offer a “live art” performance during which he invites his audience to suggest themes that he incorporates into a painting that he then spontaneously creates.

Related Links:

To RSVP or for further information, please contact

Academic, Event, Family, Film, History, Japanese American, Lecture

Recap: Annual Day of Remembrance at the Smithsonian


Poster design by Nigel Briggs, National Museum of American History

By Noriko Sanefuji (Curatorial Assistant) and Christine Chou (intern)

This year’s Day of Remembrance (DOR) was special for many reasons. Not only is it the 70th anniversary since the signing of Executive Order 9066, the action that led to the imprisonment of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, it was also to honor the Japanese American WWII veterans that were recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

The program began with a keynote speech by Secretary of Veterans Affairs General Eric Shinseki (watch the video clip above or download his speech here). He reflected on the roles of Japanese Americans who volunteered in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service during World War II. General Shinseki recognized their merit in receiving the award and stated that their legacy shows what it means to be an American to future generations. He said:

PDF of Shinseki's Speech

Download PDF

“In all my years in the military, I can find no better, no more compelling, and no more inspiring story of what it means to be an American than the stories and battle histories of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service. They were premiere warfighting units ranking among the very best in U.S. military history. The legacy of those who served in those units is a tradition of patriotism, loyalty, courage, honor, dedication and sacrifice that’s as old as the American Revolution. Their’s is an American story.”

General Shinseki’s keynote speech was followed by a film highlighting the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony.  Afterward, there was a panel discussion that included Grant Ichikawa, MIS veteran; Gerald Yamada, Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) president; Christine Sato-Yamazaki Chairperson, National Veteran Network; and Doug Sterner, author of Go For Broke.  The panel was moderated by Franklin Odo, former director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. Everyone provided insights about the significance of the Congressional Gold Medal and the process of recognizing Japanese American WWII veterans.

DOR Recap

Day of Remembrance Recap

Dr. Odo began the discussion by asking the panelists: “What does the Congressional Gold Medal mean to you?”  Mr. Ichikawa recalled his experiences in the MIS and reflected on how proud he is to be a recipient of the medal.  Ms. Sato-Yamazaki expressed her feelings on how the award ceremony represented the completion of a difficult, two-year effort to obtain congressional approval for the medal.  Mr. Sterner explained how the medal was the highest honor bestowed by Congress.  According to Mr. Yamada, the award gives JAVA the chance to make the Nisei soldiers’ legacy a living story, rather than just a historic one.

Museum visitors viewed the actual Congressional Gold Medal up close during the event.  Objects made inside the barbed wire camps during WWII were also on display at a nearby education cart. Artifacts were brought out of storage for DOR, and experts were also available to answer questions from the visitors at the education carts. Representatives from the U.S. Mint were there to discuss how the medal was created.

Interns at an education cart

Interns Christine Chou (Smithsonian APA Program) and Erin Anderson (National Museum of American History) talk to a visitor at an education cart. Photo by Donald Hurlbert, NMNH

Smithsonian APA Program intern Christine Chou designed a second educational cart as an interactive way of learning about daily life in internment camps. Objects on display included typical mess hall food, tools from working life, school artifacts, leisure items (like a baseball), and craft materials used for art projects. Historical photos complimented the objects to provide a more complete picture of camp living conditions. Everyone was encouraged to pick up and touch the objects. Some of the most popular items were the medical tools, including a stethoscope, head mirror, and elbow splint, which visitors were free to try on and use.

Another popular item, the dog tags of a Japanese American World War II veteran, belonged to Grant Ichikawa, who was interned before joining the military. As visitors held his dog tags, they were told that Mr. Ichikawa was actually in the museum that day to tell people about his experiences, and it was a quietly powerful moment. For visitors and volunteers at the cart that day, having the opportunity to interact with these artifacts helped foster a deeper connection to our national history.

Related Links:

Related Blogs:

Related Podcast: History Explorer: Japanese American Internment and WWII Service
Listen to the Podcast (MP3 file)
View more photos

Curatorial assistant Noriko Sanefuji interviews Grant Ichikawa, a U.S. veteran who enlisted after being relocated to a Japanese American internment camp with his family in 1942. Allowed to join the army after a need for interpreters, Mr. Ichikawa served the country proudly. In 2011, he and other veterans were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service.

Veteran Grant Ichikawa

Curatorial assistant Noriko Sanefuji interviews Grant Ichikawa at the National Museum of American History, February 2012.

TalkBack Board

TalkBack Board

We also utilized the National Museum of American History’s TalkBack Boards program to invite the museum visitors to post their comments.

Today the U.S. Mint will be presenting the Congressional Gold Medal to Japanese Americans to honor their service during WII. How do you think America should honor its veterans?

You can join the online conversation by clicking here.

Event, Lecture, Performance

100% Hapa: Exploring Multiracial Identity with Kip Fulbeck

100% Hapa: Exploring Multiracial Identity with Kip Fulbeck

Tattoo by Horitaka. Kip Fulbeck photo by Troy Small. All other photos (c) Kip Fulbeck.

December 10, 2011
1:00 — 2:30 p.m.

Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium
National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets NW
Washington, DC 20001
Google Map

Metro: Gallery Place-Chinatown

Related Exhibition:
RACE: Are We So Different?

Free and open to the public.
Book signing after the show. 

Who is an Asian American?

Kip Fulbeck’s dynamic one-man show is a personal narrative, an identity exploration, and a pop-culture analysis on what it means to be “hapa”—a Hawaiian word that Kip uses to described mixed-race Asian American identity. Famous for his shows in various colleges and other venues, Kip’s high-energy performances are filled with current events and pop culture that resonates to his audience.  Just like our ongoing exhibition Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of EncounterKip’s performances invites viewers to reconsider their preconceived ideas about identity and race as it was defined by contemporary society.  Kip’s Hapa Project is now on display in the Smithsonian exhibition Race: Are We So Different? at the National Museum of Natural History.

Kip Fulbeck is a pioneering artist, spoken word performer, and filmmaker. He has been featured on CNN, MTV, The Today Show, and PBS, and has performed and exhibited in over twenty countries and throughout the U.S. Kip is also professor of Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

This program is sponsored by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and the Let’s Talk About Race at the Smithsonian Initiative in conjunction with the Race: Are We So Different? exhibition.

Hallway at NPG where the Asian American Portraits of Encounter exhibition begins.

Hallway at NPG where the exhibition begins.

Exhibition Tours at 12 noon

Free tours of the exhibition Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter at the National Portrait Gallery  (NPG) will start at 12 noon on Saturday, December 10, prior to Kip Fulbeck’s performance. To attend, please go to the museum lobby located on 8th and F Streets NW. The exhibition is the first hallway on your right.

Related Links:

Video: CNN’s Betty Nguyen Interviews Kip Fulbeck

Event, Lecture

Lecture Event – Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America

Immigrants land at Angel Island about 1920.

Immigrants land at Angel Island about 1920. Some Chinese were detained on the island for weeks, months or sometimes years.

Thursday, November 17, 2011
7 — 8:30 p.m.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Washington, DC  20560
Google Map

Metro: Smithsonian

Click here for tickets

If there is anything we have learned, it is that history has a tendency to repeat itself. Take the story of Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. The intense political and cultural debates it triggered a century ago still resonate today.

The Angel Island Immigration Station—known as the “Ellis Island of the West”—was the detention center for nearly half a million people who sailed through the Golden Gate to America. They came from China, Japan, India, Korea, the Philippines, Mexico, and Russia, among other countries. Like today, immigrants who sought greater access to the United States wrangled with those who wanted more restrictions to keep them out.

In an illustrated lecture, Erika Lee explores how the story of Angel Island transformed America’s relationship to immigration. She is director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Minnesota. Her book, Angel Island (Oxford University Press), is available for signing after the program.

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