Module II: Marginalized Populations, Stateless Persons and Migrant Laborers



1. The Conundrum of Trafficking and Statelessness in India

Speaker: Paula Banerjee (IDRC Endowed Chair and Director of Center on Gender and Forced Displacement, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand) 

Statelessness is a problem that has been plaguing states, human rights activists, the UNHCR and other international organizations, and the vulnerable and displaced population groups of the world. Statelessness does not respect borders; it robs the stateless of their rights and dignity, rights over their bodies, and dignity of life. It deprives them of the ability to protest rampant exploitations. It also robs the states and their representatives from acting humanely. Stateless men, women, and children become insecure because they can be displaced at any time that the state or the majority community so desires. Citizenship is central to the statist imagination of human existence. Therefore, stateless people are not the opposite of citizens. Rather they do not exist within the statist imaginary of population groups. But ironically, statelessness can often be produced through hyper statism. Often a narrow and rigid definition of who is a citizen can lead to large groups being left out. In this paper, we discuss the age-old conjunctions between trafficking, at least in the context of South Asia. With examples taken largely from India, I argue how any crisis, such as the present pandemic, leads to increased vulnerability resulting in increased trafficking and statelessness.

Professor Paula Banerjee, who has a long research and publication record on gender and forced displacement in both South and Southeast Asia has been appointed as the IDRC Chair in April 2023 as well as the founding Director of the Centre on Gender and Forced Displacement (CGFD) hosted by Gender and Development Studies at the Asian Institute of Technology. She was the Vice Chancellor at Sanskrit College and University, Kolkata from 2017-2019. Before that, she was also the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Calcutta and was responsible for approximately 7000 graduate students. She supervised 32 departments and ten research centers. A world-class leader in gender and forced displacement, Professor Banerjee has served as a two-term president of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM). She has also served as the Director of the premier think tank on forced migration, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group and several other research centers. She is well-published, and to her credit has 15 books, over 44 articles, book chapters, and many more conference papers and reports. She is the editor of Refugee Watch and on the board of several other journals.


2. On the Edge of Law in the Platform Economy: A Tale of Two Cities in India

Speaker: Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury (Professor, Department of Political Science, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata and Honorary Director, Calcutta Research Group, India) 

Neoliberal economic policies were introduced in India since the early 1990s. The consequent policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation have brought about a paradigmatic shift for the labour in the country. Shrinkage of manufacturing sector, in some cases, has led to the rise of service sector. Neoliberal economy in India has led to socio-spatial transformation commodifying human lives through the unencumbered canon of capital. It has, therefore, generated a work-dependent class with unstable wages and insufficient protections. According to one estimate, about 16% of the total workforce in India are currently in salaried employment. About 50% of the workers in public sector and more than 70% of the workers in the private sector, are contractual workers. There has been a phenomenal increase in the number of temporary, daily wage, and casual workers across different sectors. Moreover, migration and the concomitant labour questions have become key characteristics of the Indian political economy.

This growing casualization of employment in India over the last decade has often been associated with the emergence of platform economy, where workers are mostly treated as self-employed rather than employees, and only called in and paid for their work as and when required. Such platforms, perceived by the entrepreneurs as ‘the future of work’, supposedly offer workers choice and flexibility in spite of increasing trends towards the privatization of risk with new forms of insecurity for workers. The algorithmic systems associated with the emerging platforms for instant food and/or grocery delivery, ride hailing, domestic work tend to measure, surveil and control the entire work process of labour. The delivery workers are advised to ‘drive fast’ in order to reach the destination in time with deliverables, in some instances, hardly having any time to take breaks in busy hours. Moreover, the app-based platform economy largely relies on the fragmentation of work to minimize labour-related costs, resulting in piecemeal work or micro-tasks leading to smaller amounts of pay per piece of work.

Whereas a number of important studies have already been conducted on platform labour in different parts of the Global North, there has so far been very little study of this new precarization of such labour in India. Against this backdrop, the proposed paper would attempt to look at this casualization and precarization of labour in platform economy in Kolkata and Delhi – two metropolitan cities in India, not only from a juridical perspective, but also from a social one.

Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury is Professor, Department of Political Science, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata and Honorary Director, Calcutta Research Group, India. His areas of research interest include global and South Asian politics, mainly migration, refugees and human rights. His recent publications include Rohingya in South Asia: The People without a State (co-edited with Ranabir Samaddar) (Routledge, 2018), Rights after Globalisation (co-edited with Ishita Dey) (Sage, 2011), and Internal Displacement in South Asia: The Relevance of the UN Guiding Principles (co-edited with Paula Banerjee and Samir Kumar Das (Sage, 2005). He was also Vice Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University from July 2012 to March 2023.


3. Migrants and the Epidemic: Gender, Race, and Other Vulnerabilities

Speakers: Paula Banerjee (IDRC Endowed Chair and Director of Center on Gender and Forced Displacement, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand), Samata Biswas (Assistant Professor, The Sanskrit College and University, Kolkata, India)

Professor Paula Banerjee, best known for her work on women in borderlands and women and forced migration, is the President of International Association For Studies in Forced Migration. She is a faculty member of the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Calcutta, one of the largest and oldest Universities in South Asia. She is also the Director of the avant guard South Asian think tank called Calcutta Research Group. She has written and edited over 15 books and monographs and has published widely in international journals such as Journal of Borderland Studies, Canadian Journal of Women’s Studies, Forced Migration Review and Journal of International Studies.

Samata Biswas teaches English at The Sanskrit College and University, Kolkata, India. As part of the West Bengal Education Service, she first worked at Haldia Government College (2009- 2015) in the port City of Haldia, West Bengal, and then at Asia’s first women’s college, Bethune College (2016-2018), in Kolkata. At the 198-year old Sanskrit College and University (erstwhile Sanskrit College) she teaches courses on gender, popular culture, cinema, partition, and literary representations of migration, slavery, colonialism and caste.

She recently designed and coordinated an online course on migration and forced migration studies, titled Reading Refugees, Reading Migration; An (Online) Orientation Course for College and University Teachers, organized by Calcutta Research Group, with funds from Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, 17.07.2021- 29.08.2021 and a two-day teachers’ workshop on syllabus making and research methods in migration studies, in February 2022. She jointly edited Situating Social Media: Gender, Caste, Solidarity, Protest (2020, Women Unlimited) and the Anveshi broadsheet on Violence (2017,

In 2019 she developed the concept for a film titled Calcutta A Migrant City (, and in 2020 worked on research, production and subtitling of another titled Tale of a Migrant City with Debalina Majumder ( Both films were produced by Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (CRG), of which she is a member. She is also the editor of the forced migration blog, Refugee Watch Online and the book review editor of Refugee Watch: A South Asian Journal on Forced Migration. Samata holds a PhD in cultural studies. In her doctoral dissertation she looks at fitness narratives in contemporary India. In 2020, Samata was invited to and participated in the US Department of State International Visitors’ Leadership Programme on “Regional Responses to Refugee and Migration Issues”. 


4. Roundtable: Law as the Site of Statelessness and Contestation: Europe, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia, on Land and at Sea

Speakers:  Michiel Hoornick (PhD student of International Law at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland), Ya-Wen Yang (Assistant Research Professor at Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica, Taiwan), Bonny Ling (Executive Director of Work Better Innovations), Yu-Fan Chiu (Associate Professor, School of Law, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University), Ming-Hao Yang (Assistant Professor, Bachelor’s Degree Program in Ocean Law and Policy, National Taiwan Ocean University)

National laws across the globe, as well as regional and international legal instruments, have been framed, and judicial decisions proclaimed, supposedly to foreclose policies that may create a situation of statelessness. Nevertheless, the number of stateless people has been on the rise immediately after the Second World War and in recent neoliberal times. If Europe was the major site of statelessness in the immediate post-war era, which provoked Hannah Arendt to foreground the causes of the people without the right to have rights, of late, more people living historically in the plural societies of Asia and Africa, at a certain place for generations, have turned into sans papers in the context of nation-building exercises, enactment of new citizenship laws or modification of the existing ones, growing populist, and often xenophobic politics and increasing securitization of migrants and “outsiders.”

When the “inside” of a state is freshly distinguished from its “outside,” the human beings inhabiting a space within begin to be considered “aliens,” “outsiders,” and therefore the usual suspects for the “security” of the state. There has been a tendency in South Asia to endorse the ostensible binary between the legal and the illegal due to the anxiety of the negative value judgment the term “illegal” carries. The tendency overlooks how “illegalization” operates alongside “legalization” as if conversing with each other, as part of a more extensive process of making and unmaking particular relations of power through the operations of law. Legality, undeniably, is a constant source of cultural connotation and authority, making sense of the social fabric it “orders” and “disorders” in a particular way, often in spectacularly violent ways. Citizenship and statelessness are integral parts of the same continuum in this milieu. Against this backdrop, the primary purpose of this roundtable will be to lay bare how the dominant legal discourses often illegalize different groups of people in postcolonial  Europe, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia on land at Sea. 

This endeavor will be from the perspective of critical jurisprudence and legal pluralities, along with brief references to the postcolonial states, power, ethics, and the relevant laws. The law seems to suppose the generality of a rule, a norm, or a universal imperative. In this manner, we will argue that it is not due to certain categorical imperatives that human beings are “legalized” or “illegalized” (and thus the citizens and the stateless); they are rendered so within specific contexts of power and politics. We argue that national laws and international legal discourses, in many ways products of late modern coloniality, have caused the dispossession and precarity of the stateless persons, as neoliberal economic arrangements have been.  In addition to the problematic aspect of illegality and statelessness on land, we also want to cover the issues of statelessness at  Sea. Every corner of the land is claimed to be ruled by some government, but what about the ocean? Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water, and more than 56 million people worldwide work on fishing boats.  However, maritime areas such as the high seas are unregulated and treated by international law as the global commons and can be described as an exceptional zone at Sea.

The high seas are beyond the territorial Sea claimed by any state and are considered free to use by all states. Only the vessel’s flag state has jurisdiction over the vessel sailing on the high seas. This practice presents a serious challenge for implementing human rights obligations on the high seas, where the vessel can become a brutal place or even a vast prison for individuals who work onboard. “Everything that happens at sea may be beyond our imagination,” claimed in the recent publication of The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier by the journalist Ian Urbina. The complexities of jurisdictional issues at Sea intersect with the precarity of the refugees and migrant fishers, who may be legally excluded from the protection of their state of origin if they are stateless and face inequalities despite legal guarantees of equality and non-discrimination. Furthermore, they can be irregular migrants recruited to work on the vessels without the requisite legal documentation and are vulnerable due to their undocumented status. These issues of documentation and citizenship make it increasingly difficult for individuals to claim their rights both within and outside their countries of origin, especially if they work for a  prolonged period at Sea without any possibility of reporting their abuses other than at port visits.

Our roundtable extends beyond the laws and territorial jurisdiction of any country by focusing on the fundamental issues of democratic belonging and inclusion when the statelessness problem for the Asia-Pacific has increased due to political instability across the region, especially in Afghanistan and Myanmar. We will also consider the practice of decolonization in the age of the 21st century with an interdisciplinary dialogue between law, policy, society, and human rights activists.

Michiel Hoornick is a PhD student of International Law at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Switzerland. Previously, he has worked as a programme officer and as an independent consultant for the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI), the first and the only human rights NGO dedicated to promoting the right to a nationality globally. Among other experiences, Michiel has worked in various capacities at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) headquarters in Geneva, the Netherlands’ Permanent Mission to the UN in New York and the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies in Belgium. Michiel holds a Masters in International Law from the Geneva Graduate Institute (Switzerland) as well as an LL.M. in International and European Law from Tilburg University (the Netherlands).

Ya-Wen Yang is an Assistant Research Professor at Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica. She is a scholar of constitutional law and citizenship theories whose research examines how the border regime shapes the contour of human rights, and to what extent equal protection can transcend state borders. Her current research projects include the possibility of post-colonial constitutional law, the legal transplantation of the ban on forced labour, and the philosophical foundation of anti-discrimination law. Yang’s doctoral thesis works towards a theory of democratic citizenship applicable to temporary migrant workers, based on the neo-republican non-domination theory and a comparative case study of Taiwan and Canada. Before joining IIAS in May 2021, Yang clerked for two justices of Constitutional Court (Taiwan) and was a practicing lawyer in an international law firm. 

Bonny Ling is Executive Director of Work Better Innovations, a research consultancy with a community service mission working on new ideas for a responsible economy; Senior Non-Resident Fellow with the University of Nottingham Taiwan Studies Programme; Research Fellow with the Institute for Human Rights and Business; and Advisory Board Member of the INGO Human Rights at Sea. She wrote her PhD in Law on human trafficking and China, at the Irish Centre of Human Rights of the National University of Ireland, Galway, and is an expert on human trafficking and contemporary slavery. Dr. Ling has a rich and diverse professional background in international diplomacy. She has worked with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Peacekeeping Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Mission in Liberia and UNESCO. In 2004, she was part of the UN legal team that worked on the Cyprus peace talks. Bonny also taught at Sciences Po Paris and was a visiting scholar at the Centre of International Studies at Cambridge University, where she interviewed Chinese irregular migrants and worked on a research project that set out policy recommendations for inclusive, community policing in England.

Yu-fan Chiu is a scholar of labor law, labor relations, and civil law. Her work combines legal analysis and comparative research in the theories of labor law, policy, and legal practice. Her recent publications explore complex labor issues such as unfair labor practice and migrant worker relationship. Prior to joining academia, Professor Chiu was a lawyer in Taipei specializing in labor law disputes. She served as the Director of the Research Division at Chunghwa Telecom Workers’ Union. She also joined the international legal service for the German Industrial Union of Metalworkers (IG Metall), and served as a researcher for the Labor Vision-Institute for labor studies and movements. Professor Chiu received a Performance Premium Tutor Honor from National Chiao Tung University for her excellence and dedication to teaching in 2018. Currently, Professor Chiu is a member of the Committee of Unfair Labor Practice Adjudication under the Ministry of Labor in Taiwan.

Ming-Hao Yang is a scholar of international law of the sea, ocean policy, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fisheries issues. He is currently teaching at the National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU) in the Bachelor’s Degree Program in Ocean Law and Policy. He teaches international law of the sea, maritime administrative law, and law enforcement at sea. Before developing his academic career, he worked for a semi-official think tank. He wrote his doctoral thesis at Kyoto University in Japan on overcoming the shortcomings of the flag state principle to combat IUU fishing. After graduation, he worked as a program-specific assistant professor at Kyoto University and conducted research related to IUU fisheries and port state measures. He has assisted the Taiwan government in analyzing the ocean policies of China, Japan, and Korea; planning the development of maritime domain awareness (MDA) from a legal perspective; participating in the revision of yacht and powerboat regulations; and investigating Taiwan’s maritime cultural heritage sites.


5. Seminar: Migration, Racial Minorities and Gig Labour: Concepts and Methods

Speaker: Lisa Yuk-ming Leung (Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong)

The rise of ‘platformed economy,’ a product of rapid advancement in digital technology in recent years has radically transforming business organisation and labour conditions globally, and in Asia. Extensive studies have articulated the diverse ‘precarities’ that arise from what is now commonly known as the ‘platformed/ gig labour’ (Woodcock and Graham, 2020; Friedman, 2014 quoted by Gandini, 2019: 1040). While the algorithmically organized business management enhances work and labour conditions that low entry requirement and flexibility in work arrangement. However, it also allows metrics as a method of control and surveillance, resulting in ‘everyday algorithmic labouring’ (Sun, 2019). The algorithm-centered surveillance also inadvertently poses ‘additional’ precarities to migrant and racial minority employees, who have been drawn into often lower-end gig work, especially as COVID-19 struck. Racial minority gig workers, thus, are left to struggle with the exploitative employment and assessment practices of platformed businesses on the one hand, and additional precarities which also associated with the embedded racisms in society.

In this seminar, I aim to share with you my most recent research that examines and articulates the ‘intersectionality’ between race, gender and labour in the context of Hong Kong. Focusing on the case of ethnic minority food deliverers in Hong Kong, I aim to map the Hong Kong case with situations across Asia. Conceptually, the research fills a serious gap in local scholarship by infusing ‘race’ as a critical lens in labour and media studies, in the hope of uncovering ‘racial labor subjectivity’ as an Inter-Asia project. The workshop then, serves the following objectives: i) to discuss some useful notions (such as ‘(in)visibility’), that could arise from such intersectional interrogation (where race, media and labour studies might converge); ii) to outline the range of methods and methodologies that could satisfy research of such interdisciplinary nature.

Lisa Yuk-ming Leung is Associate Professor and Associate Programme Director of Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University Hong Kong. She has researched and published extensively in the area of transnational media circulation. Her recent research focuses on minority, migration and race. She is co-author of the book Understanding South Asian Minorities in Hong Kong (HKU Press, 2014). Her second book, Ethnic Minorities, Media and Participation: Creative Belonging in Hong Kong, examines the diverse participation of migrant/minority youths to struggle for recognition, while engaging in calls for democratic changes in the territory (Routledge, 2021). Her latest research explores the added precarities facing racial minority gig workers (in the case of online food delivery businesses).


6. Documentary Film Screening: Kolkata, a Migrant City
(A film produced by Calcutta Research Group)

Discussant: Samata Biswas (Assistant Professor, The Sanskrit College and University, Kolkata, India)


7. Revisiting ‘Human’ Futures: Caribbean Reflections on Universities in An Age of Activism

Speaker: Sonjah Stanley Niaah (Senior Lecturer, Institute of Caribbean Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Education, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus)

There is truly a danger with the singular narrative we have experienced in different ways over many years that universities are ivory towers. This has been built on years of perceptions about those inside the walls of the university for purposes of ideation, who are considered privileged, and in some cases who consider themselves too privileged, to engage in social justice, policy, community building, ultimately nation building, in the spirit of the advancement of humanity versus mere knowledge creation. Using the post-1492 Caribbean as a platform for thinking alongside interlocutors such as Sylvia Wynter, Marcus Garvey, and Walter Rodney among others, this paper engages the modern Caribbean university and its actors in a conversation about what it means to be an ethical university bound up with the condition of postcoloniality. This postcolonial condition, in which stories of various forms of oppression from racialized slavery, abduction, illegal trafficking, genocide, intergenerational servitude and their psychic and physical legacies continue to haunt the Caribbean, is one in which the modern Caribbean university lives and struggles to give life to humans. I use the Occupy Movement and examples of scholar activism to centre a tradition of activism that has characterised the scholarship and administration of persons within the academy whose works have been lifted from the paper on which they have written to Occupy and disrupt legacies of oppression. As the Occupy Movement was interested in the advancement of social and economic justice and new forms of democracy with many different scopes, local iterations, groups and foci, so too the modern University must contend with responses to hegemonic forces and oppression in an age of activism.

Sonjah Stanley Niaah is a Jamaican scholar, consultant, cultural activist, and international speaker. She is the first Ph.D. Cultural Studies graduate from the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the first to be appointed Lecturer, and Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies there. Former Director of the Institute of Caribbean Studies & Reggae Studies Unit at The University of the West Indies (UWI) at Mona, and the inaugural Rhodes Trust Rex Nettleford Fellow in Cultural Studies (2005), Sonjah Stanley Niaah is a pioneer in her field. She currently holds international appointments as member of the International Scientific Committee of the Slave Route Project (UNESCO), and Senior Research Associate (honorary) at Rhodes University. She is also a board member of the Glasgow Caribbean Centre for Development Research (UWI Cave Hill) and advisor to the Executive at the International Cultural Diversity Organisation (Austria). She has held posts such as Vice Chair of the international Association for Cultural Studies through which she coordinated the first conference held in the Global South at the UWI (2008). Stanley Niaah’s books and edited collections include Dancehall: From Slave Ship to Ghetto (University of Ottawa Press, 2010); Dancehall: A Reader on Jamaican Music and Culture (UWI Press, 2020); Dancehall In/Securities: Perspectives on Caribbean Expressive Life (Routledge, 2022); A Study on the Creative Industry as a Pillar of Sustained Growth and Diversification – The Film And Music Sectors In Jamaica  (UNECLAC Studies and Perspectives Series – No. 72); ”I’m Broader than Broadway: Caribbean Perspectives on Producing Celebrity’ (Wadabagei, Vol. 12: 2, 2009); and ‘Of Sacred Crossroads: Cultural Studies and the Sacred’ (Open Cultural Studies Vol. 3, No.1, 2019).  Her forthcoming books are Reggae Pilgrims: Festivals and the Movement of Jah People (Rowman and Littlefield), and Island Cultures and Festivals: A Creative Ecosystem (UWI Press).


8. Roundtable: The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask-Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice

Speakers: Edith Wen-Chu Chen (Professor, Asian American Studies at California State University, Northridge, US), Valerie Soe (Asian American Studies Department, San Francisco State University, US), Preeti Sharma (Assistant Professor, American Studies at California State University, Long Beach, US), Wendy Ng (Professor of Sociology, California State University, East Bay, US), Kathleen Wong (Lau) (University Diversity Officer, California State University, East Bay, US)

In March 2020, out of the U.S. governments failure to provide PPE for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Auntie Sewing Squad emerged as a mutual aid organization to make needed cloth masks for BIPOC communities. The Squad critiqued the U.S. governments disavowal of public health for its most vulnerable residents. Led primarily by Asian American and other women of color, the organization openly engaged with the politics of labor, care, and solidarity. Its insistence on critique as integral to mutual aid arose directly from histories of migration, exploitation, and racialized gender oppression known intimately by Asian American women.

This seminar draws from the book, The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask-Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice, which links scholarship on the pandemic, care, sewing, solidarity, and comparative race relations. The book is a collection of essays and ephemera written and edited by Aunties themselves, situated in women of color feminisms. Amid anti-Asian rhetoric and yellow-peril racialization of Asian Americans, and alongside political conflicts over masking, Squad members sewed and donated masks by the thousands. Masks not only met public health needs, but also expressed racial solidarity in a moment of social upheaval. Yet in this ongoing frenzy, the Auntie Sewing Squad centered a care- and disability justice- approach to crafting at paces counter to demands of neoliberal capitalism. This seminar will discuss what sewing meant for the anthology co-editors and contributors. Participants will cover sewing as: care work, solidarity; survival; and a pedagogical practice.

Edith Wen-Chu Chen is professor of Asian American Studies at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA. Originally from Texas, Dr. Chen is a second-generation Chinese American who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She has published and given talks on the struggles and challenges of Asian Americans in the U.S. including the rise of anti-Asian violence during the pandemic. Chen was also the faculty lead on the Africana-Asian Collaboratory for Inclusive Excellence Project (AACIEP) which involved producing culturally-relevant programming for the CSUN campus community while fostering student leadership. She is currently wrapping up a National Institutes of Health-funded project, “Is Assimilation Costing Asian Americans their Health: Type 2 diabetes in California’s Asian American populations.”

Valerie Soe is Professor in Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University, US. Since 1986 Valerie Soe’s experimental videos, installations, and documentary films have won dozens of awards, grants, and commissions and have been exhibited at venues such as the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum in New York City, and at film festivals, museums, and galleries worldwide. Her short experimental video, “ALL ORIENTALS LOOK THE SAME,” created when she was an undergraduate at UCLA, won Best Foreign Video at the 1987 Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani, Torino, Italy, First Place, Experimental Category, at the 1987 Sony Corporation Visions of U.S. Festival, and Honorable Mention, Experimental Video, at the 12th Atlanta Film and Video Festival. Her many other awards include: Director’s Choice Award, Image Film and Video Festival, Atlanta; Best Bay Area Short, San Francisco International Film Festival; Making A Difference Award, Commffest Global Community Film Festival, Toronto; and Mediamaker Award, Bay Area Video Coalition, among others. Her writing has been published in books and journals including Countervisions: Asian American Film Criticism; The Palgrave Handbook of Asian Cinema; Amerasia Journal, and Asian Cinema, among many others. Soe is the author of the blog (recipient of a 2012 Art Writers’ Grant, Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation), which looks at Asian and Asian American art, film, culture, and activism. Her feature documentary, LOVE BOAT: TAIWAN, was released in 2019 and has played to sold-out festival audiences across North America and in Taiwan. She currently teaches courses in Asian American film history, media production, and photography.

Preeti Sharma is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at California State University, Long Beach. She explores feminist theories of work, racial capitalism, service economies, Asian American and women of color feminisms, and alternative labor organizing. She is coeditor and coauthor of The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice (UC Press, 2021). The book documents the work of the Auntie Sewing Squad, a mutual aid network led by women of color that formed during the COVID-19 pandemic to sew masks for vulnerable communities. Her writings also appear in The Journal of Asian American Studies, The Labor Studies Journal, and Society & Space. Her book project, The Thread Between Them, examines affective and intimate labor in South Asian threading salons across Los Angeles.

Wendy Ng is currently Dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at California State University East Bay (Hayward, California). Trained in Sociology, her work focuses on oral history, trauma and memory and the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II. She joined the Auntie Sewing Squad–a Facebook group that worked to sew cloth face coverings (masks) during the early COVID pandemic and donated these to groups in need throughout the United States. She is also a long-time quilter and sewist that has made quilts and coverlets for philanthropy and donated her work for auctions and other groups and individuals in need. Her participation with the Auntie Sewing Squad gave her a creative outlet at a time when there was so much uncertainty in what we were going through. We all had our own processing of the epidemic and not knowing the short and long term outcomes of the virus and illness was a huge unknown. It is her hope that using creative energy and radical care, as was the ethos of the Squad, we can move toward a more just future for all.

Kathleen Wong (Lau) is the University Diversity Officer at California State University East Bay, where she leads the Office of Diversity providing vision, strategic direction, and support for university-wide efforts to ensure a welcoming environment and systemic equity for members of the campus and in its relationship with the surrounding communities. Prior to her current appointment, she served in a similar role as Chief Diversity Officer at San Jose State University for six and a half years. She is currently the co-PI on a $3.5 million grant from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) for establishing a national Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Behavioral Health Center of Excellence in the U.S. and the Associated Pacific Islands.