Event Recap | We Have to Reimagine: A Conversation about Anti-Asian Racism and Violence

The title for this panel takes as its inspiration the words of philosopher and activist Grace Lee Boggs (Barnard College '35). In her call for visionary organizing, she remarked, "We have to reimagine." Held on April 21, 2021, this interdisciplinary panel addressed the historical roots and current manifestations of anti-Asian racism and violence in our collective efforts to reimagine.

Additional program details are available in the downloadable We Have to Reimagine: A Conversation about Anti-Asian Racism and Violence program booklet. 

We Have to Reimagine: A Conversation about Anti-Asian Racism and Violence


Hisama headshot

Ellie M. Hisama, panel organizer and moderator, is Professor of Music at Columbia University where she has taught since 2006.  She has worked in Asian American music studies for nearly three decades since the publication of her essay “Postcolonialism on the Make: The Music of John Mellencamp, David Bowie, and John Zorn” (1993, repr. 2000). Hisama’s other writings in Asian American music and criticism include “Popular Culture: Cultural Activism and Musical Performance” (Bloomsbury, in press); “On seeing and hearing anew: On the Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf's Drum of the Waves of Horikawa,” ASAP/Journal (2019); “John Zorn and the Postmodern Condition” (2004); “Comment on AVANT’s interview with John Zorn,” in AVANT: The Journal of the Philosophical-Interdisciplinary Avant-Garde, Torún, Poland (2012), translated into Polish; and “Afro-Asian Crosscurrents in Contemporary Hip Hop” (2002). She will become the next Dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto in July 2021. 



David Henry Hwang

David Henry Hwang’s work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a three-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the most-produced living American opera librettist, whose works have been honored with two Grammy Awards. He co-wrote the Gold Record “Solo” with the late pop icon Prince, and was a Writer/Consulting Producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair. Hwang serves as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University and as Co-Chair of the American Theatre Wing. His newest work, Soft Power, written with composer Jeanine Tesori, premiered at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre and New York’s Public Theater. It received eleven Drama Desk nominations, four Outer Critics Honors, a Grammy nomination, and was a Finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize.


Akemi Kochiyama

Akemi Kochiyama is a scholar-activist and community builder who currently serves as the Director of Advancement at Manhattan Country School. She is also Co-Director of the Yuri Kochiyama Archives Project and co-editor of Passing It On: A Memoir by Yuri Kochiyama. She recently published “Reflections on my Grandma Yuri, Malcom X, and the Past, Present, and Future of Black-Asian Solidarity” in That Which Remains. A graduate of Spelman College, Akemi is a doctoral candidate in the Ph.D. Program in Cultural Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.


Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a cofounder and former board president of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and is a lecturer in fiction at Columbia College and Writer in Residence at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (CSER), where she directs the Asian American Diasporic Writers series. Her novel, The Evening Hero, is forthcoming with Simon & Schuster, and her young adult novel, Finding My Voice, has just been re-released by Soho Press. Her stories and essays have been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Guernica, The Paris Review, The Guardian, The Nation, and the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and forthcoming in Smithsonian Magazine


Lydia Liu

Lydia H. Liu is the Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. Her representative works include The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious (2010), The Clash of Empires (2004), and Translingual Practice (1995). Her 2013 book The Birth of Chinese Feminism co-edited with Rebecca Karl and Dorothy Ko is listed as one of the Essential Reads on Feminism by the New York Public Library. More recently, she published an article called “Wittgenstein in the Machine” in Critical Inquiry (Spring 2021) and an essay on the current pandemic called “The Incalculable: Thoughts on the Collapse of the Biosecurity Regime” in Critical Inquiry (May 2020).


Mae Ngai

Mae M. Ngai is Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies, Professor of History, and Co-director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia. She is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She is author of the award-winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010). Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and Dissent. Before becoming a historian she was a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education. Her new book, The Chinese Question: The Gold Rush and Global Politics, will be published by W. W. Norton this summer. She is now writing Nation of Immigrants: A Short History of an Idea (under contract with Princeton University Press). 

Sponsored by Columbia University's Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and the Committee on Equity and Diversity in Arts and Sciences.

Arts and Sciences, Department of Music
Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) Human Resources Department
CUIMC Office for Faculty Professional Development, Diversity & Inclusion
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences -- Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusion
International Students and Scholars Office
Mailman School of Public Health Office of Diversity, Culture and Inclusion
Office of Faculty Diversity and Development, Arts & Sciences
Office of University Life
Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons Office for Women and Diverse Faculty
Weatherhead East Asian Institute
Genderand Sexuality Studies Council