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Advanced Topics: Asian American Material Cultures Course Description

This course will study material objects created by Asian Americans focusing primarily on the body (cosmetic surgery, clothing, tattooing), space (Chinatowns, Filipino grocery stores), food, and art (textiles, paper folding, internment material culture). We will begin by studying the theoretical and methodological foundations of material culture studies asking why practitioners of this field have, for the most part, ignored Asian American contributions. Combining historical and contemporary focuses, we will engage in a reconsideration of the classificatory terms used to refer to material objects asking why and how we characterize "things" as art, material culture, decorative art, objects, folk art, crafts, artifacts, cultural landscapes, and built environments. Central questions for this course include: Does material culture reflect or shape human experiences? How does material culture mediate and/or add meaning to life? How do Asian Americans identify with, make connections to, and use the material world to form identities and create change? Other questions for the course include: What is the relationship between consumption and production? How do we bring material culture scholarship to bear on the present? Can material culture scholarship be employed to create enduring social change? What are the elements of a great material culture analysis?
--Jane Dusselier


  1. Asian American Cultural Expression Through Clothing, Jennifer Ordelt
  2. Asian American Sneaker Culture, Frank Ko
  3. Asian American Tattoo Culture, Jonathan Abellano
  4. Asian Americans and Cosmetic Surgery, Min Ju Kil
  5. The Balikbayan Box, Jenny Lares
  6. Basmati Rice, Najeeb Shahab
  7. Bubble Tea, Sean Sullivan
  8. Green Tea, Judeline Altema
  9. Hiroshima Memorial Art in the U.S., Laurie Au
  10. Javanese Batik, Annessa Annessa
  11. Manga Manga, George Carmer
  12. Sushi Bibliography, Julie Tran
  13. Traditional Filipino Clothing: The Barong Tagalog and the Terno, Lindsay Diokno
  14. ,Giannina Miranda
  15. ,Kyung Woo
  16. ,Tom Yu
Asian American Studies Program
University of Maryland Undergraduate Studies