Robert George Lee Associate Professor of American Studies

Robert G. Lee (Brown, PhD. History 1980) studies Asian American and Transpacific History.  He has published on Asian Americans, popular culture and racial formations; Asian American displacements and diasporas; and the social and cultural connections between Asia and America. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Asian American and Transpacific history and culture.  In 2014, he was a Fulbright scholar at the Research Institute for the Humanities at the Chinese University of Hong Kong where developed and taught, with Evelyn Hu-Dehart, a graduate seminar on Transpacific History taught in real time between Brown and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. ( Subsequently with the Nanyang University of Technology in Singapore.)  Lee has been active in developing American Studies in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. He is currently a Fellow at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities where he is engaged in a project using vernacular photography in Chinese American history. 

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

Selected Publications

Race, Nation and Empire in American History; Essays in the New Ethnic Studies. Edited with Matthew Guterl and James Campbell , University of North Carolina Press,  2009

Displacements and Diasporas, Asians in the Americas.  Edited with Wanni Anderson, Rutgers University Press, 2009

Orientals: Asian Americans and the Popular Discourse of Race in America, Temple University Press, 1999. 271p., photos.index. (American Studies Association, John Hope Franklin Prize, best book in American Studies, 1999;American Political Science Association, best book on the social construction of race, 1999; Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association, Best Book, 1999..)

Dear Miye, Letters Home from Japan 1939-1946. Stanford University Press, 1995, c.464 p., photos. index. Edited with introduction and annotations. Association for Asian American Studies, Special Book Award,1996.

research overview

Robert Lee studies the history of Asians in the United States, racial formations, and relations between Asia and America. Three books include: Dear Miye, Letters Home from Japan 1939-1946 (Stanford, 1995; Japanese edition - Asahi, 1999); Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture (Temple, 1999, Japanese and Chinese editions, 2006); and Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas (Rutgers 2005).

research statement

I work on vernacular photography and the self representation of Chinese in America in the early to mid-century 20th Century.  I also work on the Transpacific popular culture and social movements including the transmission of food, martial arts and visual cultures. 

funded research

Recent grants include;  A three year grant from the Taiwan Ministry of Education, a Fulbright fellowship 2014 to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, research grants from the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities, the Group Research Project Grant, Office of the Dean of the College; Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies Travel Grant; Richard R. Solomon Grant for Faculty Research; Wayland Collegium Grant to support Diasporas and Displacements Symposium; Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies Grant to support Diasporas and Displacement Symposium.