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The Asian American Center (AAC) at UNC Chapel Hill would like to introduce the newest cohort of AAC Fellows for the 2021-2022 year. We are honored to have these specialized scholars join us and lead talks on their research both virtually and on campus. 

As always, please stay updated on our website and social media platforms for information about their specialized talks, events, and programming. One way is to sign up for our mailing list here and visit our official website for complete announcements. The AAC is very excited to offer this diverse range of academic and social programming, and would encourage students, faculty, staff, and the community to connect with us.  


Dr. Samah Choudhury 

Dr. Samah Choudhury (she/her) is an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Ithaca College. She has an academic background in the Middle East, Islam, and the Muslim identity and her specialty lies in Islamic Studies, humor and comedy, race, and gender. She has a wide range of experience that centers particularly on how Islam and Muslims are articulated through the medium of stand-up comedy. She also focuses on how this highly staged and embodied genre reveals the recognition (or obscurity) of Islam through discourses in race, gender, affect, and American secularism.  

Currently her research surrounds American Muslim humor and the politics that this combination is associated with, often underscoring the meaning of social legibility in the United States. In the field, she has taught many courses including a recent introductory course on Muslim traditions and a seminar on women, gender, and Islam. As a scholar, she has a manuscript project titled “American Muslim Humor, Secular Aesthetics, and the Politics of Recognition,” which focuses on the cultural productions of humor and the ways in which Islam is self-constructed and then articulated through comedic performance, such as stand-up comedy.  

Her public scholarship includes lectures and attendance at annual conferences for the American Academy of Religion, the American Studies Association, and the Association of Asian American studies. She has a wide range of audience, from fellow scholars and college students to high-and-middle schoolers.  

Dr. Choudhury is a UNC Chapel Hill alumna, having received her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies. Here at Carolina, she is Andrew W. Mellon Humanities for the Public Good Fellow, where she actively works with the Carolina Public Humanities to build strategic collaborations with NC schools, especially in underserved populations. Dr. Choudhury also has an A.M. in Middle Eastern Studies and B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies degrees from Harvard University and the University of Michigan, respectively.  


Dr. Theodore S. Gonzalves 

Dr. Theodore (Theo) Gonzalves (he/him) is a scholar of comparative cultural studies and currently serves as the curator of Asian Pacific American history at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. He also serves as the interim director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. He was an associate professor of American Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 

Dr. Gonzalves focuses on the experiences of Asian American and Filipino American communities. His research specialties also include Asian Pacific American history, culture and the performing arts. 

He is a prolific scholar and is the author of numerous publications, including Stage Presence: Conversations with Filipino American Performing Artists (2007), The Day the Dancers Stayed: Performing in the Filipino/American Diaspora (2009), and, with Roderick Labrador, Filipinos in Hawaiʻi (2011). His Filipinos in Hawaiʻi traces the history of Filipinos in Hawai’i, which dates back for more than a century as they arrived in Hawai’i for hard, manual labor in pineapple and sugar commodities. In the book, he starts from 1946, the last year that sakadas (plantation workers) were imported from the Philippines to the centennial of their year of their settlement here in Hawai’i.  

Besides academia, Dr. Gonzalves is very active in the performing arts field. He served on the advisory board for Kumu Kahua Theatre in Honolulu  and played keyboards for the Legendary Bobby Banduria, and toured extensively as the musical director for the theater troupe, tongue in A mood. His musical work has been featured at concerts such as the Asian American Jazz Festival and performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He has also written, produced, and performed several scores for independent film projects. 

Dr. Gonzalves holds a Ph.D. in comparative culture from the University of California, Irvine. 

Read the latest DTH Article on Dr. Gonzalves’ Talk on Pilipino Cultural Night.  



Dr. Sean Metzger 

Dr. Sean Metzger (he/him) is currently a professor at the School of Theatre, Film and Television and the Vice Chair of Undergraduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to his arrival at UCLA, he was an assistant professor of English, theater studies, and Asian & Middle Eastern studies at Duke University. He is also currently a Framing the Global fellow with Undian University, and prior 

Broadly, Dr. Metzger works at the intersections of  Asian American, Caribbean, Chinese, film, performance and sexuality studies. His scholarly publications include numerous books centering on these areas, including his first book, Chinese Looks: Fashion, Performance, Race (2014) which provides a cultural history of three iconic objects in theatrical and cinematic performance: the queue (or the man’s hair braid), the women’s qipao suit, and the Mao suit. He frames these distinctive objects to represent a pivotal moment in U.S.-China relations. He also elucidates how aesthetics, gender, politics, economics, and race are interwoven and argues that close examination of particular forms of dress can help us think anew about gender and modernity. Besides this, he is currently working on his second book titled The Chinese Atlantic, a study that examines site-specific performances where Chinese investments help us shift local and national cultural understanding.  

Besides academia, Dr. Metzger has spent three years in social services at the Los Angles Gay & Lesbian Center and as an as an independent consultant to school districts and other non-profit institutions, on an ad-hoc basis.  

Dr. Metzger holds a Ph.D. in Theater (Twentieth Century Performance and Culture), an M.A. in Comparative Literature, and a B.A. Summa Cum Laude in Humanities and Psychology.