The AAC Fellows Program
AAC Fellows Program
UNC’s AAC Fellows program is the first Asian America-focused Fellows program in the nation, bringing together pre-eminent scholars, artists, and community organization leaders for collaboration, workshops, and campus visits that inspire engagement with Asian American studies across campus. Fellows are chosen to address the breadth and richness of Asian America as well as campus needs and interests.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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)
Becoming a Fellow
Fellows are currently selected partly by application and partly by invitation in order to ensure a professionally varied cohort. Applications are currently closed.
2020-21 (inaugural year)
Dr. Iyko Day joins us from the Department of English and Critical Social Thought at Mount Holyoke College. Author of Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2016), Day’s research focuses on the visual culture and literature of Asian North America. (Dr. Day already spoke at a jointly hosted Asian American Center and Carolina Asia Center event in the “Anti-Blackness and Alliance” series: video available here with ONYEN login.)
Rajiv Mohabir, a faculty member in the BFA/MFA program in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College, is an award-winning Indo-Carribean poet and translator of poetry. Mohabir’s first book of poetry The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books, 2016) exposes the wounds of coming of age as a queer brown youth. I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (Kaya Press, 2019), Mohabir’s translation of Lalbihari Sharma’s 1916 book of poems, the only known literary work by an indentured servant in the Anglophone Caribbean, captures the hardships of life as an island “coolie” worker.
Dr. Nitasha Tamar Sharma, of the Department of African American Studies and the Program in Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, brings to the AAC Fellows a focus on the relationships between racialized peoples, specifically intersections of Black, Native, and Asian America. In Hawai’i is my Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific (Duke University Press, forthcoming August 2021) Sharma explores essential questions regarding race, identity, art, and place.
Student Engagement Project Incubator at the AAC (SEPIA)
What is the Incubator?
Our Incubator, SEPIA, offers UNC students a space and support system to manifest the Asian American academic and community engagement projects they are most passionate about. This can look different for each group that works with the AAC; it can be a matter of helping find spaces, appropriate mentorship connections, resources and research, and access to networks to help focus and strengthen the project proposals. The AAC provides support for students to start working on projects they might otherwise not have resources or guidance for; usually, this entails regular check-ins, meetings with additional units/visiting speakers, and creating a concrete plan.
Ultimately, our goal is to promote growth through providing support and resources. We also offer mentorship in professional development and management of projects. Students whose projects require specialized funding may apply on a rolling basis. However, SEPIA is meant to offer more engagement and is not simply a funding source.
How do students take advantage of this opportunity?
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the title “Incubator Interest” to set up a meeting, OR set up a meeting directly at this link; you can come to the meeting with as much (or as little) as you have available, and we will walk you through next steps, provide options, and offer ways to create a stronger, more concrete project.
Why is the AAC Incubator useful?
Incubators tend to be productive for small groups and individuals for a number of reasons; the AAC Incubator can help you more concretely and specifically plan, launch, manage, and grow your ideas.
- First, you have a built-in space supported by the university that has an expertise in Asian American experiences and studies.
- Second, alongside the AAC staff, we have networks across the nation to other scholars, alumni, community organizers, and artists that we can connect to deepen projects for a richer outcome.
- Third, we offer a space in which you can enter into conversations with other like-minded students who can also serve as a support group.
- Finally, we can offer structure and accountability to ensure you are working towards concrete goals and a specific vision for a sustainable future.
Can you access funding through SEPIA?
We review requests for funding that align with the mission, vision, and goals of the Asian American Center; we have limited funding for student projects and prioritize unique and new projects.
- Successful project applications will concretely describe how the project aligns with AAC’s mission
- You must meet with AAC staff for a discussion about your project prior to applying for the grant; the grant application link will be sent to you pending a successful discussion covering the following details:
- Detailed description of project, including its novelty and its planned impact (audience, purpose, context)
- Articulation of alignment with the AAC’s mission
- Line-item budget
- No fees or donations may be collected for programming
- Funding cannot be used for salary, stipend, or travel
- All project marketing (if applicable) must go through center channels
- Funding cannot be used as seed money for a fundraiser of any kind
- Certain purchases must go through the AAC in order to meet university funding requirements
- You must apply for funding two months (8 weeks) ahead of the projected implementation date
- Part of the budget may be used for food or drink, but the project cannot be solely social in purpose
- Other restrictions may apply