In Fall 2021, Sergio Estrada Adan, Eva Funaki, Lin Lin, Cristal Ortiz, Lina Sinsheimer, and Isha Uppalapati enrolled in the first course designated as Asian American & Diaspora Studies (AADS) at Duke: Professor Storti’s First-Year Seminar in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies on Asian American Feminisms. Bringing together the fields of GSF, AADS, and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (AMES), the class investigated the theoretical and political interventions of Asian American feminist thought, activism, and culture. Students read and discussed the epistemological debates that have characterized feminist theorizing on Asian America in a larger effort to cultivate an understanding of the ways Asian American feminisms have both drawn on and challenged the methods, practices, and ideas of other fields of knowledge.
One of the course’s learning objectives challenged students to collectively produce and share a resource relevant to GSF, AADS, AMES, and the broader Duke community. In order to facilitate this task, students needed direction. With generous support from the David L. Paletz Award for Innovative Course Enhancements, Professor Storti invited an expert on multimedia artistic production, Asian American feminist practice, and digital organizing and strategy.
The invited expert, Bianca Nozaki-Nasser, is a Los Angeles-based multimedia artist, designer, strategist, organizer, and educator. Currently, Nozaki-Nasser is the Director of Design and Product at 18 Million Rising, a national digital-first Asian American advocacy organization where she works on campaigns to mobilize over 120,000 members around social issues. Putting the course’s objectives into practice, Nozaki-Nasser uses visual and interactive media as tools for social movement building. In particular, her work focuses on the relationships between creative technology, digital organizing, and cultural work.
On November 16, Nozaki-Nasser Zoomed into the Asian American Feminisms seminar. She first shared an overview of her work’s trajectory, imparting students with the applied elements of Asian American feminism in addition to acquainting them with transformative career paths. By speaking with Nozaki-Nasser, students were able to comprehend how course concepts may translate into real-world problem-solving, expanding their own vision of what a post-graduation career may look like. The first portion of class helped to bridge academia, the arts, and digital activism, modeling for students how interdisciplinarity and community engagement are integral facets of a more just world.
The second portion of class functioned as a workshop, offering students hands-on, albeit virtual support in their co-creation of a class resource. Nozaki-Nasser supplied a worksheet and posed questions that invited students to better hone in on the strategy of creating resources with their peers. Students discussed the nuances between observation, insight, strategic planning, and creative output, thinking seriously about who they were writing for, which enabled them to produce a substantive, accessible, and ambitious resource that is equal parts clever and imaginative.
History is made through documentation. Attesting to the long fight for Asian American Studies at Duke, In Solidarity is the students’ feminist zine that introduces the reader to major themes and figures of Asian American feminism. As written by the class:
“Our title, In Solidarity, wants to recognize the togetherness that is required in order to create real change. In many of our readings, we have discussed the importance of rejecting the attempt to pit people of color against each other. As Asian American feminists, we must recognize the power that we hold in togetherness.”
“We hope that this collective catalog inspires you, as a reader and a human being, to consider what race means in your daily life and reexamine your own implicit biases. In this time of separation and isolation, we employ you to spread love and compassion for one another.”