Research Interests: Ethnic questions are the questions of my life. I have been blessed to spend most of my life immersed in racial populations and cultural traditions that are different from my own. I have written about many different peoples, from religious minorities in China to African Americans in the 1940s to Japanese Americans to Pacific Islanders to multiracial people to Turkish Germans.

As a historian, I try to make a way for individual humans’ experiences to be understood by others, for their voices to be heard. As a sometime sociologist, I am trying to figure out how we comprehend and manage our sense of ethnic connection to other people.

Personal Profile: I grew up in Seattle, Washington, in the 1950s and ’60s, in and around the mostly Black and working class Central District and Chinatown. I went to college on the East Coast, then fled back to the West Coast to go to graduate school at UC Berkeley and make a family in San Francisco. I have since lived and taught in Minnesota, China, Ohio, Hawai’i, Oregon, Germany, Japan, and Australia. Along the way I picked up a flock of good friends and growth-inducing experiences. UCSB is my tenth university and I hope my final home. My wife Anna is the love of my life. We have five children and six grandchildren so far, and they are the loves of our lives together.

Teaching Style: Teaching style doesn’t matter. Passion matters. If a professor cares passionately about his or her subject matter, and cares passionately that the student learn, then both teacher and student will have a good experience and will grow. As for my style, I like most to listen, to learn who my students are, and then to nudge them toward things they haven’t thought about. But in fact, in class I spend a lot of time running around waving my arms, telling stories, and knocking over furniture. Much of my students’ most important learning comes outside of class, when they are alone with the books, or when they are writing and trying to express their thoughts.

Idea of a Good Time: Playing intramural basketball at midnight. Running on the beach at dawn. Writing feverishly for ten hours at a stretch. Hanging out with friends. Listening to John Coltrane or Carlos Santana. Hiking the Sierras. Just watching my kids and grand kids. Being with Anna, the love of my life.  Reading almost anything. Listening to that voice that is deep, deep inside.

Most Important Thing to Learn in College: Learn to talk back. Don’t whack on other people. But don’t just take in information. Analyze what your professors, your fellow students, and the books you read are saying. Never accept the categories that are handed to you without examining them carefully. Form and express opinions about what you are hearing and reading. Search out new information on the subject, even if it contradicts what you have been told or you may have thought at first. Let new ideas and information really sink in. Write about what you are learning. Listen to the responses you get to your opinions and your writing. Take this time to explore and grow.

Advice for New Students at UCSB: Take the risk to really learn. Engage with your teachers. Explore that subject that is just off your intellectual map, that you always wanted to learn about but don’t have a good reason for. Take teachers, not courses. Dare to grow, to become someone you don’t recognize.


I am also co-supervisor of PhD student Tiffany Lytle in the Department of Theater and Dance.

Affiliate Professor of

  • Asian American Studies
  • Black Studies
  • Chicana/o Studies
  • East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies
  • Religious Studies
  • The Center for Middle Eastern Studies


  •  Race Changes
  • Growing Up Ethnic in Germany


  • Consultant to Hangtown, a PBS documentary in the making by filmmaker Stuart Harmon. It that depicts the racialized controversy in Placerville, California over that town’s celebration of past lynchings and over the displacement of longstanding Black families from their land.


  • Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity, 2nd ed. (with Francisco Beltrán and Laura Hooton; Routledge, 2022)
  • Reckoning with the Interdiscipline, special 25th/50th anniversary issue of Journal of Asian American Studies (edited with Cathy Schlund-Vials and Lily Anne Y. Welty Tamai, 2022)
  • Shape Shifters: Journeys Across Terrains of Race and Identity (edited with Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly and Lily Welty Tamai; University of Nebraska Press, 2020)
  • Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies (edited with Joanne Rondilla and Rudy Guevarra; Rutgers University Press, 2017)
  • Race in Mind: Critical Essays (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015)
  • Global Mixed Race (edited with four others; New York University Press, 2014)
  • Multiple Identities: Migrants, Ethnicity, and Membership (editor; Indiana University Press, 2013)
  • Race and Immigration in the United States: New Histories (editor; Routledge, 2011)
  • Japanese Americans: The Formation and Transformations of an Ethnic Group, rev. ed. (Rutgers University Press, 2009)
  • Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity (Routledge, 2007)
  • Is Lighter Better? Skin-Tone Discrimination among Asian Americans (with Joanne L. Rondilla, Rowman and Littlefield, 2007)
  • Affect and Power: Essays on Sex, Slavery, Race, and Religion in Appreciation of Winthrop D. Jordan (edited with David J. Libby and Susan C. Ditto; University Press of Mississippi, 2005)
  • Race and Nation: Ethnic Systems in the Modern World (editor; Routledge, 2005)
  • Racial Thinking in the United States: Uncompleted Independence (edited with G. Reginald Daniel; University of Notre Dame Press, 2004)
  • Revealing the Sacred in Asian and Pacific America (edited with Jane Naomi Iwamura; Routledge, 2003)
  • Pacific Diaspora: Island Peoples in the United States and Across the Pacific (edited with Joanne L. Rondilla and Debbie Hippolite Wright; University of Hawai’i Press, 2002)
  • A Global History of Christians: How Everyday Believers Experienced Their World (with Kevin M. Cragg; Baker Book House, 2001)
  • We Are a People: Narrative and Multiplicity in Constructing Ethnic Identity (edited with W. Jeffrey Burroughs; Temple University Press, 2000)
  • World History by the World’s Historians (with James V. Spickard and Kevin M. Cragg; McGraw-Hill, 1998)
  • Japanese Americans: The Formation and Transformations of an Ethnic Group (Twayne Publishers, 1996)
  • Pacific Islander Americans: An Annotated Bibliography (with Debbie Hippolite Wright; Institute for Polynesian Studies, 1995)
  • God’s Peoples: A Social History of Christians (with Kevin M. Cragg, Baker Book House, 1994)
  • Pacific Island Peoples in Hawai’i (editor; University of Hawai’i Press, 1994)
  • Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in 20th-Century America (University of Wisconsin Press, 1989)


  • 2019-present. Organized (with former graduate students David McIntosh and Rena Heinrich) a campaign involving 212 international scholars that resulted in the removal of a monument to conservationist, eugenicist, and Nazi collaborator Madison Grant from Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in California, and its replacement with signage educating the public about links between environmentalism and racism. Ongoing collaboration with California State Parks on related projects.

Other courses I often teach:

INT 89: Race and Masculinity with Kip Fulbeck

INT 94QX  What White People Need to Know

HIST 2C  Modern World History

HIST 164IB  Immigration and Race in United States History since 1924

HIST 168M  Middle Eastern Americans

HIST 168N  Interracial Intimacy

HIST 189E  History of the Pacific

HIST 164IA  Immigration and Race in United States History to 1924

AS AM 150 Pacific Islander Americans

HIST 168C/D  History of Asian Americans

HIST 200WD  World History

Other graduate seminars taught as HIST 201AM, HIST 201RE, or HIST 203A/B:

Comparative Racial and Ethnic Systems

African American History, 17th-19th Centuries

African American History, 20th-21st Centuries

Encounters with Early America

Race in American History

Asian American History

Religion in America

Research and Writing on Race, Migration, and Colonialism

Racial Theory

Trans-Everything History

  • Senior Core Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Central European University, Budapest, 2021-22
  • Visiting Scholar, Australian National University, 2016
  • Robert Perry Mentoring Award, National Association for Ethnic Studies, 2016
  • INDIEFAB Silver Book Award in Social Science, 2016, for Race in Mind
  • Distinguished Teaching Award, UCSB, 2015
  • Visiting Professor, International Christian University, Tokyo, 2014
  • Critical Mixed Race Studies Association inaugurated the Paul Spickard Graduate Student Paper Award, 2014 (the Association’s first award)
  • Richard A. Yarborough Mentoring Award, Minority Scholars Committee, American Studies Association, 2013
  • Loving Prize, Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival, 2011
  • Robert A. Friedman Lecturer, Baruch College, 2011
  • Fulbright Research Professor, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany, 2008-09
  • Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award, UCSB, 2008
  • Organization of American Historians/Japan Association for American Studies Historian-in-Residence, Tokai University, 2007
  • Member of the Council, Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association, 2004-07
  • Rockefeller Foundation Residential Fellow, Bellagio, Italy, 2004
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians, 2003-21
  • Oregon State University Center for the Humanities Residential Fellow, 2003-04
  • One of Ten Terrific Teachers, UCSB, 1998
  • Charles Lindbergh Lecturer, Minnesota Historical Society, 1996
  • Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the United States, 1990, for Mixed Blood
  • Other teaching awards: 1991, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017



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Job Letter Template

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Race and Ethnic Journals

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Read this and you’ll be a better writer



Paul Barba

Assistant Professor of History, Bucknell University

Author of Author of Country of the Cursed and Driven: Slaver and the Texas Borderlands (University of Nebraska Press, 2021). Winner of David Weber and W. Turrentine Jackson awards for best first book and best book on western US, 2022.

Francisco Beltrán

Assistant Professor of History, Oklahoma State University

Formerly Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Reed College, ACLS-Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan; Visiting Assistant Professor of HIstory, San Francisco State University

Co-author of Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity, rev. ed. (Routledge, 2023)

Marc Coronado

Professor of English and Chair of Women’s Studies, De Anza College

Community Coordinator of the LEAD Latino empowerment program

Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly

Professor of History, University of La Verne

Author of The Allure of Blackness among Mixed Race Americans, 1862-1916

Book Page

Sarah Griffith

Associate Professor of History, Queen’s University of Charlotte

Author of Asian American Civil Rights

The Fight for Asian American Civil Rights: Liberal Protestant Activism, 1900-1950

Rudy Guevarra

Associate Professor of Asian Pacific American Studies, Arizona State University

Author of Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego

Co-editor of Transnational Crossroads: Remapping the Americas and the Pacific; Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies; and Beyond Ethnicity: The Politics of Race in Hawai‘i

Rena Heinrich

Assistant Professor of Theatre Practice in Critical Studies, School of Dramatic Arts, University of Southern California

Laura Hooton

Assistant Professor of History, Angelo State University

Formerly Assistant Professor of History, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY

Co-author, Almost All Aliens: Race, Immigration, and Colonialism in American History and Identity, rev. ed. (Routledge, 2023)

Ken Hough

Lecturer in History and Engineering, UCSB

Formerly Historian/Guide, Hearst Castle, San Simeon State Park

Hanni Jalil

Assistant Professor of History, California State University, Channel Islands

Formerly Assistant Professor of History, Universidad Icesi, Colombia; Mellon Diversity Fellow, University of Washington Press

Matt Kester

Screenwriter for Warner Bros. TV.

Formerly Associate Professor and University Archivist, Brigham Young University – Hawai’i

Author of Remembering Iosepa: History, Place, and Religion in the American West

Pablo Landeros

Professor and Chair of History, Estrella Mountain Community College

Chrissy Lau

Assistant Professor of History, California State University, Monterey Bay

Author of New Women of Empire: Gendered Politics and Racial Uplift in Interwar Japanese America (University of Washington Press, 2022)

Co-editor of The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice (University of California Press, 2021)

David McIntosh

Assistant Professor of History and Anthropology, Southeast New Mexico College

Jeffrey Moniz

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Hawai’i, West O’ahu

Laura Moore

Instructor in American and World History and Girls’ Basketball and Swimming Coach, Cate School, Carpinteria, CA

Sharleen Nakamoto Levine

Professor of History, American Studies, & Women’s Studies, Honolulu Community College

Chi-chi Peng

Policy analyst, Academia Sinica

Lori Pierce

Associate Professor of African and Black Diaspora Studies, DePaul University

Joanne Rondilla

Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies, San Jose State University

Co-author of Is Lighter Better? Skin-Tone Discrimination among Asian Americans

Co-editor of Pacific Diaspora (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2002); Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies (Rutgers UP, 2017)           

Holly Roose

Director of the Promise Scholars Program, University of California, Santa Barbara

Author of

David Rouff

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History, University of California, Merced

Author of Before L.A.: Race, Space, and Municipal Power in Los Angeles, 1781-1894

Brandon Seto

Senior Floor Consultant, Office of Speaker Anthony Rendon, California State Assembly

Travis Smith

Professor and Chair of History, Yuba College

Lily Anne Welty Tamai

Lecturer in Asian American Studies, UCLA and UCSB

Co-editor of Shape Shifters: Journeys across Terrains of Race and Identity (University of Nebraska Press, 2020) and Reckoning with the Interdiscipline, special 25th/50th anniversary issue of Journal of Asian American Studies (2022)

Mario Tumen

Visiting Assistant Professor of Latin American History, St. Lawrence University

Tara Villalba

Instructor at Western Washington University and Maker of Good Trouble in the anti-racist, feminist, anti-colonial, anti-nuclear weapons, and environmental movements.

Isaiah Helekunihi Walker

Academic Vice President and Professor of History, Brigham Young University – Hawai’i

Author of Waves of Resistance: Surfing and History in 20th-Century Hawai’i

Ben Zulueta

Lecturer in Asian American Studies, UC Santa Barbara