People / Faculty


Catherine Ceniza Choy


Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, Comparative Ethnic Studies

Adoption, Asian American History, Gender, Migration, Nursing, Philippine and Filipino American Studies

Ph.D., History, University of California, Los Angeles, June 1998
M.A., History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1993
B.A., History, cum laude, Pomona College, Claremont, 1991

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526 Barrows Hall

Office Hours in Fall 2021: By Appointment


t: 510-643-0796

Bio & Research Interests

Catherine Ceniza Choy is the author of Asian American Histories of the United States  (2022) published by Beacon Press in their ReVisioning History book series. The book features the themes of anti-Asian hate and violence, erasure of Asian American history, and Asian American resistance to what has been omitted in a nearly 200 year history of Asian migration, labor, and community formation in the US. Choy argues that Asian American experiences are essential to any understanding of US history and its existential crises of the early twenty-first century.

An engaged public scholar, Choy has been interviewed and had her research cited in many media outlets, including ABC 20/20, The Atlantic, CNN, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, New York Times, ProPublica, San Francisco Chronicle, and Vox, on anti-Asian, coronavirus-related hate and violence, the disproportionate toll of COVID-19 on Filipino nurses in the United States, and racism and misogyny in the March 16, 2021 Atlanta spa shootings.

Choy’s first book, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (2003), explored how and why the Philippines became the leading exporter of professional nurses to the United States. Empire of Care received the 2003 American Journal of Nursing History and Public Policy Book Award and the 2005 Association for Asian American Studies History Book Award. Her second book, Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America (2013), unearthed the little-known historical origins of Asian international adoption in the United States beginning with the post-World War II presence of the U.S. military in Asia. Choy also co-edited the anthology, Gendering the Trans-Pacific World (2017), with Judy Tzu-Chun Wu. She is the editor of the Brill book series Gendering the Trans-Pacific World, an editorial board member of the journal Social History of Medicine, and an advisory board member of the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission)-Mellon Planning Grants for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History and Ethnic Studies Program.

Choy is Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Justice in UC Berkeley’s Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS). She is a former Department Chair of Ethnic Studies (2012-2015, 2018-2019) and a former Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Division (2019-2021). Choy received her Ph.D. in History from UCLA and her B.A. in History from Pomona College. The daughter of Filipino immigrants, she was born and raised in New York City. She lives in Berkeley with her husband Greg Choy. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Courses Taught

ASAMST 20A: Introduction to Asian American History

ASAMST 24: Asian American History in American Musicals

ASAMST 124: Filipino American History

ASAMST 190: Asian American History in the Age of COVID-19

ETH STD C135A: Migration in the Contemporary World

ETH GRP 201: History and Narrativity

ETH GRP 250: Research Seminar on Asian American History

ETH GRP 250: Research Seminar on Gender and the Trans-Pacific World


Empire of care
Global families
Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture

Recent Publications

The COVID Era is the Latest Episode of Medical Scapegoating of Asian Immigrants,” History News Network, August 7, 2022.

“Epicenter of the Epicenter,” with curator PJ Gubatina Policarpio, in Yarina Notlar: Notes for Tomorrow (Istanbul, Turkey: Pera Museum, 2022), 30-35. Originally published in Independent Curators International Journal, July 21, 2020, part of Reports from the Field’s perspectives from curators from around the world and reflections on the impact of the global pandemic on their lives.

When the Reporter Asks You Why There Are So Many Filipino Nurses in the U.S.,” in AAWW’s (Asian American Writers’ Workshop) magazine, The Margins, May 17, 2021.

To the Point of No Return: From Exchange Visitor to Permanent Resident,” reprint of Chapter 4 from Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History, in The UKAHN Bulletin: UK Association for the History of Nursing, vol. 9 (1): 2021.

“In This Country,” in Sparked: George Floyd, Racism, and the Progressive Illusion, eds. Walter R. Jacobs, Wendy Thompson Taiwo, and Amy August (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, May 2021), 33-36. Originally published in The Society Pages, June 17, 2020, as part of the special essay series, “Wonderful/Wretched Memories of Racial Dynamics in the Twin Cities, Minnesota,” and reprinted in The Berkeley Blog as “Brushes with racism in Minnesota and why Black lives matter,” June 24, 2020.

From imperialism to inpatient care: Work differences of Filipino and White registered nurses in the United States and implications for COVID‐19 through an intersectional lens,” in Gender, Work & Organization, April 4, 2021, with Jennifer Nazareno, Emily Yoshioka, Alexander C. Adia, Arjee Restar, and Don Operario.

Administrative Experience

Associate Dean, Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS), July 2021-present

Associate Dean, College of Letters & Science Division of Undergraduate Studies, 2019-2021

Faculty Leadership Academy Program Participant, Spring 2019

Department Chair, Ethnic Studies, 2012-2015, 2018-2019

Recent Media Coverage

KPFA Radio Letters & Politics, “The Radical History of Asian Americans,” September 14, 2022, interviewed by host Mitch Jeserich.

San Francisco Chronicle, “Bay Area author brings AAPI histories out of the shadows in eye-opening new book,” September 11, 2022, interviewed by writer Leland Cheuk.

Center for Asian American Media Short Takes, “Asian American Histories of the United States, By Catherine Ceniza Choy,” September 6, 2022, ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES reviewed by madeleinefernando.

East West ezine, “Asian American Histories of the United States: ‘Come, meet us in our wounds.‘” August 30, 2022, ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES reviewed by Ravi Chandra.

Kirkus Reviews, “Where Are the Asian Americans in American History?,” August 9, 2022, interviewed by writer Mathangi Subramanian.

KQED Forum, “Catherine Ceniza Choy on The Multiplicity of Asian American Histories,” August 8, 2022, interviewed by host Mina Kim.

KPFA Upfront,”Asian American Histories of the United States,” August 8, 2022, interviewed by host Brian Edwards-Tiekert

The Takeaway, “Asian American Histories of the United States,” August 4, 2022, interviewed by host Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry.

UnSung History, “Filipino Nurses in the United States,” August 1, 2022, interviewed by host Kelly Therese Pollock.

Write Through The Night, “10 New Book Releases Coming Out August 2022,” July 30, 2022, ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES featured in this list.

Nichi Bei Weekly, “A ‘vibrant,’ non-linear approach to Asian America’s histories,” July 21, 2022, ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES reviewed by Art Hansen.

NBC News, “Constance Wu’s harassment exposes Hollywood’s glaring double standards,” July 19, 2022, interviewed and quoted in news story.

Autostraddle, “49 Queer and Feminist Books Coming Out Summer 2022,” July 8, 2022, ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES featured in this list.

Factually! with Adam Conover, “Asian American Histories of the U.S.,” July 6, 2022, interviewed by host Adam Conover on podcast.

ABC7 Chicago, “Filipino nurses in America: The unseen, unsung, untold story,” June 1, 2022, interviewed and quoted in news story.

ABC7 Chicago, “Filipino nurses in America: The history vs. the stereotype,” May 30, 2022, interviewed and quoted in news story.

Asia Society, “Author Catherine Choy on the Lessons of Asian American History,” April 11, 2022, interviewed by Asia Society President and CEO and former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd.

Book Riot, “18 of the Best Asian American Books To Read This Year,” April 7, 2022, ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES featured in this list.

Axios, “Lynchings: An untold piece of Asian American history,” April 2, 2022, interviewed and quoted in news story.

NBC News, “Why Ali Wong’s ultrasexual comedy is profound amid fear among Asian American women,” March 8, 2022, interviewed and quoted in news story.

NBC News, “Why Nathan Chen’s history-making gold medal is so significant,” February 10, 2022, interviewed and quoted in news story.

Ms. Magazine, “Most Anticipated Reads for the Rest of Us 2022,” February 7, 2022, ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES featured in this story.

Selected Podcast, Radio, and Other Interviews

Politico, “How Will the History Books Remember 2021?” December 29, 2021, contributed to piece.

CNN, “For generations, Filipino nurses have been on America’s front lines,” October 8, 2021, interviewed and quoted in news story.

Time, “From AIDS to COVID-19, America’s Medical System Has a Long History of Relying on Filipino Nurses to Fight on the Frontlines,” May 30, 2021, interviewed and quoted in news story.

OZY, “Hidden Asian American Heroes, “March 26, 2021, featured in morning newsletter.

KQED Morning Edition, “Advocates React to the Atlanta Killer ‘Not Being Motivated by Race,’” March 22, 2021, interviewed by news anchor Brian Watt.

NBC News, “Racism, sexism must be considered in Atlanta case involving killing of six Asian women, experts say,” March 17, 2021, interviewed and quoted in news story.

ABC 20/20 special, “20/20 Murder in Atlanta,” March 16, 2021, full episode available on Hulu, television interview.

KQED Forum, “California’s Filipino American Nurses Bear Disproportionate COVID-19 Risks,” December 18, 2020, live radio interview.

Vox, “Why the US has so many Filipino nurses,” June 29, 2020, news video story interview.

Fiat Vox, “Why are there so many Filipino nurses in the U.S.?,” May 28, 2019, podcast interview.

Berkeley Writers at Work, “Catherine Ceniza Choy,” October 18, 2017, videotaped interview.

Korea and the World, “Catherine Ceniza Choy on International Adoption,” October 14, 2016, podcast interview.

Selected Honors & Awards

Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study Grant, Co-PI with Dr. Linn Normand on “Exhuming Immigrant Voices From the Past: A Critical Archival Study of the Bancroft Library,” 2020-2023

Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, 2017-2020

UC Berkeley Townsend Center for the Humanities Senior Faculty Fellow, 2018-2019

Institute of International Studies Faculty Interdisciplinary Program Grant on “Gender and the Trans-Pacific World,” 2016-2018

Social Science Matrix Research Team Award on “Migration, Racialization, and Gender: Comparing Filipino Migration to France and the US,” 2017-2018

Fulbright Distinguished Lectureship, Yonsei University, Korea, 2015-2016

Organization of American Historians Japanese Residencies Program, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, 2011

Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 2005

Association for Asian American Studies History Book Award for Empire of Care, 2005

American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award in History and Public Policy for Empire of Care, 2003