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 Social Sciences Building

On Leave 2023-2024


t: 510-643-0796

Bio & Research Interests

Catherine Ceniza Choy is an award-winning Asian American historian and professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Asian American Histories of the United States  (2022) published by Beacon Press. The book features the themes of violence, erasure, and resistance in a nearly 200 year history of Asian migration, labor, and community formation in the US. It was awarded a 2022 Kirkus Star from Kirkus Reviews for books of exceptional merit; named a Best of 2022 Nonfiction Book by Kirkus Reviews and Ms. Magazine; featured in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s 2023 National Day of Racial Healing book list; and selected as a nonfiction finalist for the 2023 Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

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. In 2023, Choy is the recipient of the Agnes Dillon Randolph Award. This award recognizes her outstanding scholarship documenting the experiences of Filipino nurses in U.S. history and the importance of that history for understanding ongoing issues in health care, including the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Filipino nurses.

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.

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. She is a former Department Chair of Ethnic Studies (2012-2015, 2018-2019), Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Division (2019-2021), and Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Justice in the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (2021-2023). She 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.

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 12: Contemporary Issues in Ethnic Studies: “Pandemics”

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 Writing

Asian American History and Its Publics: Practitioners and Scholars Chart Diverse Paths,” Amerasia Journal 48 (3): 201–16. Published online, November 14, 2023. doi:10.1080/00447471.2023.2277105. With Lee, Shelley S., Amy Sueyoshi, K. Ian Shin, Jason Oliver Chang, and Nancy Bulalacao.

Transforming Ephemera Into Evidence: Reflections on Catalina Cariaga’s Cultural Evidence,” Digital Catalogue essay for Notes on Cultural Evidence exhibition, July 2023.

Ronald Takaki (1939–2009), In Memoriam, Long Overdue,” Perspectives On History, the newsmagazine of the American Historical Association, April 28, 2023.

Recent Media Coverage

Top 6 Fil-Am books to read for the Fourth of July,” by Walter Ang, Inquirer.Net, June 29, 2024.

Julie Rosicky and Cathy Ceniza Choy: Asian Intercountry Adoption and the ISS-USA Archives,” YouTube, International Social Service, USA Branch Inc., May 28, 2024.

Asian American Histories of the United States: An Interview with Catherine Ceniza Choy,” in “New Books In Asian American Studies,” host Donna Anderson, April 1, 2024.

7 History Books by BIPOC Authors,” by Erica Ezeifedi in Book Riot, February 12, 2024.

Recent Events

UC Santa Cruz Night at the Museum Celebration and Symposium, “Sowing Seeds: Filipino American Stories from the Pajaro Valley,” June 5, 2024, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA.

Clovis Community College Women’s History Month Celebration, “Asian American Women’s History,” March 20, 2024, Clovis, CA.

Contra Costa College Celebrating Undocumented Student Action Week at the California Community Colleges and Filipin(x) American History Month, “Why There Are So Many Filipinx Nurses: The Story of Philippine Migration to the U.S.,” October 16, 2023, online event.

Emory University AAPI Teach-In, Keynote Speaker: Catherine Ceniza Choy, October 13, 2023, Atlanta, GA.

Selected Honors & Awards

UC Berkeley Spark Grant Award, 2023-2024

UC Berkeley Humanities Research Fellowship, 2023-2024

UCHRI Engaging Humanities Grant, Co-PI with Drs. Steve McKay and Kathleen Gutierrez on “Watsonville is in the Heart: Mapping a Recuperative History of Filipino Farmworkers,” 2023-2024

Agnes Dillon Randolph Award, University of Virginia Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry, 2023

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 with Drs. Weihong Bao, SanSan Kwan, and Laura C. Nelson 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