Women in US-Asian Relations Oral History Project



As a final project, students in AAS/POL 307 (Women in US-Asian Relations) set out to interview women who are committed to enhancing US-Asian relations. Women’s contributions occur at many different levels of society and encompass a variety of occupations. In conducting oral history interviews, students prepare documentation for the Melville Library’s digital collection and, in the process, acquire deep knowledge about women’s social, cultural, political, and economic roles in the United States and Asia, which includes those in Asian American communities. In order to prepare to conduct the oral history interviews, SBU students research the ways women historically have sought to “increase understanding” between the US and Asia in transnational and international relations over a 125 year time span (from the 1850s to the 1970s). They learn about transformative occupations — including writers and poets to missionaries, journalists, film makers, diplomats, medical and social workers, scientists, scholars, and chefs – to determine how women have used motivational discourse and social networking (as well as mentoring and partnering) to interpret China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam for diverse audiences in America and Asia. Our SBU students examine diplomatic history in the early 1800s when women were precursors; turn of the century activities when they took on roles as progressives; and the mid-1900s when they became challengers both domestically and abroad. To understand the trajectory of women’s careers over time, students learn about the context of US-Asian relations, including the U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction era; American missionary movements in Asia; Chinese exclusion laws; Japanese internment camps during World War II; the Korean War; the ascendancy of the Chinese Communist Party; Philippine independence: Indian political movements; and the Vietnam War.


In preparing this collection of oral history interviews, students develop an interpretive model of women’s roles in US-Asian relations; locate and use primary source materials to analyze social movements and conduct biographical research; and find innovative ways to identify and describe “women in action.” Working in groups, our SBU students interview prominent women who currently are committed to enhancing US-Asian relations. They prepare the oral interview proposal, communicate with the interviewee to request an interview; record the interview (using audio and/or visual formats); write up and analyze the results of the interviews; and deliver a class presentation.


As the course instructor, I hope you enjoy this collection and that it inspires you to consider the vast networks that are perpetuated and continue as a result of women’s “work” in American, Asian, and Asian American frameworks.


-Peg Christoff


This project is a joint effort between the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies and the Stony Brook University Libraries.


View the public digital collection here


Read interview transcripts and presentations for each interviewee by clicking on their name below.

Interviews labeled (Restricted Access) are only accessible on campus through an SBU proxy.



 Adams, Margarethe – Professor, Stony Brook University, Department of Music

Interviewed by: Naveed Ahmed, Daniel Coyne, Susmita Chakraborty, Brian Khaneyan


• Barale, Lucille – Adjunct Professor, Attorney, Consultant

Interviewed by: Paul Nguyen, Stefanie Chen, Christolin Micgel


Brehm, Carolyn L. VP, Procter & Gamble Global Government Relations & Public Policy

Interviewed by: James Lynn, John Desmond


Burt, Clarissa – Associate Professor of Arabic Language, Literature, and Culture, United States Naval Academy

Interviewed by: Christopher Gomez, Michael Munson, Seth Williams


Chandran, Latha – Pediatrician, Chief of Residents at Stony Brook University Hospital, Medical Educator

Interviewed by: Emely Liranzo, Victoria Jaramillo, Alyssa Shevlin


Chang Bloch, Julia – Founder/President of the US-China Education Trust, Ambassador to Nepal

Interviewed by: Melissa Kelly, Maria Marrero, Stephanie Paguay


Chou, Jennifer – Founding member/former Deputy Director of Programming at Radio Free Asia

Interviewed by: Drazen Baracca, Raven Dorsey, Ericka Berman, Megan Miller


David, Mary – Lawyer, Advocate for Anti-Human Trafficking

Interviewed by: Theresa Decicco, Mehtasim Mahfuz, Alexa Reynolds


 Davis, Nancy – Research Program Director, East West Center (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Nicole LiBretto, Sean Dwyer


• Doi, Yuriko Stage Director, Choreographer, Performer, & Former Founding Artistic Director of Theatre of Yugen 

Interviewed by: Tiffany Huang, Kelly Liu, David Youngkyun Lee


• Ennis, Erin  Senior VP, US-China Business Council 

Interviewed by: Smith


• Ford, Jocelyn – Filmmaker “Nowhere to Call Home” and NPR journalist (Upcoming)


• Gunness, Kristen – China Analyst (Rand Corporation) (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Aijaz Wasay, Diego Molina


Hamrin, Carol – Senior Associate at the Global China Center, Former Research Professor

Interviewed by: Asha Samuel, Arianny Santana, & Shamarie Williams


Horsely, Jamie – Professor of Chinese business, Yale Law School 

Interviewed by: Daniel Halbig, Alexandra Vlahakis


Johanson, Vanessa – Country Director, Myanmar United States Institute of Peace (USIP)

Interviewed by: Krystyn V. Phillips


Kolenda, Helena  Program Director, Asia, Henry Luce Foundation

Interviewed by: Kristen Winters, William Ozdal


• Larson, Jane Leung – Freelance writer/historian 

Interviewed by: Paul Chan, Kevin Lee


Liu, Dimon – Architect, Human Rights Activist, Writer (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Amir Ahmed, Rezaul Hassan, Longchen Ni, Simon Sharp


Mistry, KathleenPresident of Mistry Enterprises Inc., Founding Board Member of Middle East North Africa Consultants Association (MENACA) (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Nichollette Aretakis, Nonie Lee, Jamie Mathew


Murck, Alfreda – Independent Scholar; formerly museum curator at the National Palace Museum

Interviewed by: Tenzin Norzin


Payne, Nancy – Vice President of PeaceTech Lab

Interviewed by: Kyuri Kim, Junbum Hwang, Hosun Jung


Richardson, Sophie – Human Rights Watch, Director

Interviewed by: Yalda Khwaja, Lola Ashirmetov, Kofi Ramirez Osei-Tutu


Ross, Madelyn – Director of China Studies, Johns Hopkins University 

Interviewed by: Denisse Ceballos, Ayodele Ajibade


Shapiro, Norah – Filmmaker for “Miss Tibet: Beauty in Exile”  (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Nida Kuruvilla


Siddique, Jumaina – Program Officer, South Asia United States Institute of Peace (USIP) (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Carlo Antonio, Tajmin Begum


Slater, Marilyn – World War II Nurse

Interviewed by: Lauren B Slater


Small, Whitney Foard – Strategic Communications Manager, Union Group, Thailand  (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Zach Robinson, John Feinberg


Spencer, Kay – Program Officer, Myanmar, Asia Center: United States Institute of Peace (USIP) (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Travis Puckett, Kevin Chow


Staats, Jennifer – Director, China Programs, United States Institute of Peace (USIP) 

Interviewed by: Danielle Stepnoski & Julie Mei

Please contact Jennifer Staats directly for information about her interview


Sultan, Hodei – Senior Program Manager, Asia Center United States Institute of Peace (USIP) (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Matthew LoMastro & Alejandra Ramirez


Toma, Alexandra – Executive Director, Peace and Security Fund

Interviewed by: Rubab; Marie; Julia Cunningham


Young, Alice – Lawyer/trade with China; Member of the Committee of 100 and on several advisory boards (Restricted Access)

Interviewed by: Viviana Torres, Alex Cheung