ABOUT ERIKA

One of the nation’s leading immigration and Asian American historians, Erika Lee teaches American history at the University of Minnesota, where she is a Regents Professor, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and the Director of the Immigration History Research Center. The granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, Lee grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, attended Tufts University, and received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She was recently awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, (also known as the nation’s “brainy award,”) and was named Incoming Vice President of the Organization of American Historians.

Books

Lee is the author of three award-winning books in U.S. immigration and Asian American history: At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943 (University of North Carolina Press, 2003), Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America (co-authored with Judy Yung, Oxford University Press, 2010), and The Making of Asian America: A History (Simon & Schuster, 2015, 2nd ed., 2016, Chinese version, 2019). Called “sweeping,” “comprehensive,” and “fascinating” by the New York Times and a “long overdue stirring chronicle” by the LA Times, The Making of Asian America was the recipient of the 2015 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature from the American Library Association, an “Editor’s Choice” by the New York Times, and was named to the Best Nonfiction Books of 2015 list by Kirkus Reviews. Lee’s new book, America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States will be published by Basic Books in November of 2019 and has already received high praise from reviewers, including a starred review from Kirkus.

Immigration History Research Center

At the Immigration History Research Center, Lee has helped to merge immigration history with the digital humanities. She launched and oversees the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Immigrant Stories Project which works with recent immigrants and refugees to collect, preserve, and share their experiences with a new multi-lingual digital story-telling website and collection. She also founded and co-organized the #ImmigrationSyllabus, a digital educational resource offering historical perspectives to contemporary immigration debates.

Awards & Honors

She has been the recipient of numerous national awards, including best book awards from the American Library Association, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the Association for Asian American Studies, and the Western Historical Association. Most recently, she was named a Regents Professor at the University of Minnesota, honored with the 2018 Distinguished Historian Award from the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the 2017 Dean’s Medal from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, the 2016 Pioneer Award from OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, and the 2015 Immigrant Heritage Award from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. Lee has received many fellowships and grants from the Carnegie Corportation, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council, and is a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians from 2018-2020.She has been the recipient of numerous national awards, including best book awards from the American Library Association, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the Association for Asian American Studies, and the Western Historical Association. Most recently, she was honored with the 2018 Distinguished Historian Award from the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the 2017 Dean’s Medal from the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, the 2016 Pioneer Award from OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, and the 2015 Immigrant Heritage Award from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. Lee has received many fellowships and grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Social Science Research Council and is a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians from 2018-2020.

Public Engagement

Lee is an active public intellectual who is a widely sought-after speaker around the U.S. and internationally. She regularly appears in the media, including featured appearances in the History Channel’s “America: The Promised Land,” PBS’s “The Chinese Exclusion Act,” Bill Moyer’s “Chinese in America,” and interviews with PBS NewsHour, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Code Switch, 1A, Weekend Edition, and BackStory, Public Radio International’s The World, the BBC, the New York Times, ABC News, NBC News, the Guardian, CSPAN, Washington Post, Star Tribune, Beijing News, and the Japan Times. Her opinion pieces have been published in Time, the New York Daily News, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times.

Profiles