LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 1, 2021) While debate on immigration policy rages on across the country, the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Passport to the World initiative will explore the topic of xenophobia with a lecture by historian and award-winning author Erika Lee. The free public talk, “Immigrants Out: The History of American Xenophobia,” will be presented 4 p.m. Thursday, March 4, via Zoom. 

Lee’s talk, which is also being presented as part of UK’s Women’s History Month programming this March, is based on her 2019 book “America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States,” an American Book Award winner and winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Adult Non-Fiction. Pre-registration for “Immigrants Out” is required at https://uky.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NLPNRefEQiOPxnaaPwp1tg.

Erika Lee is vice president of the Organization of American Historians and a Regents Professor, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. She is an active public intellectual who is a sought-after speaker in the media, nationally and internationally. She’s the author or co-author of award-winning books in U.S. immigration and Asian American history, including “America for Americans”; “The Making of Asian America: A History”; “Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America” with Judy Yung; and “At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943.”

At the Immigration History Research Center, Lee has helped pioneer ways of merging 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 via a multilingual, digital storytelling website and archive. She also founded and co-organized the #ImmigrationSyllabus project, a digital educational resource offering historical perspectives to contemporary immigration debates. 

This talk and connected programming are sponsored by UK’s College of Arts and Sciences, with the generous support of the China into Colleges Grant from the Confucius Institute.

In addition to the talk, UK’s Asian American Club will host reading discussion groups of Lee’s book, “America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia.” Lee will participate in a Q&A with the discussion groups on March 3. To sign up for a reading/discussion group, visit: www.as.uky.edu/book-club-discussion-session-erika-lee.

For the 2020-21 academic year, the College of Arts and Sciences Passport to the World program is committed to contributing to better understanding the urgent topics of race and equity across the globe in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The year’s theme of Global Perspectives on Race and Equity in Times of Pandemic will feature virtual programming that will build on previous themes of equity (2019-20) and migration (2018-19). While this year’s virtual format will allow for different programming than past years, the goal of the programming remains the same: to stimulate dialogue and understanding of global topics and to engage students, faculty, staff and the broader community in these discussions.