Department of History
1297 - 1873 University of British Columbia                                Vancouver BC  V6T 1Z1  Canada                                                                     mailto:instrcc@interchange.ubc.cashapeimage_2_link_0
Henry Yu
Prof. Yu is the Director of the Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian Studies (INSTRCC), the first stage of a long term commitment at UBC to the study of trans-Pacific migrations and the long history of interactions between Asian and European migrants and First Nations peoples in Pacific Canada.
Dr. Henry Yu specializes in the study of trans-Pacific migration and settlement. He is concurrently an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia as well as a faculty member of the Asian American Studies Centre at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Yu received his B.A. in the Honours History program from the University of British Columbia, and went on to earn his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University where he pursued studies in History. Dr. Yu has held Visiting Professorships at Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania, and research fellowships at Wesleyan University, the University of California Humanities Research Institute, and research grants from the Social Science Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Under Dr. Yu’s leadership, UBC has committed to building a program focused on the multidisciplinary teaching and research of Chinese and other Asian Canadian migrant communities in British Columbia. For Dr. Yu, who himself is both a second and fourth generation Chinese Canadian, a fuller understanding of Canada’s Pacific history, present and future is both a research focus and a personal mission. His own family history, spanning generations of migrants from Zhongshan county in Guangdong province of China, has scattered his relatives into not only Canada but around the globe into places like Hawai’i, Trinidad, and Sydney, Australia.
Dr. Yu has also been active on several boards and committees, serving on the founding Board of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, and the Steering Committee for both the Chinatown Historic Buildings project and the Vancouver Public Library’s Chinese Canadian Genealogical Research website project. Understanding the need to bring his message out to the community, Dr. Yu regularly speaks at public events, including the 2006 Multicultural Canada Conference at SFU, the Vancouver Historical Society Speaker Series, and numerous other community and professional organizations around Vancouver. Recognized as a leading expert in Asian Canadian issues, Dr. Yu has provided commentary and program activity updates on media outlets such as BBC International, BBC World, CBC Radio Canada, CBC TV, Sing Tao, Ming Pao, and the Vancouver Sun.
Prof. Yu is committed to expanding the engagement between academic research and the communities which the university serves. Please read the article in UBC Trek magazine to hear more about the effort to engage students in community-based research with a wonderful essay by former INSTRCC student Trevor Quan entitled "Rooting Around Vancouver." Watch a series of films entitled "Eating Global Vancouver" that were made by students working with professional film maker Karin Lee at
In 2005, Prof. Yu and Teaching Assistant Jennifer Lau took students from classes at UBC and UCLA in a unique six week summer field course comparing Asian migration and its effects on Vancouver and Los Angeles. Entitled "Eating Our Way from Vancouver to LA," the popular course focused on food and restaurants as a way of understanding cultural change. In the summer of 2007, Prof. Yu took an even larger group of UBC students on a joint field course with University Scholar Program students from the National University of Singapore. Entitled "Eating Our Way Across Southeast Asia," the 20 UBC and NUS students, along with TA Jennifer Lau and fellow UBC Professor emeritus Graham Johnson, literally ate their way through Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Singapore, Malacca, and Kuala Lumpur. The summer of 2009 saw 20 students from UBC and 20 students from NUS each spending two weeks in Vancouver and Singapore comparing how the two cities had approached the revitalization of their Chinatowns, and of course sampling the other city's cuisine...
A Founding Board Member of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, Prof. Yu continues to serve on the Board of Directors and actively engages his UBC students in community history projects through CCHSBC. His essays are also featured in two of the CCHSBC's books, Tracing Memories, Finding Routes (2006) and Eating Stories: A Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck (2007)
Prof. Yu and Prof. Peter Ward are co-investigators in a SSHRC funded project involving the creation of a digital database of the approximately 96,000 Chinese Canadians who paid the discriminatory Head Tax between 1885-1923. This project involved student research assistants Jason Chan, Mary Chan, Denise Wong, and PhD student Feng Zhang. Put online in 2008, this database enables Chinese Canadians whose ancestors were Head Tax payers to search digitally for their records.
During 2007, Yu was the Co-Chair of the Anniversaries of Change Steering Committee, representing a network of community and cultural organizations, educational institutions, and labour organizations coming together to mark a series of important anniversaries in the history of Vancouver and Canada. After a year-long series of events, the Anniversaries of Change partnered with the British Columbia Teachers Federation to obtain a grant from the Law Foundation of British Columbia to create teaching resources for B.C. high schools (see the intro to the "Pivotal Voices" resource from The Critical Thinking Consortium. Visit
Yu is currently writing a book entitled How Tiger Woods Lost His Stripes, as well as a third book project which examines the history of Chinese migration in the Pacific world.
In May 2005, Yu was chosen by the History New Network as one of its "Top Young Historians." Read about it here.
In October 2007, Prof. Yu was honoured as an "Unsung Hero" in a "Spotlight on Leadership" event sponsored by the North American Association of Asian Professionals (NAAAP) held at the CBC in Vancouver.

Prof. Yu is currently the Acting Principal of St. John's Graduate College, UBC's international graduate college, and has served since 2005 as its Associate Principal.

Our Teaching Faculty and Advisory Committee
INSTRCC is fortunate to have a number of exciting affiliated faculty spread across the disciplines at UBC. Besides teaching courses that focus on various aspects of Asian migration and Asian Canadian communities, many are researchers at the top of their fields. Our Faculty Advisory Committee provides valuable input in overseeing the growth of INSTRCC and other planned initiatives aimed at other Asian Canadian communities in British Columbia.  Faculty and emeriti from across the campus also provide guidance in shaping the overall vision of INSTRCC.

Donald Baker
Dr. Baker studies the cultural and religious history of Korea and received his PhD from the University of Washington. He has taught at UBC in the Department of Asian Studies since 1987, and besides his extensive research and publications on Korean history has also conducted studies of the growing Korean community of Vancouver, in particular the central role of churches in settlement and social life.

Jennifer Chan
Dr. Chan received her MA and PhD from Stanford, with an MBA from the Hautes Etudes Commerciales, France, and the University of Cologne, and a B. Soc. Sc from the University of Hong Kong. She began teaching this year in the Faculty of Education’s Department of Educational Studies, and has specialized in her research on a wide range of issues involving global citizenship and globalization, gender and racial politics, comparative feminisms, and comparative higher education in Japan and France. Dr. Chan recently spent several years on Research Fellowships at Harvard and conducting research with SSHRC and SSRC grants. Her book Another Japan is Possible: New Social Movements and Global Citizenship Education in Japan is forthcoming.

Jennifer Jihye Chun
Dr. Chun received her PhD in sociology in 2006 from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Chun specializes in Korean women workers, studying labour issues both in South Korea and the United States. She has researched Korean immigrant workers in California, and examined issues of low wage work, unionization, and gender issues. With extensive experience in community organizations and labour unions, Dr. Chun brings a wealth of experience in community-based research.
Glenn Deer
Glenn Deer completed his B.A. (Honours) at the University of Alberta and his M.A. and Ph.D. at York University, Toronto. After completing his Ph.D. at York in 1987, he joined the English Department at the University of British Columbia. In 1993 Deer's interests in racialization developed into research on rhetorical representations of Asian Canadian culture in the local media and a series of directed readings with graduate students, graduate seminars, and undergraduate courses in the areas of comparative Asian Canadian and Asian American studies. Deer's recent teaching and research interests include comparative studies of Asian American and Asian Canadian writing, mixed-race writing and trans-ethnic desire, the representations of food in trans-cultural writing, and the discourses of the nuclear. His publications include Postmodern Canadian Fiction and the Rhetoric of Authority.

Larissa Lai
Award winning novelist, Dr. Lai was born in California and grew up in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. Honours in Sociology, and completed a M.A. in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Dr. Lai completed her Ph.D. at the University of Calgary in English. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in many literary journals and she is also an accomplished editor, curator, and organizer that has lived in Ottawa, Vancouver and Calgary. In 2003, TVO’s Imprint named her one the Top Ten Writers to Watch Under 40. Her published works include When Fox is a Thousand (1995), which was short listed for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and Salt Fish Girl (2002), which was short listed for the Sunburst Award, the Tiptree Award and the City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Award.
Christopher Lee
Joining the Department of English at the University of British Columbia in 2006, Dr. Christopher Lee is a specialist in connective and diasporic aspects of Chinese, Chinese American, and Chinese Canadian literature. Born and raised in Vancouver, Dr. Lee earned his B.A. in the Honours English program at the University of British Columbia, going on to Brown University where he completed his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. In the English Department, Dr. Lee is a key organizer of activities and events at the levels of undergraduate teaching, graduate training, and scholarly research.

David Ley
Specializing in Urban and Social Geography at UBC’s Department of Geography, Dr. Ley holds a Canada Research Chair in Geography and was the UBC Director of the Metropolis Project from 1996 to 2003, an initiative which examined issues of immigration and integration in Greater Vancouver and beyond. His research interests focus on downtown and inner city topics, as well as broader issues in social and cultural geography. A Fellow of The Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Ley was appointed as a Trudeau Foundation Fellow from 2003 to 2006. Dr. Ley has a B.A. Honours from Oxford as well as a M.S. and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University.

Hyung Gu Lynn
Dr. Lynn specializes in 20th century histories of Korean and Japan, with a particular interest in migration and colonialism, state and society, and business and political economy. He received his BA and MA from UBC before obtaining a PhD from Harvard. Currently he is the AECL/KEPCO Chair in Korean Research at the Institute for Asian Research at UBC and the Associate Editor for the journal Pacific Affairs. Before returning to UBC, Dr. Lynn also taught in South Korea and Japan.

Renisa Mawani
Dr. Mawani joined the Department of Sociology at UBC in January 2003 as an Assistant Professor. Before coming to UBC, she was a visiting junior scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies in 2001. Dr. Mawani's research explores the dynamic encounters between Chinese migrants and First Nations communities in late nineteenth and early twentieth century BC, and how these relations were governed through law.  Her new project will explore the transnational connections of empire through the journey of South Asian migrants aboard the Komagata Maru.  Dr. Mawani's research interests are in the areas of race, space, and the law; postcolonial and race critical theory; nation and nationalisms; and governmentality.

Anne Murphy
Dr. Murphy’s work focuses on the historical formation of religious communities in Punjab, nearby in South Asia, with particular but not exclusive attention to the Sikh tradition. Her current book project focuses on the articulation of memory and history within Sikh material representations from the eighteenth century to the present. Other research interests concern the formation of selfhood around memory and history, and around social service or “seva,” within Sikh and other South Asian religious traditions. She also works on folklore and oral traditions.

Adheesh Sathaye
Adheesh Sathaye is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at UBC. He received his doctorate in South and Southeast Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently researching early medieval Sanskrit drama, aesthetics, and narrative literature. His past work has been on Sanskrit epics, Marathi devotional performance traditions, and theories of textual production, performance, and folkloristics. Other interests include South Asian folklore, narrative theory, and cultural studies.

Miu Chung Yan
Joining the School of Social Work and Family Studies at UBC in 2004 after having taught at San Francisco State University for two years, Dr. Yan’s practice, research and teaching focus on cross-cultural and anti-racist social work practice. Prior to joining academia, Dr. Miu worked twelve years as a social worker in Hong Kong and Toronto working with youth, seniors, unemployed people, immigrants and deprived communities. He is currently involved with several projects including: Bridging and/or Bonding: A Study on the New Generation Chinese and South Asian Immigrant Youth, Social Capital and the Job Search and Bridging Newcomers in the Neighbourhood Scale: A Study on Settlement/Integration Roles and Functions of Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver.

Gu Xiong
A widely acclaimed multimedia artist, Gu Xiong is originally from Chongquing, Sichuan, in the People's Republic of China. Gu was sent in 1972 to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, where he laboured in the fields for four years. After being allowed to return to the city, he earned a BFA and MFA at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. In 1989, Gu Xiong had to flee China as a result of his participation in Beijing's China/Avant Garde show and in the Tiananmen Square demonstration. He moved to Vancouver in 1990 and was among five artists in Here not There, a 1995 exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery that explored issues of artists born and educated in China and re-established in Vancouver. Having taught at Emily Carr Institute, Kwantlen College, and having his work exhibited all over the world, Gu currently is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia.
Emeriti Faculty
We are fortunate to have the continued involvement of a number of outstanding faculty who have built the foundations at UBC for the teaching and research of INSTRCC. They continue to be involved as members of the Advisory Committee and in helping shape the direction of the initiative.

Jean Barman
Dr. Barman is a Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Education at University of British Columbia and was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002 in recognition for her prolific work in Canadian history, particularly in the history of the West. Among her numerous publications are: Sojourning Sisters: The Lives and Letters of Jessie and Annie McQueen, Constance Lindsay Skinner: Writing on the Frontier, and The West beyond the West: A History of British Columbia. Her recent book Stanley Park’s Secret: The Forgotten Families of Whoi Whoi, Kanaka Ranch and Brockton Point received the City of Vancouver Book Award for 2006. She also recently published with Bruce Watson a book about Native Hawaiian migrations to the West Coast of Canada and the U.S. entitled Leaving Paradise. Her research interests include Canadian educational and social history, British Columbia history, aboriginal schooling, and qualitative research methodology. She was also a founding board member of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C.

Graham Johnson
Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at UBC, Dr. Johnson works primarily on the economic and social transformation of the Pearl River delta region, Guangdong province, south China, migration into the region, and the integration of Hong Kong into southern China. He also has research interests in the areas of food security in China and the impact of transport infrastructure in Guangdong, Gansu and Shanghai. Dr. Johnson maintains a standing interest in the changing New Territories of Hong Kong, especially Tsuen Wan, and Chinese-Canadian Communities in Canada. In May of 2007, Dr. Johnson went with Dr. Henry Yu and 11 UBC students and 9 National University of Singapore students on a unique summer class to Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Singapore, and Malaysia that examined Chinese migrations in global context.

Diana Lary
Dr. Lary recently retired from teaching at the Department of History but remains an active member of the Institute for Asian Research at UBC. She taught for almost a decade a course focused on Chinese migration, and organized a colloquium series and research project at the IAR focused on that subject, which resulted in a number of publications. Among her many publications are works focused in internal migration within China and to its border regions, the effects of war on Chinese society, and the history of the modern Chinese military.

Ed Wickberg

in memoriam
On Wednesday, October 29, 2008, Prof. Edgar Wickberg, a longtime member of the Department of History at UBC, passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Prof. Wickberg taught Modern Chinese History at UBC between 1969 and his retirement in 1992, and achieved an international reputation as a leading scholar of the global Chinese diaspora, but his lasting impact went well beyond his research on the Chinese in the Philippines and in Canada. He helped grow Chinese Canadian history as a subject of study, creating a lasting place within UBC and within Canadian higher education for students and scholars to examine the long complex history of the Chinese in Canada. He will be remembered fondly by many students and colleagues for his kindness and generousity, and his eagerness to discuss every subject from Cantonese opera to AAA baseball. Many Chinese Canadian students will remember his patience during office hours and the depth of his empathy for their personal struggles to understand their identities as Chinese in Canada.
Ed Wickberg's engagement with the many Chinese Canadian communities of Vancouver went well beyond that of scholarship. "From China to Canada," the collaborative book project that he helped co-author and edit, remains a foundational text for understanding Chinese Canadian history, and it revealed his deep commitment to working with a wide range of community members to construct a balanced and nuanced history that went beyond the standard histories of what "had been done" to Chinese in Canada. He believed in the importance of Chinese language sources for understanding the rich lives of Chinese Canadians, and pioneered the preservation and collection of such materials. After his retirement, Ed's commitment to partnerships between academia and community led to his vision for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, a broad-based society committed to increasing awareness of the importance of the Chinese in B.C. and Canadian history, as well as the collecting and preservation of materials relating to that history. Drawing upon the credibility and trust that he had built up over decades of devotion to understanding Chinese Canadian history, Ed was able to draw together a wide array of scholars and community members who shared his passion to found what has become a highly successful historical society. We are indebted to Prof. Wickberg and shall greatly miss him.