Department of Ethnic Studies - College of Letters and Science - University of California, Berkeley

People / Faculty

Core Faculty

Catherine Ceniza Choy

Professor and Department Chair

Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies

Asian American History; Philippine and Filipino American Studies; Adoption; Nursing; Migration; Gender

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


  • 526 Barrows Hall
  • Office Hours in Fall 2018: Wednesdays, 2-4pm, 526 Barrows


Bio & Research Interests

Catherine Ceniza Choy is Professor and Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies. Her major research interests focus on the U.S. global presence in Asian countries, Asian migrations to the United States, and the impact of trans-Pacific migration on American and Asian societies.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (2003), which explored how and why the Philippines became the leading exporter of professional nurses to the United States.  Her second book, Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America (2013), unearths 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. Catherine is also the co-editor with Judy Tzu-Chun Wu of the anthology, Gendering the Trans-Pacific World (2017). She is currently working on three book projects that feature biographies of Filipino American women; artistic expressions about international adoption; and the writing of ethnic studies scholar and historian Ronald Takaki.

In 2017-2018, Catherine was the featured Berkeley Writer At Work, the team leader of the Social Science Matrix research team, "Migration, Racialization, and Gender: Filipino Migration to France and the United States," and the faculty coordinator and co-organizer of the Institute of International Studies interdisciplinary faculty program on "Gender and the Trans-Pacific World." In 2018-2019, she is a Townsend Center Senior Fellow. The Townsend Fellowships program supports the research of faculty, advanced graduate students, and other research professionals at UC Berkeley. She will also be a participant in the inaugural Berkeley Faculty Leadership Academy in Spring 2019.

Courses Taught

ASAMST 20A: Introduction to the History of Asians in the United States

ASAMST 24: Asian American History in American Musicals

ASAMST 124: Filipino American History

ASAMST 175: Contemporary Narratives on the Philippines and the United States 

ETH STD 10AC: History of Race and Ethnicity in Western North America

ETH STD 135: Contemporary U.S. Immigration

ETH GRP 201: History and Narrativity: Contemporary Theories and Methods

ETH GRP 250: Research Seminar 


Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History
Gendering the Trans-Pacific World
Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption

Select publications


“International Adoption and Cultural Insecurity,” in Handbook of Cultural Security, ed. Yasushi Watanabe (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, May 2018), 146-166.

“New Asian American Communities: Building and Dismantling,” in Asian American Pacific Islander Theme Study (U.S. National Park Service, May 2018), 307-324.

“A Different Mirror: Philippine International Adoption Through the Lens of Brillante Mendoza’s Foster Child,” VERGE: Studies of Global Asias 1.1 (Spring 2015), 212-229.


"Remembering the Filipino Veterans of World War II," The Berkeley Blog, November 9, 2017.

"What Filipino American History Makes Visible," The Berkeley Blog, October 27, 2016.

"Adoption History and Women's History Month," From The Square, March 25, 2016, and The Berkeley Blog, March 26, 2016.


AJ+, "Why Are There So Many Filipino Nurses In the U.S.?," October 29, 2017.

"Berkeley Writers At Work: Catherine Ceniza Choy," October 18, 2017.

This Filipino American Life, Podcast Episode 10, "Filipinos in the Nursing Industry," March 14, 2017.

Korea and the World, Podcast Episode 75, "History of American Adoption of Korean Children," October 14, 2016.

Awards & Honors

Best Article Award (senior scholar) from the Filipino American Studies Section, 2018 Association for Asian American Studies annual meeting for "The Awesome and Mundane Adventures of Flor de Manila y San Francisco," in Drawing New Color Lines: Transnational Asian American Graphic Narratives, ed. Monica Chiu (Hong Kong University Press, 2014)

Fulbright Distinguished Lectureship, Yonsei University, Korea, 2015-2016

Organization of American Historians Japanese Residencies Program Scholar on the history of race and gender, Hitotsubashi University, June 2011

Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor, Northwestern University, 2005

History Book Award, Association for Asian American Studies for Empire of Care, 2005

Honorable Mention, American Studies Association Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize for Empire of Care, 2004

American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award in History and Public Policy for Empire of Care, 2003