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

People / Faculty

Core Faculty

Catherine Ceniza Choy

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


Bio & Research Interests

Catherine Ceniza Choy is a professor and a former chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies. In 2015-2016, Catherine is on sabbatical leave and is a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer at Yonsei University in Korea. 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, 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, 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 the co-editor of a new Brill book series, "Gendering the Trans-Pacific World: Diaspora, Empire, and Race."  She also writes about her research, academia, and writing on LinkedIn and The Berkeley Blog.  She is currently working on three book projects that feature biographies of Filipino American women; cultural productions about Asian international adoption; and the writing of ethnic studies scholar and historian Ronald Takaki.

Prior to coming to Berkeley, she was an assistant professor of American Studies and a cofounding member of the Asian American Studies Initiative at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Catherine received her Ph.D. in History from UCLA and her B.A. in History from Pomona College. The daughter of Filipino immigrants, she was born and raised in New York City and is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School. She lives in Berkeley with her husband and their two children.


Courses Taught

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

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
Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption

Select publications


“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.

"Adoption," in Keywords for Asian American Studies, ed. Cathy Schlund-Vials, Linda Trinh Vo, and K. Scott Wong (New York: NYU Press, 2015), 7-9.

"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: Hong Kong University Press, 2014), 209-224.

"Asian International Adoption in the United States," in Oxford Handbooks Online (December 2013), 9 pp., and in The Oxford Handbook of Asian American History, ed. David Yoo and Eiichiro Azuma (New York: Oxford University Press, in press, forthcoming 2016).

“Nurses Across Borders: Foregrounding International Migration in Nursing History,” Nursing History Review 18:1 (2010), 12-28.


Remembering the Filipino American Origins of the Delano Grape Strike,” The Berkeley Blog and LinkedIn, September 8, 2015.

One of the Biggest Mistakes Academic Writers Make During the Summer,” LinkedIn, July 20, 2015.

The Not-So-New History of Asian International and Transracial Adoption,” APALA (Asian Pacific American Librarians Association) Blog, June 23, 2015, and The Berkeley Blog, June 25, 2015.

Give back to the Philippines in the wake of a tragedy,” The Berkeley Blog, November 15, 2013.


Featured in FilipiKnow, “10 Contemporary Filipina Authors You Absolutely Should Be Reading," FilipiKnow website, September 2, 2015.

Featured in Sofia Leung, “Global Roots, Local Identities: Asian International Adoption and Advocacy Resource Guide," APALA (Asian Pacific American Librarians Association) Blog, May 16, 2015.

Featured in Alice Woodhouse, “Adoptees reaching out to Hong Kong birth parents,” South China Morning Post, international edition, October 19, 2014.

Interviewed in Momo Chang, "Substandard Care: Despite being valued and essential members of the American RN workforce, Filipino nurses must still often challenge and overcome bias and discrimination," National Nurse (October 2011): 14-19.

Awards & Honors

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

UC Berkeley Mellon Project Grant, 2015-2016

Organization of American Historians Japanese Residencies Program Winner, 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