Picture of Catherine Ceniza Choy

Catherine Ceniza Choy, Professor and Department Chair

Ethnic Studies Department, Asian American Studies

Office: 526 Barrows
Email: ceniza@berkeley.edu
Phone: 642-8002

My 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. My first book, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History, explored how and why the Philippines became the leading exporter of professional nurses to the United States.  My 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.  I am currently working on three book projects that feature biographies of Filipino American women; cultural production about Asian international adoption; and the writing of ethnic studies scholar and historian Ronald Takaki.


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

Research interests

Asian American history, Philippine and Filipino American studies, adoption studies, nursing history, immigration history


Undergraduate Courses
ASAMST 20A.  Introduction to the History of Asians in the United States
ASAMST 175.  Contemporary Narratives on the United States and the Philippines
ASAMST 124.  Filipino American History
ES 10AC. History of Race and Ethnicity in Western North America
ES 135AC.  Contemporary U.S. Immigration
ES 190.      Narrating Race, Health, and Nation

Graduate Courses
ESGG 201.  History and Narrativity: Theories and Methodologies
ESGG 250.  Asian American History

Selected publications


Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History.  Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.  Published in the series "American Encounters/Global Interactions" edited by Gilbert M. Joseph and Emily S. Rosenberg, and co-published in the Philippines in May 2003 by Ateneo de Manila University Press.  257 pp.

Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America.  New York, NY: NYU Press, 2013. Published in the series "Nation of Newcomers" edited by Matthew Jacobson and Werner Sollors.  240 pp. 


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

“Memory Works: Re-imagining Loss in First Person Plural, Bontoc Eulogy, and History and Memory,” Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies, Seoul, Korea August 2010, 129-145. (co-authored with Gregory Paul Choy)

“Race at the Center: The History of American Cold War Asian Adoption,” Journal of American-East Asian Relations 16:3 (2009): 1-20.

"Institutionalizing International Adoption: The Historical Origins of Korean Adoption in the United States," in International Korean Adoption: A Fifty-Year History of Policy and Practice, eds. Kathleen Ja Sook Bergquist, M. Elizabeth Vonk, Dong Soo Kim, and Marvin D. Feit (Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 2007), 25-42.

"Towards Trans-Pacific Social Justice: Women and Protest in Filipino American History," Journal of Asian American Studies 8.3 (Fall 2005), 293-307 and reprinted in Unequal Sisters: An Inclusive Reader in U.S. Women’s History, 4th edition, ed. Vicki Ruiz (New York: Routledge, 2007), 563-571.

"A Filipino Woman in America: The Life and Work of Encarnacion Alzona," Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture 3 (Fall 2006), 127-140.

"What Lies Beneath: Reframing Daughter from Danang," in Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, eds. Jane Jeong Trenka, Julia Chinyere Oparah, and Sun Yung Shin (Cambridge: South End Press, 2006), 221-231. (co-authored with Gregory Paul Choy)

"Salvaging the Savage: On Representing Filipinos and Remembering American Empire," in Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images, ed. M. Evelina Galang (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2003), 35-49.

"Transformative Terrains: Korean American Adoptees and the Social Constructions of an American Childhood," in The American Child, eds. Caroline Levander and Carol Singley (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 262-279. (co-authored with Gregory Paul Choy)


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.

Interviewed in Catherine A. Traywick, "Medical Malpractice?: Filipino rurses fight back against discrimination in the workplace," Hyphen (Issue 24).

San Francisco Chronicle Pinoy Podcast interview, "'Empire of care' supplies steady stream of Pinoy nurses to U.S.," March 2007.

Honors & Awards

Organization of American Historians Japanese Residencies Program Winner, June 2011
Institute for International Studies Mini-Conference Grant, Spring 2011
Abigail Reynolds Hodgen Publication Fund, 2011
Faculty Research Grant, 2009-2010
UC Berkeley Mellon Project Grant, 2008-2009
UC Berkeley Humanities Research Fellowship, 2008-2009
UC Berkeley Townsend Center for the Humanities Initiative Grant,    2007
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



Ethnic Studies Department
506 Barrows Hall #2570
Berkeley, CA 94720-2570
510-642-6456 fax

Office Hours: Mon - Thurs 9-12, 1-4, Fri 9-12