People / Faculty

Core Faculty

Catherine Ceniza Choy


Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, Comparative Ethnic Studies

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

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

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526 Barrows Hall

Office Hours in Spring 2020: Tuesdays, 2:00-4:00pm, 526 Barrows


t: 510-643-0796

Bio & Research Interests

Catherine Ceniza Choy is Professor 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 the co-editor with Judy Tzu-Chun Wu of the Brill book series Gendering the Trans-Pacific World. The inaugural volume of their book series is their co-edited anthology, Gendering the Trans-Pacific World (2017). The latest volume is a reprinting of Doreen G. Fernandez’s Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (2019) with a foreword by chef Aileen Suzara and an editor’s preface by Catherine.

She is currently working on a book featuring biographies of Filipino American women, tentatively titled “In No Man’s Shadow: The Filipino Woman in America and the World,” and the book “An Asian American History of the United States” (Beacon Press, under contract).

Catherine teaches core and elective courses in the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies and Comparative Ethnic Studies undergraduate programs as well as the Ethnic Studies graduate program. She is committed to faculty mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students. Since joining the UC Berkeley faculty in 2004, she has chaired or co-chaired 7 completed Ph.D. committees in Ethnic Studies, English, and Education, and has chaired 9 completed Qualifying Examination Committees in Ethnic Studies.

In 2019-2020, Catherine is an Associate Dean of the College of Letters & Science’s Division of Undergraduate Studies. She served as Ethnic Studies Department Chair in 2012-2015 and in 2018-2019.

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 C135A: Migration in the Contemporary World: California and Beyond

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
Global families
Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture

Selected Publications


Why Are There So Many Filipino Nurses in California?” in Zócalo Public Square, September 30, 2019.

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

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

Awards & Honors

Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, 2017-present

UC Berkeley Townsend Center for the Humanities Senior Faculty Fellow, 2018-2019

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)

UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies Gender and Trans-Pacific World Interdisciplinary Faculty Program Coordinator, 2016-2018

UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix Research Team Leader, 2016-2017

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


Berkeley News, Fiat Vox Episode #55, “Why are there so many Filipino nurses in the U.S.?,” May 28, 2019.

Berkeley College Writing Programs, “Berkeley Writers At Work: Catherine Ceniza Choy,” October 18, 2017.

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

Invited Talks

OAH Distinguished Lecture for Samuel Merritt University. “Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History.” Oakland, CA. April 2019.

Wuyi University “International Migration Research from a Gendered Vantage Point” International Symposium. “The Filipino Woman in Early Twentieth Century America.” Jiangmen City, China. December 2018.

UC Berkeley History Department Colloquium. “If My Friends Could See Me Now: A History of Filipina American Dreams.” Berkeley, CA. November 2018.

UC Irvine Department of History Speaker Series. “If My Friends Could See Me Now: Filipina American Dreams.” Irvine, CA. October 2018.

OAH Distinguished Lecture for Monta Vista High School AP U.S. History students. “In No Man’s Shadow: Asian American Women’s History.” Cupertino, CA. May 2018.

Princeton University “Migration and Risk in the Pacific World” Conference. “The Filipino Woman in Early Twentieth Century America.” Princeton, NJ. March 2018.

Administrative Experience

Associate Dean, College of Letters & Science Division of Undergraduate Studies, 2019-2020

Faculty Leadership Academy Participant, Spring 2019

Department Chair, Ethnic Studies, 2012-2015, 2018-2019