People / Faculty

Core Faculty

Catherine Ceniza Choy


Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, Comparative Ethnic Studies

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

Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies

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526 Barrows Hall

Office Hours in Fall 2019: Tuesdays, 2:30-4:30pm, 526 Barrows


t: 510-643-0796

Bio & Research Interests

Catherine Ceniza Choy is Professor of Ethnic Studies. In AY 2019-2020, Catherine is an Associate Dean of the College of Letters & Science’s Division of Undergraduate 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 (Duke University Press, 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 (NYU Press, 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: Diaspora, Empire, and Race. The inaugural volume of the book series is their co-edited anthology, Gendering the Trans-Pacific World (Brill, 2017). The most recent volume is a reprinting of Doreen G. Fernandez’s Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture with an editor’s preface by Catherine and a foreword by chef Aileen Suzara.

Catherine is currently working on a book-length project that features biographies of Filipino American women, and the book “An Asian American History of the United States” (Beacon Press, under contract).

Since joining the UC Berkeley faculty in 2004, Catherine has chaired or co-chaired 7 completed dissertation committees in Ethnic Studies, English, and Education. She has mentored undergraduate students through the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program and the Fiat Lux Scholarship Program, and served as the faculty sponsor for many undergraduate student-led field studies in Asian American and Comparative Ethnic Studies.

The daughter of Filipino immigrants, Catherine was born and raised in New York City and is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School. She received her Ph.d. in History from UCLA, and her B.A. in History from Pomona College.

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

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

Articles & Essays

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.

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.

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.

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)

OAH (Organization of American Historians) Distinguished Lecturer, 2017-present

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