People / 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 Fall 2020: By Appointment


t: 510-643-0796

Bio & Research Interests

Catherine Ceniza Choy is Professor of Ethnic Studies and Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Justice in the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS). Her scholarly specialties include Asian American history, Filipino American studies, race, gender, and migration, nursing history, and adoption studies. She is the author of the 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. Empire of Care received the 2003 American Journal of Nursing History and Public Policy Book Award and the 2005 Association for Asian American Studies History Book Award. It is part of the Social Science Research Council’s #coronavirussyllabus. In 2020 and 2021, Catherine was interviewed and had her research cited in many media outlets, including ABC 2020, The Atlantic, CNN, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, New York Times, ProPublicaSan Francisco Chronicle, and Vox on the disproportionate toll of COVID-19 on Filipino nurses in the United States, anti-Asian, coronavirus-related racism and violence, and racism and misogyny in the March 16, 2021 Atlanta murders.

Catherine’s 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. In the last fifty years, transnational adoption—specifically, the adoption of Asian children—has exploded in popularity as an alternative path to family making. In a Choice book review, historian Karen Dubinsky writes, “Her book’s strength is in the stories themselves, which Choy narrates with skill and sympathy. . . . A useful corrective to one-dimensional, romantic portraits of adoption that saturate popular culture today. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.”

Catherine is the editor of the Brill book series Gendering the Trans-Pacific World. This book series explores the gendered nature of the Pacific World by focusing on three phenomena: diaspora, empire, and race. The inaugural volume of the book series is the anthology, Gendering the Trans-Pacific World (2017), which Catherine co-edited with Judy Tzu-Chun Wu. The third volume is a reprinting of Doreen G. Fernandez’s Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture (2019) with a new editor’s preface by Catherine and a new foreword by chef Aileen Suzara. Catherine was interviewed and quoted in Ligaya Mishan’s feature story about Fernandez in the New York Times.

Catherine is currently working on the book “Asian American Histories of the United States” (Beacon Press, under contract), and a book featuring biographies of Filipino American women, tentatively titled “In No Man’s Shadow: The Filipino Woman in America and the World.” Connect with her on Twitter @ccenizachoy

Courses Taught

ASAMST 20A: Introduction to Asian American History

ASAMST 24: Asian American History in American Musicals

ASAMST 124: Filipino American History

ASAMST 190: Asian American History in the Age of COVID-19

ETH STD C135A: Migration in the Contemporary World

ETH GRP 250: Research Seminar on Asian American History

ETH GRP 250: Research Seminar on Gender and the Trans-Pacific World


Empire of care
Global families
Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture

Recent Writing

When the Reporter Asks You Why There Are So Many Filipino Nurses in the U.S.,” in AAWW’s (Asian American Writers’ Workshop) magazine, The Margins, May 17, 2021.

“In This Country,” in Sparked: George Floyd, Racism, and the Progressive Illusion, eds. Walter R. Jacobs, Wendy Thompson Taiwo, and Amy August (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, May 2021), 33-36. Originally published in The Society Pages, June 17, 2020, as part of the special essay series, “Wonderful/Wretched Memories of Racial Dynamics in the Twin Cities, Minnesota,” and reprinted in The Berkeley Blog as “Brushes with racism in Minnesota and why Black lives matter,” June 24, 2020.

From imperialism to inpatient care: Work differences of Filipino and White registered nurses in the United States and implications for COVID‐19 through an intersectional lens,” in Gender, Work & Organization, April 4, 2021, with Jennifer Nazareno, Emily Yoshioka, Alexander C. Adia, Arjee Restar, and Don Operario.

Nursing Justice: Filipino Immigrant Nurse Activism in the United States,” in Nursing Clio, December 3, 2020, part of the Beyond Florence essay series on the history of nurses and nursing.

Epicenter of the Epicenter,” in Independent Curators International Journal, July 21, 2020, with curator PJ Gubatina Policarpio, part of Reports from the Field’s perspectives from curators from around the world and reflections on the impact of the global pandemic on their lives.

Inoculate Against Racism,” in California Magazine, Summer 2020, part of the roundtable, “What Comes After the Pandemic? Berkeley experts explain what will change—and what should.”

Administrative Experience

Associate Dean, College of Letters & Science Division of Undergraduate Studies, 2019-2021

Faculty Leadership Academy Program Participant, Spring 2019

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

Recent Media Coverage

UC Berkeley Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS), “CDSS Adds Four Associate Deans, Diversifying Leadership,” July 6, 2021.

TIME, “From AIDS to COVID-19, America’s Medical System Has a Long History of Relying on Filipino Nurses to Fight on the Frontlines,” May 30, 2021.

Bustle, “5 AAPI Women Who Made A Major Impact On History,” May 26, 2021.

Oprah Daily, “What AAPI Means, and Why AAPIHM Falls in May,” May 11, 2021.

Rappler, “The Filipino nursing diaspora,” April 19, 2021.

CNN, “Why some Asian Americans are embracing their heritage by dropping their anglicized names,” April 7, 2021.

Berkeley News, “The long history and present surge of anti-Asian violence,” April 1, 2021.

NPR Code Switch, “Why Are We Here?” March 31, 2021.

OZY, “Hidden Asian American Heroes, “March 26, 2021.

SF Chronicle, “Jack London had racist ideas. It’s time to rename the square,” March 25, 2021.

KCET, “Disaggregation for Health Equity: Shedding Light on COVID-19’s Impact on the Filipinx Community,” March 23, 2021.

KQED Morning Edition, “Advocates React to the Atlanta Killer ‘Not Being Motivated by Race,’” March 22, 2021.

NBC TODAY Show, “Atlanta spa shootings spotlight spike in violence against Asian Americans,” March 21, 2021.

ABC 20/20 special, “20/20 Murder in Atlanta,” March 16, 2021. Full episode available on Hulu.

Agence France-Presse, “Racism, or misogyny? How the Atlanta shootings can be both,” March 18, 2021. Re-printed and translated in Noticias Telemundo, Semana.comDiario Libre, Istoe Dinheiro, Courrier International, L’Express, and more.

NBC News, “Racism, sexism must be considered in Atlanta case involving killing of six Asian women, experts say,” March 17, 2021.

KTVU News, “Experts say motive in Atlanta spa attacks points to racism, sexism,” March 17, 2021.

Newsy, “Atlanta Attacks Spotlight Violence Against AAPI Women,” March 17, 2021.

Decibel on Austin PBS, “The Care That Breaks The Ceiling,” March 15, 2021.

San Francisco Chronicle, “‘You’re not Chinese, are you?’ Bay Area health workers describe racism during the pandemic,” March 8, 2021.

Asian American Life, “Filipino Nurses,” March 2, 2021, March 2, 2021.

RFI (Radio France International), “Covid-19: les soignants philippins durement touchés par la pandémie à travers le monde,” February 28, 2021.

San Francisco Chronicle, “There’s been a surge of attacks against Asian Americans. Asians in the Bay Area say the hostility isn’t new.” February 25, 2021.

The Atlantic‘s The Experiment podcast, “The Sisterhood: 4 Percent of Nurses, 31.5 Percent of Deaths, Why Filipino nurses have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” February 25, 2021.

Al Jazeera English, “The Stream,” February 17, 2021.

Colorlines, “Why Are There No Filipino Nurses on Medical TV Shows?” February 8, 2021.

Berkeley News, “Berkeley scholars’ outrage, reflections on U.S. Capitol mob siege,” January 7, 2021.

Selected Podcast, Radio, and Other Interviews

KQED Forum, “California’s Filipino American Nurses Bear Disproportionate COVID-19 Risks,” December 18, 2020.

CNN Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction, “A Sisterhood of Nurses and a Universe of Grief,” December 11, 2020.

Vox, “Why the US has so many Filipino nurses,” June 29, 2020.

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

Berkeley Writers at Work, “Catherine Ceniza Choy,” October 18, 2017.

Korea and the World, “Catherine Ceniza Choy on International Adoption,” October 14, 2016.

Selected Honors & Awards

Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study Grant, Co-PI with Dr. Linn Normand on “Exhuming Immigrant Voices From the Past: A Critical Archival Study of the Bancroft Library,” 2020-2023

Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, 2017-2020

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

Institute of International Studies Faculty Interdisciplinary Program Grant on “Gender and the Trans-Pacific World,” 2016-2018

Social Science Matrix Research Team Award on “Migration, Racialization, and Gender: Comparing Filipino Migration to France and the US,” 2017-2018

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

Organization of American Historians Japanese Residencies Program, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, 2011

Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 2005

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

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

Association of American University Women Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowship, 2002

Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2000