Anti-Asian Violence at the Intersection of Gender and White Supremacy

Mon March 29th 2021, 4:00 - 5:30pm
Event Sponsor
Clayman Institute for Gender Research
Zoom Webinar
Clayman Conversations presents Anti-Asian Violence at the Intersection of Gender and White Supremacy

On March 16, 2021 a gunman opened fire in three Atlanta-area spas and massage parlors, killing eight. It was the latest in a raft of attacks on Asian Americans and came after years of anti-Asian rhetoric. In this Clayman Conversation Profs. Elena Shih (Brown), Lee Ann Wang (UCLA) and Melissa Brown (Clayman Institute) will talk about the attacks and the national conversation about them, focusing on the broader power structures that shaped both. What is at stake in considering what happens in massage parlors “sex work”? What anxieties about gender and labor stand behind discourses about trafficking and immigration? What is at stake in designating the attacks a hate crime? How do we think about the attacks in light of the Violence Against Women Act?

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Live captioning is available for this event.

This event is free and open to the public.  Co-sponsored by the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

About the Speakers

Elena Shih

Elena Shih is the Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University, where she directs a human trafficking research cluster through Brown's Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. Shih's book project, "Manufacturing Freedom: Trafficking Rescue, Rehabilitation, and the Slave Free Good" (under contract with University of California Press), is a global ethnography of the transnational social movement to combat human trafficking in China, Thailand, and the United States. Shih is an outreach organizer with Red Canary Song, a grassroots coalition of massage workers, sex workers, and allies in New York City. 


Lee Ann Wang

Lee Ann S. Wang is Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies and Social Welfare at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.  Her current ethnographic work traces the law’s writing of immigration law and enforcement at the site of gender and sexual violence, focusing on the work of service providers and legal advocates with Asian immigrant women and their communities.  She examines how the law writes and maintains the meaning of protection under the Violence Against Women Act’s immigration provisions, the enlistment of the non-citizen legal subject towards policing, accumulative cooperation, and the visa petition’s role in neoliberal punishment practices.  At its core, the work strives to take up the already gendered and racialized task of writing about people and life, without re-inscribing victimhood in legal evidence and the violences of legal archive.  She previously held appointments at the University of Washington Bothell and visiting positions at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa.


Melissa Brown 

Melissa Brown is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a PhD in sociology in 2019. Her areas of expertise include intersectionality, digital sociology, social movements, and sexual politics.

 Melissa's current project centers on how Black women exotic dancers based in the urban South use social networking smartphone applications for advertising and networking. This dataset includes over 31,000 images, videos, and text generated from the smartphone application Instagram, which offers users a social networking platform that facilitates the exchange of various audiovisual content. Melissa uses a mixed methods analysis to examine how Black women exotic dancers perform erotic labor, how the landscape of contemporary strip club industry maps on twentieth century Jim Crow segregation, and how the self-definition and self-valuation of the erotic labor of Black women contrasts with popular culture depictions. This work received funding from the University of Maryland's Behavioral and Social Sciences College Dean's Research Initiative and the University of Maryland Department of Sociology's William H. Form Summer Research Fellowship.

 Melissa's previous research on antiracist and Black feminist social media activism has been published in Ethnic and Racial Studies. She is also the digital editor for Black Feminist Sociology, a forthcoming volume edited by Professors Zakiya Luna and Whitney Pirtle.

 For more information about Melissa's work, please go to