Catherine Ceniza Choy

Research Expertise and Interest

Asian American history, Filipino American studies, race and gender, migration, nursing history, adoption studies, public impact research/scholarship, social justice research

Research Description

Catherine Ceniza Choy's most recent book is Asian American Histories of the United States (Beacon Press, 2022). The book features the themes of anti-Asian hate and violence, erasure of Asian American history, and Asian American resistance to what has been omitted in a nearly 200 year history of Asian migration, labor, and community formation in the US. It was named a Best of 2022 Nonfiction Book by Kirkus Reviews and Ms. Magazine, and featured in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s 2023 National Day of Racial Healing Book List, Book Riot's 35 Must-Read Books of Nonfiction by AAPI Authors, and Zócalo Public Square's 2023 Summer Reading List.

Catherine's first book, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (2003), 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. In 2023, Choy is the recipient of the Agnes Dillon Randolph Award. This award recognizes her outstanding scholarship documenting the experiences of Filipino nurses in U.S. history and the importance of that history for understanding ongoing issues in health care, including the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Filipino nurses. Her second book, Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America (2013), unearthed 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. An engaged public scholar, Catherine has been interviewed and had her research cited in many media outlets, including ABC 20/20The Atlantic, CNN, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, New York Times, ProPublica, San Francisco Chronicle, Time, and Vox.


In the News

Racist harassment of Asian health care workers won’t cure coronavirus

Violent hate crimes against Asian Americans have surged across the United States recently due to xenophobic perceptions that all Asian people are carriers of COVID-19. But some forms of harassment have been directed specifically at the Asian physicians and nurses risking their own health and safety to battle the spread of the virus in hospitals across the country.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
September 11, 2022
Leland Cheuk

In her research, Catherine Ceniza Choy identifies themes around the violence, erasure and resistance Asians have faced throughout their histories in America.

August 9, 2022
Mathangi Subramanian

In her new book, Asian American Histories of the United States, Catherine Ceniza Choy argues that the surge in violence against Asian Americans derives from the erasure of their lives over centuries.

May 15, 2020
Jill Cowan
A 2016 survey found that in California alone nearly a fifth of registered nurses were Filipino, and today the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting their prevalence on the frontlines. Ethnic studies professor Catherine Ceniza Choy wrote a book about the history of Filipino nurses, called Empire of Care, in which she connects their arrival in the U.S. to early-20th-century American colonialism in the Philippines. The colonizing started in 1898, she says, and it introduced an educational system that taught English and trained nurses, many of whom were brought to the U.S. after World War II to address a critical nursing shortage. "And they have continued to come, especially when there are crises," she says. For more on this topic, see our story at Berkeley News.
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