Helen Jun

Associate Professor of African American Studies and English


Ph.D. Department of Literature, University of California, San Diego, 2003
B.A. Department of Ethnic Studies and Department of English, University of California, Berkeley, 1993

Research Interests

Helen Jun engages in comparative analyses of race and culture in the context of U.S. empire. She specializes in Asian American and African American literature and history, with emphasis on issues of citizenship, nationalism, U.S. imperialism in Asia, globalization, and the prison industrial complex. She has recently completed a study of how Asian Americans and African Americans have been racially defined in relation to each other in her book "Race for Citizenship: Asian American and African American Cultural Politics."

For an excerpt of Race for Citizenship, please click on the link below:



When vast areas in the city of Los Angeles were set ablaze in the spring of 1992, I was in Northern California approaching the end of my undergraduate education. As a major in ethnic studies and English, I had learned critical histories of Asian Americans, African Americans, Chicanos, and Native Americans. We recognized the distinctiveness of the various cultural groupings, but we also understood that these processes and formations of racialization were related through dominant ideologies of white supremacy. Despite our different histories, we assumed (and not without reason) that racism bound us all together. While our educational training offered us ample opportunity to examine race in a comparative context, the events in late April (from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to Washington, D.C., and beyond) seemed to exceed our analytic frameworks and critical capacities. As the fires diminished and the blue-ribbon commissions were assembled, the social text was revealed as extraordinarily messy and chaotic, challenging us to critically reengage with the significance of race, class, and citizenship in America…


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Contact Information

Office: 1924 UH
Phone: (312) 413-2223
Fax: (312) 996-2950
Email: junhelen@uic.edu
Curriculum Vitae