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Letter from the Chair

Augusto F. Espiritu

Associate Professor of History
Associate Professor of Asian American Studies
Affiliated Faculty of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Affiliated Faculty of Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies
Center for Global Studies

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Office Hours

On leave 2014-2015

Areas of Specialization

Asian American Intellectuals, Transnationalism, post-Colonialism, Race and Gender, 1898 and American Empire


I grew up in Pandacan and Paco, two special districts in Manila that produced Philippine national artists, Francisco Baltazar and Nick Joaquin. I immigrated to the United States with my family and lived for many years in Inglewood, California. After attending Loyola High School, a Jesuit preparatory school near downtown Los Angeles, I attended UCLA as an undergraduate and graduate student in history and Asian American studies, obtaining my doctorate in 2000. I since joined the History Department and the Department of Asian American Studies in Illinois, serving as head of the Department of Asian American Studies from 2012 to 2014. I have maintained a full agenda of research and teaching as well as a busy travel itinerary, which included sailing around the world for 100 days as instructional faculty for Semester at Sea and research stints in Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.

Biografía en español

Nací en Manila, Filipinas y con el resto de mi familia nos trasladamos a Los Ángeles donde estudié en el Colegio de Loyola y la Universidad de California en Los Ángeles (UCLA). Obtuve mi maestría en estudios asiático-americanos (Asian American Studies) y mi doctorado en historia en UCLA. Soy profesor asociado y un miembro de la Facultad de Historia y el Departamento de Estudios Asiático-Americanos y también tengo una afiliación con el Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos y Caribeños. Enseño cursos en la historia de Estados Unidos, especialmente en la historia del imperio norteamericano en Asia, el Pacífico, y las Américas. Enseño también cursos en migración, transnacionalismo, raza y etnía.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • American Empire, Transnationalism, Hispanism, Asian and Caribbean Intellectual History

Research Description

  • My research focuses on the intellectual history of American empire, and on the subjects of migration, nationalism, and transnationalism. My current book project, “In Defense of Spain: Resistance to American Empire in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines in the Twentieth Century,” is a comparative work that examines how intellectuals articulated nationalist ideals with"Hispanism" (also known as hispanismo, hispanidad, or hispanoamericanismo) – a type of solidarity based on a putatively shared "Spanish" identity – as a mode of questioning, resisting, or accommodating to U.S. colonialism and Americanization. The work also reflects on how this resistant discourse generated its own exclusions and theoretical blind spots, especially in relation to gender, race, and social class. The intellectual figures I study include the Cubans Ramón Grau San Martín, Jorge Mañach, and Mirta Aguirre; the Puerto Ricans Pedro Albizu Campos, Antonio Pedreira, and Margot Arce; and the Filipinos, Claro Mayo Recto, Nicomedes (Nick) Joaquin, and Encarnacion Alzona.                                                                                                                                                                         Investigación:  Me enfoco en la historia intelectual del imperio norteamericano y en los temas de migración, nacionalismo y transnacionalismo. Mi proyecto actual es un libro titulado, “En defensa de España: La resistencia al imperio norteamericano en Cuba, Puerto Rico y Filipinas durante el siglo veinte.” “En defensa de España” es una obra comparativa que se enfoca en la vinculación de ideales nacionalistas con hispanismo o hispanidad, la ideología que asume una solidaridad entre los que poseen herencia cultural española, como una moda de interrogar, resistir o adaptarse al colonialismo norteamericano y la americanización. La obra también critica las exclusiones y ceguedades teóricas de hispanismo, en especial las relacionadas a género, raza y clase. Las figuras que estudio en mi indagación incluyen los cubanos Ramón Grau San Martín, Jorge Mañach y Mirta Aguirre; los puertorriqueños Pedro Albizu Campos, Antonio Pedreira y Margot Arce; y los filipinos Claro Mayo Recto, Nicomedes (Nick) Joaquin y Encarnacion Alzona.


  • B.A., History; M.A., Asian American Studies; Ph.D, History, UCLA

Distinctions / Awards

  • Arnold O. Beckman Award
  • Associate Fellow, Center for Advanced Study
  • UCLA Pilipino Alumni Association Royal Morales Community Achievement Award
  • Outstanding Asian American Faculty/Staff Award
  • Mellon Faculty Fellowship
  • University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Fulbright Research Fellowship


  • Hewlett International Research Grant
  • Amy Ling Memorial Research Grant
  • Ford Foundation, Conference and Travel Grant


  • Constructing Race in America AFRO/AAS/AIS/HIST/LLS 281
  • Intro to Asian American Studies AAS 100
  • Asian American History AAS/HIST 283
  • Immigrant America HIST 472
  • Transnationalism and Empire HIST 572



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Book Contributions

Journal Articles

  • "Inter-Imperial Relations, the Pacific, and Asian American History." Pacific Historical Review 83 .2 (2014): 238-254.
  • "Planting Roots: Asian American Studies in the Midwest." CUNY Forum 1.2 (2014): 19-24.
  • "Transnationalism and Filipino American Historiography." Journal of Asian American Studies 11.2 (2008): 171-185.
  • "'To Carry Water on Both Shoulders': Carlos P. Romulo, American Empire, and the Meaning of Bandung." Radical History Review (2006): 173-190.
  • "Beyond Eve and Mary: Filipino American Intellectual Heroes and the Transnational Performance of Gender and Reciprocity." Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 12 .3 (2003): 361-386.

Encyclopedia Entries

  • "Filipino Transnationalism." Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History, Volume One, A-F. Firstth ed. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2014.


  • Rev. of Transnational Crossroads: Remapping the Americas and the Pacific Pacific Historical Review 84.1 (2015): 128-129.