Vivian L. Huang

2020 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Williams College

Project Title: The Ephemeral Art of Collectivity: Asian American Lesbian Feminisms, 1980-2001

Project Description: Vivian Huang’s interdisciplinary research project is centered around the politics and aesthetics of Asian American queer and trans feminisms of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s and 1990s. Her project has a particular focus on Asian American lesbian feminist creative movements of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s, specifically the works of Merle Woo, Kitty Tsui, and Canyon Sam, who created the Unbound Feet 3 lesbian feminist performance collective. These contemporary Asian American feminists are alive and active cultural producers, yet little scholarship exists that engages with their work.

Vivian’s Hellman Fellowship will support her research at West Coast collections and libraries with holdings on Asian American queer, trans, and feminist activism and art histories, specifically in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. While residing in Northern California during the fall 2020, Vivian will access research sites in San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. With the goal of collecting archival material and oral histories, she hopes to visit the Asian Pacific Islander Lesbian Collection 1980-2001, held at the University of California-Santa Cruz, and the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Archive held in the Ethnic Studies Library at the University of California-Berkeley. She will continue researching the life work of poet-performance artist-educator Merle Woo, and plans to interview Woo and her collaborators Kitty Tsui and Canyon Sam. Vivian also hopes to further develop her contacts with the following generation of Asian American queer artists in the San Francisco Bay Area, including performance artist and visual arts scholar Tina Takemoto, and their involvement with the Queer Cultural Council based in San Francisco. Vivian is currently writing an article on Takemoto’s work on queer histories in Japanese American internment camps during World War II, and she hopes to develop this article into an anchoring chapter of her second book.

Vivian will also spend one month in Los Angeles, where she will conduct research in the Asian/Pacific Lesbians and Gays Records held in the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California. She will also conduct research in the collections at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.