by Robert T. Hayashi

About Robert T. Hayashi

Robert T. Hayashi is Associate Professor and Chair of American Studies at Amherst College. He is author of Haunted by Waters: A Journey through Race and Place in the American West (2007) and is currently writing a book that explores the intersections of sports, race, and class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Considering the term “environment” in relation to Asian American studies is like staring at one of those optical illusions full of dots that make up a face or figure that one at first cannot discern. In both instances, the modalities of viewing provide one a limited field of vision. In the case of the optical illusion, we rely on studying a static, one-dimensional image. When discussing the relation of Asian American studies to the term “environment,” our perception is similarly restricted by the narrow meaning this term conveys since the mid-twentieth century—the natural world.