Award-winning Asian American studies historian appointed as new SFU Farley Scholar

January 04, 2024

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at Simon Fraser University (SFU) is pleased to welcome Dr. Adrian De Leon as the new 2024-2025 Jack and Nancy Farley Distinguished Visiting Scholar in History.

An award-winning multidisciplinary writer and public historian, De Leon is a renowned expert in the history of U.S.-Philippine relations and Asian American politics as well as an advocate for the literary arts in his hometown of Scarborough, Ontario. 

Generously funded by Jack and Nancy Farley, the Farley Scholar position is dedicated to the teaching and intellectual discourse of history. As a visiting faculty member hosted by the Global Asia Program, De Leon will be teaching a selected topics course (GA 400) this spring examining the revolutionary movements in the Philippines.

Prior to joining SFU, De Leon worked as an assistant professor in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC), where he worked closely with the Center for Transpacific Studies, East Asian Studies Center, and the USC Equity Research Institute. After completing his term as Farley Scholar, De Leon will join New York University as an assistant professor of U.S. history. 

Besides being an academic scholar, De Leon also wrote and hosted two shows with PBS Digital Studios — A People’s History of Asian America, a four-part miniseries which addresses the increase in hate crimes and anti-Asian sentiment in the United States; and Historian’s Take, which explores history through the lens of pop culture, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a Daytime Emmy.

De Leon is the author of two poetry books: Rouge and barangay: an offshore poem, which was named one of 2021’s best Canadian poetry collections by CBC Books. He is currently completing his debut memoir, Close Combat: Letters from a Martial Arts Odyssey as well as an academic project with the University of Washington Press called Balikbayan: The Invention of the Filipino Homeland.

To kick-start his position as SFU FASS’ new Farley Scholar, the public is invited to attend a welcome event on February 2nd, 2024. The event doubles as a book launch for De Leon, who is celebrating the publication of his first scholarly book, Bundok: A Hinterland History of Filipino America.

Combining the breadth of global history with the intimacy of biography, Bundok follows the people of Northern Luzon across space and time, advancing a new vision of the United States’ Pacific empire that begins with the Indigenous peoples and migrants who were at the heart of colonialism and its everyday undoing.

From the emergence of Luzon's eighteenth-century tobacco industry and the Hawaii Sugar Planters’ Association’s documentation of workers to the movement of people and ideas across the Suez Canal and the stories of Filipino farmworkers in the American West, De Leon traces “the Filipino” as a racial category emerging from the labor, subjugation, archiving, and resistance of Indigenous peoples. De Leon's imaginatively constructed archive yields a sweeping history that promises to reshape our understanding of race making in the Pacific world.  

De Leon's book is based on his doctoral dissertation written at the University of Toronto, for which he received a 2020 Governor General’s Gold Medal, the highest honors given to a doctoral student in a Canadian institution.

Celebrating Bundok: A Hinterland History of Filipino America

  • February 2nd, 2024 (Friday)
  • 6:00 – 7:30 pm 
  • Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, SFU Harbour Centre, Vancouver 

Register Now

About the Jack and Nancy Farley Distinguished Visiting Scholar in History

Housed in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), the visiting scholar position is dedicated to the teaching of history. As a visiting faculty member, the Farley Scholar is hosted by a department or program within FASS, and through their studies of the past, will interact extensively and stimulate discussion across disciplines with faculty and students. The Scholar also normally teaches one course or lead other types of relevant intellectual activities that will be open to students across the university. 

The visiting scholar position is funded by the generosity of Jack and Nancy Farley, who have had longstanding association with the university, including years of service and support. Jack is a past member of the university’s Board of Governors (1984-85) and he received the Distinguished Community Leadership Award in 1990.

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