Yen Le Espiritu

Distinguished Professor

Curriculum Vitae

Biography Information

Yến Lê Espiritu began her academic career in 1990 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UCSD. She has published extensively on Asian American identities and politics, gender and migration, and U.S. colonialism and wars in Asia. Her most current book, Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es) (UC Press, 2014) charts an interdisciplinary field of critical refugee study, which reconceptualizes “the refugee” not as an object of rescue but as a site of social and political critiques. In 2015, she received the UCSD Academic Senate Faculty Research Lecturer Award.

 Espiritu has served several terms as Chair of the Ethnic Studies Department, and also as its Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Graduate Studies. At the national level, she has served as the President of the Association of Asian American Studies, Vice President of the Pacific Sociological Association, and member of the Committee on Nominations of the American Sociological Association.

 Espiritu is also the recipient of several UCSD teaching awards: the Eleanor Roosevelt College’s Outstanding Faculty Award; the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award; and the Chancellor's Associates Faculty Excellence Awards for Excellence in Graduate Teaching; and the inaugural recipient of the Association for Asian American Studies Mentorship Award—for outstanding mentorship of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and/or colleagues in the field of Asian American Studies.


Ph.D., Sociology - University of California, Los Angeles, 1990
M.A., Sociology - University of California, Los Angeles, 1987
B.A., Communication - University of California, San Diego, 1985

Research Interests

  • Critical Refugee Studies
  • War, Race, and Violence
  • U.S. Military Colonialism
  • Asian American Studies
  • Southeast Asian American Studies
  • History and Memory

Selected Publications

  • Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2014.
  • Home Bound: Filipino American Lives across Cultures, Communities, and Countries. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003. Recipient of the 2005 Association for Asian American Studies Book Award in Social Sciences; and the Thomas and Znaniecki Book Award for the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association.
  • Asian American Women and Men: Labor, Laws, and Love. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1997. Recipient of the 1998 American Sociological Association, Asia/Asian America Section Book Award.
  • Asian American Panethnicity: Bridging Institutions and Identities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992. Recipient of the 1992 Association for Asian American Studies Book Award.

Recent Teaching

  • Graduate Courses:
    • War, Race, and Violence
    • History of Ethnic Studies
  • Undergraduate Courses
    • Comparative Filipino and Vietnamese American Identities and Communities
    • Race, Class, and Gender Relations