Dr. Jennifer Ho, Director of the Center for Humanities and the Arts sits down with Professor Jennifer Ho, new faculty member in the Department of Ethnic Studies to answer some questions about her new role and recent move to Colorado. ;)
Q—Jennifer Ho, Director, Center for Humanities and the Arts: So Dr. Ho, what brought you to Ethnic Studies at CU Boulder?
A—Professor Jennifer Ho: Please feel free to call me Jennifer—I went to UC Santa Barbara as an undergrad and called many of my professors by their first name, so I invite everyone, first year student to PhD student to call me Jennifer.
Q—CHA: Ok, thanks Jennifer. So why Colorado?
A—JH: Well, I came for the same reason you did: I had an opportunity to take on a leadership position at the Center for Humanities and the Arts, and when I realized that CU Boulder has an Ethnic Studies department (a very fine Ethnic Studies department I should add) then I realized that my own intellectual interests over the last few years have been more aligned with those of Ethnic Studies, meaning, I value being among an interdisciplinary group of scholars who have a shared interest in issues of race and social justice.
Q—CHA: What are you working on now?
A—JH: Well, the work of the Center keeps me pretty busy, as you know, but the two book length projects I’ve been working on is a memoir about my breast cancer diagnosis in 2010 and subsequent fertility issues, and a book about my maternal family’s migration from Hong Kong to Jamaica to North America—it’s really about Chinese immigrants in the global South—and I started it when I was living and working in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, so it’s interesting to think about me writing this book while living and working outside of the global South and in the Rocky Mountain region, which I know has its own distinct histories of race and Asian Americans.
Q—CHA: What are you looking forward to the most about being in Ethnic Studies?
A—JH: As I alluded to earlier, my work, by which I mean the things I like to write about and teach about, has really shifted from the realm of literary criticism to cultural studies/critical race studies. My primary intellectual investment is to have productive conversations about race, in print and in person. So I’m looking forward to seeing the kinds of conversations I can have about race in an Ethnic Studies context—and I’m very excited about the kinds of conversations I can have with my colleagues and with PhD students in the department. It feels like a natural progression for me since the whole reason I wanted to go to grad school in the first place was to introduce people to Asian American literature and the issues Asian Americans face. Asian American literature and literary study will always be a passion of mine, but as I’ve grown in my thinking and teaching and writing, I’m seeing the need to zoom out and look at the role of white supremacy and the role of race and racism in shaping the lives of everyone.
Q—CHA: Is there anything else you’d like to tell people?
A—JH: I’m very excited to be here and welcome the opportunity to meet as many people as I can, so I hope folks will come find me in Macky Auditorium Room 201 because I’m holding open office hours as CHA Director from roughly 10-12pm on Wednesdays – if you email the CHA office they can send you a link to my google sheet. I’m definitely eager to learn all I can about CU, Boulder, and my new home state of Colorado, so I hope folks will find me and share their recommendations for places to visit and see and especially things to eat!
Postscript from the Department of Ethnic Studies: We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Ho to our department!