2012 Award Recipient
Dr. Jack Tchen, GSAS '90, '92
Dr. Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen is a facilitator, teacher, historian, curator, re-organizer, and dumpster diver. He works on understanding the multiple presents, pasts, the futures of New York City, identity formations, trans-local cross-cultural communications, archives and epistemologies, and progressive pedagogy. He also works on decolonizing Eurocentric ideas, theories, and practices and making our cultural organizations and institutions more representative and democratic. Professor Tchen is the founding director of the A/P/A (Asian/Pacific/American) Studies Program and Institute at New York University and part of the original founding faculty of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU. He co-founded the Museum of Chinese in America in 1979-80 where he continues to serve as senior historian. Jack was awarded the Charles S. Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities (renamed The National Medal of Humanities). He is author of the award-winning books New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 and Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Old Chinatown, 1895-1905. And he is co-principle investigator of "Asian Americas and Pacific Islanders Facts, Not Fiction: Setting the Record Straight" produced with The College Board. Professor Tchen has been building research collections of Asians in the Americas. In doing so, he has critically examined practices of collections and archives to make sense of how we come to know what we know, and don't know. He is currently co-chairing the effort at the Smithsonian Institution to form an Asian Pacific American Center. Professor Tchen is now working on a book about New York City focusing on the unrecognized tradition of the intermingling of people, creativity and improvisation of everyday residents. He is also editing The 'Yellow Peril' Reader: Understanding Xenophobia to be published by The New Press spring 2012. He regularly collaborates with filmmakers and media producers, artists and collectors, and through the A/P/A Institute sponsors and produces hundreds of programs and performances. Most recently, he co-curated MoCA's core exhibition: "With a single step: stories in the making of America" in a new space designed by Maya Lin.
Jack is an alumnus of the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Science, '90, '92.