Lisa Lowe

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Lisa Lowe
AwardsGuggenheim Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, School of Advanced Study University of London
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of California, Santa Cruz, Stanford University
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of California, San Diego, Tufts University, Yale University
Notable studentsGrace Kyungwon Hong; Helen Jun; Chandan Reddy
Main interestsComparative literature, Asian American studies, race and colonialism, transnational feminism, British empire
Notable worksImmigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics, The Intimacies of Four Continents

Lisa Lowe is Distinguished Professor of English and Humanities,[1] a faculty member of the Consortium of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora,[2] and Director of the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University.[3] In January 2019, she will join Yale University as Samuel Knight Professor of American Studies.[4] Prior to Tufts, she taught for several decades at the University of California, San Diego.[5] From 1998 to 2001, she served as the chair of the Literature Department at UC San Diego. She began as a scholar of comparative literature, and her work has focused on literatures and cultures of encounter that emerge from histories of colonialism, immigration, and globalization. She is known especially for her work on literatures and cultures of French and British colonialisms, Asian immigration and Asian American studies, race and empire, and comparative global humanities.

Academic biography[edit]

Lowe studied European intellectual history at Stanford University, and French literature and critical theory at University of California, Santa Cruz, where she worked with James Clifford, Hayden White, Donna Haraway, and Fredric Jameson.

She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Mellon Foundations, the UC Humanities Research Institute, and the American Council of Learned Societies.[5]

In 2011–12, she was a University of California President's Faculty Research Fellow,[6] and the Visiting Fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.[7] In the Fall 2012, she was the F. Ross Johnson-Connaught Distinguished Visitor at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.[8] In 2016-2017, she led a Mellon Sawyer Seminar at Tufts,[9] "Comparative Global Humanities."[10] In 2018, the American Studies Association awarded her the Richard A. Yarborough Prize for outstanding mentoring of underrepresented scholars, and the Carl Bode - Norman Holmes Pearson Award for lifetime contributions to the field.[11]


She has authored books on orientalism, immigration, and globalization. Her first book Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (1991), examined the intersections of culture, class, and sexuality in French and Anglo-American literature, letters, and theory from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Montesquieu to Julia Kristeva and Roland Barthes.

Her second book, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (1996), analyzed the contradictions of Asian immigration to the United States, observing that Asian immigrants have been included in the workplaces and markets of the U.S., yet through exclusion laws and bars from citizenship, are distanced from national culture and constructed as perpetual immigrants or "foreigners-within."[12] In it, Lowe argues that Asian immigration to the United States is crucial for understanding the racialized nature of U.S. citizenship, political economy, and the rise of U.S. overseas empire. It received the 1997 Book Award in Cultural Studies from the Association for Asian American Studies. Immigrant Acts has been frequently cited as a central text in Asian American studies.[13]

Her third monograph, The Intimacies of Four Continents (2015), is a study of settler colonialism, transatlantic African slavery, and the East Indies and China trades in goods and people as the conditions for modern European liberalism and empire.[14] This work inspired a round table discussion at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Studies Association, where an interdisciplinary panel of scholars discussed the influence of the book on their approaches to the humanities. In 2016, it was named Finalist for the John Hope Franklin Award from the American Studies Association, and in 2018, it received the Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Book Award from the Caribbean Philosophical Association.

In 1997, she co-edited with David Lloyd a collection of essays, The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital, and co-edited with Elaine H. Kim, "New Formations, New Questions: Asian American Studies," a special issue of positions: east asia cultures critique. Since 2001, Lowe has co-edited with Jack Halberstam, "Perverse Modernities," a book series for Duke University Press.[15]

Personal life[edit]

She is the daughter of social theorist and historian Donald M. Lowe, and sister of Lydia Lowe, director of the Chinese Progressive Association.

Selected publications[edit]


  • 1991: Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms. Cornell University Press
  • 1996: Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Duke University Press
  • 1997: (edited with David Lloyd). The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital. Duke University Press
  • 2015: The Intimacies of Four Continents. Duke University Press

Journal articles and book chapters[edit]

  • "Work, Immigration, Gender: New Subjects of Cultural Politics." Social Justice 25: 3 (Fall 1998).
  • "Utopia and Modernity: Some Observations from the Border." Rethinking Marxism 13/2 (Spring 2001): 10-18.
  • "Immigrant Literatures: A Modern Structure of Feeling." In D. Marçais et al., eds., Literature on the Move: Comparing Diasporic Ethnicities in Europe and the Americas. Carl Winter, 2002
  • "The International within the National." In R. Weigman and D. Pease, eds, The Futures of American Studies, Duke University Press, 2003
  • "Insufficient Difference," Ethnicities 4: 3 (2005): 409-414
  • "The Intimacies of Four Continents." In Ann Laura Stoler, ed., Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History'. Duke University Press, 2006
  • "The Gender of Sovereignty." The Scholar and the Feminist. Volume 6.3, Summer 2008
  • "Autobiography Out of Empire." Small Axe 28, Volume 13, 2009, No. 1, 98–111.
  • "Metaphors of Globalization." In Ranu Samantrai, Joe Parker, and Mary Romero, eds., Interdisciplinarity and Social Justice. State University of New York Press, 2010
  • "Reckoning Nation and Empire." In J. C. Rowe, ed., Blackwell Companion to American Studies, Blackwell, 2010
  • "Globalization." In B. Burgett and G. Hendler, eds., Keywords for American Cultural Studies. Second Edition. New York University Press, 2014
  • "History Hesitant." Social Text 125, Vol. 33, No. 4, December 2015, 85-107.
  • "Transpacific Entanglements." With Yen Le Espiritu and Lisa Yoneyama. In C. Schlund-Vials, ed.,Flashpoints for Asian American Studies. Fordham University Press, 2017


  • "Archives, Ports, Museums." 2017 Antipode Lecture, American Association of Geographers [2]


  1. ^ "Department of English: People". Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  2. ^ "Tufts University: Consortium of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora: Home". Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  3. ^ "Center for the Humanities at Tufts University".
  4. ^ "Yale American Studies".
  5. ^ a b "Lisa Lowe". Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  6. ^ "2011-12 UC President's Faculty Fellows in the Humanities". UC Humanities Network. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  7. ^ "New School Visiting Fellow: Professor Lisa Lowe | School of Advanced Study, University of London". Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  8. ^ "Munk School of Global Affairs | Event Information — The Fetishism of Colonial Commodities and the Intimacies of Four Continents". Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  9. ^ "Funded Sawyer Seminars". The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  10. ^
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Immigrant Acts". Duke University Press. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Immigrant Acts - All citations - Google Scholar". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  14. ^ "The Intimacies of Four Continents | Duke University Press". Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  15. ^ "Perverse Modernities: A Series Edited by Jack Halberstam and Lisa Lowe". Duke University Press. Retrieved 2015-11-03.