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Tiger Profile: ChorSwang Ngin (鄞楚璇)

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

is an applied socio-cultural anthropologist specializing in culture, ethnicity, race, racism, identity, and diversity as these concepts relate to migration, resettlement, and displacement. She is of Malaysian Chinese origin.

ChorSwang had only six years of Chinese in primary school in Malaysia. She studied with Mrs. Lin and Mrs. Yu at Wellesley College, where she majored in Sociology and Asian Studies. She was among the international students from Asia whom Mrs. Lin nurtured while they studied far from home and familiar cultures, and gathered at her home over holiday breaks when they were unable to return to their home country. ChorSwang remembers being surprised Mrs. Lin knew how to pronounce her surname – Mrs. Lin explained she knew the pronunciation because it is the name of a county in Ningbo, near where Mrs. Lin was born. ChorSwang also remembers Mrs. Lin declared she was a descendent of the Yellow Emperor (黃帝的子孫, Huángdì de Zǐsūn).

ChorSwang consulted for the World Bank in China on the “Involuntary Resettlement” of populations affected by the building of four hydroelectric dams in China. She has also conducted research on the Vietnamese Boat People in Malaysian refugee camps; undocumented “Dreamer” students in California; and asylum seekers from Asia in the United States.

ChorSwang has testified as an anthropological expert witness for many asylum cases from Indonesia, China, and Malaysia in the United States. Her recent publication, Identities on Trial in the United States: Asylum Seekers from Asia (Lexington 2018) won the 2019 American Anthropological Association General Anthropology Division Award for new directions in Anthropology. She has brought the complexity of Chinese identity to a larger audience in an entirely different format by co-authoring with Chin Yang Lee and producing in 2017 a play The Houseguest from Xinjiang about the experience of a Chinese Hui Muslim exchange student in Los Angeles.

ChorSwang established the Bachelor’s Degree program in Asian and Asian American Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. She was an Academic Visiting Scholar at the Center for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University in 2019.

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