Sam Vong


Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor in History

I am a historian of twentieth-century United States, with an emphasis in Asian American history, immigration and refugee studies, and modern Southeast Asia. In 2013-2014, I serve as the inaugural Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History.

My research investigates the contentious politics of compassion that surrounded the migration and settlement of refugees and immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. From the refugee camps in Southeast Asia to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., state and non-state actors, evangelical Christian groups, ethnic community leaders, and refugees contested the meanings of refugee compassion in local, national, and international arenas. This research, which was the basis for my dissertation, demonstrates how a diverse group of actors--long marginalized in this history--converged in unexpected ways and offered competing notions of compassion to debate issues of economic justice, racial equality, human rights, and postwar reconciliation.

As a postdoctoral fellow, I am transforming my dissertation into a book manuscript, tentatively titled “Compassion Politics: The International History of Indochinese Refugee Migrations, 1960s-1990s.” The manuscript will expand the geographical scope of my dissertation beyond the United States and include a history of resettlement schemes in various countries in South America, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. Based on unpublished archival sources conducted stateside and internationally, this project asks how states and ordinary people sutured transnational networks of refugee care and humanitarianism that traversed multiple continents, international borders, and ideological divides during the tail-end of the global Cold War.


B.A. University of California, Berkeley; M.A. California State University, Los Angeles; Ph.D. Yale University

Courses Taught


HIS-140 (American History since the Civil War)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
HIS-205Power, Protest, Change12014/JN
HIS-344ST:US Migration & Race12013/FA