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Pawan Dhingra speaks on anti-Asian violence in final lecture, March 29

The lecture will take place at the Nasher Museum of Art. The building shines on the evening of Monday, March 21, 2023.

As a first-year political science major, Christina Huang said she wasn’t aware of the resources available at UNC for Asian American students until she discovered the Asian American Center – a place she now visits frequently.  

She recently saw an advertisement for the final lecture of the Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship featuring speaker Pawan Dhingra. 

Huang said Dhingra, associate provost and associate dean of the faculty at Amherst College, is a well-known figure in the Asian American community. She said she has been excited to attend his series of three events held in the Triangle – the final of which will be March 29.

The Distinguished Visiting Professorship lectures are held by both UNC and Duke University as a way to bring a guest speaker to deliver lectures at both campuses. 

“It was very interesting to listen to because I've never really talked too much about Asian American identity and what it means to be Asian American and what is the model minority myth,” Huang said. 

Huang said she believes these lectures start a conversation that is desperately needed in the community. It was not just about the lecture itself but also the discussion after, she said. As a college student, she said she thought this was the best time to explore diverse identities and understand the struggles others may face. 

“We all came here different ways, we have different stories, and to club us into one big group, to generalize, it hurts our entire community and the needs and struggles of different groups of people,” she said. 

Dhingra’s previous two lectures in the series addressed issues surrounding race from public and academic perspectives, bringing up the deficiencies in the standard approaches of discussing racism. 

His final lecture, “Moving Beyond Fighting Anti-Asian Racism,” aims to inform his audience on how to combat anti-Asian racism while acknowledging complexities. Dhingra plans to take the opportunity to share how he thinks the community can make meaningful change in a way that many people are able to benefit from. 

"Addressing racism is not just about helping minoritized groups," Dhingra said. "That's part of it. But that's not really the ultimate kind of end that we're trying to strive for."

Laura Howes, director of Bass Connections in the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke, said the goal of these lectures is to facilitate connections between Duke and UNC on an academic issue that is important to both institutions. 

"Just even showing an investment in these issues is an important step in the process," Howes said. “And then the lectures serve as a platform for spotlighting those discussions.”

The provosts’ offices at both institutions worked with their Asian American centers to collaborate in creating the series and selecting Dhingra as this year’s speaker. 

Dhingra said he appreciates the opportunity to share his ideas around this issue with a large audience and believes that both campuses have done a great job publicizing the talks. 

For his last lecture, Dhingra said he is looking forward to making new connections and reconnecting with people he has met through the previous two lectures. 

"There's a lot of meaningful things to do with your time," he said. "So why would you take time out of your day to go to this thing? And my answer to that is that these are issues that we're discussing in this conversation, that we normally don't have much of an opportunity to discuss publicly."

The third and final lecture will be held at Duke on Wednesday, March 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Nasher Museum of Art Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public. 


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