C.N. Le is a Senior Lecturer II in the Sociology Department and Director of the Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. I received my B.A. from the University of California, Irvine and my Ph.D. in Sociology at the University at Albany, SUNY.
My research focuses on racial/ethnic relations in the U.S., immigration, and comparisons of socio-demographic outcomes among different Asian American groups, such as small business ownership, characteristics of ethnic enclaves, and interracial and interethnic marriage. I also conduct sociological research and analysis on the experiences of Asian international students at U.S. colleges and universities, and on various aspects of Asian American popular culture and political activism. I am also the author of the book Asian American Assimilation: Ethnicity, Immigration, and Socioeconomic Attainment.
I am a strong supporter of "public sociology," the movement to make sociological research and analysis as widely accessible and applicable to real-world issues and situations as possible. As such, I am the creator of Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America, an information resource on the historical, political, demographic, and cultural issues that affect today's diverse Asian American population. I have been interviewed and quoted by media outlets such as the New York Times, CNN, the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, PBS, and the U.S. State Department, to name just a few.
Political Science and Sociology, University of California, Irvine
Current Professional Positions
- Senior Lecturer II
Department of Sociology (September 2003 to Present)
Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate Program
(January 2004 to Present)
The Asian & Asian American Studies Certificate is an interdisciplinary program consisting of eight courses that provides students with (1) a thorough understanding of both Asian and Asian American histories, experiences, and contemporary issues and (2) multi-disciplinary and multi-method research, analysis, and thinking skills, both of which prepare students for the increasingly diverse, globalized, and interconnected world of the 21st century.
Research Associate (2000 - 2002)
Center for Technology in Government, Albany, NY
- Worked within a small team of primary investigators to conduct NSF-funded research (including ethnographic field observation, structured interviews, focus groups, facilitated meetings, and administering survey questionnaires) on how New York State government agencies use information technology to work collaboratively and to improve their public services.
Director of Education (1998 - 2000)
Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Inc., New York, NY
- Developed and oversaw multi-level community education and outreach planning, implementation, and evaluation, including peer education programs; hired, supervised, and evaluated staff of coordinators for six separate but interrelated targeted programs.
Administrative Coordinator (1998)
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, New York, NY
The Asian American Experience (Sociology 240)
Explores both the similarities and differences in the histories, experiences, and cultures within the Asian American population, along with specific issues including immigration to the U.S., assimilation and ethnic identity, media images and popular culture, demographic trends, ethnic enclaves, anti-Asian discrimination, socioeconomic mobility, gender dynamics, and emerging connections between Asia and Asian Americans.
Sociology of Immigration (Sociology 244)
This course examines who, why, and how different groups immigrate to the U.S. and what happens once they arrive -- how they are received by mainstream society and how they adjust to their new country. Specific issues include settlement, education, identity, assimilation, discrimination, employment, language, marriage, legal status, and political participation.
Globalization & Inequality (Sociology 262)
This course examines the sociological history, content, and implications of globalization and inequality around the world and particularly in the U.S. Specific issues include theories of globalization; the global economy; political globalization; globalization and culture; environmental sustainability; local-global linkages; civil society, human rights, and anti-globalization social movements; globalization and gender/race/ethnicity; international migration; and new global inequalities.
Asian Americans in Media and Popular Culture (Sociology 326)
In this course, we examine and analyze the sociological history, content, and cultural implications of how Asian Americans have been portrayed and represented in mainstream U.S. media and popular culture.
Bridging Asia and Asian America Colloquium (Asian Studies 397B)
Meeting in Lewis Hall (location of the Asian & Asian American Residential Community), this weekly seminar combines class discussions, guest speakers, film screenings, and small group activities to focus on the political, economic, and cultural intersections between Asians and Asian Americans.
Demography of Minority Groups (Sociology 361)
Introduction to using demographic data and statistics to understand public policy issues faced by American racial/ethnic minorities across education, prejudice and discrimination, immigration, wealth and poverty, crime, health care, etc.
Research Interests & Current Projects
- Race and Ethnicity
- Immigration: Structural Assimilation & Cultural Adaptation, Socioeconomic Mobility, and Public Policy
- Comparative Outcomes of Asian American Integration
My main research interests involve using Census data to analyze and compare socioeconomic and demographic outcomes of assimilation and integration among Asian Americans. These include (1) self-employment and entrepreneurship; (2) marital assimilation and intermarriage/interracial marriage; (3) education, occupation, and income; and (4) characteristics of ethnic enclaves and communities. I also have secondary research interests in analyzing the sociological contexts of anti-communist political activities of Vietnamese Americans and the academic and social experiences of international Asian students studying in the U.S.
Publications Completed or Forthcoming
Le, C.N. 2017. "Building Cultural Bridges and Supporting Prospective Asian Students at U.S. Universities" in Understanding International Students from Asia in American Universities: Learning and Living Globalization, edited by Yingyi Ma and Martha A. Garcia-Murrilo. Springer Publishing.
Le, C.N. 2017. "Asian Americans: An Introduction" in Racial & Ethnic Relations in America (2nd Edition), edited by Kibibi Mack-Williams and Michael Shally-Jensen. Salem Press.
Le, C.N. 2016. "Pew Report on Asian Americans: A Cautionary Tale" in Major Problems in Asian American History, 2nd Edition, edited by Lon Kurashige and Alice Yang. Cenage Publishing.
Le, C.N. 2015. "The Homogenization of Asian Beauty" in The Society Pages: Getting Culture, edited by Douglas Hartmann and Christopher Uggen. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Le, C.N. 2014. "Bridging the Campus and the Community: Blogging About the Asian American Experience" in Sociologists in Action on Inequalities: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality, edited by Shelley K. White, Jonathan M. White, and Kathleen Odell Korgen. Sage Publications.
Le, C.N. 2012. "New Dimensions of Asian American Self-Employment in Los Angeles and New York." Asian American & Pacific Islander Nexus 10:2:55-76.
Le, C.N. 2010. "Multiracial Asian Americans: Social Class, Demographic, and Cultural Characteristics" in Multiracial Americans and Social Class: The Influence of Social Class on Racial Identity, edited by Kathleen Korgen. New York: Routledge.
Le, C.N. 2010. "Racial Tensions and Living in a Colorblind Society" and "Globalization and Higher Education" in Everyday Sociology Reader, edited by Karen Sternheimer. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Le, C.N. 2010. Articles on "Adoption of Asian Children," "Amerasians and Multiracial Asian Americans," "Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965," "Interracial Marriages, "Second-Generation Identity," "Youth Gangs," and "Asian Americans and Work" in Asian American History and Culture: An Encyclopedia, edited by Huping Ling and Allan W. Austin. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Le, C.N. 2009. "Post-Vietnam War Tensions in the Vietnamese American Community" in Encyclopedia of Asian American Issues Today, edited by Edith Chen and Grace Yoo. Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publishing.
Le, C.N. 2009. "'Better Dead Than Red': Anti-Communist Politics Among Vietnamese Americans" in Anti-Communist Minorities in the US: The Political Activism of Ethnic Refugees, edited by Ieva Zake. New York: Palgrave-MacMillan.
Le, C.N. 2007. Asian American Assimilation: Ethnicity, Immigration, and Socioeconomic Attainment. New York, NY: LFB Scholarly Publishing.
Le, C.N. 2004. "Fleeing Dragon: The Refugee Experience From a Vietnamese Immigrant Family" in Minority Voices: Linking Personal Ethnic History with the Sociological Imagination, edited by John Rowan. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Recent Media Quotations
Quoted by the Springfield Republican,"Donald Trump’s Proposal to Halt Muslim Immigration Unprecedented, But Rooted in History" article by Shannon Young, December 13, 2015.
Interviewed by National Public Radio, WBUR Boston,"Does Harvard Discriminate Against Asian Americans?" segment, June 18, 2015.
Interviewed by Huffington Post Live,"Why ‘Aloha’ Failed On Casting Emma Stone" webcast by Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani, June 4, 2015.
Quoted by NBC News,"For Asian Americans, Wealth Stereotypes Don't Fit Reality" article by Seth Freed Wessler, March 18, 2015.
Quoted by The Associated Press, "Survey Finds Math, Science Grads Earn Top Dollar" article by Anne Flaherty, July 8, 2014.
Quoted by The Washington Post, "California’s Little Saigon to Mark Lunar New Year" article by Amy Taxin, January 9, 2014.
Quoted by The Los Angeles Times, "Dear Internet: Lorde is Dating an Asian Guy -- Get Over It" article by Nico Lang, December 12, 2013.
Profiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education, "An 'Indefinite' Adjunct Sees Progress, and Tensions, at His University" video segment by Greg Kahn and Rose Engelland, October 1, 2013.
Interviewed by CNN, "Behind Asian Americans' Low Unemployment" video segment by Zain Asher, August 12, 2013.
Quoted by the Washington Post, "Familiar Ad Trope: Pairing White Men and Asian American Women" article by Paul Farhi, September 28, 2012.
Cited by the Wall Street Journal, "The Real Reason Why Asian Americans Are Outmarrying Less" article by Jeff Yang, April 16, 2012.
Cited by the New York Times, "For Asian-American Couples, a Tie That Binds" article by Rachel L. Swarns, March 30, 2012.
Selected Presentations, Invited Talks & Professional Service
Le, C.N. "Enlarging the Image: Recent Asian American Activism Against Whitewashing in Hollywood Movies," presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian American Studies, March 28, 2018, San Francisco CA.
Le, C.N. “Diverging Paths: Patterns of Entrepreneurship Among Foreign- and U.S.-Raised Asian Americans,” presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian American Studies, April 14, 2017, Portland, OR.
Invited Panelist, "Movement to Establish Asian American Studies at Williams College," Williams College, Williamstown, MA, May 4, 2016.
Le, C.N.. "'If I Wanted to Be Around Lots of Chinese, I Would Just Stay in China’: Motivations of Chinese Students to Study in the U.S.," presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian American Studies, April 28, 2016, in Miami, FL.
Keynote Speaker, "Memoirs of an Asian American" conference,” Trinity College, Hartford, CT, March 26, 2016.
Council Member (2010-2012) and Secretary-Treasurer (2012-2015), Section on Asia and Asian America, American Sociological Association.
Presider and Discussant. "Educational Inequalities in Asia and Asian America" session at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, August 2014, in San Francisco, CA.
Le, C.N.. "Mutual Mentoring to Develop and Support Asian American Studies in the Five Colleges," presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian American Studies, May 20, 2013, in Seattle, WA.
Invited Speaker, "Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century: Connecting Asians, Americans, and Asian Americans," United States Army Corps of Engineers, Winchester, VA, May 4, 2011.
Invited Speaker, "Balancing Asian, American, and Asian American Identities in the Era of Globalization," annual conference of the East Coast Asian American Student Union, University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA, February 19, 2011.
Invited Panelist, "The Roar over Amy Chua, Tiger Mom," Smith College, Northampton MA, February 10, 2011.
Invited Speaker, "Asian American Stereotypes and the Illusion of Colorblindness," The Westminster Schools, Atlanta GA, October 1, 2010.
Invited Speaker, "Bridging Asian, American, and Asian American Identities in the 21st Century," Syracuse University, NY, April 16, 2010.
Invited Speaker, "History, Segregation, and Inclusion: The Meaning and Consequences of Ethnic Solidarity," Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, May 7, 2009.
Le, C.N. "Virtually Asian: The Social Construction of Identity Through Internet Media," presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian American Studies, April 20, 2008 in Chicago, IL.
Panelist, "Blogging and Asian Pacific American Political Awareness," 13th Annual National Asian Pacific American Conference on Law and Public Policy, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, March 3, 2007.
OAQs: Ocassionally Asked Questions
What exactly does C.N. stand for?
Basically, the C.N. is just the first and middle initials of my full name, Cuong Nguyen Le. However, it's been my experience over the years that unless people speak Vietnamese, chances are they will mispronounce my name. To make a long story short, I've gone by a few different variations of my real name and eventually compromised between ease of pronunciation on the one hand and a true reflection of my Vietnamese identity on the other by going by my first and middle initials.
I would like to add your class but it's filled up on SPIRE -- what can I do to try to get in?
I'm glad to hear that you're interested in taking my class. Unfortunately, before the semester begins, I do not have the ability to manually enroll anybody. I recommend that you keep checking SPIRE regularly from now until the start of the semester in case somebody de-enrolls and a spot opens up.
If you're not able to add through SPIRE by the start of the semester, come to class anyway and I will collect names of students wanting to add the course and presuming spots open up the first week of class, give priority to senior sociology majors, then seniors, then junior sociology majors, etc.
Dept. of Sociology
National Media Recognition
Favorite Words of Wisdom
We declare our rights to be a man
To be a human being
To be given the rights of a human being
To be respected as a human being
In this society, on this earth, in this day
Which we intend to bring into existence
By any means necessary.
-- Malcolm X
Do, or do not. There is no try.
-- Yoda ('The Empire Strikes Back')
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal ideas from many people is research.
Soon after The Buddha became well
known, people would come to see him
and they would ask, "Are you a god?"
The Buddha replied, "No."
They asked, "Are you a saint?"
The Buddha replied, "No."
They asked "Are you an angel?"
Again The Buddha replied, "No."
"So what are you?"
The Buddha replied, "I am awake."
The philosophers have merely interpreted the world. The point however, is to change it.
-- Karl Marx
It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.
-- Audre Lorde
Be the change that you want to see in the world.
-- Mahatma Gandhi
Academics & Sociology
Social Justice & Racial Equality
Just for Fun