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Erica Kanesaka Assistant Professor


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Erica Kanesaka is an Assistant Professor of English at Emory University. An interdisciplinary scholar, she specializes in Asian American literary and cultural studies, with a focus on the racial and sexual politics of kawaii and cuteness. Her other areas of interest include childhood studies, transnational feminisms, feminist disability studies, and feminist science and technology studies.

She is currently at work on two book projects: The first, an academic monograph, explores how children’s books and toys have mediated feelings about race, sex, and gender between Japan and the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. The second, a collection of essays written for a general audience, mixes cultural criticism with personal narrative to reflect on the resonances of kawaii and cuteness for Asian American feminist politics.

Her research has received awards from the Association for Asian American Studies and the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs, a branch of the Association for Asian Studies. Articles have appeared in Journal of Asian American Studies, positions:asia critique, and other journals. Her public-facing writing can be found in Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Avidly: Los Angeles Review of Books, Ms. Magazine, Public Books, and elsewhere.

As an instructor, she is invested in the pedagogical approaches of women of color feminisms and feminist disability studies. Her teaching emphasizes relationality, affect, and the politics of play, pleasure, and everyday life. At Emory, she teaches courses that include “Imagining Asian America,” “Asian American Women Writers,” “Cute Studies,” and “Transpacific Femininities.”

 She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New York University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Prior to coming to Emory, she was a 2021–2022 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University.

 More information can be found on her website: