Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Welcome to our digital exhibit celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This page is a companion to the physical display in the Harvard Kennedy School Library, last available in May 2023. Harvard affiliates can request books via HOLLIS, for pick-up at the library of your choice.

In this book display, you'll find literary nonfiction, novels, memoirs, and poetry about AAPI identities and experiences, as well as books on AAPI history, politics, and activism.

More on Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month from the HKS Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging:

"Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month recognizes and honors the contributions and achievements Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have and continue to make in the United States. First observed as 'Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week' in 1979, it was later expanded to a month-long celebration in 1990 (Asian Pacific American Heritage Month). The month of May was chosen as the observance month to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States (May 7, 1843) and to mark the completion of the transcontinental railroad (May 10, 1869), which was completed with significant contributions from Chinese workers (Public Law 102-450).

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed significantly to American life and yet many Americans are unaware of both their achievements and the marginalization they have experienced throughout history due to xenophobia, and institutional and structural racism. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a spike in anti-Asian hate and violence, much of it against women. As a community, we must continue to work to combat racism, gender-based violence, White supremacy, and other injustices that impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We encourage the HKS community to learn more about AAPI histories, identities, and experiences, and to reflect on what we can do as allies to address these injustices in our communities."

Harvard Library Research Guides

Groups & Initiatives around HKS & Harvard

  • In Focus: Asian & Pacific American Heritage Month - curated resources from across Harvard including institutional history, media, people, campus groups, and more.
  • Rajwali Foundation Institute for Asia - HKS research program that "advances research and teaching about policy challenges both within the region and Asia's place in the global community." Part of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
  • Harvard University Asia Center - research center "committed to facilitating the cross-cultural study of Asia at Harvard University."
  • Opposing Racism and Discrimination through Public Policy and Leadership - recent scholarship from HKS faculty members and other experts on race, justice, protest, and policing.
  • Gender, Race & Identity - HKS Policy Topic centered on the question of how gender, race, class and other aspects of identity affect the policymaking process.
  • Asian American Policy Review - HKS student journal "dedicated to analyzing public policy issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community." Explore archived issues of the journal.
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus - HKS student organization devoted to "building a community that celebrates and promotes our diverse histories, our intersectional identities, and our shared political identity."
  • Bangladesh Caucus - HKS student organization that "brings together students from and interested in Bangladesh to discuss wide-ranging topics related to the country and to celebrate Bangladeshi culture and traditions."
  • Casteless Caucus - HKS student organization that "aims to advance caste justice via outreach, education, and dialogue to challenge the caste paradigm existing in South Asia and in the South Asian diasporas."
  • Eastern Europe and Central Asia Caucus - HKS student organization that "serves as a meeting place for students interested in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to explore policy and culture related to the region."
  • Greater China Society - HKS student organization that "brings together any students from or interested in China to discuss a wide range of topics related to China, and to celebrate Chinese culture and traditions."
  • India Caucus - HKS student organization that "brings together students from or interested in India to discuss a wide range of topics related to the country and to celebrate Indian culture and traditions."
  • Indonesia Caucus - HKS student organization that "gathers students who are interested in all aspects of Indonesia and Southeast Asia and wish to be engaged in Indonesia both professionally and personally."
  • Japan Caucus - HKS student organization that "convenes students who are interested in the politics, economy, and culture of Japan."
  • Korea Caucus - HKS student organization that "is a community for HKS students and their families who have personal and/or professional connections to Korea or are simply passionate about learning more about anything Korean."
  • Mongol Caucus - HKS student organization that "acts as a bridge between the country and the HKS community."
  • North Korea Study Group - HKS student organization that seeks "to promote interdisciplinary research on North Korea and cultivate a greater awareness of the complexities of the human rights, security, economic, and societal issues in the country."
  • Pakistan Caucus - HKS student organization that "seeks to highlight Pakistani culture, heritage, research, and innovation, as well as this emerging country's role within the broader international community."
  • Philippine Caucus - HKS student organization that "seeks to be a forum for Filipino students at the Kennedy School to strengthen their links, be the point of connection for other Filipino students."
  • South Asia Caucus - HKS student organization that "provides a platform for student from or interested in the region to discuss a range of topics including policy, culture, and politics."
  • Southeast Asia Caucus - HKS student organization that "brings together students from or interested in the region to discuss a wide range of topics and to celebrate its cultures and traditions."
  • Taiwan Caucus - HKS student organization that "creates spaces of dialogue and awareness around Taiwanese politics, public policy, culture, and identity among the HKS community."
  • Association of Harvard Asian and Asian American Faculty and Staff (AHAAAFS) - Harvard Employee Resource Group that provides "opportunities for networking, career development, awareness, and support for Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander faculty and staff."
  • AAPI Resources & Support - collection of resources curated by Counseling and Mental Health Services at Harvard.

Community Resource Spotlight: In Our Own Words

Event poster for "In Our Own Words: Stories of Asian America" as part of the Harvard Arts First Festival on Sunday, May 1, 2022 at 12:00 pm in Lowell Lecture Hall.AHAAAFS and the Pan Asian Coalition for Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education - supported by a grant from the Culture Lab Innovation Fund - have created "In Our Own Words": a series of projects to raise awareness of AAPI history and amplify the voices of AAPI staff, faculty and graduate students at Harvard.

The first project was a live storytelling event held as part of the 2022 ARTS FIRST Festival. You can watch a recording of the event on YouTube.

Event description: "'Where are you from?' is a familiar question to most Asian Americans. This seemingly innocuous question dangerously stereotypes Asian Americans as the perennial other - a stereotype that has been lethal to Asians all throughout history and fuels the rise of anti-Asian hate in recent years. To counter the harm, 'In Our Own Words' elevates the lived experiences of the Harvard Asian diaspora through the power of narratives."

The second was hu_aapi, an Instagram campaign to share collective stories of Asian and Asian American students, alumni, staff, and faculty at Harvard.

Event image above designed by Kiyoko Nakamura-Koyama.

Topic Spotlight: B.R. Ambedkar

Ambedkar in the 1950sBhimrao Ramji (B.R.) Ambedkar was an Indian social reformer and political leader who led the drafting of India's constitution following the country's independence in 1947. The constitution protects a wide range of civil liberties and formally abolishes untouchability under the caste system, though prejudice against Dalits still occurs today. Throughout his life, Ambedkar advocated for Dalit rights and against the caste system, including in upper levels of government.

In India and throughout the world, Ambedkar Jayanti (also known as Equality Day) is celebrated on Ambedkar's birthday (April 14). The celebration was first observed by the United Nations in 2016.

In collaboration with Manisha Bangar, MC/MPA 2023 and Edward S. Mason Fellow, we are pleased to highlight select writings by Ambedkar and contemporary writers on the caste system.

Display Books: Novels, Poetry & Memoirs

Click on the circular "i" icons to view book descriptions. Click on the Harvard shield icons to access ebooks (Harvard Key required).

Display Books: Politics & History

Click on the circular "i" icons to view book descriptions. Click on the Harvard shield icons to access ebooks (Harvard Key required).