Maxwell Leung is an assistant professor in the Critical Studies Program. His research explores the relationship between the representation and expression of state power and its regulation of subjectivity, agency, and culture. His primary research interests are hate violence studies, law and society, critical race theory, intersectionality, and poststructuralist theory. His secondary research interests include visual sociology, popular culture, Asian American Studies, and comparative Ethnic Studies.
Leung’s dissertation, “Governmentalizing Hate Violence,” examines the construction of race, gender, and sexual orientation as objects of knowledge of and for governance in federal hate-crimes legislation. He contends this process, called “governmentalizing identity,” becomes the primary way through which state power is rationally exercised across a large scale of population. Thus, federal legislative and judicial responses to hate violence are less about preventing various bias-motivated crimes, and more of a political rationality that produces and legitimates domains of state intervention. He is currently revising his dissertation for publication.
In 2010, Leung was appointed Associate Researcher to the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at UC Berkeley. Leung's project with the Center is called, “Visualizing Islamophobia: A Visual Ethnography of Arab and Muslim American Identity,” that asks how Arab and Muslim Americans are making sense of their identities in the United States today, where they are marked and represented as disloyal, unassimilable, and dangerous to national security. How have their everyday experiences altered their self-perceptions, and more importantly, the American ideals of full participation, inclusion, and multiculturalism? This interdisciplinary visual, sociological, and ethnographic project is designed to discover the ways in which Arab and Muslim American identity is impacted by and negotiated in an acute period of Islamophobia in the United States. Islamophobia is defined as a racialized terror constructed through the intersections of xenophobia, anti-Islamic sentiments, and the discourse of the War on Terror. The central concerns of this project are the nature of Arab and Muslim American personal narratives in a time of intense racial and xenophobic anxieties, and how Arab and Muslim Americans make sense of their identity and place in American culture. While this project properly falls under the ethnographic tradition, Leung makes the case for a visual ethnographic approach, specifically using photography as a robust research method for recording and comparing changes in identity over time, documenting what these changes look like, and providing an invaluable body of knowledge that complements already existing scholarship on racial identity, community studies, and ethnic studies of the Arab and Muslim American experience.
Prior to his appointment at CCA, Leung was a visiting assistant professor in the Sociology Department and the Program in American Studies at Grinnell College in Iowa. He has also taught at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA, and many other institutions. He has won numerous teaching awards for his creative pedagogical approaches to teaching the social sciences.
Leung was born and raised in San Francisco, and is fond of the local colloquialism, “Hella.” He has demonstrated skilled proficiency in its use as only a true native of San Francisco can. For example, “It’s hella foggy today,” “Foucault is hella deep,” “The Niners are hella awesome!” and, most important of all, “I hella hate the Dodgers.”
Curriculum Vita: https://www.dropbox.com/s/r4xsp594pn42gga/Leung%20CV%202012-2013.pdf