Yellow and Brown Tales: Asian American Folklife Today

Yellow and Brown Tales: Asian American Folklife Today is an exploration of the cultural history of Asian Americans and their lives now. Acknowledging the many aspects of Asian American life that have been unheard and unseen for “yellow” and “brown” Americans, these stories uplift and showcase their rich expressive culture. This podcast distinctively positions the Asian experience at the center of the American landscape and Asian American folklore as a critical emergent area of study.

Join folklorists Fariha Khan, Margaret Magat, Nancy Yan, and Juwen Zhang as they highlight the diverse narratives, practices, traditions, and customs of the fastest-growing population in the U.S. Each month will feature two podcasts that explore yet another aspect of Asian American life –making the invisible clearly visible!

Yellow and Brown Tales: Asian American Folklife Today is associated with the Department of Global Cultural Studies and the Digital Learning Studio in Willamette University.

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For more information, a transcript, or permission to cite this podcast please email asianamerican@sas.upenn


Listen to Episode 19: The 80th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act

Listen to Episode 18: Conversation with Dr. Juwen Zhang, Author of Epidemics in Folklore Memory: Tales and Poems from Chinese History

Listen to Episode 17: From Underground Chinaman to Downton Alley Name: The Story of George Lai Sun 

Listen to Episode 16: "Comedian Frankie Marcos follows his heart to Mexipino humor"

Listen to Episode 15: "On rituals of healing and tattooing in the Filipino diaspora"

Listen to Episode 14: "Massacred for Gold: A Conversation with Greg Nokes"

Listen to Episode 13: "Being Chinese American in Oregon: A Conversation with Dr. Myron Lee"

Listen to Episode 12: "Gambling Addiction in Asian Communities with Kent Woo, Executive Director of NICOS Chinese Health Coalition"

Listen to Episode 11: "Rob Buscher and a New Series PBS WHYY Asian Americans Series"

Listen to Episode 10: "Shang Chi: Asian American-ness and Beyond"

Listen to Episode 9: "The Beginning of Public Celebration of Chinese New Year in the US"

Listen to Episode 8: "Water Beliefs and the Importance of Energy: A Conversation with Folklorist Dr. Wennifer Lin"

Listen to Episode 7: "Asians and the Global Pandemic: Race, Invisibility, and the Urgency of Asian American Folklore Studies"

Listen to Episode 6: "K-Pop Scholar Dr. Grace Kao Talks BTS and Their Rise To Popularity"

Listen to Episode 5: "Altars and Asian American Business Owners during the Pandemic"

Listen to Episode 4: "Dr. Herminia Meñez Coben, pioneer Filipina American folklorist"

Listen to episode 3: "South Asian Americans and Sex Education: A Conversation with University of Pennsylvania Senior, Simran Chand"

Listen to Episode 2: "Conversation with Margaret Magat, Author of Balut: Fertilized Eggs and the Making of Culinary Capital"

Listen to Episode 1: "What is Asian American Folklore?"


Fariha Khan is the Co-Director of the Asian American Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania where she also teaches courses on South Asians in the U.S, Asian American Communities, Asian American Food, as well as Muslim Identity in America. She received a Master's degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. Her current research focuses on South Asian American Muslims, Pakistani American culture, and the Asian American community.  Dr. Khan was appointed in 2015 to the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and served until 2019.  Actively involved in the Philadelphia community, Dr. Khan is Vice-Chair of the Board of the Samuel S. Fels Fund and serves on the Board of the American Folklore Society, the Philadelphia Folklore Project, the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, and the James Brister Alumni Society.  

Margaret Magat is a Cultural Resources Program Manager with a Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Folklore, University of California, Berkeley. She has published on foodways, historic preservation, women and transnational migration, and Asian American cultural practices. Her first book is called Balut: Fertilized Eggs and the Making of Culinary Capital in the Filipino Diaspora (Bloomsbury, 2019.) She was senior convener for the Transnational Asia/Pacific Section (2018-2020) of the American Folklore Society (AFS) and is now an adviser to the current conveners. She is also a member of AFS’ Cultural Diversity Committee.

Nancy Yan received her Ph.D. in folklore from The Ohio State University and taught First and Second-Year Writing, Comparative Studies, and Asian American Studies classes for several years before returning to organizing work.  She served on the Cultural Diversity Committee of the American Folklore Society from 2017-2019 and is a member of the Board of Directors of New Faculty Majority, an advocacy organization for non-tenure-track faculty. She is also a host on New Books in Folklore, part of New Books Network. Currently, Dr. Yan works for the American Federation of Teachers-Maryland as an organizer.

Juwen Zhang is Professor of Chinese and Folklore at the Department of Global Cultural Studies, Willamette University, Oregon, with his Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. He was twice elected President of Western States Folklore Society, and inducted into Fellow of American Folklore Society (later resigned as a protest against the Society’s marginalizing Asian American folklore studies). His two hundred plus publications in both English and Chinese include topics from Chinese/Asian American folklore to rites de passage studies, from folkloric identity to folkloric film, and from translation studies to fairy tale analysis. Through this Podcast, he hopes to present and preserve the voices of the common people about their ways of living a meaningful life while reconstructing their Asian American identities in this constantly changing world.  

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