Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month Spotlight: Professor Kimberly Hassel

September 23rd, 2022

In celebration of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, annually celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the College of Humanities is spotlighting faculty, staff and students. This week, meet Dr. Kimberly Hassel, an Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies. 

"I am a proud Dominican New Yorker, and I often discuss my positionality in my teaching and research. I teach courses on Japanese popular culture and contemporary Japanese society through an anthropological lens. In my anthropology courses, I highlight the Japanese diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Latinx diaspora in Japan. In my gen-ed course on Japanese popular culture, I like to provide case studies of global consumption of Japanese popular culture that center Black and brown fans (for example, the growing prevalence of anime aesthetics in reggaeton and hip hop). During my first lecture for my gen-ed course, I like to reveal that my own journey as an academic began because of an interest in Japanese popular culture—an interest that many of my students share. In sharing my own journey, I seek to highlight how learning about another society and culture can open many doors and ultimately enrich students’ worldview. I also hope that students who are coming from a background that is similar to my own may also feel motivated to further pursue their interest in Japan.

"My research centers on the intersections of digital culture, youth culture, and identity in Japan. As an individual from a historically marginalized background, I strive to make research and education on contemporary Japan inclusive and accessible. Diaspora and Afro-Japanese identity are key themes that I explore in my research. I center the narratives and experiences of Black Japanese youths, which are not well represented in academic literature on contemporary Japanese society. In a future project, I hope to explore the Dominican diaspora in Japan and the Japanese diaspora in the Dominican Republic.  

"I entered academia primarily for the opportunity to mentor students of color. If you are a Latinx student at the University of Arizona, know that there are Latinx faculty who are excited to mentor you—reach out to them! "