Dean Celine Parreñas Shimizu to receive prestigious award

Dean Celine Parrenas Shimizu
Celine Parreñas Shimizu, film scholar and filmmaker, is Dean of the Division of Arts at the University of California at Santa Cruz.  (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

The Association for Asian American Studies has selected UC Santa Cruz Division of Arts Dean, Dr. Celine Parreñas Shimizu, for its 2022 Excellence in Mentorship Award. Inspired by her work and the great care she has given to the next generation of Asian American Studies scholars and filmmakers, the Association will present the award to Dr. Shimizu at a banquet April 16 as part of its annual conference.

An accomplished filmmaker and author, and one of the country’s foremost scholars of Asian American cinema and media studies as well as Asian American gender, sexuality, and feminism, Dr. Shimizu has mentored countless undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and colleagues in the past two decades, from UC Santa Barbara as Professor of Asian American, Feminist, and Film and Media Studies to San Francisco State University as Director and Professor of the School of Cinema, and to her current position at UCSC as Dean of the Arts and Distinguished Professor of Film and Digital Media, and beyond.

Anaiis Cisco, Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Smith College and a practicing filmmaker, was Dr. Shimizu's student at SFSU. Cisco says, “Dr. Shimizu is a sage mentor, modeling the qualities of a compassionate educator and artist. In my time working with her, Dr. Shimizu has motivated and inspired me to strive for opportunities that seemed impossible to land, reminding me of the merit of my creative and professional work. Her guidance has been invaluable, especially during critical moments of navigating entrenched power imbalances within the film industry and academia.”

Shelley Lee, a leading Asian American studies scholar and Chair and Professor of Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College, was a fellow graduate student at Stanford University. Lee states, “So many of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned about how to be a dedicated, hardworking professional with an abiding passion for intellectual engagement and equity in higher education come from my many conversations with Dr. Shimizu at all the stages of my career, from graduate school to my current position.”

University of Colorado Doctoral Candidate and soon-to-be Assistant Professor at the University of Miami, Kim Truong-Vu, knew she had to enroll in one of Dr. Shimizu’s classes at UCSB after hearing her speak at an event. “She made me feel so included,” says Truong-Vu. “I was a first generation college student and wasn’t sure I belonged. Dr. Shimizu helped me to believe in myself, and also to see that academia, in fact, needed me. Now, I’m going to be a professor because of her.”

Says Dr. Shimizu, “It is because of the mentorship I received—the confidence-building, career-launching, field-breaking advice and the support of programs that enabled underrepresented people to enter the academy—that I am inspired to create mentorship programs wherever I am, whether as Chair of the Senior Women’s Council at UCSB, or developing the Equity and Leadership Program to diversify the leadership at SFSU, or the mentoring programs I am prioritizing now for the Arts Division at UCSC. I am so honored to continue this work with my own students and colleagues who nominated me for this award—work I do for our field and in nurturing an abundance of voices.”

Books Dr. Shimizu has authored include The Proximity of Other Skins (Oxford, 2020), Straitjacket Sexualities (Stanford, 2012), and The Hypersexuality of Race (Duke, 2007) which won Best Book in Cultural Studies from the Association for Asian American Studies in 2009. She co-edited The Feminist Porn Book (The Feminist Press, 2013) and The Unwatchability of Whiteness (Brill, 2018). Her new book The Movies of Racial Childhoods: Screening Self-Sovereignty in Asian / America, is forthcoming from Duke University Press.

The Celine Archive (2020), her latest film, won several festival awards and is distributed by Women Make Movies. She is currently working on a new film, 80 Years Later: On Japanese American Racial Inheritance which will premiere in May 2022. 

The Association for Asian American Studies was founded in 1979 for the purpose of advancing the highest professional standard of excellence in teaching and research in the field of Asian American Studies.