Professor Cara Wong of the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign delivered the 2021 Hibbert Roberts Lecture on October 6, 2021. Her Lecture was titled “National Identity and Racism in an Era of COVID-19: The Case of Asians and Asian Americans.” The Hibbert Roberts Lecture is an annual public policy lecture hosted by the Department of Politics and Government and named in honor of professor Hibbert Roberts, who led the Department for 22 years—from 1969 to 1992. This year, the lecture was co-sponsored by the Office of International Studies and Programs as part of the Fall 2021 International Seminar Series titled “A New Normal in a Global Context.”

Wong shared historical perspectives on the racialization of disease as well as on how historically Asians were excluded from immigration and/or citizenship in the United States through various means such as legislation (e.g. the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882) and Supreme Court decisions. She also shared with the audience data from surveys that capture the knowledge of the general public about prominent Asian Americans and public perceptions about who is an American and who is a patriot, supplementing survey data with examples from the media that also reflect the public perceptions of Asian Americans. Her discussion provided context for understanding the experiences of Asians and Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wong is the author of Boundaries of Obligation in American Politics: Geographic, National, and Racial Communities (published in 2010 by Cambridge University Press) and of many journal articles and book chapters, many of which appeared in various prominent academic journals, including the Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, and Public Opinion Quarterly. Wong’s research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, a fellow at the Russell Sage Foundation, a Fulbright Scholar in Chile, and a Hallsworth visiting professor at the University of Manchester. She is past president of the political psychology section of the American Political Science Association. 

The 2021 lecture was originally planned to be a hybrid event, combing both in-person and online streaming. Due to the power outage in Bone Student Center, it was moved to an online-only event.