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Erika Lee

Professor of History at Harvard University & Past President of the Organization of American Historians; Award-Winning Author of "America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States"

Professor of History at Harvard University & Past President of the Organization of American Historians; Award-Winning Author of "America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States"

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Minneapolis, MN, USA
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Erika Lee Biography

One of the nation’s leading immigration and Asian American historians, Erika Lee is the inaugural Bae Family Professor of History and Radcliffe Alumni Professor at Harvard University and Past President of the Organization of American Historians. In 2023-2024, she is the Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, she was Regents Professor, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and the Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. The granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, Lee grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, attended Tufts University, and received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Recently awarded an honorary degree from Tufts University and elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Lee also testified before Congress during its historic hearings on discrimination and violence against Asian Americans.

Lee is the author of four award-winning books in U.S. immigration and Asian American history: "At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943," "Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America" (co-authored with Judy Yung, and "The Making of Asian America: A History." "The Making of Asian America" was the recipient of the 2015 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature from the American Library Association, an “Editor’s Choice” by the New York Times, and was named to the Best Nonfiction Books of 2015 list by Kirkus Reviews. A new edition with a postscript about Asian American activism during the COVID-19 pandemic was recently published.

"Made in Asian America: A History for Young People," a young adult non-fiction adaptation of "The Making of Asian America" coauthored with three-time Newbery Honor Award recipient Christina Soontornvat, will be published in 2024 with Harper Collins.

Lee’s recent book, "America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States" has been called “unflinching and powerful” by Carol Anderson (author of "White Rage") and “essential reading” by Ibram X. Kendi (author of "How to Be an Antiracist"). It won the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the Richard Frisbie Honored Book Award for Nonfiction. It was also a finalist for the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award and the Minnesota Nonfiction Book Award and was named to best books lists by Time, USA Today, and Ms. Magazine. It was highlighted by the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the New York Public Library as one of the most important books illuminating the Trump era and informing essential issues in the 2020 election. It has been excerpted in The Atlantic and profiled in The New Yorker. Op-eds based on the book appeared in Time and the Washington Post. The paperback edition was recently published with a new epilogue on xenophobia and racism during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Immigration History Research Center, Lee helped to merge immigration history with the digital humanities. She launched and oversees the new Immigrants in COVID America project as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Immigrant Stories Project which works with recent immigrants and refugees to collect, preserve, and share their experiences with a new multi-lingual digital storytelling website and collection. She also founded and co-organized the #ImmigrationSyllabus, a digital educational resource offering historical perspectives to contemporary immigration debates and the Immigrants in COVID America project.

She has been the recipient of numerous national awards for her scholarship and her advocacy. These include best book awards from the American Library Association, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the Association for Asian American Studies, and the Western Historical Association and fellowships and grants from the Carnegie Corporation, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council. Most recently, she received an honorary degree from Tufts University, was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was honored with the 2018 Distinguished Historian Award from the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. For her advocacy work, she has received the 2016 Pioneer Award from OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, and the 2015 Immigrant Heritage Award from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. At the University of Minnesota, Lee has been named a Regents Professor, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and received the 2017 Dean’s Medal from the College of Liberal Arts.

Lee is an active public intellectual who is a widely sought-after speaker around the U.S. and internationally. She regularly appears in the media, including featured appearances in PBS’s “Asian Americans,” the History Channel’s “America: The Promised Land,” PBS’s “The Chinese Exclusion Act,” Bill Moyer’s “Chinese in America,” and interviews with PBS NewsHour, CNN, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Code Switch, 1A, Weekend Edition, and BackStory, Public Radio International’s The World, the BBC, the New York Times, ABC News, NBC News, the Guardian, CSPAN, Washington Post, Star Tribune, Beijing News, and the Japan Times. Her opinion pieces have been published in Time, the Washington Post, New York Daily News, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times.

BOOK Erika Lee

Speaker profile last updated by AAE Talent Team on 05/25/2024.

Erika Lee Videos

  • Historian Erika Lee & activist Helen Zia on rise in anti-Asian violence ...
    During the coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans have experienced a sharp increase in racist verbal abuse and physical attacks. From the ...
  • Xenophobia in America: How we got here and what's at stake | Erika ...
    America is called a "nation of immigrants," but it is also a nation of xenophobia. Historian Erika Lee explores the deep roots of xenophobia in ...
  • Full Frame: Race and Immigration in the U.S. with Erika Lee - YouTube
    The coronavirus has led to increased reports of harassment against Asian- Americans. This kind of discrimination has long been part of U.S. ...

Erika Lee Books

  • America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States
    America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States
  • The Making of Asian America: A History
    The Making of Asian America: A History
  • Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America
    Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America
  • At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943
    At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943

FAQs on booking Erika Lee

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  • What are the speaker fees for Erika Lee

    Speaking fees for Erika Lee, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. The estimated fees to book Erika Lee are for live events and for virtual events. For the most current speaking fee to hire Erika Lee, click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak directly with an experienced booking agent.
  • What topics does Erika Lee speak about?

    Erika Lee is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Asian & Pacific Heritage, Authors, Culture, Diversity, Immigration, Innovation, Literary, Virtual Speakers.
  • Where does Erika Lee travel from?

    Erika Lee generally travels from Minneapolis, MN, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
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    AAE Speakers Bureau has successfully booked keynote speakers like Erika Lee for clients worldwide since 2002. As a full-service speaker booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Please click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page including the details of your event, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Erika Lee for your next private or corporate function.
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Erika Lee is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Erika Lee for your event is $20,000 - $30,000. Erika Lee generally travels from Minneapolis, MN, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Laura Ling, Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Amanda Nguyen, Cynthia Choi and Richard Lui. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Erika Lee for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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