Vincent Pham, associate professor of civic communication and media at Willamette University, won the Arnold L. Graves and Lois S. Graves Prize in the Humanities.
Administered by Pomona College in California in conjunction with the American Council of Learned Societies, the biannual Graves Prize recognizes outstanding young humanities scholars in the first decade of their career.
Pham is chair of the CCM department and a scholar who works at the intersection of critical and cultural studies, media studies, rhetoric, organizational communication, and ethnic studies. He will use the $10,000 prize for a new project, “Asian American Documentary Film in the Era of Black Lives Matter and the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
In light of the dramatic increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020-21 and concurrent Oscar nominations for Asian actors and a director in 2021, what it means to be seen and identified as “Asian American” is become more relevant. Recognizing its prominence both in the media and in local spaces, Pham will visit sites where Asian American and Pacific Islander films are screened to examine how the term “Asian” rhetorically articulates with other aspects of identity through film, media and other discursive actions.
Funding from the award will also support Pham’s design of a new course, “Practicing One’s Voice Through Documentary Film,” as well as the manuscript for his book, “Making Media Matter: Representation, Materiality and the Asian American Community.”
Pham has achieved wide recognition since joining the Willamette faculty in 2016. He was honored in 2017 with the Outstanding New Investigator Award from the Critical and Cultural Communication Studies Division of the National Communication Association. In 2019, Willamette officially recognized his research with a faculty award, he achieved associate professor ranking, and later his colleagues elected him to head the department.
In his nomination of Pham, President Steve Thorsett said, “His connections to individuals within the film industry as well as within Asian American communities lend an authenticity to his work that deeply engages students, empowering them to develop a better understanding of our society and the issues that have just been highlighted and have existed for far too long without being recognized. Students and faculty note that conversations initiated in her classes often carry over to other classes in other disciplines, demonstrating her ability to engage and inspire.