Andrew Boge is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa studying rhetoric and public advocacy. Residing at the intersection of critical race studies, contemporary rhetorical theory and criticism, and decolonial studies, his research broadly focuses on the rhetoric of race/racisms with an attention to temporality and social change. Andrew is particularly interested in parsing out the dominant temporal literacies that discursively obfuscate the spectral elements of race/racisms.
Q: Why did you pursue graduate school / become a researcher?
A: For two main reasons. First, because I love learning, finding a space that lets me continue to nurture my passions and better understand the world was a natural fit as I finished my undergraduate degree. Second, I wanted a space to learn more about my racialized experiences growing up as a third-generation Indian American in the Midwest. My research is deeply motivated by my desire to comprehend my position as a “questionably ethnic” brown person. Exploring racial discourse is one avenue through which I attempt to answer and search out these questions.
Q: Describe your research in non-expert language?
A: I research the way we talk about race and racism in public contexts. More specifically, I’m interested in how Asian Americans have particular racialized ideas associated with them through discourse. Thus, I look at various spaces, whether newspapers, public figures, organizations, and social movements, or government documents, to unpack how discourses about Asian American groups aid in defining their racial position in the United States. This might include looking at a Supreme Court case with a South Asian American defendant to see how the federal government used racial ideas to exclude Asian Americans from accessing legal citizenship. Or, how the #RacismIsAVirus campaign that gained prominence during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic pushes back against historical ideas that Asians in the United States are a contagious threat to the nation’s health.
Q: What impact has your work had on the field/world? What impact do you hope to have on your field/world?
A: I hope my scholarship aids in developing more nuanced frameworks to account for how Asian Americans are racialized. Asian Americans occupy a vexed relationship to broader systems of racial power—simultaneously constructed as “forever foreigners,” a “model minority,” a viral threat. These contradictions and illogicalities constitute a significant reason I carry out my research. Considering my own experiences and the contemporary understanding of how Asian American groups experience racism, we need a more refined vocabulary to name the ways Asian Americans both experience racial violence and uphold systems of power. I approach this goal through the lens of rhetoric to understand how the way we communicate about Asian Americans helps maintain or subvert the complicated racial position of Asian American groups.
Q: What programs or resources (on or off campus) have influenced or supported your academic goals?
A: I have been lucky enough to receive support from a variety of campus spaces, such as the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio. However, one center I must give a shout out to and a place that has had a significant impact on my trajectory is the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. The summer after my first year at Iowa, I partook in the Humanities for the Public Good Graduate Internship Program. I got the chance to collaborate with the African American Museum of Iowa and learn an incredible amount about museum education and the racial politics of pedagogy and experiential learning.
After the program concluded, I continued to work with the Humanities for the Public Good program as an advisory broad member. Through that experience, I collaborated with a variety of faculty and staff at the university around the central question of the future of graduate education and how to do our work within the humanities for the public good. Each opportunity I get to collaborate with the Obermann Center reaffirms my passion for the public humanities and the importance of taking our talents as graduate students and scholars and leveraging them to benefit the broader public. Obermann and HPG continually challenge my conceptions and the value of the humanities in our contemporary moment.
Q: Do you have any role models, mentors, or inspirational people who have encouraged you to pursue your work?
A: There are a variety of communities and people that sustain me through graduate school and beyond. However, in this current conjuncture, I am particularly inspired and encouraged by my co-advisor, Dr. Jiyeon Kang. The pandemic has been a challenging time to be a graduate student. Navigating simultaneous catastrophes on a variety of scales makes it difficult to exist in the world. Dr. Kang has gone above and beyond in advocating for other graduate students and me, in addition to centering the humanity and reality of doing this work. The pandemic rages on and other global events unfold. It would be so much easier to compartmentalize our work from what else is happening around the globe. Dr. Kang turns into these issues and has encouraged me throughout this process as I pursue my personal and contemporarily resonate scholarship. I have immense gratitude for the ways she has pushed me and fortified my work.
Q: How has your graduate experience shaped your career goals?
A: Through my interactions with the Obermann Center and the variety of opportunities I’ve had to develop my research, my graduate experience has opened more doors than I thought possible. While I still have a strong interest in being a professor, since I enjoy teaching and research, working with public humanities practitioners at the university has revealed alternative pathways I hadn’t anticipated when I started grad school. I have been able to participate in programs such as the Humanities Without Walls Summer Career Diversity Workshop and learned about various vocations such as museum and community education. These are now all options I am considering and would not otherwise had I not connected with the growing public humanities movement at Iowa and across the academy. All in all, I hope to find a career space that lets me continue to disrupt pervasive racist discourses and have a direct impact on communities.
Q: If you could go back to a time at the beginning of your graduate career, what advice would you give yourself?
A: Get a hobby!! Graduate school is only one small piece of the bigger picture. I have nurtured my love of cooking and food, which has provided an essential escape from the intensity of pursuing a doctoral degree. Having interests beyond my research and life as a graduate student keeps me grounded. Plus, the more delicious food I can eat, the better.