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American Peril: Imagining the Foreign Threat Portrait Preview & Panel Discussion

  • 60 mins

Nov 9 • 11am-12pm
University of Pennsylvania, Irvine Building, Cafe 58
(Free Event)

In November 2018, PAAFF in collaboration with JACL Philadelphia mounted a special exhibit titled, American Peril: Imagining the Foreign Threat. Hosted at Twelve Gates Arts gallery, this exhibit displayed more than 40 original prints of anti-Asian propaganda in the United States from the 1870s to the present day.

After an incredibly successful exhibit run that saw over 500 attendees in the span of a single month, we have decided to expand the project to include a series of portrait photographs of individuals who were directly affected by negative propaganda artifacts similar to those in the exhibit. By confronting audiences with the human impact of such propaganda, our hope is that exhibit attendees will better understand the ongoing and harmful nature of racial propaganda.

Phase II of the American Peril exhibit will be shown in Philadelphia City Hall February – March 2020, and this event will feature the unveiling of the first two portraits from the series. Join photographer Justin L. Chiu, exhibit curator Rob Buscher, and two of the portrait subjects for a compelling dialogue about the current political climate that inspired this project and a broader dialogue about the role of art in advocacy.

Dr. Fariha Khan is the Associate Director of the Asian American Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania where she also teaches courses on South Asians in the U.S, Asian American Communities, Asian American Food, as well as Muslim Identity in America. She received a Master’s degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Yale University and a PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. Her current research focuses on South Asian American Muslims and the Asian American community. Actively involved in the Philadelphia community, Dr. Khan is Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia Folklore Project and serves on the Board of Directors of the Samuel S. Fels Fund. She was appointed in 2015 to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Masaru Ed Nakawatase, a third generation Japanese American, was born in an American concentration camp in Poston, Arizona. Ed grew up in Seabrook, New Jersey, the son of plant workers at Seabrook Farms. In 1963 at age 20, Ed dropped out of college and headed to Atlanta as a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee staff member, which began his lifelong activism. Ed spent almost a year and a half in Atlanta before returning to New Jersey to finish his studies and continue his social activism. He was active in the anti-war movement in the 60s and 70s, the redress movement around the internment of Japanese Americans and spent more than three decades as the national representative for Native American Affairs for the American Friends Service Committee, active in many pivotal moments of the American Indian Movement as well. Ed currently serves as a board member of Philadelphia based civil rights group Asian Americans United and is an active member of the Japanese American Citizens League Philadelphia Chapter.

Justin L. Chiu is an architectural, portrait, and travel photographer whose work compassionately and expressively captures the people, culture, and scenes around him. He has collaborated on permanent installations in Shanghai at 3-star Michelin restaurant Ultraviolet and at both IAPM Mall and Jing An Kerry Centre. He has worked with brands such as Nike, McDonalds, Starbucks, Architectural Digest, Marriott Group, and Hyatt Group. Justin has also pursued personal projects with The Renewal Center in Shanghai, a homeless shelter aimed to help displaced people gain employment, stability, and a permanent home, as well as Vocatio in Philadelphia, a career prep high school providing high quality, comprehensive academic and vocational programs for young adults. He is active in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community through organizations such as the Taiwanese American Foundation and the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. More of his work can be seen at

Rob Buscher, Festival Director at Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, is a film and media specialist, educator, arts administrator, and published author who has worked in non-profit arts organizations for over a decade. As a person of multi-racial Japanese American heritage who is deeply involved in his community, Rob also has an expertise in cultural sensitivity training, community organizing, and advocacy issues related to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.