October 2015 Spotlight, Linda Juang, Ph.D.

The SRCD Asian Caucus Spotlight is delighted to introduce Dr. Linda Juang (juang@uni-potsdam.de) at the University of Potsdam, Germany. Based on an ecological systems perspective, Dr.Juang‘s research focuses on the adaption and adjustment of adolescents and college students of immigrant background within the contexts of family, school, and community. She is interested in how three key immigration-related issues–parent and adolescent acculturation, ethnic identity, and racial/ethnic discrimination–relate to adolescent well-being and health.



Personal Spotlight

We asked scholars to describe one of the following: a) what drew them to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) who was an important mentor to them in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field? c) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in their area.  

Over 20 years ago when I was in graduate school studying developmental psychology, I remember reading theories and studies of child and adolescent development and sometimes feeling like something was missing. One thing that stuck in my head was the focus on autonomy development during adolescence. During adolescence I did become more independent from my parents, but my parents were immigrants from Taiwan. I, on the other hand, was born and raised in Minnesota. It was clear that my parents did not allow me the same level of autonomy as my European American friends’ parents. So by the time I was in graduate school reading about adolescent development, my own experiences made me wonder what was considered “normative” and how my parents and I were different from my school friends’ families. In my third year of graduate school I read a study by Shirley Feldman and Doreen Rosenthal that compared autonomy development expectations among Asian, Asian American, and European American adolescents. I loved their work. It highlighted the importance of culture and immigration to understanding human development and family relations. It was a happy discovery to find researchers studying specific issues that I had thought about for a while, and led me to want to better understand adolescent development among Asian Americans and other ethnic minorities with immigrant backgrounds. In the last 20 years, the field has changed so much. Psychology studies that focus on Asian Americans are growing every year. Still, most studies with Asian Americans involve emerging and young adults, and fewer on infants and children and those in old age (Kim, Shen, Hou, Tilton, Juang, & Wang, in press). So there is more to do. As the Asian-heritage population continues to grow in the United States, knowledge about Asian American development throughout the lifespan, especially at the beginning and towards the later part of life, is needed.

Kim, S.Y., Shen, Y., Hou, Y., Tilton, K., Juang, L.P. & Wang, Y. (in press). Annual review of Asian American Psychology, 2014.Asian American Journal of Psychology.

Research Spotlight

We also asked scholars to describe a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it.  Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other understudied populations; d) practice or policy relevance.

One thing I am working on and very excited about is developing an Asian American Parental Racial-Ethnic Socialization scale with colleagues (Su Yeong Kim, Yishan Shen, and Yijie Wang) who also study Asian American families. Most research in this area has focused on African American families and we know much less about what goes on in Asian American families. Preparing children to deal with discrimination by speaking English without an accent, maintaining transnational ties to family in Asia, socializing children to understand that parents have made important sacrifices to come to the United States, and facilitating integration into the broader community and culture are important socialization practices not addressed in current racial-ethnic socialization measures. As the world becomes increasingly diverse and socially interconnected, it will be important to understand better how and what parents are teaching their children regarding issues of culture, ethnicity, and race. I hope the development of this scale will contribute to this. I have two boys who are of Taiwanese, German, and American heritage. We now live in Berlin. Moving from California to Berlin has sparked new conversations with my children about discrimination, cultural differences, and the importance (and fun!) of having friends with diverse backgrounds. So understanding racial-ethnic socialization is not just an academic interest, but a very personal one as well.

Upcoming Talks/Presentations

I am organizing a conference on Cultural Diversity, Migration, and Education to be held in Potsdam, Germany in July, 2016. The aim of the conference is to better understand how issues related to migration contribute to children’s educational experiences. We hope to highlight research and policies showing what students, families, teachers, and schools can do to promote educational success in increasingly culturally diverse societies. This is a very timely topic given the influx of refugees in Germany, throughout Europe, and the recent report that 14% of Americans are foreign-born, an almost all-time high that is set to increase over the next 50 years (Pew Research Center,  2015).

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