James S. Lai is an Associate Professor who holds a joint appointment with the Ethnic Studies Program and the Department of Political Science at Santa Clara University. Dr. Lai served as the Director of the Ethnic Studies Program from 2008 to 2014.

Dr. Lai received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Southern California (2000) and his M.A. in Asian American Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles (1992). His teaching and research interests and specialties include U.S. racial and ethnic politics, U.S. immigration, Asian American politics, urban politics, community studies, and California state and local politics. In 2011, Dr. Lai published his book, Asian American Political Action: Suburban Transformations (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers), which examines the demographic shifts and the rise of Asian American political incorporation in small to medium size suburbs throughout the continental United States. Since 1992, Dr. Lai has served as the Associate Editor of the bi-annual publication National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac, the nation’s most comprehensive political guide on Asian American politics (UCLA Asian American Studies Press).

Dr. Lai has commentated on race, immigration, and politics in state, national, and international media such as NPR’s “California Report” and “Forum,” the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, China Daily News, World Journal, the New York Times, and CNN.

Research Fellow
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