This series will feature conversations on diverse topics in entrepreneurship by faculty and students. It is a forum showcasing emerging research, published work, and policy conversations related to entrepreneurship. (Bring Your Own Lunch)
Entrepreneurship and the Korean immigrant experience
This talk explores immigrant entrepreneurship as a window to understanding larger changes in the U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s. As Americans faced a scarcity of economic opportunities, the disproportionately high participation of Korean immigrants in entrepreneurship drew interest from academic researchers. The talk specifically discusses how sociologists studied the changing nature of small business entrepreneurship from an equal opportunity path to mobility to a site of inequality and precarity. The 1970s and 1980s thus saw the humble immigrant entrepreneur reinvented as a deeply ambivalent figure. Still part of American life, it evoked a dream not entirely extinguished, but increasingly symbolized the strife and uncertainty of an era of malaise.
About Shelley Lee
Shelley Lee is a Professor of American Studies and an affiliate of Urban Studies at Brown University. Prior to joining Brown, she was a Professor of History and chair of Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College. Her scholarship and teaching focus on the histories of immigration, race relations, Asian Americans, and U.S. cities during the twentieth century. Her articles have been published in journals such as Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, the Journal of Asian American Studies, and the Western Historical Quarterly, and books include Koreatown, Los Angeles: Race, Immigration, and the American Dream (Stanford University Press, 2022); A New History of Asian America (Routledge 2013) and Claiming the Oriental Gateway: Prewar Seattle and Japanese America (Temple University Press, 2011). Other writings on subjects from college student activism to the Me Too movement in higher ed have been published in online venues such as Ms. Magazine, Inside Higher Ed, and Salon. Lee also consults widely on K-12 initiatives to develop curricula in Asian American studies. She is working on a project about the history of undocumented Asians in the United States.