CRES Lecturers and Postdocs

Samantha Ikehara
  • Pronouns she, her, her, hers, herself
  • Title
    • UC President's and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Remote work location, Zoom
  • Mail Stop Humanities Academic Services

Research Interests

Asian American studies; militarism, war, and empire in United States, Asia, and the Pacific Islands; Indigeneity, diaspora, and settler colonialism; ecocriticism, the environmental humanities, and feminist critical race science and technology studies; the body, gender, and sexuality; violence, justice, and human rights; memory and history

Biography, Education and Training

          Both sides of my family have been entangled in the operations of U.S. and Japanese empire for generations: living, moving, settling, and passing during and after hot and cold wars across Asia and the Pacific Islands. My life work is thus dedicated to elucidating the inner and afterlives of U.S.-Japanese interimperialism. Central to this work is my personal commitment to researching and writing about legacies of war and militarism in Hawaiʻi, where I was born and raised, and Okinawa, where my family comes from.

          My current book project, Atmospheres of Relief: Air and Militarism in the Pacific Ocean, investigates air across Asia and the Pacific Islands as a site of U.S.-Japanese interimperial violence that is actively contested through movements for demilitarization and sovereignty built around air, breath, and wind. My research has been supported by multiple fellowships from the University of Southern California and was awarded the Best Graduate Student Paper Award from the Association of Asian American Studies and an honorable mention from the American Studies Association's Gene Wise-Warren Award. It has also been published in Verge: Studies in Global Asias and Critical Ethnic Studies Journal.

          In addition to research and teaching, I engage with the community through my ongoing involvement in demilitarization work. I serve as treasurer for the local nonprofit organization Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice and I am also on its board. I am a lead organizer with Hawaiʻi Okinawa Alliance (HOA) and a member of Women's Voices, Women Speak, the Hawaiʻi chapter of the International Women's Network Against Militarism, and the Oʻahu Water Protectors. Through my work with each of these groups, I advance my commitment to weaving and uplifting networks international networks of solidarity against militarism across Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Honors, Awards and Grants

2022, Wise-Warren Susman Prize Honorable Mention, American Studies Association

2022, Best Graduate Student Paper, Association of Asian American Studies

2022, Graduate Student Fellowship, USC East Asian Studies

2021, Teaching Mentored Fellowship, USC Center for Excellence in Teaching

2021, ACE-Nikaido Fellowship, USC East Asian Studies

2021, Summer Writing Fellowship, USC Center for Transpacific Studies

2021, Research Travel Fund, USC Center for Transpacific Studies

Selected Publications

Ikehara, Sam. “Wish You Were Here” published in “Field Trip: Materialities of Empire in a More-than-Human World,” edited by Heidi Amin-Hong and Keva X. Bui. Verge: Studies in Global Asias 8, no. 2 (2022): 70-74.


Ikehara, Sam, Hiʻilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart, Erin Suzuki, and Aimee Bahng. “The Transpacific in Relation Anticolonial Solidarities and Feminist Collaboration.” Critical Ethnic Studies Journal 7, no. 2 (Fall 2021):