A specialist in Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies, Professor Borja studies and teaches about religion, migration, race and ethnicity, and political development. Her work is animated by a deep fascination with religious pluralism and how Americans have understood and attempted to manage religious difference. She is especially interested in how religious difference has figured into constructions of racial and ethnic difference and how people have handled religious difference in the public square and in private.
Prof. Borja explores these themes in her book, To Follow the New Way: Hmong Refugee Resettlement and American Religious Pluralism, which is currently under contract with Harvard University Press. In the book, she shows how refugee resettlement in the United States shaped the religious beliefs, practices, and identities of Hmong refugees from Laos. The book argues that refugee resettlement policies changed Hmong religious life despite sincere efforts on the part of government and voluntary agencies to make refugee assistance a pluralistic and religiously neutral enterprise. Ultimately, the book reveals the religious repercussions of the entanglement of church and state, as well as the challenges of putting ideals of religious pluralism into practice.
Prof. Borja will teach courses on migration and pluralism at the UM. These include “Introduction to APIA Studies” and “Asian American History”. She looks forward to using these courses to both educate students about APIA life, but also to train students in the practices of doing archival and oral history research to document the changing ethno-racial and religious demographics of their community.
Prof. Borja is the daughter of Filipino immigrants, and is a native of Michigan. She was educated at Harvard, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University. Before becoming an academic, she was a sixth grade teacher, and even now, she volunteers on the weekends to work with young children. We are extremely fortunate to have such an engaging teacher and researcher join us at the UM!