Publications & CV

2023 [published 2024] Yin, Cheryl. "Cambodian Refugees and Michigan Sponsors: One Story of Non-Kin Relationships in Refugee Resettlement." American Studies 62, (4): 121-144. (Access Here).

This autoethnographic essay recounts my mother’s harrowing journey out of Cambodia, a multiyear, multicountry trek spanning two continents, ultimately terminating in California. The penultimate destination was a rural, farming community in mid-Michigan, where, for one year, my family resettled as Cambodian refugees with the help of church sponsorship. Threading together their Michigan memories, I provide readers a glimpse into how my family coped with living in a new country after facing trauma. This includes personal accounts about their relationship with the Michigan sponsors who helped them adapt to their new life. I reflect on my own childhood and upbringing in California and contrast it with my imaginings of what Michigan was like based on my mother’s stories about her time there. When I finally move to Michigan as an adult to pursue a PhD, I discuss my own relationship with my mother’s sponsors and finally hear their side of the sponsorship story. In sharing my family history, I want to shine a light on Michigan’s little-known role in refugee sponsorship, question preconceived notions people might have about the Midwest, and inspire others to do more research on refugee-sponsor relationships. I end with suggestions on how these personal narratives might inform—and even challenge—current approaches in critical refugee studies, ethnic studies, area studies, and regional studies.

2020 Yin, Cheryl. "“Khmer Has No Grammar Rules”: Metapragmatic Commentaries and Linguistic Anxiety in Cambodia." Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 13 (4): 93-111. (Access Here

Despite being the official language of the Cambodia, some Cambodians believe that the Khmer language is dying or deteriorating. Some lament the corruption of the language, pointing to language mistakes they notice in both spoken and written form. Others surmise that, with the prevalence of international schools, Khmer will cease to exist as the younger generation prefers to speak English over Khmer. In light of Cambodia’s recent history of war and isolation to today’s globalization and open market economy, I argue that while such metapragmatic commentaries reflect local anxiety about language, they also reflect fears beyond language, fears about the changing cultural, economic, and political landscape in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime. These narratives simultaneously look to the past as well as into the future. Such discourses ignore the plight of indigenous and minority languages within Cambodia, which have vastly fewer speakers and less institutional power. I end my paper with a brief discussion comparing Khmer’s dominance over minority languages with Cambodian panic over similar foreign language encroachment onto Khmer.

2020 Yin, Cheryl. “How I Became a Chenchhow in America.” Chinese America: History & Perspectives – The Journal of the Chinese Historical Society of America. Special Focus on Chinese Cambodian Americans: 11-21 (Access Here

Through several interweaving vignettes across time and space, Cheryl Yin provides a glimpse into her upbringing as the daughter of Chinese Cambodian refugees in the United States. She not only reveals her personal struggles with identity and belonging, but also reflects on the cultural and linguistic challenges her family faced immigrating from China, adapting to life in Cambodia, and living under the Khmer Rouge regime. She hopes her and her family’s stories, of migration and travel, of language learning, and of honoring one’s ancestors, will provide a nuanced understanding of what it means to be Chinese Cambodian American.

CurriculumVitae short 2021-08-16.pdf