Wei Li


(480) 727-6556
Wilson 362


Wei Li’s research and teaching focus on urban ethnicity and ethnic geography, highly-skilled international migration and transnational connections, as well as financial sector and minority community development, focusing on the Chinese and other Asian groups in the Pacific Rim.

Li coined the term “ethnoburb” to describe a new form of contemporary suburban Asian settlements, and continues her studies in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, Metropolitan Phoenix, Toronto, and Vancouver, Canada.  She has also studied the impacts of Hurricane Katrina on African American and Vietnamese American communities in New Orleans East, financial institutions and immigrant community development in Canada and the United States. A growing area of focus is international migration of students, PhD recipients and highly-skilled laborers whose original homes are in Asia as well as Brazil and Russia.

Her research has been funded by US National Science Foundation, Canada-US Fulbright Foundation, the government of Canada, and The National Bureau of Asian Research, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and she is currently funded as a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar.

Research Interests

Immigration and integration, geography of race/ethnicity, comparative urban ethnicity, Asian American community development, ethnic finance, highly-skilled international migration and transnational connections.

Current Research Activities

2013 – 2015 CLAS Research Scholarship, “US-China Science, Technology and Education Exchanges: Retrospective and Prospective”, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University’

2011-2012 Research Grant, "“The Experiences of Migrants from the BRIC Countries (EMBRIC)” Institute for Humanities Research, ASU

2009 - 2013 Research Grant, "Financial Institution and Immigrant Integration in the U.S. and Canada" (Wei Li, Principal Investigator) National Science Foundation (NSF), $224,272

Highly-skilled Indian and Chinese migration across the Atlantic and the Pacific

Surviving Katrina and its aftermath: A comparative analysis of community mobilization and access to emergency relief by Vietnamese Americans and African Americans in an Eastern New Orleans suburb

Additional Affiliation(s)

Professor, Asian Pacific American Studies, School of Social Transformation

Affiliate Faculty: Center for Asian Research, Center for Population Dynamics

Awards and Honors

2014 - AAG Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors, Association of American Geographers (AAG)

2014 - Writing Residency Fellow, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center

2012 - Distinguished Ethnic Geography CAREER Award, and Distinguished Scholar of Ethnic Geography; Ethnic Geography Specialty Group, Association of American Geographers

2011-12 - IHR fellow, Institution of Humanity Research, ASU

2011- Book Award in Social Sciences, Association for Asian American Studies, for Ethnoburb: The New Ethnic Community in Urban America, 2009

2010 - National Asia Research Associate, The National Bureau of Asian Research and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

1999 - Nystrom Dissertation Award, Association of American Geographers

Selected Publications


Teixeira, C.and W. Li. (2015). The Housing and Economic Experiences of Immigrants in North American Cities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (in press).

Teixeira, C., W. Li and A. Kobayashi eds. (2011). Immigrant Geographies of North American Cities. Oxford University Press Canada.

Li, W. (2009). Ethnoburb: the New Ethnic Community in Urban America. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. (2009 Social Science Book Award, Association for Asian American Studies)

Li, W. ed. (2006). From Urban Enclave to Ethnic Suburb: new Asian communities in Pacific Rim countries. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Kaplan, D. and W. Li. eds. (2006). Landscapes of the Ethnic Economy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Journal Special Issues

Teixeira, C. and W. Li. (2009). “The Experiences of Immigrants and Refugees in North American Cities” (Guest editors, Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies 7(3))

Li, W. and C. Teixeira. (2007).“Immigrants and Transnational Experiences in World Cities” (Guest editors, GeoJournal 68: 2-3)

Journal Articles

Li,W. and W. Yu. (2015). Resurging Asia and Highly-Skilled International Migration. Verge: Studies in Global Asias. Inaugural issue (in press).

Li,W. and W. Yu. (2014). Internationalization of Geography PhD Education. GeoJournal (DOI: 10.1007/s10708-014-9579-1)

Sadowski-Smith, C. and Li,W. (2014). The Racialization of Highly-Skilled BRIC Migrants in the Mexico-US Borderlands. Population, Space and Place (DOI: 10.1002/psp.1868)

Li,W. , Lo, L., and Oberle, A. (2014). Bank Branch Network and Service to Immigrants. The Canadian Geographer 58(1): 48-62

Li, W. and W. Yu. (2012). Between China and the United States: Contemporary Migration Policies and Flows. AAPI Nexus: Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Policy, Practice and Community 10(1): 1-20.

Li, W. and L. Lo.  (2012). New Geographies of Migration? A Canada-US Comparison of Highly-Skilled Chinese and Indian Migration. Journal of Asian American Studies 15(1): 1-34.

Li, W. and E. Skop. (2010). Diasporas in the U.S. – Indians and Chinese Compared. Journal of Overseas Chinese. 6(2): 286-310

Dymski, G. W.Li, C. Aldana, and H. H. Ahn. (2010). Ethnobanking in the United States: From Antidiscrimination Vehicles to Transnational Entities. International Journal of Business & Globalisation 4(2): 163-191

Li., W. andL. Lo. (2009). Highly-skilled Indian Migration in Canada and the US: the Tale of Two Immigration Systems. International Migration and Diaspora Studies Working Paper Series 4-6: 1-24.

Li, W. (2009). Changing Immigration, Settlement and Identities in the Pacific Rim. New Zealand Population Review 33(1): 69-93.

C. Teixeira and W. Li. (2009). Introduction: Immigrant and Refugee Experiences in North American Cities. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies 7(3): 221–227.

Li, W., C. Airriess, A. Chia-Chen Chen, K. Leong, and V. Keith.  (2010). Katrina and Migration: Evacuation and Return in an Eastern New Orleans Suburb by African Americans and Vietnamese Americans. Professional Geographer 62(1): 103-118.

Li, W., A. Oberle, and G. Dymski. (2009). Global Banking and Financial Services to Immigrants in Canada and the United States. Journal of International Migration and Integration / Revue de l'integration et de la migration internationale, 10(2): 1-29.

Li, W., C. Airriess, A. Chia-Chen Chen, K. L. Leong, V. Keith, and K. Adams. (2008). Surviving Katrina and its Aftermath: A comparative analysis of community mobilization and access to emergency relief by Vietnamese Americans and African Americans in an Eastern New Orleans Suburb. Journal of Cultural Geography, 25(3): 263-286.

Airriess, C., W.Li, K. J. Leong, A. Chia-Chen Chen, and V. Keith. (2008). Church-Based Social Capital, Networks and Geographical Scale: Katrina Evacuation, Relocation, and Recovery in a New Orleans Vietnamese American Community. GeoForum 39(3): 1333-1346.

Foote, K., W. Li, J. Monk, and R. Theobald. (2008). Foreign-born Scholars in U.S. Universities: Issues, Concerns, and Strategies. Journal of Geography in Higher Education 32(2): 167-178.

Leong, K. J., Airriess, C. A., Li, W., Chen, A. C., & Keith, V. (2007). Resilient History and the Rebuilding of a Community: The Vietnamese American Community in New Orleans East. The Journal of American History. 2007, 79-88.

Li, W., & Teixeira, C. (2007). Immigrants and Transnational Experiences in World Cities. GeoJournal , 68(2-3):93-102.

Book Chapters

Yu, W., W. Li and X. Li (2014). Experiences of Chinese Students in the United States. In Wang, Huiyao and Miao Luu eds. Annual Report on the Development of Chinese Students Studying Abroad (2014), (pp. 74-89). Beijing: Social Science Academic Press (in Chinese)

Yu, W. and W. Li. (2014).Globalization, Immigration, and Ethnoburbs. In Kristin Good, Phil Triadafilopoulos, and Luc Turgeon eds. Segmented Cities? How Urban Contexts Shape Ethnic and Nationalist Politics. (pp. 115-139). University of British Columbia Press.

Yu, W., W. Li and K. Li (2012).The Chinese in the United States in the 21st Century. In Qiu Jin, Zhang Yudong, Luo Keren and Li Minghuan eds. Annual Report on Overseas Chinese Study 2012, Blue Book of Overseas Chinese, (pp. 47-79). Beijing: Social Science Academic Press (in Chinese)

Li, W. and W. Yu. (2012). Racialized Assimilation? Globalization, Transnational Connections, and US Immigration. Revised/updated chapter, in J. Frazier, E. Tettey-Fio, and N. Henry, eds. Race, Ethnicity, and Place in a Changing America 2nd edition, (pp.33-44). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press

Kobayashi, A., W. Li, and C. Teixeira. (2011). Introduction. Immigrant Geographies: Issues and Debates (pp. xv-xl) and L. Lo and W. Li, Economic Experiences of Immigrants (pp. 112 – 137). In Immigrant Geographies in North American Cities, C. Teixeira, W. Li, and A. Kobayashieds., Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Zeng, W. and W. Li. (2009) Chinese Week: Building Chinese American Community through Festivity in Metropolitan Phoenix. In Ling, H. ed. Asian America: Forming New Communities, Expanding Boundaries,(pp.154-178). NJ: Rutgers Press.

Oberle, A. & Li, W. (2008). Divergent Trajectories: Asian and Latino immigration in Metropolitan Phoenix. In Singer, A., Hardwick, S. & Brettell, C. eds. Suburban Immigrant Gateways: Immigration and Incorporation in New U.S. Metropolitan Destinations (pp.85-102). Washington D.C.: Brookings. Institution (2008)

Li, W., & Skop, E. (2007). Enclaves, Ethnoburbs,and New Patterns of Settlement among Asian immigrants. In Zhou, M. & Gatewood, J. eds. Contemporary Asian America: A multi-disciplinary reader 2nd Edition (pp.222-236). New York: New York University Press.

Leong, K. J., Airriess, C. A., Keith, V., Chen, A. C., Li, W., Wang, Y. & Adams, K. (2007). From Invisibility to Hypervisibility: The Complexity of Race, Survival, and Resiliency for the Vietnamese American Community in Eastern New Orleans. In Swan, R. & Bates, K. eds. Through the Eye of Katrina: Social Justice in the United States, (pp.169-185). Durham: Carolina Academic Press.

Li, W., & Dymski, G. (2007). Globally Connected and Locally Embedded Financial Institutions: Analyzing the ethnic Chinese banking sector. In Fong, E. ed., Chinese Ethnic Economy: Global and Local Perspectives (pp.35-63). London: Routledge.


Outreach and Service

Professor Li was chair of the U.S. Census Advisory Committee on the Asian Population. Since 2003 she has served on the U.S. Census Bureau's Census Race and Ethnic Advisory Committee, has taken several leadership roles with this group (2003)-2012), and is one of the inagural members of the Bureau's new National Advisory Committee on Race, Ethnnic, and Other Populations. She is a member of the International Steering Committee of the International Metropolis Project. Locally, she serves on the Arizona Attorney General's Asian American Community Justice Council and Senior Advisory council.

She speaks to community groups on her area of expertise, and has been interviewed by or appreared at AZ Horizon, CBC Radio, PBS, Radio Canada and World Journal.

In addition, she is currently a member of Nomination Committee of the Association of American Geographers (AAG), and was president of the Population Specialty Group and past chair of  Ethnic Geography Specialty Group for AAG, a member of several other AAG committees, and serves on university and college committees.


1997 - Ph.D. (Geography) University of Southern California
1985 - M.S. (Geography) Peking University
1982 - B.S. (Geography) Beijing Normal College