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(3/6/21) The Story of Cantonese at Stanford

· Campaign,Stanford,Event

(Update 3/12) The video and slides of the event, co-sponsored with SAPAAC Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club are uploaded below.

About the Event

Despite an ongoing campaign to “Save Cantonese” from budget cuts at Stanford University, the fate of the Cantonese language program remains uncertain. Join Dr. Sik Lee Dennig (PhD '92), Dr. Jamie Tam ('10), and Dr. Gina Tam (PhD '16) as they discuss the historical and cultural legacy of the language and the challenges it faces today.

To understand the future for the Cantonese language, the panel will first look to its long cultural and political history, tracing it from its roots in Guangdong (Canton) to a vast global diaspora. The panel will then share the story of Cantonese at Stanford University, focusing on student-led efforts to create the program in 1997; its development over the next two decades; and current efforts to protect Cantonese education for future generations.

Co-Sponsored by the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club and Save Cantonese.

(Update 3/12) Event Media

  • Dr. Gina Tam: Cantonese: A Brief View from History (PDF slides)
  • Dr. Sik Lee Dennig (張老師) on “The Cantonese Program at Stanford: Past, Present & Future” (PDF slides)
  • Dr. Jamie Tam on “Saving Cantonese: A Community Movement” (PDF slides)

About the Panelists

Jamie Tam is an alum of Stanford’s Cantonese program from the Class of 2010 and is one of the leaders behind the campaign to Save Cantonese at Stanford. She is also the founder of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Cantonese, a social media-based language education initiative that aims to equip members of the Cantonese diaspora with language skills for conversations around racial justice. She is an Assistant Professor of Health Policy at the Yale School of Public Health.

A native of Hong Kong, Sik Lee Dennig (Ph.D. ‘92) studied education and linguistics at Stanford. She has taught language and linguistic courses to students of different ages in Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, and the United States. At Stanford, she has taught Cantonese for over 20 years and done research on how heritage speakers maintain and develop Cantonese. Her teaching and research have highlighted the role of sociopolitical context and the interconnectedness between language and identity in heritage language learning.

Gina Anne Tam received her Ph.D. in Chinese history from Stanford University in 2016, and is an alum of the Stanford Cantonese program. She is currently an assistant professor of history at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Her first book, Dialect and Nationalism in China, 1860-1960, traces the significance of local languages in China, including Cantonese, to the making of Chinese national identity.


Date: Saturday, March 06, 2021
Time: 5-6:30 PM Pacific Time
Price: Free, registration required

Registration for Stanford alumni (requires Alumni log-in): REGISTER HERE
Registration for non-Stanford alumni: REGISTER HERE