Faculty Portrait

Contact Information

Name: William Gow, Ph.D. (he/him)

Title: Assistant Professor

Office Location: 554A Amador Hall

Email: william.gow@csus.edu

Office Phone: 916.278.6646

Office Hours: Zoom: 4-5pm T/Th and by Appointment


  • ETHN 11 Introduction to Ethnic Studies
  • ETHN 14 Introduction to Asian American Studies
  • ETHN 113 Asian American Communities
  • ETHN 125 Race & Intersectionality in Film
  • ETHN 195A/B Seminar and Field Work
  • ETHN 203 Ethnic Studies Contemporary Issues
  • ETHN 204 Ehnic Studies Foundations and Theories

About Dr. Gow

William Gow is a California-based community historian, educator, and documentary filmmaker.  A fourth-generation Chinese American and a proud graduate of the San Francisco Unified School District, he holds an M.A. in Asian American Studies from UCLA and a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies with a designated emphasis in Film Studies from UC Berkeley. Before joining the faculty at Sacramento State, he taught Asian American Studies courses at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and UCLA.


His first documentary, More to the Chinese Side, co-directed with Sharon Heijin Lee, was nominated for the Golden Reel Award at the Los Angeles Asian American Film Festival in 2003. The documentary is a first-person examination of Dr. Gow's biracial identity and his parents' interracial marriage.

He is a volunteer historian and former board member at the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California (CHSSC), a non-profit organization in Los Angeles Chinatown. In 2007, he directed the CHSSC's Chinatown Remembered Project, which paired youth interns with community elders to document the history of Chinatown in the 1930s and 1940s. He is currently co-director of The Five Chinatowns Project for the CHSSC.

Dr. Gow' forthcoming book, Performing Chinatown: Hollywood, Tourism, and the Making of a Chinese American Community is sheduled for release by Stanford University Press in May of 2024. The book examines Los Angeles Chinatown and its relationship to Hollywood cinema in the 1930s and 1940s. In 2019, the Western History Association awarded him the Vicki Ruiz Award for best journal article on race in the North American West for his piece, “A Night in Old Chinatown: American Orientalism, China Relief Fundraising, and the 1938 Moon Festival in Los Angeles,” published in Pacific Historical Review.

In his free time, Dr. Gow enjoys spending time with his two boys, watching independent films, and cheering on his two favorite soccer teams, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Sacramento Republic.


Teaching Philosophy

Dr. Gow is a strong believer in collaborative student-centered learning. His courses utilize a social constructivist learning model that encourages students to learn through interaction with one another.

Prior to entering his doctoral program, Dr. Gow spent nearly a decade teaching history and social studies in California public schools including Nightingale Middle School, Santa Monica High School, and Berkeley High School. As a lecturer at Stanford University, the Asian American Activities Center awarded him it’s faculty award for his teaching, mentorship, and service.

Select Publications

"Chinatown Pastiche: The Chinese Village at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition," Journal of Urban History, Vol 50, No. 2 (March 2024)

"I am Chinese: The Politics of Chinese American Label Buttons Los Angeles During World War II," Western Historical Quarterly Vol. 53 Issues 1 (Spring, 2022), 47-75.

"Chinese Railroad Workers in American History Textbooks: A Historical Genealogy, 1849-1965 in Chinese and the Iron Road, edited by Gordon H. Chang and Shelly Fisher Fishkin (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2019).

"A Night in Old Chinatown: American Orientalism, China Relief Fundraising, and the 1938 Moon Festival in Los Angeles," Pacific Historical Review, Volume, 87, No. 3, Summer 2018, 439-472.

"Building A Chinese Village in Los Angeles: Christine Sterling and the Residents of China City," Gum Saan Journal, Volume 32, No, 1., 2010, 39-53. 

"How My Great-Grandfather Lost His Name: Reflections on Doing Chinese American Genealogical Research," Amerasia Journal, Volume 34, No. 1, 2008, 163-170.



Review of The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky: A History of the Chinese Experience in Montana by Mark Johnson, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol 114, No 1, Winter 2023.

Review of Asian Americans, series producer Rene Tajima-Pena, pproduced by S. Leo Chiang, Geeta Gandbhir, and Grace Lee, PBS, 2020, 5 Episodes, 296 mins, American Historical Review, Vol 126, Issue 1, March, 2021.

Review of Anna May Wong: Performing the Modern by Shirley Jennifer Lim, Pacific Historical Review, Volume 89, No.1, 2020, 137-138.


Featured In the Media

Jennifer K. Morita, "Student documentary showcase focuses on Asian Pacific Islanders grappling with the pandemic, rise in hate crimes," Sacramento State Newsroom, April 27th, 2023.

Constance Grady, "A reading list to understand anti-Asian American racism in America," Vox March 18, 2021. 

PHR Award Winner Discusses the History of History of Chinese American Performance and the Future of Asian American Studies, UC Press Blog, November 27, 2020.



Podcast Appearances

Vivan Le producer, "The Chinatown Punk Wars," 99% Invisible, February 10, 2023.

Avishay Artsy, Katie Dunham, Greg Hise, Jessica Kim, Elizabeth Logan, Olivia Ramirez, Li Wei Yang, and Stephanie Yi producers, "LA Chinatown: What is Chinatown?" Western Edition, May 24, 2022.


Interviews with Student Journalists

Beibei Xu, "Hollywood Star, Anna May Wong Becomes First Asian American on US Coin, Trill Magazine, October 25, 2022.

Rebecca Zhang, "Lecturer's departure renews concerns over lack of tenured Asian American Studies faculty,"  Stanford Daily, August 18, 2021.

Olivia Higa and Therese Santiago hosts, K(no)w History, K(no)w Self, Podcast. June 7, 2021

Rachel Oh, "A longitudinal look into anti-Asian hate incidents on campus and in the US, Stanford Daily, April 20, 2021.