2022 Great Immigrants Recipient: Karen Nakamura

July 4, 2022

The Great Immigrants is a program created by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, hosted every Fourth of July. The program is meant to honor the legacy of their founder Andrew Carnegie by recognizing an extraordinary group of immigrants who have made notable contributions to the progress of American society. This year Karen Nakamura, Professor of Anthropology, here at UC Berkeley, was selected as one of the 34 honorees.

An anthropologist working at the intersection of race, gender, disability, and mental illness, Karen Nakamura uses a range of avenues to share her research, including books, films, photography, and teaching.

Nakamura is the Robert and Colleen Haas Distinguished Chair in Disability Studies and professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on disability rights, transgender rights, and other minority social movements in contemporary Japan.

“While I don’t think it’s reasonable to think that the United States will ever be as progressive [as] Japan regarding disabilities, I do think there’s still much we can learn from other countries,” said Nakamura, who takes an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach to her work. “That’s the point of anthropology.”

Nakamura was born in Indonesia and grew up in Australia, Japan, and the United States. She has received several honors for her work, including the John Whitney Hall Book Prize, the SVA Short Film Award, and the David Plath Media Award.

Carnegie Corporation of New York