Christian Directo image.jpg
Nov. 19, 2020

Christian Directo completed his BA in Asian and Asian American Studies in 2019, with a dual minor in History and Sociology. A clear lover of learning, he has since set out to continue his education, working toward his AAS in Marketing at CSN while also planning to pursue an MA in History.


Through networks he developed at UNLV, he became politically active with the Asian American community in Las Vegas as an undergraduate student, and he has continued with this community engagement since graduation, for example by participating in multiple roundtable talks with U.S. Representative Susie Lee regarding the different issues faced by the community. 


Christian identifies two faculty members in AIS as being particularly influential in his educational journey. Dr. Mark Padoongpatt, the director of the program, was the instructor of the first Asian American Studies course he took. In Christian’s words, “The reason he became one of my favorite instructors was that he believed in me full-heartedly and motivated me to not only continue my studies regarding Asian and Asian Americans, but because he influenced me to start my journey in assisting the Asian American community in Las Vegas. He also was very influential in shaping my capstone project. Without his guidance and influence, I don’t think I would be who I am currently.” Dr. Constancio Arnaldo was another one of his favorite instructors at UNLV. During his AIS 102 course (Introduction to Asian American Studies), Christian learned about the history of Asian Americans, AANAPISI, and the model minority stereotype. Christian drew on what he learned in Dr. Arnaldo’s AIS 102 course when he was invited to give a speech during Asian American History month at UNLV, an opportunity that was facilitated by AIS faculty. 


During the course of his studies, he became especially interested in researching how fashion design, photography, and other means of self-expression can serve as powerful modes of intervention in the model minority stereotype. For example, for the final project in Dr. Padoonpatt’s AIS 301 class (Asian Americans in Sin City), he wrote a transcript for a podcast episode on “Asian Americans in the Fashion Industry in Las Vegas,” drawing together archival research, oral interviews, and fieldwork with local Asian American male "fashion creatives" who procure, sell, and set fashion trends both locally and globally, particularly in Asia. Through this research, he not only revealed the transnational dimensions of Asian American "streetwear," but also highlighted the history of racialization of Asian Americans in the United States and how it has impacted their participation in the White-dominated U.S. fashion industry. He argued that Asian Americans, racialized as nerdy and asexual model-minorities, struggled to carve out a place for themselves in an industry driven by notions of cool, stylish, and sexy. As a result, many Asian American men gravitated toward blackness and sought opportunities across the Pacific in countries like Japan. 


He continued with this same line of research for his senior capstone project, under the direction of Dr. Arnaldo, where he created a documentary entitled "Asians and the Fashion Industry". Christian’s compelling documentary sought to further understand how global popular culture, particularly fashion, works in conjunction with Asian and Asian Americans’ identities, their artistic labor, and the limits and complexities of cultural appropriation.