Skip to main content

Joy Sales


Joy Sales is a doctoral candidate in U.S. history and a Mellon Cluster fellow in Comparative Race and Diaspora. Her general research interests include Filipino American history, U.S. Empire in Asia, social movements, race and diaspora, and oral history. Her dissertation traces the history of Filipino activism from 1898 to 1986 in three cases: anti-colonial activism of students in the early 1900s, farm labor organizing from the 1930s to the 1960s, and anti-Marcos activism in the 1970s and 80s. Scholarship on U.S.-Philippine relations shows how U.S. officials and Filipino elites, in fear of such challenges, created a transnational system of policing and surveilling Filipino radicals, but few scholars have studied the ways Filipinos made radicalism possible, despite U.S. policies of repression. Thus, Joy’s dissertation analyzes how Filipinos in different historical contexts curtail and contest colonial and neocolonial censorship laws and policing strategies, how Filipino activists in the diaspora created and sustained a transnational praxis of anti-imperial and anti-racist critique, and how transnational activism changed social movements in both the U.S. and the Philippines.

As a scholar-activist, Joy believes in education as a tool of empowerment, particularly for young people of color. She cultivated this philosophy as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and History/German double-major at Grinnell College. She also practiced this philosophy in the classroom by developing a course entitled, “Asian American Activism,” which she taught as a visiting professor at Grinnell College in 2016. Outside of the classroom, she helps design educational workshops on Filipino history and migration for Anakbayan, a transnational Filipino youth organization advocating for democratic change in the Philippines.

Back to top