Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Michigan
Website URL
Religion, Immigration, Refugees, Asian American Studies, United States History
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Melissa Borja is Assistant Professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan, where she is a core faculty member in the Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program. She researches migration, religion, politics, pluralism, and race in the United States and the Pacific World, with special attention to how religious beliefs and practices have developed in the context of the modern American state. Her book, Follow the New Way: Hmong Refugee Resettlement and the Practice of American Religious Pluralism (under contract, Harvard University Press) explores the religious dimensions of American refugee care—how governments have expanded capacity through partnerships with religious organizations and how refugee policies have shaped the religious lives of refugees. She earned a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and an A.B. from Harvard University. Before teaching at Michigan, she was Assistant Professor of History at the City University of New York.

Recent Publications

Book Project

Follow the New Way”: Hmong Refugee Resettlement and the Practice of American Religious Pluralism, 1976-2000. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (Under contract)


“The Government Alone Cannot Do the Total Job: Church-State Cooperation in International Refugee Crises.” In Political History Unbound, edited by Brent Cebul, Lily Geismer, and Mason Williams. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. (Forthcoming)

“Migrations and Modern American Religious Pluralism.” In The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Race in American History, edited by Paul Harvey and Kathryn Gin. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.

“Speaking of Spirits: Oral History, Religious Change, and the Seen and Unseen Worlds of Hmong Americans.” Oral History Review 44, no. 1.

Other Writing

“The Problem with Welcoming the Stranger.” Op-ed in The Anxious Bench. June 14, 2018.

“Refugee Resettlement Is a Church-State Enterprise.” Op-ed in Public Seminar. December 30, 2015.

“When Welcoming the Stranger Was Not Just a Religious Value.” Op-ed in Religion Dispatches. November 25, 2015.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Government, Migration & Immigration, Politics, Race, Religion