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April 30, 2021

Voss contributes to Asian-American history documentary

By Kourtnie Stenwall, communication assistant


Dr. Robert Voss

Dr. Robert Voss

Northwest Missouri State University Associate Professor of History Dr. Robert Voss recently completed work as a historical consultant on an Asian-American history documentary, and the film is set to premiere May 4.

The American history film, “Far East Deep South,” discusses Asian-American history and immigration through the Chiu family’s unexpected migration from China. The film explores the family’s journey through the Mississippi Delta and uncovers their lost family history as well as the racially complex experiences of Chinese immigrants in the South.

The documentary is set to air at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 4, on the PBS' World Channel. The film can be streamed through June 3 at http://bit.ly/ARF_FarEDeepS.

“Our imaginations of history, our imaginations of who’s an American really get challenged,” Voss said. “My own biases were challenged by making this film, by watching the film. My wife and I have seen a couple versions of it, and it is striking to see who counts as an American.”

Voss joined the film project early in the process. The producer of the film and a childhood friend of Voss’s, Baldwin Chiu, reached out to him on Facebook for help on the documentary. For the last five years, Voss worked as a historical consultant for the film and learned about a part of history he had not explored before.

“I’m always interested in trying new things,” Voss said. “When Baldwin approached me, he and I started out just talking about it. It was from this that really piqued my interest because it was a part of history that I didn’t know.”

On screen, Voss discusses the impacts of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Off screen, he was involved with conversation about decisions and framing some of the actions within the film to present information in the context of the time period.

The film’s airing as part of PBS’ “America ReFramed” series is a proud moment for Voss. More information about the film is available at https://fareastdeepsouth.com/.

“It’s great to see this come into fruition,” Voss said. “It’s great to have the encouragement from the Northwest history department to be able to pursue something a little bit outside of my regular field.”

Voss joined the Northwest faculty in 2013 and focuses his research on capitalism in the late 19th century, specifically Native American interactions with coal mining and railroads. He also has presented at the International Business History Conference and Western History Association annual meetings.

He has doctorate and master’s degrees in history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential from Simpson University in Redding, California.


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704