Dr. Henry Yu was born in Vancouver, B.C., and grew up in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. He received his BA in Honours History from UBC and an MA and PhD in History from Princeton University. After teaching at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) for ten years, Yu returned to the University of British Columbia as an Associate Professor of History to help build programs focused on trans-Pacific Canada. Yu himself is both a second and fourth generation Canadian. His parents were first generation immigrants from China, joining a grandfather who had spent almost his entire life in Canada.
His great-grandfather was also an early Chinese pioneer in British Columbia, part of a larger networks of migrants who left Zhongshan county in Guangdong province in South China and settled around the Pacific in places such as Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the United States, and Canada. Yu’s book, Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America (Oxford University Press, 2001) won the Norris and Carol Hundley Prize as the Most Distinguished Book of 2001.
Yu is the Director of the Initiative for Student Teaching and Research on Chinese Canadians (INSTRCC) and the Principal of St. John’s College at UBC, as well as a Board Member of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia (CCHSBC).