Title: Assistant Professor of Sociology


Phone: +1 (916) 691-7363

Address:  Sociology Department, Cosumnes River College, 8401 Center Parkway, Sacramento, CA 95823

Profile: I am a sociology professor and scholar with research expertise in RaceGenderReligion, and Immigration (particularly forced displacement as in the case of refugees).

As a refugee and first-generation college student, I am familiar with the challenges that confront students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. I am passionate about helping them succeed in college and achieve their life goals.

Before coming to CRC, I taught at Williams College, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of the West, and several California State University campuses.

In addition to my academic activities, I have had the opportunity to work with different agencies in various capacities, including being a consultant for San Francisco-based law firm Sideman & Bancroft LLP on legal, financial, and cultural matters (2015-2017) and Washington, D.C.-based Distance Education Accrediting Commission on college-level accreditation issues (2015).

I enjoy hiking, camping, yoga, meditation, and traveling. I am fluent in Vietnamese and have conversational proficiency in Khmer and Spanish.


  • Ph.D., 2013 – University of Southern California (Sociology)
  • B.A., 2004 – University of California of Los Angeles (History, Southeast Asian Studies, and Asian American Studies)

Teaching at CRC:

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Social Problems
  • Sociology of Family
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Inequality in the U.S.
  • The Asian American Experience in the U.S.
  • Social Research Methods

Service to the College:

  • Academic Senator (2017-Present)
  • Women’s History Month Organizing Committee (2017-Present)

Academic Publications (selected):

book cover2

  • Race, Gender, and Religion in the Diaspora: Ethnic Vietnamese in the U.S. and Cambodia (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).
    • This book examines how the racialization of religion facilitates the diasporic formation of ethnic Vietnamese in the U.S. and Cambodia, two communities that have been separated from one another for nearly 30 years.  It compares devotion to female religious figures in two minority religions, the Vietnamese-looking Virgin Mary among the Catholics (Our Lady of Lavang or Đức Mẹ La Vang) and the Mother Goddess among the Caodaists. Visual culture and institutional structures are examined within both communities.  Thien-Huong Ninh invites a critical re-thinking of how race, gender, and religion are proxies for understanding, theorizing, and addressing social inequalities within global contexts.
    • “How do refugees scattered in countries at opposite ends of the world come to see themselves as part of a diaspora? How do ties of language and nationality become sacralized and bound to a sense of a shared destiny? This exciting new study by Thien-Huong Ninh argues that religion, and especially the compelling presence of sacred mothers, either the Catholic Virgin Mary or the Caodai Mother Goddess, helps to create new transnational communities for Vietnamese in the United States and in Cambodia. Experiences of racialization and marginalization have led both groups to seek to re-connect with each other through the idiom of devotion to a maternal image of divinity, and have pushed them to struggle to achieve religious freedom.” (Janet Hoskins, University of Southern California, USA)
    • “With this book, Dr. Thien-Huong Ninh establishes herself as a pioneer and authority in the field of the intersections of ethnic, diasporic, feminist and religious studies of Vietnamese migration. Her comparison between the Catholic Our Lady of Lavang and the Caodai Mother Goddess and her study of their roles in the formation of Vietnamese transnational communities set the gold standard for future sociological and anthropological investigations of Vietnamese migrants.” (Peter C. Phan, Georgetown University, USA)
    • “This book is the first in Southeast Asian and/or diasporic studies to bring together racialization in the country of settlement and transnationalism to think through religious practices across two different religions and national contexts in comparative perspective.  This is a novel approach that rejects canonical understandings of religion.  This book will significantly  move the conversations forward in all these fields.” (Thu-Huong Nguyen-vo, University of California, Los Angeles, USA)
  • (Co-edited with Janet Alison Hoskins) Special Issue on “Globalizing Vietnamese Religions,” Journal of Vietnamese Studies (University of California Press, 2017).
  • Global Chain of MarianismDiasporic Formation among Vietnamese Catholics in the U.S. and Cambodia,” Special Issue on “Globalizing Vietnamese Religions,” edited by Janet Hoskins and Thien-Huong T. NinhJournal of Vietnamese Studies (University of California Press, 2017).
  • (with Norella M. Putney, Joy Y. Lam, Frances Nedjat-HaiemPetrice S. Oyama, and Susan C. Harris), “The Transmission of Religion across Generations: How Ethnicity Matters,” in Kinship and Cohort in an Aging Society: From Generation to Generation, edited by Merrill Silverstein (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).

Fellowships, Awards, and Visiting Positions (selected):

Invited Talks (selected):

  • Sacred Mother of Refugees: Our Lady of Lavang in the Vietnamese Catholic Diaspora,” Migration Colloquium, organized by the Department of Anthropology at Tulane University (New Orleans, LA: November 3, 2017).
  • “Who Needs Saving? Asian Religions for the Modern Period,” presented at the First Sangsaeng Forum on “Peace and the Path of Mutual Beneficence,” organized by Daesoon Academy of Sciences,  Daeijin  University (Pocheon-si, South Korea: October 14-15, 2017).

Ethnographic Films (selected):


Please email me for my full CV. Thank you.