Dina G. Okamoto is the Class of 1948 Herman B Wells Professor of Sociology at Indiana University-Bloomington. She is the former co-editor of American Sociological Review, the flagship journal of the American Sociological Association. In her work as co-editor, she read hundreds of submitted articles and published the top work in the field of sociology. Okamoto served as the Director of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES) at Indiana University from 2014-2022, where she developed interdisciplinary collaborations and campus-wide initiatives to support and amplify research on race and ethnicity, and provide research opportunities for a new generation of scholars from underrepresented populations. 

Her expertise is in the areas of race, ethnicity, immigration, and social movements. Okamoto’s scholarship addresses how immigrants navigate racial categories and build new collective identities when engaging in civic and political life in the U.S. She also examines the boundary rhetoric used by political elites over time to distinguish immigrants from “Americans” and how everyday interactions with racial, ethnic, and immigrant outgroups can have surprisingly positive impacts on trust and civic engagement. She has developed large-scale, mixed-methods projects that incorporate survey, interview, and observational data, and more recently, she has become interested in using computational techniques to analyze text and archival data to answer questions about panethnic group formation, immigrant incorporation, and civic engagement. 

Okamoto is author of Redefining Race: Asian American Panethnicity and Shifting Ethnic Boundaries (Russell Sage Foundation, 2014), which draws our attention to the fact that “Asian American” is a socially constructed category, not a natural outcome. She has published in a host of academic journals and her research has been supported by a number of funders, including the Russell Sage Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, National Science Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additionally, she has been a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.  

Redefining Race

Currently, Okamoto is completing a book on how increasing ethnoracial diversity shapes intergroup perceptions and attitudes in racially-segregated American contexts. Her newest project focuses on how Asian Americans navigate and engage with established racial categories as they seek social change and political visibility in 21st-century America.