A letter from Katherine Bowie, President, Association for Asian Studies (2017–18)
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
At a time when draconian cuts to federal funding are jeopardizing international studies programs and when political censors are threatening academic freedom, it is all the more important that all of us who believe in the importance of Asian Studies join together. Many AAS members can recall how important presenting our first papers at AAS conferences were in our own careers. Your contributions will make it possible for AAS to continue to fund students to attend the annual AAS conference, ensuring a firm foundation for the next generation of future scholars. Your contributions will also help AAS to continue to bring international scholars who otherwise could not afford to attend, to travel and participate in the annual AAS conference, thereby expanding scholarly networks across the global field of Asian Studies. Some of you may wish to support book prizes, student paper prizes, or any of our new initiatives. Yet others may wish to contribute to AAS’ general permanent endowment.
Your contributions will make it possible for AAS to remain a vibrant and responsive organization. Among our newest major initiatives to better reach out to Asia-based scholars are the AAS-in-Asia conferences. Although begun a mere 4 years ago with a group of 500 participants, AAS-in-Asia is proving to be a huge success. Past conferences have been held in Singapore in 2014; Taipei in 2015; Kyoto in 2016; and Seoul in 2017. These experimental conferences have steadily grown in size and significance since their inception. The Kyoto conference attracted 1,215 registered participants from 40 countries. The Seoul conference had more than 1,000 registered participants also coming from 40 countries. As hoped, these AAS-in-Asia conferences have attracted young scholars of Asia, many of them based in Asia, as well as senior scholars from all over the world. Like our annual conferences, they also bring an increasing number of public intellectuals, journalists, artists and think tanks thereby contributing to the expansion and diversity of our network. The next conference will be hosted by Ashoka University in New Delhi July 5-8, 2018 thus bringing the event to South Asia, one of four of the regions we cover through our work.
Among other new initiatives your membership fees and donations are making possible is the new #AsiaNow blog to which members are invited to participate in analyzing trends and events in Asia (please contact Maura Cunningham for further information). AAS is also supporting dissertation workshops focusing on young scholars across regional and disciplinary lines (a dissertation workshop on “Medicine, Science, Technology in the Study of Asian Past and Present” will be held in March 2018).
Our “Emerging Fields in the Study of Asia” is another step toward the future of Asian Studies. The Association has a tradition of encouraging under-represented and emerging fields of study at its annual conference, but we now feel that a more sustained, planned program is needed to respond to the rapid changes going on not just within Asia but within the academic disciplines that treat Asia. To this end, we have received a 4-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support Summer Workshops on Emerging Fields in the Study of Asia. The fields receiving attention thus far are economic history, the anthropocene, and law, justice and society. Your suggestions for the future emerging field are welcome and may be made through Council chairs or other board members.
To confront the challenge of maintaining language instruction in the face of drastic cuts to Title VI funding, AAS is partnering with the Luce Foundation and Modern Language Association (MLA) to develop a website of institutions able to provide colleges and universities across the nation with distance language instruction and easier access to less commonly taught languages (LCTLs). We hope to announce the inauguration of this website at the next AAS meeting in Washington DC in March 2018.
And of course, the AAS’s hallmark programs—our flagship publication, The Journal of Asian Studies, and the Annual Conference held in North America each spring—continue to grow and change. The 2018 AAS Annual Conference will be held in Washington, D.C., March 22-25, 2018. The AAS Annual Conference is an occasion to showcase the work of scholars, promote new transnational networks and collaborations, meet old friends, and encourage the participation of those who represent the future of the Association.
I write now to ask for your financial support to enable the AAS to pursue new initiatives while continuing to fulfill its core functions. Both through and beyond the Annual Conference, the AAS-in-Asia conferences, and its affiliated regional conferences, the AAS is an important voice for the continued support of Asian Studies, training of new scholars and teachers, encouraging the teaching of Asian languages, and advancing information literacy about Asian societies and cultures. Here are a few projects you might wish to support:
The AAS Fund for International Exchange and the Fund for Young Scholars, which make attendance at the annual conferences possible for members coming from Asia, and for the young scholars on whom our Association's future depends.
Contributions to the AAS Endowment Fund, which will help guarantee the Association's ability to support and expand the study of Asia far into the future. Your gift of $500, $100, $50, or any other amount will help the AAS build its base among younger scholars and with our colleagues in Asia.
If you are interested in joining the AAS Legacy Society, which is endowed through estate planning, you can find information here, or you may contact Dr. Krisna Uk, Senior Advisor to the Board of Directors: Development and Strategic Initiatives at firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion.
With your help, the AAS can continue to serve its members and the wider public.
President, Association for Asian Studies, 2017–18
University of Wisconsin-Madison
PS: If you have any suggestions for new initiatives or any questions, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or Dr. Uk at firstname.lastname@example.org.