Posted on 2/21/2019 11:13 AM By Anne Feldhaus
We live in a world of Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, WeChat, Twitter, Facebook, and LINE, not to mention landlines, cell phones, email, online courses, and other technologies introduced in a previous century. These numerous means of communication enable us to cross the sometimes vast distances that separate us from our colleagues, our mentors, our students, and the people and places we study, write, and teach about. In such a world, resorting to airplanes in order to be in the same place at the same time with some of those people may seem a ridiculous or even wasteful luxury. And yet, it is a luxury that several thousand scholars of Asia are about to indulge in. In one month, the 70th annual conference of the AAS will begin, in Denver.
As those of us lucky enough to attend the conference—those whose proposals were accepted by the program committee; those who have U.S. passports or can obtain visas; those with the time, the good health, and the financial means to make the trip and find a place to stay&mda ...
Posted on 9/10/2018 9:00 AM By Anne Feldhaus
“Circular firing squad.” Professor Engseng Ho of Duke University used this phrase to describe the situation of Asian Studies scholars in the run-up to the 5th AAS-in-Asia conference, which was held at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi this past July. Professor Ho was speaking on a special panel chaired by AAS Past President Katherine Bowie; the panel had been added to the conference program in response to a decision by the Government of India that we had learned about four months earlier. The Indian government had decided not to grant visas for the conference to any citizens of Pakistan, nor to citizens of any other country whose ancestors had come from Pakistan. Frustration and anger over this discriminatory decision spilled over into attacks by scholars of Asia on one another.
As recounted earlier in this space, the AAS officers and Secretariat staff deplored India’s decision, as did our co-organizers at Ashoka University. The absence of the excluded scholars was a great loss to our ...
Posted on 6/21/2018 5:00 PM By Anne Feldhaus
We live in turbulent times. For the past year and a half or so, I have spent many hours mesmerized by my television set, watching as my country (the USA) lurches from one “unprecedented” event to the next. I fume and steam and sometimes shout out loud, then go to bed. I wake up to 13th-century Maharashtra, to remote temple towns and lovely but dwindling groves in the Western Ghats of India, to my teaching duties and the local politics of my home institution. By evening I am ready for another bout of outrage.
Now the AAS too finds itself in turbulent times, caught up in geo-politics and subjected to cascades of criticism from within and without. The fifth AAS-in-Asia conference is due to be held in Delhi next month. The Government of India, while granting political clearance to the conference (a requirement under Indian law), has refused to issue conference visas to citizens of Pakistan or even to persons of Pakistani origin. The officers of the AAS (that means, currently, Ka ...
Posted on 3/8/2017 10:45 AM By Anne Feldhaus
Anne Feldhaus is Distinguished Foundation Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University and will become AAS vice president after the 2017 conference in Toronto.
In the summer after my first year of college, I had the chance to live in Paris for some months. I returned elated and wiser, and confident that I had already used up my allotted time to spend outside the US. I was wrong.
Just two years later, a professor at my college invited me to accompany her to India for the summer. I jumped at the chance. After some delicate negotiations with my parents and the college, I set off across the world—and into the rest of my life. I fell in love with India that first time, a complicated love that has grown even more complex over the years. I have spent much of my adult life figuring out how to get back to India again and again, how to live there for long periods of time, and how to deepen my friendships with and understanding of ever more kinds of people there.
Graduate school was at first ...