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March 2019 AAS Member News & Notes

Congratulations to AAS Members Sheena Chestnut Greitens (University of Missouri), Joshua Hill (Ohio University), William Norris (Texas A&M University), Suzanne Scoggins (Clark University), and Kristin Vekasi (University of Maine), who are among the 20 scholars named as 2019 National Asia Research Fellows by the Institute for National Strategic Studies and National Bureau of Asian Research. *** AAS Member Tamara T. Chin (Brown University) has received a 2019-20 Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. *** Nine AAS Members have been selected as fellows in the sixth cohort of the Public Intellectuals Program at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Congratulations to Jude Blanchette (Crumpton Group), Keisha Brown (Tennessee State University), Iza Ding (University of Pittsburgh), Diana Fu (University of Toronto), Arunabh Ghosh (Harvard University), Kelly Hammond (University of Arkansas), Yingyi Ma (Syracuse University), Tabitha Grace Mall ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with James Rush

James Rush is Professor of History at Arizona State University and author of Hamka’s Great Story: A Master Writer’s Vision of Islam for Modern Indonesia, published by the University of Wisconsin Press and awarded Honorable Mention for the 2019 AAS George McT. Kahin Book Prize. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. The book is about the discourse of Islam and modernity in the formative years of Indonesia. From the 1930s through the 1970s, Hamka, aka Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, engaged actively (one might say hyperactively) in public discussions about the role of Islam in shaping the new society then emerging in late-colonial Indonesia and the early years of independence. An autodidact writing in multiple popular genres and an avowed Islamic modernist, Hamka envisioned a society that simultaneously embraced modern Western learning, the nation of Indonesia, and the abiding Truth and guiding moral compass of Islam—to him a liberating religion that embraced human agenc ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with Jonathan Schlesinger

Jonathan Schlesinger is Associate Professor of History at Indiana University and author of A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things, Pristine Places, and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule, published by Stanford University Press and winner of the 2019 AAS Joseph Levenson Pre-1900 Book Prize. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. The book examines the environmental history of Qing Manchuria and Mongolia during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Using Chinese-, Manchu-, and Mongolian-language archives, I show that unprecedented commercial expansion and a rush for natural resources not only transformed the Qing empire’s frontiers in this period, but generated new anxieties at court about the environment. The book focuses in particular on the rushes for furs, freshwater pearls, and steppe mushrooms. In each case, the court responded to environmental pressures with attempts to repatriate undocumented migrants accused of destroying the land; investigate their Manchu and Mon ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with Bryan D. Lowe

Bryan D. Lowe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University and author of Ritualized Writing: Buddhist Practice and Scriptural Cultures in Ancient Japan, published by University of Hawai’i Press and the Kuroda Institute for the Study of Buddhism and winner of the 2019 AAS John Whitney Hall Book Prize. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. The book studies how and why people transcribe Buddhist scripture in ritualized ways. I trace how scribes often engaged in purification practices prior to and while copying texts and how patrons sponsored dedication ceremonies upon completion. They did this based on an idea that reproducing Buddhist texts could create merit capable of saving the damned and bringing benefits to the living. I argue that ritual practice represents one way that humans transform a particular body of texts into scripture—works set apart as uniquely special, venerable, and powerful. But the book is also a rethinking ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with Stuart Robson

Stuart Robson is an Adjunct Professor in Indonesian Studies at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and is author of The Old Javanese Ramayana; A New English Translation, published by the Institute of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA) within the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Tokyo, in 2015, and winner of the AAS A.L. Becker Southeast Asian Literature in Translation Prize for 2019. What is the book about? As you will know, the Ramayana is a famous classic of world literature, originating from India and existing in a number of different versions. The present version is a literary one (that is, as distinct from folk), written in the Old Javanese language and dating from the second half of the 9th century and the early decades of the 10th century, and composed in Java. It follows the plot of the Sanskrit Valmiki version, but is an independent work of literature, with its own special qualities. Unfortunately the name of the author is unknown. Being an epic, it is hundreds o ...

February 2019 AAS Member News & Notes

Congratulations to AAS Member Nancy S. Steinhardt (University of Pennsylvania), who has been honored by the College Art Association with its Distinguished Teaching of Art History Award. *** AAS Member Kenneth Pomeranz (University of Chicago) is co-winner of the prestigious Dan David Prize in the “Past” category for his work on the macro history of East Asia. *** Longtime AAS Member Chi Wang has been recognized by Senator James Risch, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for his 47 years of service at the Library of Congress. Dr. Wang was head of the library’s Chinese and Korea Section from 1975 until his retirement in 2004. Read the full text of Senator Risch’s remarks honoring Dr. Wang in the Congressional Record. *** THANK YOU to all who donated to the AAS in 2018; the list of donors is now posted online. Your support enables us to carry out many important programs and initiatives, and we greatly appreciate all donations we receive. To support the ...

Introducing Bodies and Structures 1.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

By David R. Ambaras and Kate McDonald What Bodies and Structures Is Bodies and Structures is a platform for researching and teaching spatial histories of East Asia and the larger worlds of which they were a part. The site combines individually-authored, media-rich content modules with conceptual maps and visualizations. The modules analyze primary sources with significant spatial historical themes. The conceptual maps and visualizations reveal thematic, historical, and geographic connections between the modules. Each module also includes a translated primary source or sources. We built it using the open-source platform Scalar. Bodies and Structures 1.0 focuses on early to mid-twentieth century Japan and East Asia shaped by Japanese imperialism. The modules tell spatial stories about: colonial political activists; interethnic intimacies and regional migration; department stores and empire; the multi-layered spaces of the modern drugstore; Chinese settlement on the Mongolian frontier ...

Meet the New VP: Christine Reiko Yano

Christine Reiko Yano is professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She will take office as the AAS vice president following the March 21-24 conference in Denver, Colorado. I am an anthropologist of Japan with research on popular culture analyzed through multiple lenses of gender, affect, nationalism, globalism, and consumption. I come to the AAS vice presidency as an outlier—Asian American (Sansei, third-generation Japanese American, born and raised in Hawai’i), working-class background, popular culture research. But it is these very outlier positions that provide a perspective that may be of benefit to the field of Asian Studies. I have been active within AAS, serving on the Northeast Asia Council (including as Chair) and the Distinguished Speakers Bureau. I currently serve on the American Advisory Committee of Japan Foundation (AAC, elected chair as of 2018). At the same time, I have recently been active in the field of Asian American Studies, serving since 2017 on ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with Anna Stirr

Anna Stirr is Associate Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii, and author of Singing Across Divides: Music and Intimate Politics in Nepal, published by Oxford University Press and winner of the 2019 AAS Bernard S. Cohn prize for a first book on South Asia. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. My book is about the importance of a genre of Nepali sung poetry called dohori in the everyday social relations among different groups in Nepal today. Dohori is improvised, dialogic singing, in which a witty repartee of exchanges is based on poetic couplets with a fixed rhyme scheme, often backed by instrumental music and accompanying dance, performed between men and women, with a primary focus on romantic love. It has roots in multiple indigenous traditions of social exchange. It’s transgressive of dominant social norms, because it promotes love relationships that cross social divides—caste, class, ethnicity, religion. Despite this transgressiveness, it’s also ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with Craig Clunas

Craig Clunas is Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, University of Oxford and author of Chinese Painting and its Audiences, published by Princeton University Press and winner of the 2019 AAS Joseph Levenson Pre-1900 Book Prize—Honorable Mention. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. The book is about the ways in which viewers, both inside and outside China, have acted over centuries to create the category now universally known as “Chinese painting.” So it’s about what was looked at, who got to do the looking, and how looking was understood as a cultural and social practice. It covers the period from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) to the 1970s, and it proceeds chronologically through a number of ideal “types” of viewer—The Gentleman, The Emperor, The Merchant, the Nation, The People. Of course in pre-1900 China itself what artists did was not called “Chinese painting,” it was just “painting,” so the long span tries to ...

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