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A Brief History of the North Korean-Myanmar Friendship

By Maria Rosaria Coduti “Dangerous bedfellows,” “rogue brothers in arms,” and “friends in need” are some of the expressions experts and journalists have used to describe North Korea-Myanmar [Burma] relations in the past. In 2005, then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled Myanmar an “outpost of tyranny,” a feature that saw the country enter the club of the “pariah states” along with Cuba, Iran, Belarus, Zimbabwe, and North Korea. However, just four years later, the newly elected Obama administration reviewed American policy toward Myanmar and shifted to one based on the pragmatic engagement of Naypyidaw, the country’s capital, which inaugurated a new era of the Southeast Asian country’s relations with the U.S. and with both Western and Asian actors as a consequence. According to some political analysts, this new policy was either a tile of a broader U.S. rebalancing strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region, the so-called ...

What I Did on My Summer “Vacation” Photo Sweepstakes

As summertime gets underway here in the Northern Hemisphere, the routines of the academic year fall away—but calling this a summer “vacation” is misleading for most of us. Despite the notion that academics have summers off, we know that AAS members are plenty occupied during these lazy, hazy, crazy days. What do the next months hold in store for you: research, writing, relocation, summer courses, reading, travel, attending AAS-in-ASIA? (All of the above?) Snap a photo that represents your summer and submit it to #AsiaNow—it could be our photo of the week! Every week between June and September, we’ll select one photo to feature at #AsiaNow and on the AAS social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). Everyone who submits a photo will be entered into a sweepstakes drawing at the end of the summer; one (1) grand prize winner will receive three titles of his or her choice from our Key Issues in Asian Studies (KIAS) series (total value $30), while two (2) runners-up will ea ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with Christopher Rea

Christopher Rea is Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Literature at the University of British Columbia and author of The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China, published by University of California Press and winner of the 2017 AAS Joseph Levenson Book Prize (Post-1900 China). To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. The book’s about how Chinese humor changed (and how it didn’t) in the modern age. It reconstructs the emergence of several comic cultures over about forty years, from the 1890s to 1933, the “Year of Humor.” Part of the story is about language, about how people started talking about what’s funny in new ways. It tries to convey how you can be funny in Chinese—and how people were, using modern technologies like cinema. Another part of the story is about cultural values, about how people in a tumultuous age used laughter as a barometer for what matters to the individual, to the group, and to humanity at large. I argue that irrev ...

AAS Less Commonly Taught Languages Distance Initiative Funded by the Henry Luce Foundation

The Association for Asian Studies is pleased to announce that it has received a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to fund a pilot project in the association’s new Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) Initiative. According to the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL), ninety-one percent of American students who study a foreign language learn Spanish, French, German, or Italian. The remaining nine percent are engaged in the study of LCTLs. Even within that category, however, the distribution of students is uneven, with some languages more widely taught than others. In the field of Asian Studies, for example, Chinese and Japanese courses are far more prevalent than those in Burmese or Gujarati—though Myanmar and India are no less important than China or Japan to regional dynamics in Asia. Smooth international relations rely heavily on the presence of government officials, nonprofit workers, scholars, and journalists with fluency in multiple languages. “As the wor ...

May 2017 AAS Member News & Notes

Jan Bardsley (University of North Carolina) speaks at the State University of New York, Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), in mid-March. Professor Bardsley visited FIT under the auspices of the AAS Northeast Asia Council's Distinguished Speakers Bureau; see below for more information about this program. Congratulations to AAS Member Ulug Kuzuoglu, PhD candidate in history at Columbia University, who has received an ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for his project, “Overcome by Information: Psychogrammatology and Technopolitics of Script Invention in China, 1892-1986.” *** The Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies has announced its awards for the 2017-2018 academic year, in four categories. We’re thrilled to see so many AAS Members receive recognition for their work: Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants Thomas Chan (University of California, San Diego), “Bottoms-Up History: Maoism, Maotai, and the Building of the Chinese Nation, 1949-1976” Xiang Ch ...

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