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President's Column

“My Paper Was Turned Down. Should I Take It Personally?”

This is a revised and updated version of Laurel Kendall’s President’s Column from the Fall 2016 issue of the AAS E-Newsletter. The carefully crafted panel submission, a summation of hot-breaking research, the anticipation of a lively intellectual exchange … and then the rejection message, “owing to the number of high-quality submissions and the limitations of space”—a splash of cold water! Many of us have been there—I certainly have—and so have many distinguished scholars, including at least one former President of the AAS whose proposed submissions were rejected twice in the years after his service. It happens. In such circumstances it is difficult not to feel that “there must have been some mistake,” or worse “AAS is just not interested in the kind of work I do,” or still worse, that “someone on the program committee had it in for me.” In a healthy organization, there will always be many more proposals than available slo ...

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President’s Column, September 2018: Conference Report on AAS-in-Asia in New Delhi

“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 ...

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President’s Column, June 2018: On AAS-in-Asia

Dear Colleagues, 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 ...

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Mark Your Calendars: AAS 2018 Program Highlights

Sculpture by Cambodian artist Svay Sareth; photo courtesy of the artist. With the deadline for pre-registration for the annual AAS conference coming up on February 26, I would like to use this presidential column to share some information about art exhibits, five special #AsiaNow panels, and the conference as a whole. Gracing the atrium of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel will be a special sculptural installation by Cambodian artist Svay Sareth, who was the 2016 recipient of the Overall Best Emerging Artist and Best Emerging Sculptor at the prestigious Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore. Illustrating the theme of “When East Meets West,” the artist plans to create a Khmer version of Donald Trump clad in camouflage fabric looking at himself in a bamboo mirror. Sareth will fabricate and sew all the pieces in his workshop in Cambodia and assemble them before our eyes in the atrium. This artwork ties in with a special #AsiaNow panel, entitled “Asian Arts and Resistance: Defiant Subjects and their ...

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Celebrating Regional Conferences

Political events across the globe, not the least of which include the recent efforts by the Chinese government to censor scholarship, remind all of us of the important role academic organizations such as the Association for Asian Studies can play. As soon as AAS learned of the efforts to block articles in the Journal of Asian Studies, we expressed our opposition on behalf of our members and defended the importance of academic freedom. Keeping AAS strong involves varied initiatives, each providing opportunities for membership participation in actions ranging from writing short blogs for #Asia Now to organizing panels for the annual conference.  In this column I would like to highlight how participation in our regional conferences helps keep AAS strong. Nine regional conferences are affiliated with AAS; one is held annually in Japan and the remaining eight in locations across the U.S. AAS helps support these conferences and their affiliated outreach workshops for K-12 teachers. Each regional conference ha ...

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