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From category archives: #AsiaNow

President's Column

Thoughts on the Future of AAS-in-Asia

By Prasenjit Duara With this first blog of my Presidential tenure, I would like to express my gratitude for your support and confidence in electing me to this position. Coming into the Presidency of the Association in these deeply troubled geo-political times has been very challenging, and I will need your support and participation more than ever. What seemed relatively remote in the personal lives of scholars has touched us more directly in this last year. I refer not only to the controversy raised by the Indian government’s denial of visas to Pakistani citizens and people of Pakistani descent prior to our 2018 conference in Delhi, but also the upcoming AAS-in-Asia conferences in Bangkok (2019) and Hong Kong (2020), places where concerns about academic freedom are regular topics of conversation. To gauge the sentiment of the AAS membership in regard to these conferences, the officers of the association decided to hold a first town hall meeting at the 2019 annual conference in Denver, and then follow ...

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President’s Column: Annual Conference Preview

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 ...

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“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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The Past, Present, and Future of AAS-in-ASIA

Because our AAS-in-ASIA conferences are so new, I would like to use my first presidential column to highlight their past, present, and future. The brainchild of my presidential predecessors, AAS-in-ASIA began in 2014 as an experiment. The vision was for AAS to work with a host institution in Asia to facilitate participation amongst AAS members and Asian scholars across Asia. By bringing Asian specialists from abroad together with scholars in Asia—who were not necessarily members of AAS and perhaps not able to attend the annual conferences held in North America—the conference originators hoped to spark new and fruitful areas of collaboration. The original idea was that AAS-in-ASIA would be smaller-sized conferences providing the opportunity to participate on panel sessions and network with colleagues in a more intimate setting. The conference has been extraordinarily successful and has been mushrooming in size. I invite everyone to consider participating in these conferences and to submit your sugg ...

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The Futures of Asian Studies

I begin this final President’s column in a moment when the word “future” takes on a particularly uncertain cast. There is no doubt that Asia will loom large in the American future in the coming months and years, and that whatever stands in front of us cannot be navigated without expertise and the wisdom of experience. But will such expertise be sought? Heard? Valued? By whom, and in what fora? I use the plural “futures” in my title with careful intention. Forward motion assumes a strong contingent of young Asianists working on many fronts. Support for this cohort is a primary responsibility of the Association for Asian Studies. Two of our core programs—the annual meeting, and the publication of a high-profile journal—give professional visibility to new work and new faces. Many of us gave our first professional papers as graduate students in the more intimate and supportive atmosphere of AAS regional meetings, and this tradition continues. Medium-sized AAS-in-ASIA mee ...

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