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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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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 ...
In the early afternoon of May 12, 2008, a devastating 7.9-magnitude earthquake ruptured the countryside of China’s southwestern Sichuan Province. More than 85,000 people died, including at least 5,000 children killed when their schools collapsed—victims of corruption on the part of local officials and building contractors, who had skimmed from the top of building funds and erected shoddy “tofu-dregs schoolhouses” that stood no chance against the earthquake’s might. In the first weeks following the quake, parents staged protests and called on the government to punish those deemed responsible for their children’s deaths.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) quickly moved to silence the outcries and control the narrative about the earthquake. Government propaganda and news stories steered attention away from the manmade disaster (renhuo) caused by corruption and focused instead on the natural disaster (tianzai) of the earthquake and the CCP’s leadership in rescue and recon ...
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 ...
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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