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The Cold War Never Ended: Historical Roots of the Current North Korea Crisis

By Suzy Kim With tensions at an all-time high between the United States and North Korea, the New York Times headlined its recent digital newsletter with Lies Your High School History Teacher Told You About Nukes. The basic point was to debunk the theory of “mutually assured destruction” that is often used to explain why the Cold War remained cold and did not result in a nuclear holocaust. The article argues that despite possessing a nuclear arsenal that guaranteed “mutually assured destruction,” both the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a costly arms race that attempted to outmaneuver the other with more numerous and powerful warheads, delivered with more precise and faster missiles. This happened not because they wanted to engage in actual nuclear warfare, but because of the threat that the other could “escape” mutually assured destruction, fight back, and win. This justified pursuing weaponry that could, in theory, take out the other side before it could ...

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AAS Statement on Cambridge University Press Censorship in China

On Friday, August 18, Quartz, the New York Times, and other media outlets reported that Cambridge University Press (CUP) had complied with a demand from the Chinese government that approximately 300 China Quarterly articles concerning sensitive topics (Tibet, Taiwan, Tiananmen Square, and others) be omitted from search results on CUP’s website when accessed in China. CUP also blocked more than 1,000 e-books on similar topics from the Chinese version of its website. Scholars from around the world protested this action, and earlier today the editor of China Quarterly announced that CUP would restore its full archive to users in China, a decision we fully support. The Association for Asian Studies has received notice from CUP that a similar request has been made by China’s General Administration of Press and Publications concerning approximately 100 articles from the Journal of Asian Studies, an AAS publication. The officers of the association are extremely concerned about this violation of academi ...

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A Mother’s Memories Inspire a Daughter’s Journey

By Kathleen Burkinshaw The journey that led me to write The Last Cherry Blossom, a book for middle-grade readers about the atomic bombing of Japan, began about eight years ago with one question. My daughter was in 7th grade at the time, and something that happened in her history class had upset her. They would be covering the end of World War II that week; after class, she overheard some kids talking about how they couldn’t wait to see the “cool mushroom cloud picture.” She asked if I would speak to her class about the people under the mushroom cloud that day—people like her Grandma. I called my mother and asked if it was okay to tell others about her experience in Hiroshima. My mom was a very private person and never spoke about August 6th in public. When I was a young child, she told me she came from Tokyo. Only after I questioned her about the nightmares she had at the beginning of every August did she confide that she had actually been born in Hiroshima. She told me how she lost ...

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Photo of the Week: Hitting the Books in Khon Kaen

This summer, I've been learning more about what it means to be an area studies librarian. Among the most interesting of my experiences so far was searching for new books in Khon Kaen, Thailand (along with a little sightseeing on the side!).

—Zoë McLaughlin
University of Michigan

Submit your photo and it could be featured as #AsiaNow Photo of the Week—and you might win some free books from our Key Issues in Asian Studies series, too! Enter our "What I Did on My Summer 'Vacation' Photo Sweepstakes;" full details and information about entry are available here.

AAS Member Spotlight: Pankaj Jain

Pankaj Jain is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Texas. Follow him on Twitter @ProfPankajJain. Your discipline and country (or countries) of interest Philosophy and religion; India and the Indian diaspora in the Americas (USA, Canada, Suriname, Trinidad, Guyana). How long have you been a member of AAS? I was a member in 2004-06, then became a member again recently. Why did you join AAS and why would you recommend AAS to your colleagues? As a co-founder of the American Academy of Indic Studies, AAS seems like the perfect association to network with other scholars of Indic Studies. How did you first become involved in the field of Asian Studies? As an M.A. student at Columbia University and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Iowa, I studied Indic religions and their environmental ethics. After completing the Ph.D., I taught Hindi-Urdu, Sanskrit, Bollywood, Hinduism, Jainism, and other Indic subjects at North Carolina State ...

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August 2017 AAS Member News & Notes

A final reminder that panel and paper proposals for our 2018 conference in Washington, D.C. are due by 5:00pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, August 8. There are no exceptions to this deadline, so play it safe and don’t wait until the last minute to submit your proposal! *** Congratulations to University of Chicago professor and AAS Member Kenneth Pomeranz, historian of China, who has been elected a Fellow of the British Academy. *** At its July meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) awarded its biennial book prizes. We are pleased to see many AAS Members recognized by ICAS for their work and offer the following scholars our congratulations: Pablo Blitstein (University of Heidelberg), Les fleurs du royaume: Savoirs lettrés et pouvoir impérial en Chine, Ve-VIe siècle (The Flowers of the Kingdom: Literary Knowledge and Imperial Power in China, 5th-6th Century). Les Belles Lettres. (Shortlist, French Language Edition) Tamara Chin (Br ...

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In Memoriam: Wm. Theodore de Bary (1919-2017)

Wm. Theodore “Ted” de Bary passed away on July 14 at the age of 97. Professor Emeritus at Columbia University and author of some of the most important foundation texts in the field of Asian Studies, de Bary was a longtime member of the AAS and served as President in 1969-70. I asked Columbia professor Carol Gluck if she would write a tribute to de Bary for #AsiaNow; she not only agreed to share her own memories of being his student and colleague, but also enlisted two others who had known de Bary to contribute to the post as well. Below, you’ll find Carol Gluck’s essay, “W. Theodore de Bary, Doctor of Humane Letters,” followed by remembrances by Donald Keene, longtime friend of de Bary’s and Professor Emeritus of Japanese literature at Columbia, and Larry Chengliang Hong, Columbia College class of 2017, a student in de Bary’s final seminar this past spring. Thanks to all three of them for sharing with #AsiaNow readers their thoughtful reflections on the lif ...

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EnviroLab Asia: A Liberal Arts Approach to Studying Environmental Issues in Asia

By Karin Mak In May 2017, the undergraduate consortium of five liberal arts colleges collectively known as the Claremont Colleges (Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Pomona College, and Scripps College), received a $1.4 million grant to support “EnviroLab Asia,” an initiative aimed to create spaces that generate new knowledge about environmental issues in Asia. Funded by the Henry Luce Foundation’s Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE) Program, EnviroLab Asia encourages humanities and social science faculty to work closely with faculty from the sciences to produce new research and classes on environmental issues in East and Southeast Asia. It embodies a liberal arts approach to learning about Asia and the environment. The cross-disciplinary framework, close collaborations between faculty and students, and experiential learning are hallmarks of the program. EnviroLab Asia is led by Albert L. Park (History, Claremont McKenna College ...

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Smartphone Baraka: Technological Transference

By James Edmonds Indonesians reach to touch Habib Syech’s hand, drink from his cup, and interact with his presence. I had already sat for several hours, gently sweating, as thousands of people arrived at an open-air building in Solo, Indonesia. The streets outside were full of pedestrians, cars, motorbikes, buses, and the smell of fried tofu. People pressed into the building; some took seats close to the front, while others went to the second level to rest after a long twelve-hour trek, and some stood, impatiently awaiting the arrival of the man they had come to see. Unceremoniously, Habib Syech bin Abdul Qodir Assegaf appeared. He began to walk through the crowds of people, heading toward the front of the building. Along the way, Habib Syech passed out small amounts of cash to the children, shook some hands, and slipped through the many others reaching to touch him. He eventually made it to the front of the building and sat down, immediately stoking the incense coals prepared for his arrival. Hab ...

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“Small Volumes with a Big Message”: Introducing Asia Shorts

By Bill Tsutsui Chair, AAS Editorial Board Like many faculty members these days, I am prone to fault college students (not to mention most of my fellow Americans) for their ever-shorter attention spans. 140 characters is, after all, not long enough for a decent subordinate clause, many cherished phrases of academic jargon, or some lengthy place names in Thailand. And yet, when I am completely honest with myself, I have to admit that I too become fidgety during 50-minute lectures, have been known to criticize two-hour movies as “just endless,” and tend to shy away from big, thick volumes on bookstore shelves. In our information-saturated lives, there is much to appreciate in the expression of complex ideas in forms that are focused, clear, and concise. Brevity need not mean superficiality, or suggest any lacking of ambition or effort. As the philosopher Blaise Pascal once famously stated, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” In recent years, the aca ...

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