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Forgotten Geographies in Asian Studies

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom UC Irvine history professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom recently concluded his ten-year tenure as editor of the Journal of Asian Studies. One of the new practices that Wasserstrom introduced as editor was a “JAS-at-AAS” panel at the annual conference. This year, in a similar spirit, he organized a JAS panel for the just-concluded AAS-in-Asia 2018 conference in New Delhi, focused on the theme of “Forgotten Geographies.” Wasserstrom was not able to attend the conference in person but sent the remarks below to be read on his behalf at the start of the session. During my graduate school years in the 1980s, I thought a lot about how disciplines were defined and the borders between them policed. I also thought a lot about what it meant to cross standard dividing lines between periods, for I was interested in issues that played out over all of the twentieth century but scholars of Chinese modern history tended to stop at 1949, leaving discussion of later periods to social ...

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Conducting Fieldwork in Authoritarian States: Advice for New Researchers

Political scientists Lee Morgenbesser (Griffith University, Australia) and Meredith L. Weiss (University at Albany, SUNY) have collaborated on a new article for Asian Studies Review, “Survive and Thrive: Field Research in Authoritarian Southeast Asia.” In this helpful survey, Morgenbesser and Weiss provide an overview of the challenges that researchers—particularly those new to the field, such as graduate students—can encounter as they conduct fieldwork in countries under authoritarian regimes where civil liberties and political rights are not guaranteed. Offering useful advice and examples from their own time in the field, Morgenbesser and Weiss have prepared a guide that should be read by all new researchers who anticipate similar constraints, regardless of their academic field or country of specialization. To learn more about their work, I interviewed Lee Morgenbesser and Meredith L. Weiss by email for #AsiaNow. MEC: You note at the outset of your article that scholarship ...

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Isn’t That Just Ancient History?

By Daniel Knorr Recently, the College Board made news for announcing changes to the scope of Advanced Placement (AP) World History. From now on, the AP exam will cover only the period after 1450 CE. High schools could still choose to offer an additional course covering world history before 1450—making it a two-year sequence—but only material from the later time period will appear on the exam. The main goal, according to the College Board, is to bring the scope of the exam more in line with what can be covered in a single college course. A large number of educators have criticized the decision, leading the College Board to say that they will reconsider and issue a final decision in July. The main focus of this criticism has been how shifting the timeline of the course will affect teaching about the Americas, Africa, and Asia. With the course starting in 1450, students would learn about many areas only in the context of European colonialism, if at all. To be fair to the College Board, s ...

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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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AAS Member Spotlight: Thomas Patton

Thomas Patton is Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian and International Studies, and Associate Director of the Southeast Asia Research Centre, at the City University of Hong Kong. A scholar of religious studies, Patton is a specialist in Buddhism in Southeast Asia—specifically Myanmar—and has been a member of the AAS since 2005. Why did you join AAS and why would you recommend AAS to your colleagues? When I was a masters student living in Boston in 2003, a classmate asked me to drive him to New York City to visit his friend who was presenting at an AAS conference. While sitting in the lobby of the conference venue, I was beside myself to hear dozens of people talking casually about Asian Studies as if they were chatting about the weather. I immediately registered for the conference and spent the remaining 3 days enthralled by the conversations and interesting people I met, one of whom would later become my PhD advisor. How did you first become involved in the field of Asian Stud ...

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