Mai Takeuchi Receives 2023 Hamako Ito Chaplin Award

The Hamako Ito Chaplin Memorial Award Committee is pleased to announce that Dr. Mai Takeuchi (Lecturer of Japanese, University of California, Los Angeles) is the recipient of the 2023 Hamako Ito Chaplin Memorial Award for Excellence in Japanese Language Teaching. Dr. Takeuchi has a background in Japanese language pedagogy, pragmatics, and sociolinguistics, and she has a range of teaching experience from elementary and high school to the university level. She is described as approachable, creative, and informed. Dr. Takeuchi’s approach to language education emphasizes making language meaningful and impactful for the individual learner, especially in regard to self-expression. She has implemented pedagogical practices such as the multiliteracies framework and collaborative online international learning (COIL) to empower and provide opportunities for students to grow as active learners and active participants in the community. The selection committee would like to congratulate Dr. Takeuchi for her accomplishments and look forward to her continued contribution to Japanese language education. 

This award is made possible through the generous donation of Professor George Chaplin in memory of his wife, Hamako Ito Chaplin, who was a devoted, experienced, and well-respected professor of the Japanese language at Yale University for many years.

How Can Asianists Write General Guides to Research and Teaching?

Cover of "Where Research Begins: Choosing a Research Project that Matters to You (And the World)," by Thomas S. Mullaney and Christopher Rea

#AsiaNow speaks with Thomas S. Mullaney, Professor of History at Stanford University, and Christopher Rea, Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, about their new book, Where Research Begins: Choosing a Research Project That Matters to You (and the World) (Chicago, 2022).

Where Research Begins is not an “Asian Studies” book, but rather a general guide to doing research. How did you come to write it?

Tom: The idea for the book started about twenty years ago with a monumental failure in the classroom. Back in grad school, Chris and I were assigned to teach a course on research methodology for undergrads, and we designed a syllabus that covered all the normal bases: working with primary sources, notetaking, annotated bibliographies, outlining… everything you might find in a book like The Craft of Research. We mapped out a step-by-step, semester-long plan which—at least in our minds—a student could follow to complete an original research proposal.

But it didn’t work. One by one, our students got stuck. We had built this bullet train to a successful research project, but everyone was just wandering around on the departure platform grappling with the same dilemma: What should I work on? I’m interested in Topic X, but where should I take it? I have lots of ideas, but which one should I choose? I found an interesting source, but what do I do with it? Without a research question, they couldn’t follow any of our steps. Without knowing their passion, they couldn’t transform it into a project.

Some students chose to settle, selecting a topic that didn’t excite them, and then dutifully working through our program. But it was clear that they had chosen their topics simply because they had to choose something. It was disheartening and stressful for everyone.

We came to realize that we’d made a common mistake. We forgot that the most challenging part of research is the part before you begin, when you don’t know what questions you want to ask or what problem you want to solve. We looked around and discovered that there are plenty of books that explain the “research process” to researchers who already know what their question or problem is, but none designed to help a researcher figure out what their question or problem is in the first place. 

So Chris and I decided to write a book about where research begins. Not just for students of Asian Studies, and not just for students in the Humanities, but for all students—and really for all researchers—working in any field. 

What are some of your key pieces of advice for people starting a new research project?

Chris: Ask yourself: “What’s my problem?” What is the personal and profound disturbance hiding beneath my topic, or my case study? Much of the book is about specific ways to tune into your own curiosities, motivations, and assumptions. The “Go Small, or Go Home” exercise, for example, involves writing down the things you wonder about a topic or a source, and then identifying patterns in those questions, so that you don’t jump to a question and miss your problem. It’s important to be in touch with your problem before you venture into “the literature,” that vast realm of voices and agendas. If you skip the introspection, it’s easy to get knocked off center and to end up following someone else’s program. 

When you do figure out your problem, however—and we share a bunch of techniques for doing this—several great things can happen. You can distinguish between your problem and cases of your problem, so that you can develop a Plan B if you need to. It also becomes much easier to pinpoint the studies that help you the most, especially studies outside your field. 

Suddenly, your “literature review” is driven by problems, and is not just a summary of topics. You’re more motivated. You can figure out which sources truly matter to your project, and get out of the weeds faster. You are better able to see the significance of your study. And there are other benefits too, some of which we describe in this piece on why you should never try to “narrow down” a research topic.

How did your training in Asian Studies affect how you wrote the book, if at all?

Tom: When you study in Asia within the context of the American academy, you get asked a lot of questions about the “significance” of whatever you’re working on. Were I to tell someone I’m working on the American Civil War, or the history of Apple Computers, four times out of five I wouldn’t be put in the hot seat to explain why I would want to work on something like that. When you work on subject matter that is less well known (Asian history, say), you are constantly asked—explicitly or implicitly—to justify your existence. Frustrating as it might be, the prompt is ultimately productive. It pushes you to think deeply about why even a “self-evidently important topic” matters to the world, and even more importantly, to the researcher. 

I’ve had students of U.S. history tell me of their interest in the U.S. Civil War, or gender in popular American culture, or the French Revolution, and rather than just accepting their answer, I try to get them to reveal the deeper concerns they have about that subject. I then try to give them the time and the safety they need to answer such questions honestly. No one—and we mean no one—finds their passion due to “gaps in the literature.” People find their passions in late-night phone calls with distant friends, in screaming matches with family members after an election, in the little acts of noticing that we do every day as we ride to work. 

Working in Asian Studies—and having to constantly answer “why” questions in a place where most people are unfamiliar with even the ABCs of Chinese history—has helped foster these habits in me, both as a researcher, and as a research mentor. 

Chris: The book is structured around exercises we call “Try This Now,” many of which we developed in Asian Studies courses. “Go Small, or Go Home” (about the power of “meaningless” questions), “Make Your Assumptions Visible” (but don’t disabuse yourself!), “Change One Variable” (for distinguishing case and problem), “Before and After” (getting your story straight), and others have roots in our work in Chinese history and literature, even though in the book we sometimes use non-China examples.

What would be an example of a methodology or theory of research that was influenced by your work in Asian Studies?

Chris: “Problem Collective” is a good example. Problem Collective is the term we use for all those researchers who—whether living or dead and no matter their field or discipline—share your research problem. Think of those moments when you come across a study whose author truly gets what you’re doing, who shares the central concern of your project. Or when you read a book from a different field that seems to “unlock” your project. It’s not only a thrilling sensation, but a connection that inspires you to think about your project in new ways, and enhances your ability to recognize other cases of your problem. 

Speaking personally, I was inspired by the Chinese notion of the zhiyin 知音, “a person who knows the tone,” who is on the same wavelength as you. In my first book on the history of laughter in China I discuss Qian Zhongshu’s 1930s essay “On Laughter,” in which he describes humor as a meeting of hearts and minds, a resonance that carries. As he puts it: “Perhaps only hundreds of years and tens of thousands of miles hence will [the humorist] find a kindred spirit, standing on the opposite bank of time and space, who smiles back.” He could just as well be talking about the magical moment when we find a kindred spirit in research.

What would be your suggestions for AAS members who want to reach audiences outside of the field of Asian Studies?

Chris: A simple but powerful way to connect with audiences outside your field is to ask yourself: “What does the world call my problem?” What vocabulary do they use? Will they understand my acronyms? What is the scenario that connects my [Asian studies] case with other cases that might be more familiar to my audience? Which analogies can I harness to help audiences understand the core issue?

Tom: Chris makes a great point here. Also, to reach audiences outside of the field of Asian Studies, it is important for AAS members to learn from colleagues who have successfully done so. Select 5 to 10 works within the discipline that you admire, and closely examine their footnotes, paying close attention to non-Asian Studies secondary sources that seem to be of particular important to the author (these tend to show up in the introduction, as well as opening and closing sections of chapters and articles). Also pay attention to the acknowledgments section and any scholars you don’t immediately recognize as part of the Asian Studies community. Who are they engaging with? How are they engaging? Are they writing in a way that effectively communicates with these audiences? Or are they mired in acronyms (to return to Chris’s point) in a way that is likely to exclude rather than welcome these potential readerships? 

 Are you two collaborating on any new projects?

Tom: In the short term, we’re looking forward to working with the Chinese translators of Where Research Begins. We’re excited that there will be at least five Asian editions of the book. The Korean edition was just published, and editions are forthcoming in China, Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan.

Chris: We are also working on a book about how to talk about your research before your research is done. This will be less about how to present a finished study than how to make better use of opportunities to speak about a work in progress to improve the study itself. At its heart is how to turn uncertainty into a productive, generative force—in office hours conversations, at conferences, when talking to publishers, even in job talks. After all, the most common state of research is unfinished!

Sign Up Now for the AAS 2023 Conference Mentor Program

Graduate students and early career Asian Studies scholars attending the AAS 2023 Annual Conference in Boston March 16-19 are invited to sign up for a spot in our Conference Mentor Program.

The AAS Conference Mentor Program connects early career Asianists with advanced scholars, teachers, and professionals to both build their professional network and seek advice and informal guidance within a structured setting.

Mentors will lead an open-ended discussion with a group of no more than nine individuals on a variety of topics. Please visit the program page at our conference website to see the list of 2023 Conference Mentors and their session topics. You may also sign up for a mentorship session through this page.

Please note: AAS 2023 conference registration is required to participate in mentoring sessions. As spaces are limited, we ask that you sign up for no more than one (1) mentorship session. If spaces remain unfilled or become available, you may sign up for additional sessions on-site at AAS 2023 in Boston. 

Thanks so much to all the Asianists who have volunteered to share their time and expertise with mentor session participants! We look forward to seeing you in Boston next month.

Questions? Contact AAS Digital Media Manager Maura Elizabeth Cunningham,

ACLS Statement In Support of Academic Freedom and New College of Florida

The Association for Asian Studies has joined more than 30 other member institutions and dozens of individuals in signing the following statement from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), issued on February 9, 2023.

In recent years, we have seen politicians intensify their effort to re-brand institutions of higher education – specifically, the humanities and social sciences – as hothouses of liberal indoctrination. Their attacks threaten public understanding of our nation’s history and culture, and they undermine key principles of academic freedom and faculty governance. 

The governor of Florida has now moved past rhetoric to direct action with its current “overhaul” of New College of Florida. The state administration uses the word “indoctrination” often and freely. By ousting Dr. Patricia Okker, the president of New College of Florida, and by taking over the college’s Board of Trustees, they reveal themselves as would-be indoctrinators of views that undermine the purpose of higher education in a democracy. Other states are already pursuing similar efforts of intimidation and censorship.

ACLS stands up in support of ex-President Okker, the New College community, and faculty and students at institutions of higher education around the country who are experiencing similar political interventions. We believe that higher education is based on critical thinking and informed debate. We recognize that differences of opinion are vital to academic inquiry, and we support the rights of all students and faculty to freely engage in scholarly conversation and civil debate. This is precisely what is threatened in this moment.

We ask every member of the ACLS community to inform themselves about these dangerous developments and to draw on the resources of ACLS, its member societies, and other groups that are mobilizing to protect faculty governance and advocate for the free circulation of humanistic knowledge.  

We thank those of you already joining the fight in your societies and on your campuses. ACLS invites our community of member societies, member institutions, fellows and grantees, and supporters to sign this statement to affirm their support for sustaining academic freedom in higher education.

AAS 2023 Prizes

The AAS is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s prize competitions and offer congratulations to all honorees. Please join us at the AAS 2023 Awards Ceremony on Saturday, March 18 at 10:30am Eastern Time at the Hynes Convention Center.

AAS Book Prizes

Joseph Levenson Prize (China, Pre-1900)

Ruth Mostern, The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History (Yale University Press)

Honorable Mention: Tao Jiang, Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China (Oxford University Press)

Joseph Levenson Prize (China, Post-1900)

Joshua Goldstein, Remains of the Everyday: A Century of Recycling in Beijing (University of California Press)

Honorable Mention: Nicole Willock, Lineages of the Literary (Columbia University Press)

Bei Shan Tang Catalogue Prize (Chinese Art History)

Dora C.Y. Ching, Visualizing Dunhuang: The Lo Archive Photographs of the Mogao and Yulin Caves (Princeton University Press)

Bei Shan Tang Monograph Prize (Chinese Art History)

Aurelia Campbell, What the Emperor Built: Architecture and Empire in the Early Ming (University of Washington Press)

Honorable Mention: Rachel Silberstein, A Fashionable Century: Textile Artistry and Commerce in the Late Qing (University of Washington Press)

John Whitney Hall Prize (Japan)

Victor Seow, Carbon Technocracy: Energy Regimes in Modern East Asia (University of Chicago Press) 

Honorable Mention: Michael K. Bourdaghs, A Fictional Commons: Natsume Soseki and the Properties of Modern Literature (Duke University Press)

Honorable Mention: Reginald Jackson, A Proximate Remove: Queering Intimacy and Loss in The Tale of Genji (University of California Press)

James B. Palais Prize (Korea)

Hwasook Nam, Women in the Sky: Gender and Labor in the Making of Modern Korea (Cornell University Press)

Honorable Mention: Ksenia Chizhova, Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea: Between Genealogical Time and the Domestic Everyday (Columbia University Press)

Bernard S. Cohn Prize (First book on South Asia)

Vaibhav Saria, Hijras, Lovers, Brothers: Surviving Sex and Poverty in Rural India (Fordham University Press)

Honorable Mention: Malini Sur, Jungle Passports: Fences, Mobility, and Citizenship at the Northeast India-Bangladesh Border (University of Pennsylvania Press)

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Prize (South Asia)

Elora Shehabuddin, Sisters in the Mirror: A History of Muslim Women and the Global Politics of Feminism (University of California Press)

Harry J. Benda Prize (First book on Southeast Asian Studies)

Alice Beban, Unwritten Rule: State-Making through Land Reform in Cambodia (Cornell University Press)

Honorable Mention: Lukas Ley, Building on Borrowed Time: Rising Seas and Failing Infrastructure in Semarang (University of Minnesota Press). 

George McT. Kahin Prize (Southeast Asia)

John Roosa, Buried Histories: The Anticommunist Massacres of 1965–1966 in Indonesia (University of Wisconsin Press)

Thongchai Winichakul, Moments of Silence: The Unforgetting of the October 6, 1976, Massacre in Bangkok (University of Hawaii Press)

Honorable Mention: Tania Murray Li and Pujo Semedi, Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone (Duke University Press)

Franklin R. Buchanan Prize for Curricular Materials

Lucy Park and Elizabeth Jorgensen, Sijo: Korea’s Poetry Form (Parkyoung Press)

Honorable Mention: Catherine Fratto, Lynn Kawaratani, and Evan Dawley, “Centering Taiwan in Global Asia: K-14 Curriculum Website”

Honorable Mention: Linda Hoaglund, Angela Miesle Stokes, and Kachina Leigh, “Edo Avant Garde: K to 12 Arts Curriculum

Honorable Mention: Maria Adele Carrai, Jennifer Rudolph, and Michael Szonyi, The China Questions 2 (Harvard University Press)

Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies Award

Richard Eaton, University of Arizona

Distinguished Service to the Association for Asian Studies Award

Jason Finkelman, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

William Tsutsui, Ottawa University

Graduate Student Paper Prizes

East and Inner Asia Council

Dingru Huang (Harvard University), “An Elephant Capture: ‘War against Nature,’ Multi-Ethnic Nationalism, and Animals in Socialist China”

Yifan Li (Ohio State University), “The New Architectural Wonder: Reproducing the Nanjing Yangzi River Bridge in Mao-era China”

Yi Ren (University of Pennsylvania), “Pulling Strings from the Margins of the Society: Blind Propagandists and Political Campaigns in Southeast Shanxi, 1949-1977”

Northeast Asia Council

Lillian Tsay (Brown University), “Sweetening the Empire: Japanese Western-style Confectionery in Colonial Taiwan and Beyond”

South Asia Council

Abdullah Nazar Hamad (University of British Columbia/LUMS), “From Pre-colonial to Colonial Forms of Engagement with the Pasts: A Study of Some Var Texts”

Southeast Asia Council

Ren Chao (University of Michigan), “Corporate Frontiers: Business, Empire, and Colonial Legal Pluralism in a Burmese Oilfield, c.1900-1908”

“Cultivating the Humanities and Social Sciences and Supporting Under-represented Scholars of Asia” 2022-2023 Grantees

In partnership with Sweden, the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) has launched a four-year initiative to help reduce the social and economic vulnerabilities of Southeast and South Asian low and lower-middle income countries. The “Cultivating the Humanities and Social Sciences and Supporting Under-Represented Scholars of Asia” (CHSS) project aims at strengthening the research capacity of underserved universities while enhancing the academic knowledge, research skills, experience, and resources of their scholars in the humanities and social sciences.

One of the major components of this $2.68-million transnational project is to stimulate knowledge production and policy-relevant research by offering research grants to junior faculty, graduate students, senior, and independent scholars, especially to women and ethnic minority groups located in post-conflict and conflict areas.

The competition for 2022-2023 has resulted in 21 grants being awarded to individual scholars and teams of researchers across different regions and disciplines. These short, medium, and long-term grants are made possible thanks to Sweden with the ultimate goal to contribute to poverty reduction and the building of sustainable societies. With this objective in mind, AAS has also partnered with the Forest Foundation Philippines (FFP) to sponsor Filipino scholars whose research relate to forestry issues in the Philippines. Established in 2002, under two bilateral agreements between the governments of the United States of America and the Philippines, the Forest Foundation Philippines is a non-profit organization that provides grants to individuals and organizations that protect and conserve the forests.

CHSS grantees for 2022-2023 are:


Murtaza Khavari, Kabul Education University, “Assessing the Impact of Entrepreneurship Education on Entrepreneurial Intentions of Women University Students of Kabul Education University, Afghanistan”


MD Kasir Ali, “Debris of Violence: Decaying ‘Kashmiriyat’ amidst Mutilated Ecology in Kashmir” 

Abhijit Bhattacharya, Nabagram Amar Chand Kundu College, “Being Bound by Faith: An Ethnographic Study of the Bengali Matua Settlers in Andaman Islands” 

Mary Ann Chacko and Madhumita Biswal, Ahmedabad University, “Gendered Citizenship in the Afterlife of Protests: The Case of Anti-CAA, NRC Protests, and the Niyamgiri Movement” 

Subasri Krishnan, “Shadowlines: The Forensics of Memory and Belonging” 

Zahid Rafiq, “Conversations with the Dead” 


Hatib Kadir, Bustamin Wahid, and Gilang Mahadika, Universitas Brawijaya, “Papuan’s Endurance in Living on the Margins of Urban Frontiers” 


Salai Vanni Bawi, Chiang Mai University, “Understanding the Challenges of Persons with Disabilities in Myanmar:

Myo Hlaing Win and Myo Min Latt, Danu Filmaker, “Moving Backward, Myanmar” 


Noaman Ali and Muhammad Arfan, Lahore University, “Agrarian Extractivism and Climate Disaster in the Indus Water Basin” 

Faryal Khan, “Power, Local Elites and (Re)positioning: Analyzing Mineral Production Networks in Post-conflict Newly Merged Tribal Districts (NMTDs) in Pakistan” 

Sonal Dhanani, “Climate Preparedness in Local Languages 

Muhammad Saleemi, “The Rise of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan: Populism, Class, and Masculinity” 


Maria Carolina Rodriguez-Dawonlay Bello, “Understanding Child Labour within the Context of Child Marriage in Mindanao” 

Amiel Lopez, Ateneo de Davao University, “The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor: Climate Change Responses of the Bajau in Davao” 

Grants Sponsored by the Forest Foundation Philippines  

Christine Grace Fuchigami, University of the Philippines-Open University, “Negotiating Silence of Muted Indigenous Healing and Healers in Public Health Discourse in Northern Philippines” 

Rhomir Yanquiling, “Politics, Hydraulics, and Water Flow: Afterlife Legacy of Big Dam Implementation in Northern Philippines” 


Panarat Anamwathana, Thammasat University, “Women’s Rights in 19th Century Siam” 

Anna Christi Suwardi, “Revisiting Women’s Empowerment in Thailand’s Deep South Conflict” 


Lili Chen, Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e, “What Sexualities are And What Sexualities Do? An Indigenous Understanding and Experiences of Sexualities in Timor-Leste”  

David William Plath (1930-2022)

David W. Plath accepting the Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies award at the AAS 2013 Annual Conference
David Plath accepting the Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies award at the AAS 2013 Annual Conference.

By William W. Kelly, Yale University

David Plath, one of our preeminent anthropologists of Japan, passed away peacefully from illness on November 4, 2022, at age 91. In a long engagement with Japan that stretched over seven decades, he was an ethnographer of deeply humanist intentions, a craftsman of precise and stylish writing, an innovative visual documentarian, and a generous teacher and mentor to generations of students and colleagues.

Dave was born in Elgin, Illinois in 1930. He had an early interest in writing and as a high school student worked for the town newspaper. He entered Northwestern University in 1948, majoring in journalism. On graduating in 1952 in the midst of the Korean War, he joined the U.S. Naval Reserve and served in the Pacific fleet. He was deeply moved by his experiences on shore leave in Japan, and after a year of ship duty, he requested a transfer to Japan; for a year, he was stationed at a small radio station on the outskirts of Yokohama.

After leaving the Navy, Dave entered graduate school at Harvard in order to sample the possibilities of academic study. He chose anthropology because of reading two books he had found in his Navy ship’s library: Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword and Clyde Kluckhohn’s Mirror for Man. Still, he was so uncertain if he was cut out for academics that during his entire first year, he carried his books around the Harvard campus in a brown paper bag. Only in his second year was he confident enough to buy a briefcase!

Dave earned an MA in Anthropology and Far Eastern Studies in 1959 and tried to obtain funding for doctoral fieldwork with a proposal to study patterns of leisure in everyday Japanese life. The committee rejected him because they thought he should be doing a rural community study like the other anthropologists of the time. His second proposal, to study a hot springs onsen, was also turned down as too frivolous. He was finally successful with a third proposal that allowed him and his family to spend two years in the central Japan mountain basin of Matsumoto, living in a village but moving around and studying the leisure and lifeways of townspeople, farmers, and, yes, onsen residents. His 1962 dissertation was revised and published in 1964 as The After Hours: Modern Japan and the Search for Enjoyment, an innovative and iconoclastic ethnography that both charmed and confounded its reviewers and presaged topics that much later became central to Japan studies.

As he was finishing his dissertation, he took an appointment at the University of California, Berkeley from 1961 to 1963, and then taught at the University of Iowa for three years. In 1966, he moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and remained there for the rest of his career, serving the Department of Anthropology, East Asian Studies, and the university in a number of capacities. He retired to emeritus status in 1998 but continued to be fully active in research, mentoring, and media production.

Dave loved teaching and working with students in many capacities. In 1969-70, he served as field director for the International Honors Program, leading two professors and 31 students on a nine-month round-the-world study tour. He wrote a curriculum module on Osaka for fourth-graders and in the 1970s, he was involved in to 30-program educational television course on Japanese culture and society produced by the University of Mid-America consortium. He started the university’s Year-in-Japan program. His graduate students went on to important positions in the U.S. and East Asia, and he always promoted their achievements and involved them in his projects, including two influential volumes that he edited, Adult Episodes in Japan (1975) and Work and Lifecourse in Japan (1983).

Dave always believed in the synergy of teaching and research. His publications number six books, some 60 articles, and about 120 book and film reviews; he has had a production role in over 50 educational video projects. These include at least three major fieldwork-based projects that followed The After Hours. In the 1960s, when the issue of counter-culture and commune living enlivened American sociology and popular media, Dave decided to go to Japan to study Japanese cases of utopianism and utopian communities. The result was several important articles and the 1969 book Sensei and His People: The Building of a Japanese Commune, about an intentional community in the Kansai region, Shinkyō, that was well-known at the time. The book combined his own translation of the commune’s history, as put down by the founder’s second wife, and his analysis of its internal dynamics, its complex adaptations to the outside world, and its place in a more comparative landscape of communal living experiments.

Few people noticed in the early 1970s that, despite having at the time the youngest demographic profile of all industrialized societies, Japanese scholars and planners were already beginning to think hard about the effects of a future “aging society.” Dave did take notice, and he undertook a third fieldwork project in 1972-1973 that intensively interviewed a large number of people in the Kansai region to explore what he called the life course of “adult human development.” The resulting book, Long Engagements: Maturity in Modern Japan (1980), is perhaps his most widely known work—and, he often said, the most challenging to write. It was valued because it gave ethnographic depth and cross-cultural breadth to a concept—the life course—that was generally treated in a very Euro-American frame. The book provided us a vocabulary of analysis that conjoined the emic (the ways in which Japanese cultural notions of maturity and self-actualization were given form and expression in the specific circumstances of individual lives) and the etic (how these lives can be made meaningful to similar studies elsewhere through concepts of convoy, consociates, and the like). And a decade before anthropology became self-critical of conventional ethnographic form and began searching for experimental alternatives, Dave provided a striking example of innovative writing, by juxtaposing the life trajectory of each of his four main adult interviewees against a well-known figure in contemporary Japanese fiction.

In the 1980s, Dave turned to a fourth project, which combined several of his analytical concerns, the possibilities for artisanal practice and artisanal expertise in an industrial world and life course trajectories in one’s later years. This time his fieldwork was done in collaboration with his wife, Jacquetta Hill, also an anthropologist at the University of Illinois-Urbana, and together they found themselves in a coastal village of women shellfish divers, the so-called ama still found in a few places in Japan and South Korea. The several articles and an award-winning documentary  (“Fit Surroundings,” 1993) beautifully rendered the social ecology of onshore relations and the aquatic zone of competitive working rivalries among these resilient artisans of the sea. [As part of their fieldwork (waterwork?), Dave and Jacqui followed the divers in the reefs, albeit with scuba gear that the ama banned themselves from using. I recall being the only anthropologist on a national funding committee when Dave’s grant proposal came up for discussion and the initial shock from my colleagues at his budget item for bringing scuba equipment to Japan—“this is what you all call research?” blurted out one of them. Fortunately, Dave’s reputation for serious, if unconventional, projects preceded the application, and he did get the funding!]

He never did finish the book that he planned on the ama divers because by the late 1980s, he was turning his passion and priorities to visual anthropology and the need, he strongly felt, for anthropologists to develop accessible academic documentaries to complement the popular media portraits of Japanese life. In the late 1980s he teamed up with Jackson Bailey of Earlham College to produce several documentaries on northeastern Japan. The project moved to the University of Illinois and became the Asian Educational Media Service (AEMS). For almost thirty years, Dave was the executive producer of AEMS’s production unit, the Media Production Group, which has developed over 30 video programs and documentaries on Asia that have been used in schools and broadcast in the U.S., Japan, South Korea and elsewhere. Among them are No New Ginzas (1992, on rural Japan’s global imaginings); Makiko’s New World (1999, based on a 1910 diary of a Kyoto housewife); Under Another Sun (2001, on Japanese in Singapore); Can’t Go Native? (2011, on Keith Brown’s 50 years of fieldwork in a Tōhoku town); and many more.

Although he is best known for his career in Japan anthropology, Dave was also a longtime collaborator and helpmate for his anthropologist wife Jacqui, whose own fieldwork, for over 40 years, has been with communities of ethnic Lahu in northern Thailand. They produced articles and films together on the Lahu, and they used their retirement funds to create a scholarship foundation that has supported educational opportunities for a great many Lahu youth.

Dave’s research was supported by numerous prestigious fellowships over the years (including Ford Foundation, Guggenheim, ACLS-SSRC, and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) but he was especially gratified by two recognitions. In 2010 the Society for East Asian Anthropology established the David Plath Media Award, which is given out biennially for the best new media work, and in 2013, the Association for Asian Studies gave him its annual award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies.

Dave’s final completed project was a deeply moving documentary, So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of a War (he was working on two more media projects at the time of his passing). He did this in collaboration with one of his former doctoral students, Chung Byung-Ho, now professor emeritus at Hanyang University in South Korea. The documentary followed the project to repatriate the remains of the Korean men who were forced into slave labor in Hokkaidō during the Asia-Pacific War. Professor Chung relates that when he told Dave about his plans, Dave signed on immediately, and in the summer of 2015, rushed to set up a documentary team with his own funds. To cut expenses, Dave worked with only one camerawoman and with his grandson as an assistant, and he directed, edited, and subtitled the film himself that he finished in 2016.

With both words and images, Dave had a singular, beguiling style, evident even in the titles he coined—articles like “Land of the Rising Sunday” (1960), “Who Sleeps with Whom?” (1966), “The Last Confucian Sandwich” (1975), “Bourbon in the Tea” (1977), and “My-car-isma” (1990). For many of us, Dave was as warm and charming in person as he was wry and sparkling on the page or screen. He was expressive in gesture as well as in words. He could widen his eyes to dance to a pun and arch his eyebrows in incredulity. He was unpretentious in manner, generous to all, but uncompromising in his belief in the power and responsibility of ethnography to communicate to the best of one’s abilities the pleasures and poignancy of the lives of others. He was a master of the anthropological métier.

Introducing the Association for Chinese Art History

Screenshot of the Association for Chinese Art History website
Homepage of the Association for Chinese Art History (ACAH)

Scholars of Chinese art history now have a new home to share news, events, and find their communities! The Association for Chinese Art History (ACAH) is a newly-formed committee of AAS, associated with the East and Inner Asia Council (EIAC). It seeks to promote communication and community among scholars of Chinese art and architectural history and the visual cultures of global and diasporic Chinas by providing opportunities for dialogue, promotion of scholarly opportunities and events, and celebration of the achievements of members of our field. Our call for membership is now open – please join us!

Planning for ACAH began in late 2020, when art historians Michelle C. Wang, Amy McNair, Kate Lingley, and Roberta Wue, now members of the present ACAH Board of Directors, were invited by AAS to collaborate on a proposal to the Hong Kong-based Bei Shan Tang Foundation 北山堂基金. The Bei Shan Tang Foundation, founded by Dr. J. S. Lee in 1985, seeks to promote Chinese art and culture, and advance scholarship in those areas in both the academic and museum sectors in Hong Kong and beyond. Among their other major initiatives are the J.S. Lee Memorial Fellowship Progamme and the Bei Shan Tang Doctoral Thesis Grants. We are grateful for our collaboration with the Bei Shan Tang Foundation, which enabled the establishment of ACAH in 2022.

The initial round of ACAH initiatives launched with the announcement of the Bei Shan Tang Book Prizes for sole-authored monographs and catalogues in Chinese art history. The Bei Shan Tang Prize Committee, consisting of Xin Conan-Wu and Foong Ping, and chaired by Roberta Wue, thoroughly enjoyed reading and discussing the latest titles in Chinese art history. The announcement of prize-winning books and authors will be made prior to the 2023 AAS Annual Conference.

The second major initiative was support for two sponsored panels at the 2023 AAS Annual Conference. Similar to the Bei Shan Tang Book Prize submissions, the entries for panel sponsorship were exciting in their breadth of topics and approaches and indicative of new directions in Chinese art history scholarship. Please look out for the two sponsored panels in the digital edition of the conference program.

We welcome all to the ACAH meeting-in-conjunction at the 2023 AAS Annual Conference on Saturday, March 18, 12:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. in the Riverway Room of the Sheraton Hotel. This is not a formal meeting, but rather an opportunity for you to drop in anytime to meet with members of the current ACAH board. We are looking forward to meeting with you and discussing your ideas for ACAH: how this growing organization can best serve the needs and interests of faculty, students, museum professionals, art world professionals, and independent scholars by meeting the challenges of the present day and anticipating the opportunities of the future. Please stop by!

Looking beyond the 2023 AAS Annual Conference: we need you! We need your submissions for a fresh round of Bei Shan Tang Book Prizes and AAS conference panels, and your news and announcements for our member listserv, which will be hosted by the Smithsonian Institution. We will need your participation in mentoring opportunities and a formal meeting envisioned for the 2024 AAS Annual Conference. Above all, we will need your participation in elections for a new ACAH Board of Directors to be announced later this year. Similar to the Japan Art History Forum, the American Council for Southern Asian Art, the Historians of Islamic Art Association, and the Arts Council of the African Studies Association, we now have a space to call our own.

— Submitted by Michelle C. Wang, Georgetown University

For their vision, guidance, and support, sincere thanks to: Jianfei He and Carmen Bat at the Bei Shan Tang Foundation; Jenny F. So at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (emerita); Hilary V. Finchum-Sung, Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, and past and present EIAC Chairs Jack Chen, Peter Carroll, and Shellen Xiao Wu at the Association for Asian Studies; Chase F. Robinson, Jan Stuart, and J. Keith Wilson at the National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution; Louise Cort of SEACeramArch; Manling Luo of the T’ang Studies Society; Andrew Maske, Lia Robinson, and Trevor Mendors of the Japan Art History Forum; and Katie Ryor and Nixi Cura of the Arts of China Consortium, who paved the way.

Add These AAS 2023 Late-Breaking Sessions to Your Conference Schedule

A session at the AAS 2022 Annual Conference

Thank you to everyone who submitted a proposal for our AAS 2023 Annual Conference Late-Breaking Sessions. The selection committee had some difficult decisions to make, and has chosen six sessions—three that will be presented on February 18 as part of the virtual conference, and three that will take place at the March 16-19 in-person conference in Boston.

The six Late-Breaking Sessions are:


“Gender and the Politics of Family: New Laws Reshaping Divorce, Remarriage, and Custody in Japan”

“Indonesia’s New Criminal Code: Decolonizing the Law of Undermining Democracy”

“The Rise of Anti-Feminist Backlash and Gender Politics in South Korea”


“Ethnographers in the Field: Trauma, Community-Building, and Resilience”

“How Far will the United States’ Tech War on China Go?: The Implications of Biden’s Emerging China Technology Policy”

“Civic Engagement: Public Health Responses, Material and Digital Spaces, and Politics During the COVID-19 Pandemic in China”

Use the links above to view full details, including the session abstracts and participants, and to add the sessions to your conference schedule through the AAS 2023 online program.

AAS 2023 Call for Nominations

The Association for Asian Studies welcomes nominations and self-nominations of candidates for our Fall 2023 elections. All nominations must be submitted by completing this online form no later than Friday, February 24.

Nominees should be current AAS members (or must become members if selected to appear on the election ballot) who wish to contribute to the Association and the field of Asian Studies through participation in AAS governance. Positions to be filled in the Fall 2023 AAS elections are three members each in the four Area Councils (East & Inner Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia) and two members of the Diversity and Equity Committee (one Asian Studies professional [faculty, researchers, librarians, or other] and one graduate student).

Terms of service vary by position: three years for members of all Area Councils and faculty on the Diversity and Equity Committee and one year for the graduate student member of the Diversity and Equity Committee. All AAS governing bodies meet in person at the Annual Conference, hold several additional meetings online throughout the year, and remain in frequent communication via email and the AAS Community Forum. As the workload varies by council/committee, depending on specific programs and initiatives overseen by each, we recommend contacting a current member of AAS governance to discuss the time commitment and responsibilities involved.

All nominations will be reviewed by the appropriate council/committee, which will in turn set its slate of candidates for the Fall 2023 elections. Council/committee meetings will take place during the AAS 2023 Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts (March 16-19) and nominees will be announced in Summer 2022. Nomination does not guarantee appearance on the final electoral ballot.

If you are nominating a colleague, please check with them to ensure they have time and interest in participating in AAS governance over the next 1-3 years. (We will also verify that all nominees are willing to stand for election prior to proceeding.)

Questions or issues with the online form? Please contact for assistance.

Thank you for your support of the AAS!

Meet the New AAS Vice President: Hyaeweol Choi

Photo of Hyaeweol Choi

Hyaeweol Choi is chair of the Department of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, and Stanley Family and Korea Foundation Chair in Korean Studies at the University of Iowa. Professor Choi is also the founding director of the Korean Studies Research Network (KoRN). She will take office as AAS vice president following the 2023 Annual Conference in March.

I am supposed to introduce myself in this space. I have been thinking about what is the best way to do that. I could describe myself as a Koreanist with research interests in the areas of gender, empire, modernity, religion, food and body, and transnational history. That captures the basic facts, but I think that you may get to know me better if I were to recount some of the details of my intellectual journey in which serendipitous encounters with ideas, people, institutions, or a particular set of circumstances inspired me to explore new perspectives and to carve out my own scholarly interests and identity.

The most singularly important influence in my life was my mother. At a time and in a culture where women often did not have a voice, she “indoctrinated” me to claim mine. She believed that women should be highly educated, have careers, and be independent. She suggested to me that I pursue teaching, which to her mind was the best profession for women. She reasoned that there tended to be less discrimination against women in teaching, plus summer and winter breaks would make it easier to raise children. To her delight, I embraced the idea. I still remember her chuckling at me as I lectured my “students” (pillows) arranged around me (“Listen to Choi Seonsaengnim!”).

My childhood dream got complicated when I entered college in the early 1980s. At that time South Korea was under a military dictatorship. Student protests were a significant part of campus life, and working as a reporter for the campus newspaper transformed my intellectual outlook. To better understand the complex historical context and political/economic structures affecting Korean society and the world, we read a wide range of books in humanities and social sciences as part of our extracurricular activities. Those readings and our heated discussions were often directed at the issues we were facing, such as the undemocratic political system, economic disparity, and the division of the nation. We did not use terms like interdisciplinarity, but that was what my peers and I were engaged in. In retrospect, this type of theme- and issue-oriented reading and writing practice, rather than a specific disciplinary approach, had a lasting impact on my intellectual orientation.

Another major influence from that time was a deep commitment to decolonizing the knowledge system that had been shaped by colonial and neo-colonial histories. In particular, my work experience at the Institute for Korean Historical Studies (Yeoksa munje yeonguso), which was part of the broadly termed “scholarly movement” (haksul undong) among the younger generation, gave me the opportunity to engage in the exploration of what might be done to bypass theories centered on Euro-American societies and to create an indigenous knowledge system rooted in a deep understanding of Korean history and society. To foster the development of indigenous knowledge, students of my generation were encouraged to study at home to cultivate the intellectual infrastructure in Korea and to avoid perpetuating the uneven system of knowledge production and distribution.

Given that background, many of my colleagues were surprised when I decided to get my doctorate in the U.S. Although I did travel to the old center of knowledge to do my Ph.D., my focus remained on the uneven global system of knowledge, drawing theoretical insights from world system theories and Third World perspectives. I had planned to return to Korea after earning my Ph.D. to continue that line of scholarly inquiry. However, my plans to return were derailed for various professional and personal reasons, a significant one being that the Korean academic community was unfriendly (to say it mildly) to women scholars.

The environment for women in U.S. academia may have been a little better, but at the beginning of my academic career in the U.S., I struggled. The field of Korean studies had only just begun to emerge as integral part of East Asian studies, and there were very few positions available. I thought myself to be fortunate to be offered visiting appointments, first at the University of Kansas (1994-1996), then at Smith College (1996-1998). After Smith, I got my first tenure-track position at Arizona State University in 1998. It was a great place to get started on an academic career. I had lots of support and encouragement from my colleagues there in building the Korean studies program in collaboration with other Asianists. It also taught me an enduring truth: sharing delicious food helps to create a vibrant intellectual community, and Asian studies programs host the best potluck dinners!

If I were to single out the most significant and happiest “accident” of my career that set me on a new direction of my research program, I would say it was a casual visit to the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History in the fall of 1996. I had no plan or goal. I just dropped in to see what might be there. What I found was a wealth of archival documents, many written in longhand, almost all faded and brittle with age—personal diaries, reports, and letters. I was intrigued by the voices of these women, many of whom had travelled overseas as missionaries, tourists, or journalists in the late nineteenth century. Their history came alive, and I was inspired to look more deeply into their stories. Specifically, I became interested in the impact that U.S. Protestant missionary work had on women’s history in modern Korea beginning in the late nineteenth century. A seemingly endless chain of questions that had rarely been explored from a feminist viewpoint came to my mind. When I began this study, I thought I might publish an article on the topic; ten years later that work had resulted in several articles and a book.

When preparing that book, I consulted a great many primary sources. I realized that primary sources on modern womanhood in Korea were only available in Korean, unlike in the fields of Chinese and Japanese studies, where many primary sources have good English translations available. That gap prompted me to launch a translation project focusing on the phenomena of “new women” and “modern girls” that were truly global with local/regional variations. My strong commitment to comparative and cross-regional perspectives brought me the great good fortune to work with scholars beyond Korean studies, co-authoring and co-editing books focusing on an integrated East Asian gender history.

In 2010 I was offered a position at the Australian National University. Relocating to Australia was another turning point in my intellectual journey. The sheer fact of relocating to the southern hemisphere and a region that has a fundamentally different relationship with Asia and the Pacific shifted my perspective, and it has given me opportunities to interact and work with a whole new slate of colleagues in East Asian, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Pacific studies. As the director of the Korea Institute at ANU, I made special efforts to collaborate with scholars of Asia and the Pacific. Numerous seminars and happy hours over meals and coffee led to productive, interdisciplinary, and cross-regional collaboration. One common thread through all those collaborations was the adoption of a transnational outlook that focuses on the flow of people, materials, and images across national borders. That outlook has enriched my research in investigating the ways in which transnational encounters played a role in shaping modern gender ideology, reforming domestic practices, and coming to grips with a sense of locality and the world.

My current project focuses on food and the life politics of domesticity in global Korea. In some ways it is a culmination, bringing together my longstanding commitment to interdisciplinary, intersectional, and transnational approaches to gender history and culture. Food is mundane, tangible, and corporeal. At the same time, food is deeply embedded in broader socioeconomic, political, cultural, and environmental contexts. Ultimately, the project is an inquiry into ethical living, taking cues from food in understanding the ever-more interconnected world. I am particularly interested in bringing to light lesser-known historical figures—mothers, nuns, housewives, adoptees, street vendors, local farmers, and community organizers—whose lives, identities, and politics help us rethink, rename, and revalue existing perspectives on gender, race, class, power, and nature.

Throughout this long journey, the Association for Asian Studies has been my most important scholarly platform. It has nurtured and inspired me with numerous opportunities to share research findings, build networks, and collaborate with colleagues and students. I have had the privilege to serve AAS as a member in the Northeast Asia Council, Council of Conferences, Committee on Korean Studies, the Journal of Asian Studies, and the Annual Conference Program Committee, as well as book award committees. I am truly excited to work closely with the members of AAS as part of the presidential leadership team.

I think that this particular historical moment poses numerous challenges but also presents exciting new possibilities for scholars of Asia. As we move forward, there are a few specific themes I would like to focus on. First, while continuing the traditional vigor in country-specific research, I would like to foster inter-area, transnational, and diasporic studies by cultivating active collaboration not only between traditional areas of focus in the humanities and social sciences but also in natural, medical, and environmental sciences. Second, AAS has become a truly global society. Building on its existing global networks, I would like to link AAS to academic communities in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, Oceania, and Europe. Third, as a strong believer in mentoring, I want to strengthen various programs that support the younger generation of scholars. Fourth, diversity reveals structural inequalities of gender, race, class, and others; at the same time, it can help us generate new perspectives and institute empowering practices. In close collaboration with the Diversity and Equity Committee, I will strive to engage with a broad range of scholars and students to foster AAS as a safe, equitable, and inspiring scholarly society. Finally, in response to a growing demand for timely and relevant scholarship on the critically important issues of our time, I will work to cultivate creative and responsible engagement with issues of the day for the public good.

I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve as the next vice president of AAS. I think I am a good listener. I would love to hear from you if you have suggestions or proposals that AAS should consider. I very much look forward to thinking together and working with you to advance the AAS.

Sumie Jones Prize for Project Leadership in Japan-centered Humanities

The Association for Asian Studies and the Northeast Asia Council (NEAC) are grateful to Sumie Jones, Professor Emerita at Indiana University and an AAS member for more than 45 years, for providing the resources, leadership, and inspiration for the establishment of the Sumie Jones Prize for Project Leadership in Japan-centered Humanities.

The mission of the prize is to recognize and honor scholars who work collaboratively with others to promote impactful projects in the Japanese humanities in the U.S.. Humanities projects eligible for the prize include the following kinds of collaborative work:

  • Edited volumes of scholarship on the humanities including anthologies
  • International conferences on any topic in the Japan-centered humanities
  • Art exhibits, typically organized by a curator
  • Musical or theatrical performances; for example, bringing English-speaking kabuki to audiences across the United States. (This would exclude something like bringing a single Japanese performer for a concert tour.)

AAS hopes to award the prize every year, and a call for nominations will be issued in spring 2023. Nomination should come from a departmental chair, a research center director, a museum director, a publisher’s editor, a public foundation’s advising staff, or some other person in the position of supervising and supporting the project. Projects need to have been completed in the U.S. within the two years prior to the nomination date.

NEAC will award a prize in the amount of $3,000 to the director(s) of the project; a project director could be the editor of a collaborative book by multiple authors, a lead curator of a museum exhibit, a director of a theatrical production, etc. There may not be an award every year, but two full prizes in two different categories—for example, a book project and an art exhibition—may be given during the same year. Up to two persons can be awarded as directors of a project, in which case the award to each individual would be $1,500. Directors of respective projects should be responsible for the selection, mobilization, coordination, and management of the work of multiple participants.

Projects that consist only, or mainly, as standalone websites are not eligible at this time. The prize recognizes collaborations between scholars and artists with a broad reach.

Information about nominating prizes for consideration in the 2024 competition will be posted at the AAS website following the 2023 Annual Conference.

Mark Ross Bookman, PhD (1991–2022)

Mark Ross Bookman, historian and activist, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on December 16, 2022, in his apartment in Tokyo. His passing creates an enormous gap in the Japanese studies and disability academic and activist communities.

Mark was born on April 20, 1991, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, sixteen weeks prematurely. He was diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative condition at the age of eight, and received a heart transplant at the age of ten. Due to the immunosuppressive medications he took during his childhood, he learned early how to social distance, and he wrote in his dissertation that this experience led him to a lifelong interest in Japan. A fan of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Full Metal Alchemist, Mark studied for two months at Waseda University during the summer of 2008 on a Japan-U.S. Youth Exchange Scholarship. In 2012, he returned to Japan to study at Sophia University on a program sponsored by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). By this time, Mark was using a wheelchair, and this personal experience began a lifelong advocacy of universal design and accessibility in both public and private spaces in Japan and the United States.

Graduating from Villanova University summa cum laude with a major in global interdisciplinary studies in 2014, Mark was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship to study Buddhism in Japan at Toyo University in Tokyo. During this time in Japan—unlike his previous experience, this trip was marked with accessibility hurdles—he wrote that his life was “like a puzzle,” with many different pieces that needed to fit together properly so he could achieve his personal and professional goals. Mark began to shift away from historical, philosophical, and religious studies in Japan and move towards disability studies. He embarked on a MA and then PhD program in East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 after receiving a Geo L. Harrison Doctoral Fellowship. In 2018, he was the recipient of the AAS Council of Conferences Panel Prize and the Penn Prize for Graduate Student Teaching Excellence. Also at UPenn, he directed his energies to making his campus a better place for disabled students: he was instrumental in launching a mobile web app called AMP (accessibility mapping project), a digital interface for mapping physical and social barriers on college campuses. This project exemplified Mark’s generosity of spirit, as he wanted his hard-won experiences to better the lives of future students at UPenn and elsewhere.

Mark won a Japan Foundation Doctoral Scholarship to study at the University of Tokyo for 2018-19, and there he did the archival and interview research that resulted in his 2021 dissertation, Politics and Prosethetics: 150 Years of Disability in Japan, supervised by Dr. Jolyon Thomas. Ambitious in scope with finely grained detail, Mark unpacked this history through the disciplinary lenses of history, public policy, and legal studies, bound together by critical approaches from disability studies. During the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics he was busy as an in-demand accessibility consultant for Paralympic preparations. He also contributed frequently to the Japan Times on issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on vulnerable populations in Japan. He consulted widely with not for profit and other organizations such as the Japan National Assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI); the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; the Committee for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Special Envoy to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Disability and Accessibility, and Accessibility Standards, Canada. Mark’s 2019 TED Talk, “Paralympics as Possibility,” brought his ideas about the contributions disabled people make to society to a wider appreciative audience. In 2021, he joined the University of Tokyo as a Postdoctoral Fellow at its Institutes for Advanced Study and was also appointed as an inaugural member of the newly established International Committee of Japan Society for Disability Studies.

The year 2022 started with many career highs for Mark: he had articles accepted by the Journal of Japanese Studies, Disability Studies Quarterly, and Japanese Studies, and wrote forthcoming chapters in collected volumes from the University of Hawai’i Press, Hong Kong University Press, and Routledge. He won an award for his advocacy work, the HandsOnTokyo Ideathon for Disability Inclusion Excellence. In September, his father visited him in Tokyo for the first time since the pandemic began, and together they worked on filming a documentary on Mark’s remarkable life with others, including the eminent disability studies Professor Nagase Osamu of Ritsumeikan University. Mark was elected to the Association for Asian Studies’ Diversity and Equity Committee, to the Disability History Association’s board of directors, and to the Society for Disability Studies’ board of directors. He was on his way to a tenured position at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, where he was a visiting researcher. His dissertation manuscript had been accepted for formal consideration by a prestigious UK academic press just two weeks before his death. It is with these accomplishments that we remember Mark’s inestimable talents; his colleagues are committed to seeing through his in-press works to extend his intellectual legacy.

A bright young scholar and committed activist, he is also remembered as an empathetic and genuinely caring friend. Mark had an amazing ability to convey real personal warmth through videotelephony and messaging platforms: during the pandemic, he maintained strong virtual relationships with friends and family. He had a talent for nurturing relationships that grew and deepened despite distance. Those of us who benefited from his good humor, his determination and his deeply caring nature will miss him dearly. He was predeceased by his mother, Debby, and is survived by his father, Paul; his stepmother, Wasna Dabbagh; his sister Rachel; his fiancée Fangdan Li; and by a diverse and expansive community of activists and researchers who were deeply touched by his research, generosity, and kindness.

— Submitted by Carolyn Stevens, Monash University

A simple memorial service for Mark Bookman will be held on Wednesday, December 21 from 6pm at Sophia University, Yotsuya Campus. All are welcome to attend in person or online (via Zoom). Please join his colleagues and friends to share memories of and inspiration from Mark.

Date: Wednesday, Dec 21st
Time: 18:00, doors open at 17:30 (Tokyo time)
Location: Sophia Campus (room to be decided)
Zoom: Memorial for Mark Bookman

Time: Dec 21, 2022 05:30 PM Osaka, Sapporo, Tokyo
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 959 8323 5730; Passcode: 256061

AAS 2022 Election Results

The AAS Fall 2022 election opened on September 15 and concluded on November 15. All current AAS members received an electronic ballot to vote in the election; of the 6,515 ballots sent, 1,001 were cast, representing a participation rate of 15.36 percent. Results of the election appear below.

We thank Survey and Ballot Systems for administering the 2022 election on our behalf, and all the AAS members who participated in the election by voting, as well as those who stood for election.

Those elected to office will assume their positions following the AAS 2023 Annual Conference in Boston (March 16-19).


The current AAS Vice President, Jean Oi (Stanford University), automatically assumes the role of President.

Vice President

Hyaeweol Choi (University of Iowa)

East and Inner Asia Council

Ho-fung Hung (Johns Hopkins University)

Tansen Sen (New York University Shanghai)

Emily Wilcox (William & Mary)

Northeast Asia Council

Japan Studies

Charlotte Eubanks (Pennsylvania State University)

Kate McDonald (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Korean Studies

Jina Kim (University of Oregon)

South Asia Council

Walter Hakala (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Naeem Mohaiemen (Columbia University)

Projit Bihari Mukharji (University of Pennsylvania)

Southeast Asia Council

Michitake Aso (University at Albany, SUNY)

Paul Hutchcroft (College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University)

Ardeth Thawnghmung (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

Council of Conferences

New York Conference on Asian Studies (NYCAS)

Patricia Welch (Hofstra University)

Southeast Conference of the AAS (SEC/AAS)

Kevin Fogg (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Southwest Conference on Asian Studies (SWCAS)

Jooyoun Lee (St. Edward’s University)

Diversity and Equity Committee

Graduate Student

Felicity Stone-Richards (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Tenure-track/Adjunct/Non-tenure-track/Independent Scholar

Wen Liu (Academia Sinica)

* Mark Bookman (University of Tokyo) received election to the Diversity and Equity Committee, but passed away suddenly on December 16, 2022. First runner-up Wen Liu has graciously agreed to serve on the DEC.


AAS members voted to approve changing name of the China & Inner Asia Council to the East & Inner Asia Council.

AAS members voted to approve the removal of gender-specific language from the AAS Constitution and Bylaws.

AAS members voted to approve instituting two-year terms of service on the AAS Board for Council Chairs.

AAS members voted to approve the addition of an Executive Committee to the AAS Constitution and Bylaws.

Call for Applications: Japan Studies Graduate Student DEI Travel Grants

Deadline: January 18, 2023 February 1, 2023

The Japan-US Friendship Commission (JUSFC) has awarded the AAS $5,000 to support the AAS 2023 Annual Conference attendance of up to 5 graduate students in Japan Studies. The aim is to increase the presence and participation of racial and ethnic minorities as well as LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, as well as those of low socioeconomic status, and other underrepresented groups. Applicants do not need to be a part of an organized session, nor do they need to be members of the AAS, to receive the grant.

Applications from Japan Studies graduate students who meet any or multiple meet the following DEI criteria will be considered:

  • Black, LatinX, and LGBTQ+ students focused on the study of Japan
  • First-generation young scholars
  • Students at institutions with limited support for Asian Studies
  • Students with disabilities
  • Students of low socioeconomic status
  • Students who belong to another underrepresented group

Eligible costs for the grant include airfare and hotel accommodations up to $1,000 per awardee from their institution to Boston, MA for the in-person conference March 16-19, 2023. Awards will be provided on a reimbursement basis following the conference.

Applicants must submit the following:

  • A short narrative explanation of the applicant’s current research and its connection to Japan Studies (maximum 500 words).
  • The applicant’s plan for AAS conference participation. This should include details of session presentation, including title and focus (if applicable), and a proposed plan for networking and engagement in conference activities (maximum 500 words).
  • A current CV (no longer than 2 pages).
  • Proof of student status (either current AAS student Membership status or two forms of student status verification:)
    • Enrollment Verification Letter from the official registrar with current date
    • Copy of Transcript – must include current semester
    • Copy of Current Course Schedule – must include date of current semester courses and your name
    • Copy of student ID – must include the current school year
  • AAS Membership Number (if applicable)

The Association for Asian Studies is grateful for the support of the JUSFC and is delighted to have this opportunity to support conference participants.

Please Note: Conditions of JUSFC funding dictate that only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to receive awards.

AAS 2023 Keynote Address: “Asia in a Fragile World”

Please join the Association for Asian Studies on Thursday, March 16, 2023 for the AAS 2023 Annual Conference Keynote Address, “Asia in a Fragile World,” presented by Pasuk Phongpaichit (Chulalongkorn University). This event is made possible by generous support from the Harvard-Yenching Institute.

With the pandemic and the surge in extreme weather, the physical world no longer seems stable and benign. After an interval of relative calm, geopolitical conflict has dramatically increased. Rising inequality has contributed to divisive and extreme politics everywhere. This lecture looks at Asia in the present day and immediate future from the perspective of a political economist, concentrating on human welfare and the demands on the academy.

Pasuk Phongpaichit is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Thailand. She was born in a village outside Bangkok, went to Monash University, Australia on a Colombo Plan scholarship, and has a doctorate from the University of Cambridge. Her research has focused on practical issues and public policy including the sex industry, corruption, illegal economy, gambling, social movements, inequality, taxation, and most recently land governance. CONTINUE READING

March 16, 2023
Boston Sheraton Hotel
Add to your schedule (registered conference attendees only)

Keynote Address Sponsor

Call for Proposals: 2023 Annual Conference Late-Breaking Sessions

The AAS invites proposals for late-breaking sessions to be held at the 2023 Annual Conference online and in Boston, Massachusetts. Late-breaking panels and roundtables provide a forum for engaging in dialogue on current events that affect our perspectives on and work in the Asian region; proposed sessions should focus on emerging data or trending topics from the past six months.

The AAS will accept a maximum of three late-breaking sessions for the 2023 conference. Only organized panels and roundtables are eligible for consideration—no individual papers will be accepted. All conference sessions are 90 minutes in length. Individuals already on the program are welcome to participate in a late-breaking session.

All proposals must be submitted by 11:59pm Eastern Time on Monday, January 9, with decision notices sent to session participants later in January.

While the Program Committee encourages proposals on all timely topics, it especially encourages sessions that will discuss:

  • Feminism and gender politics
  • Race and systemic racism
  • The COVID-19 pandemic in Asia
  • U.S. political impact on the region
  • Gaming and addiction
  • Migration and displacement
  • Pollution and health in the region
  • Shifting demographics in the region
  • Other late-breaking topics

Read more and get information on how to apply at the AAS 2023 Annual Conference website.

Fall 2022 AAS Board of Directors Meeting — Report to Members

On October 17, 2022, the Association for Asian Studies Board of Directors (BOD) held a day-long meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with one Board member joining via Zoom. Over the course of the day, the BOD discussed ongoing business and voted on several important action items, summarized below.

For many years, the Chair of the Finance Committee—an individual appointed by the BOD—has sat on the AAS Board. As an outcome of the governance review carried out in 2020-21, the BOD voted to create the position of elected Treasurer, who will chair the Finance Committee and represent that body on the Board. The Treasurer will serve a four-year term with the possibility of re-election, and in the future there will be an open call for nominations. The BOD voted that when current Finance Committee Chair Thomas G. Rawski steps down at the end of 2022, Finance Committee member Siddharth Chandra will take office as AAS Treasurer. The Board of Directors thanks Rawski for his many years of service to the AAS.

Further amendments to the financial architecture of the AAS will follow, as the Association’s leadership seeks to increase transparency and improve the organization’s financial footing. There will likely be a change in management of the investment portfolio, proceeds from which provide an important source of funding for AAS programming. For the past decade, the Finance Committee has overseen investments, taking a generally passive “buy and hold” approach that has not met growth targets. Switching to professional management of the investment portfolio will entail management fees, but will enable a more flexible, nimble approach that will hopefully yield better results. The BOD also approved several changes to accounting procedures that will streamline operations in that department.

To better serve the needs of K-12 educators, the Board voted to create a new Educator membership. Those who join in this category will receive a print copy of Education About Asia rather than the Journal of Asian Studies, as well as one volume from the Key Issues in Asian Studies book series. The Educator category will be available in early 2023.

The Board received a proposal from the American Institute for Indonesian Studies and Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to co-host the 9th AAS-in-Asia conference in the summer of 2024. The BOD voted to accept this proposal and move ahead with planning for the conference.

William Tsutsui’s term as Editorial Board Chair will conclude at the end of 2022, and Jan Bardsley will take over this role, with Dong Wang in the vice-chair position. The Board of Directors expresses thanks to Tsutsui for his years of guidance as Editorial Board Chair.

Tsutsui presented several proposed changes to Editorial Board structure and operations, all of which were approved by the BOD. These include adding two new voting members to the Editorial Board (an Asian Studies librarian and a scholar who can add diversity, equity, and inclusion perspectives to the group’s work), switching to all-virtual meetings, receiving a designated panel slot at the AAS Annual Conference, and ensuring that all book series editors have formal fixed-term contracts with the potential for renewal.

The Diversity and Equity Committee requested two designated panel spots at the Annual Conference, with $5,000 in funding from the AAS each year to support them. The BOD voted in favor of this request.

The Board also voted on the recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies award; the name of the individual selected will be announced early in the new year.

Excerpt: New Threats to Academic Freedom in Asia

New Threats to Academic Freedom in Asia

We are pleased to share an excerpt from the introduction of the latest Asia Shorts title from AAS Publications, New Threats to Academic Freedom in Asia. Edited by Dimitar D. Gueorguiev (Syracuse University), this collection originated with a May 2021 workshop supported by the Open Society Foundations and hosted by the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs at Syracuse University. The resulting volume includes six essays in which authors examine questions of academic freedom in locations from India to Japan, using cross-national data and in-depth case studies to shed light on the multifaceted nature of academic censorship and provide reference points to those working in restrictive academic environments.

Print and e-book copies of New Threats to Academic Freedom in Asia are available for order through Columbia University Press, the distribution partner of AAS Publications, and the volume is also available in open access format at the AAS website. Register now to join an AAS Digital Dialogue session about the book on Wednesday, November 30 at 7:00pm Eastern Time.

Introduction: Progress Under Threat — Academic Freedom in Asia

By Dimitar D. Gueorguiev

Asia at a Crossroads

In few places is the tension between a desire for academic progress and the threat to academic freedom more pronounced than it is in Asia today. On the one hand, countries in Asia have been keen on growing their intellectual footprint, both as a way of contributing to national development and security strategies as well as a means of retaining their most talented young minds who are otherwise likely to seek education and employment abroad. This push has manifested in several ways, including increased spending on higher education as well as schemes for repatriating and attracting talent from abroad.

Thanks to these investments, universities in Singapore, Japan, and China have joined the ranks of the world’s top schools.Asian researchers are also making their mark across disciplines in the sciences and the humanities, contributing an ever-growing share of global patents and publications. Across the region, higher education is increasingly seen not only as a tool for development but also as an instrument for garnering international prestige and bolstering national soft power. In short, Asia’s universities are contributing to and symbolizing the region’s growing influence.

At the same time, threats to academic freedom in Asia remain prevalent and widespread. These threats run the gamut from state repression to informal societal pressure; they even include betrayal in the classroom. Some threats, like the risk of losing state funding or promotion, are common and familiar across the region. Others, like Pakistan’s brutal anti-blasphemy laws, are concentrated in parts of Asia where scholars already work under dire conditions. Across the region, new laws against spreading rumors and misinformation on the Internet are cropping up, offering authorities novel and often unchecked power to suppress and sanction critical perspectives.

In terms of size, scope, and depth, academic freedom has arguably suffered the greatest under China’s authoritarian leaders. China’s uncomfortable relationship with academic freedom is nothing new. The Great Firewall has long been a barrier for Chinese scholars and students seeking to access global knowledge sources, including academic search engines like Google Scholar. Yet, under the current Xi Jinping administration, the space for international collaboration and foreign scholarship has been greatly diminished, authorities have issued blanket warnings against critical scholars, and regime leaders have called for thorough campaigns and party building on university campuses. Increasingly, Chinese censors have sought to assert their weight more globally, pressuring international publishers to edit content if they want access to the Chinese market while intimidating teachers and students, both in and outside the PRC, with laws that criminalize sensitive discussions on China.

While foundations for academic freedom are considerably stronger in the world’s largest democracy, the current leadership in India is widely seen as hostile to critical scholarship and free expression. More frequent use of India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, alongside limits on international collaboration, has substantially curtailed the space for scholarship that is critical of the regime and its policies inside India. Indeed, the broad scope of these measures impacted the production of this volume as well, with an important chapter on India being withdrawn late into the review process due to a steadily worsening situation on the country’s university campuses.

Across the region, academic freedom is also under threat from ultra-conservative elements within domestic society who have trained their sights on liberal and outspoken academics, often with active complicity or quiet acquiescence from university administrators. In Thailand, royalist groups openly harass students and academics they see as antimonarchy. Japanese historians critical of the country’s wartime experience have long been the target of conservative activists. Meanwhile, a rising Hindu-nationalist movement has pitted far-right groups against liberal intellectuals and students on campuses in India and abroad. Conservative groups in Indonesia have become increasingly brazen in their attacks on liberal scholars across a wide range of issues, from religion and communism to those issues related to the LGBTQ community and climate change.

Across much of Asia, these societal forces operate with tacit support or coordination from political parties and government agencies. Hindu nationalists, for instance, emboldened by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governors and their student-led branch, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), now have a presence across Indian universities and even some foreign campuses. In Japan, conservative groups are intermeshed with elites in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as well as those holding the keys to research funding and major media outlets. In mainland China, and even in classrooms abroad, student informants, loosely tied to Chinese Communist Party organizations like the United Front, are tasked with observing and reporting on their teachers and peers.

Increasingly, attacks on academic freedom are aided by the removal of legal protections. In the Philippines, former President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration revoked a long-standing prohibition against security forces on university grounds. Academic freedom is also being curtailed by new laws, such as online “fake news” restrictions, that give the state sweeping prosecutorial powers. As noted earlier, Hong Kong’s National Security Law (NSL), adopted in June 2020, gives Chinese authorities a legal framework for encroaching on academic freedom in an extraterritorial manner that puts both scholars and students at risk, irrespective of their location or their citizenship.

Despite these disturbing developments, Asia is also unique insofar as threats to academic freedom have been prosecuted in ways that help preserve academic prestige and institutional ranking in some areas, even as basic freedoms are denied in others. As such, the subversion of academic rights in Asia represents an existential test of whether academic freedom exists as an immutable concept for all or as a piecemeal offering granted to some disciplines and topics but not to others.

Asia’s Academic Freedom Trajectory

Taken together, the chapters included in this volume reveal a complex environment where formal and informal rules about academic rights and responsibilities often stand in opposition to one another. Each of the country cases covered in the volume has constitutional provisions that purport to enshrine and protect academic freedom, yet in each case, we also see instances in which these provisions are either ignored or superseded by new laws and regulations aimed at promoting political and national priorities. This tension is reproduced throughout the region. Take, for instance, Malaysia’s constitution guarantees freedom of speech and inquiry, but the Universities and University College Act gives the government control over student enrollments, staff appointments, educational programming, and financing, while also forbidding students and faculty from getting involved in political activities or trade unions.

Across cases, we see governments actively undercutting academic freedom and institutional autonomy, as in the case of China, Japan, and Singapore, but also passively not intervening when societal forces threaten and harass scholars who are working on unpopular topics, as in the case of Indonesia. These patterns are unfortunately replicated in neighboring states. In Myanmar, military authorities invoked security provisions to arrest and suspect thousands of students and teachers who took part in or expressed support for anti-coup protests in 2021. In India, the BJP government has repeatedly opted not to investigate or prosecute right-wing groups, like the ABVP, for attacks on university campuses in broad daylight.

In most cases, university administrators sit in between external pressures from the outside and internal pressures from their faculty and students. When universities are given the autonomy to stand up and defend their communities, academic freedom, as shown in [Katrin] Kinzelbach’s cross-national study, is often advanced. Even so, administrators, whether it is due to political or financial interest, can themselves become a source of pressure and intimidation. In many parts of Asia, rising corporatization, alongside dependence on state funding, means that university administrators are poorly incentivized and often underpowered to stand up and defend academic freedom.

The broader academic community looks at instances of academic suppression and intimidation with concern and outrage. Yet, it is unclear how much is being done in response. At the very least, global rankings for institutions of higher learning ought to penalize those institutions that fail to provide an open scholarly environment, even if they are well endowed and they turn out top-notch graduates. This, however, is not the case. As George et al. argue, world university rankings are themselves embedded in a monetized system that affords blind spots for the academic freedom shortcomings of otherwise elite institutions. Until measures like the AFI are incorporated into ranking systems, censorship, intimidation, and harassment will continue to carry relatively few costs.

When academic freedom is violated, the scholarly community cannot and must not look away. Those fortunate to live in open societies with robust legal and institutional support for free speech and free academic inquiry must show solidarity with colleagues abroad who lack those protections. They should also monitor their own institutions and hold their administrators accountable for the academic freedom standards they are tasked with upholding. As with any principled position, commitments to academic freedom cannot and should not be compromised, nor should they be taken for granted.

Call for Applications: Geiss Hsu Annual Conference Travel and Participation Grant

The James P. Geiss and Margaret Y. Hsu Foundation has awarded the Association for Asian Studies $20,000 to fund participation for Ming Studies scholars in the 2023 Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

Logo of the Geiss Hsu Foundation

The James P. Geiss and Margaret Y. Hsu Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private, not-for-profit foundation which encourages and sponsors scholarly research and interpretation of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in China. The Geiss Hsu Foundation supports studies of the predecessors and successors of the Ming, as well as contemporaries in geographic areas with which the Ming interacted.

The Geiss Hsu Annual Conference Travel and Participation Grant will award up to $2,000 each in travel support to scholars specializing in studies of Ming China, as well as scholars who engage in research related to the Ming. Applicants do not need to be a part of an organized session, nor do they need to be members of the AAS, to receive the grant.

Scholars of diverse rank and affiliation may apply for the grant, but preference will be given to contingent or part-time faculty, students, and independent scholars. The grant will cover expenses for in-person participation such as conference registration, economy airfare, and hotel. A select number of virtual participants will receive support for their registration.

Applicants must submit the following:

  • 1-page letter of application, which should detail:
    • The applicant’s current research and its connection to Ming Studies
    • The applicant’s plan for AAS conference participation. This should include details of session presentation, including title and focus (if applicable), and a proposed plan for networking and engagement in conference activities
  • CV

Please submit all materials to AAS Executive Director Hilary Finchum-Sung ( by December 10, 2022 December 19, 2022, to receive full consideration. Awards will be announced in mid-January 2023.

The Association for Asian Studies is grateful for the support of the James P. Geiss and Margaret Y. Hsu Foundation and is delighted to have this opportunity to support conference participants.