The AAS 2020 Annual Conference is now behind us, and there are many challenges facing all of us now and into the future. Before we focus our energies on future conference planning and the ways in which COVID-19 has changed the face of conferencing for the foreseeable future, we want to make sure to acknowledge everyone who invested their time and energy to the planning of the AAS 2020 Boston conference. This resolution of thanks is dedicated to those who directly contributed to the planning and program details of the 2020 annual conference.
The conference was officially cancelled just ten (10) days prior to the scheduled start and with all programming and plans confirmed and in place. Considering this, we would be remiss not to thank everyone who was involved in the year-long planning process.
Thank you to 3.7 Designs for the wonderful re-design of our conference website and to our always supportive and innovative event management system partner, CadmiumCD, for their support with abstract management, speaker management, and the online program.
Sincere gratitude goes to the 2020 Program Committee: Chair Joan Judge and Vice-Chair Brian Hatcher; Erica Fox Brindley, Timothy Cheek, and Sara Friedman (China and Inner Asia); Timothy George, Miyako Inoue, and Joshua Pilzer (Japan and Korea); and Ronit Ricci and Ramya Sreenivasan (South and Southeast Asia). The committee spent much time reviewing the record-breaking number of proposals (1,243), selecting finalists, and scheduling the 450 sessions. Also, a big thank you to Hilde De Weerdt, Paula Curtis, and Song Chen for their review of the digital technology proposal submissions and for their planning of the new lightening session proposals.
Thank you to the Local Arrangements Committee for your enthusiasm in sharing the wonderful history of Boston, coordinating local attraction options, and organizing musical performances. These efforts include the in-depth directory of local cuisines provided by committee chair Merry White (Boston University), the planning of a session covering the past and present of Asian history in Boston by James Robson (Harvard University), organization of musical performances by Marie Abe (Boston University), and the additional work by David Odo (Harvard University), Sarah Pinto (Tufts University), and Eve Zimmerman (Wellesley College) in arranging complimentary museum visits for AAS attendees. The AAS thanks you for your hard work and dedication to enriching the Annual Conference program.
Much appreciation to Jason Finkelman, Director, Global Arts Performance, and to Event Programming at Asian Education Media Service (AEMS), Center for East Asian & Pacific Studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for their continued support, review, and curation of films for the Annual Conference Film Expo.
Thank you to Nicole Restrick Levit and Briyanna Brinson at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and to the Henry Luce Foundation for their continued financial and administrative support of the Dissertation Workshop. Additional thanks to Justin McDaniel for chairing this program.
Additionally, appreciation goes to our conference sponsors: Harvard-Yenching Institute, Asian Cultural Council, Adam Matthew Digital, and the Peabody Essex Museum.
Thank you to AAS President Prasenjit Duara and to Chris Courtney (Durham University) for providing the cover image for the 2020 conference program book. (This cover image of Wuhan, China was selected in the summer of 2019).
Thank you to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for your plans to host a reception at the museum to all AAS registered attendees. Your local support was greatly appreciated.
Thanks go to all AAS Councils for agreeing to continue the Graduate Student Paper Prize Competitions despite the conference cancellation. Also, to the members and colleagues who volunteered to serve as mentors at what was to be our inaugural conference mentor program: we thank you.
To all individuals committed to research on and education about Asia, it is your dedication to this field that contributes to the success of the AAS Annual Conference. Without the participation of the session participants and speakers, this conference would not exist.
To all the companies, groups, organizations, and universities who spent months planning their attendance, business meetings, and special events at the annual conference, we thank you for your continued support. We most especially thank the 2020 exhibitors for their participation and appreciate all who continued to offer publication discounts even after the cancellation of the conference.
Of course, the planning of the annual conference would not be complete without the day-to day dedication of the AAS Secretariat staff. The list of tasks involved in complete planning phase is endless: building the website, registration, speaker support and management, membership coordination, creating the program book and other print materials, vendor selection and management, grant coordination, badge stuffing, and general daily management of the AAS. Thank you to Executive Director Hilary V. Finchum-Sung and the Secretariat staff: Angela Bermudez, Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, Lisa Hanselman, Doreen Ilozor, Alicia Williams, Jon Wilson, and Jenna Yoshikawa. Additional thanks go to our interns and University of Michigan graduate students, Molly DeDona, Joshua Kam, and Moira Saltzman.
We cannot close out the 2020 conference without also thanking all of our selected partners, providers, and facilities. Many of these companies and facilities have suffered tremendous losses and despite the current global situation have worked with the AAS very admirably to help mitigate our financial damages related to the cancellation. These companies include: ACCENT on Children’s Arrangements, Audio Visual Productions Solutions, Freeman Exposition Services, John Leonard Employment Services, the Hynes Convention Center and the Massachusetts Convention Authority, Sheraton Boston Hotel, Marriott Copley Hotel, and the Hilton Back Bay Hotel. Last but certainly not least, we are very grateful to Ricky Hopkins of ConferenceDirect, who played a major role in mitigating the penalties facing the AAS due to the cancellation. Our best wishes for a quick recovery to all of our providers and facilities and their employees.
It takes a huge team of individuals, partners, affiliates, councils, staff, vendors, participants, and speakers to make the AAS Annual Conference a success each year. The global pandemic and crisis we are all personally experiencing is humbling and reminds us of the bigger picture and those things most important in life. We all remain hopeful that the world around us will achieve some semblance of normalcy. It is now more important than ever to say thank you to everyone for their commitment to the Association for Asian Studies and to Asian Studies as a whole.
Well wishes to all,
AAS Conference Manager