Who Is the Asianist? Book Launch

Cover of Who Is the Asianist? The Politics of Representation in Asian Studies

Join us to celebrate the publication of Who Is the Asianist? The Politics of Representation in Asian Studies, a new Asia Shorts volume edited by Will Bridges, Nitasha Tamar Sharma, and Marvin D. Sterling.

Who Is the Asianist? reconsiders the past, present, and future of Asian Studies through the lens of positionality, questions of authority, and an analysis of race with an emphasis on Blackness in Asia. From self-reflective essays on being a Black Asianist to the Black Lives Matter movement in West Papua, Japan, and Viet Nam, scholars grapple with the global significance of race and local articulations of difference. Other contributors call for a racial analysis of the figure of the Muslim as well as a greater transregional comparison of slavery and intra-Asian dynamics that can be better understood, for instance, from a Black feminist perspective or through the work of James Baldwin. As a whole, this diversified set of essays insists that the possibilities of change within Asian Studies occurs when, and only when, it reckons with the entirety of the scholars, geographies, and histories that it comprises.

Session Participants

Will Bridges


Will Bridges is Associate Professor of Japanese, Arthur Satz Professor of the Humanities, and a Core Faculty member with the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies at the University of Rochester. His first monograph, Playing in the Shadows: Fictions of Race and Blackness in Postwar Japanese Literature was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2020. 

Nitasha Tamar Sharma


Nitasha Tamar Sharma is a professor of Black Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, where she directs the Asian American Studies Program. She is the author of Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness (Duke UP 2010) and Hawai‘i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific (Duke UP 2021). 

Marvin D. Sterling


Marvin D. Sterling is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is author of Babylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae, and Rastafari in Japan (Duke UP 2010). 

Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi


Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi is an anthropologist. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2018. She was then Director of Social Research at the Center for Surgical Training and Research (C-STAR) in the University of Michigan Department of Surgery. She is currently an independent scholar. Her research focuses on the ethnography of academic and scientific institutions. In addition to her projects on anthropologists in India and the U.S., she has studied a range of topics, such as: the solar energy industry, U.S. presidential campaigns, and the development of predictive analytics in surgical education. 

Isabel Huacuja Alonso


Isabel Huacuja Alonso is Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS). She is the author of Radio for the Millions: Hindi-Urdu Broadcasting Across Borders, (Columbia University Press, 2023), and has published articles and translations about modern South Asian history and sound studies in several journals, including Public Culture, Bioscope, and South Asia. She completed her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015, and prior to joining Columbia, taught at California State University, San Bernardino. 

Kristin Roebuck


Kristin Roebuck is Assistant Professor and Howard Milstein Faculty Fellow in the Department of History at Cornell University. After completing her Ph.D. in East Asian History at Columbia University in 2015, Roebuck worked as Mellon Diversity Postdoctoral Scholar at Cornell University. In 2019, she won a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant for research on racial nationalism in Japan. In 2021, she led a team of colleagues to win a Mellon Migrations Grant, applied toward founding an interdisciplinary Laboratory on Human Trafficking, Its Origins, and Remedies. A historian of modern Japan, Roebuck’s research interests encompass the history of the body, slavery and kinship, medicine and law, race and gender, and international relations. Her book manuscript, Japan Reborn: Race and Eugenics from World War to Cold War, is forthcoming with Columbia University Press. Roebuck has also published in such venues as The Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Japanese Studies, and Asia Pacific Perspectives; her public-facing work has appeared in NBC News, The Hill, Time Magazine, and National Public Radio’s Global Journalist

Felicity Stone-Richards


Felicity Stone-Richards is a scholar of Afro-diasporic and Japanese political thought and studies the intellectual exchange between Black American and Japanese political actors. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Her research focuses specifically on anti-racist activism and organization in the United States and Japan. Alongside an analysis of anti-racist discourse in Japan, her dissertation project explores how Japanese and American writers approach the moral question of convincing people to engage in the practice of sacrifice and disinvest from the oppressive systems they benefit from. Outside of her research, Stone-Richards has also engaged in university advocacy fighting for better housing and working conditions for graduate students at UCSB. For the academic year 2022–2023, Stone-Richards will be a Fulbright Scholar in Japan. 

Throughout May, AAS is celebrating Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Read more