June 2018 AAS Member News & Notes

Congratulations to the AAS Members awarded grants by the Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies!

Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants

Yifeng Cai (Brown University), “Transactional Sex on the Phone: Technology, Market Economy, and the Transformation of Male-to-Male Intimacy in Contemporary Urban China”

Xiaobai Hu (University of Pennsylvania), “Unruly Mountain: Transformative Encounters in the Chinese-Tibetan Borderland, 1371-1701”

Xiaoqian Ji (Johns Hopkins University), “Cosmetic Practices in Early Modern China: Consumption, Vernacular Knowledge, and Technologies of Gender”

Jingyu Liu (Harvard University), “The Unimpeded Passage: The Buddho-Daoist Interaction and The Making of Salvation Rites in the Song Dynasty (960-1279)”

Fusheng Luo (University of Michigan), “Debating Property Rights: Land Market, Semi-Colonial Law, and Chinese Industrialization in Shanghai and Guangzhou, 1830-1950”

Tan Zhao (University of Washington), “Vote Buying and Democracy in Rural China”

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Sakura Christmas (Bowdoin College), “Nomadic Borderlands: Imperial Japan and the Origins of Ethnic Autonomy in China”

Ariel Fox (University of Chicago), “Commercial Acts: Staging the Market in Early Modern China”

Macabe Keliher (West Virginia University), “Centralizing the Manchu Military and the Transformation of Empire in Early Modern China”

Ke Li (John Jay College, City University of New York), “From Contention to Resignation: Divorce Litigation, Gender Inequality, and State Power in Rural China”

Scott Relyea (Appalachian State University), “Learning to Be Colonial: ‘Effective occupation’ and early twentieth century Chinese settlement of eastern Tibet”

Jeremy Tai (McGill University), “Frontier Fantasies: Northwest China, National Crisis, and the Cultural Imagination”

Collaborative Reading-Workshop Grants

Li Guo (Utah State University) and Charles Laughlin (University of Virginia), “Reading Chinese Reportage Across the Disciplines”

Jonathan Pettit (University of Hawaii at Manoa), “The Intersection of Religion, Medicine, and Technology in Medieval Chinese Alchemy”

Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society Grants

Erica Brindley (Pennsylvania State University) and John Phan (Columbia University), “Contact Zones and Colonialism in China’s South, 221 BCE – 1368 CE”

Bin Xu (Emory University), “Politics, Societies, and Disasters: China and Beyond”

Ian Matthew Miller (St. John’s University), Brian G. Lander (Brown University), Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan (Yale University), Bradley Camp Davis (Eastern Connecticut State University), and John S. Lee (Yale University), “The Wood Age in Asia: Comparative Perspectives on Forest History in China”


Longtime AAS Member Helen Hardacre (Harvard University) has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, by the Japanese government. Author of many books on Japanese religions, Professor Hardacre received this commendation in recognition of her contributions to “developing Japanese studies and promoting understanding of Japan in the United States.”


The Call for Proposals for the AAS 2019 Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado is now open! All proposals for panels, roundtables, workshops, and individual papers must be submitted via the AAS online submission portal by 5:00pm (Eastern Time) on Wednesday, August 1.


Authors who would like to submit their works to the next round of AAS book prize competitions are invited to consult the eligibility guidelines, submission instructions, and deadlines now posted at the association website. Please note that different prizes have different deadlines, and the earliest falls on June 30 (nominations for the Levenson and Hall Prizes). These prizes will be awarded at the 2019 annual conference in Denver, Colorado.


Anyone planning to apply for an AAS First Book Subvention should consult the eligibility and application guidelines at our website. The next deadline for the program is September 1.


Three AAS Regional Conferences are accepting proposals for their upcoming meetings:

  • The Western Conference of the Association for Asian Studies will hold its 2018 conference, on the theme of “Asia in the World,” at Soka University in Orange County, California on October 19-20. Submit a proposal by June 30; proposal types include individual papers, full panels/roundtables, and undergraduate poster sessions.
  • The Southwest Conference on Asian Studies will convene its annual meeting on October 19-20, at Baylor University in Waco, TX and is accepting individual paper and panel proposals until June 30.
  • The Southeast Conference of the AAS will meet January 18-20, 2019 at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. Paper and panel abstracts must be submitted by October 31, 2018. The SEC/AAS also seeks nominations for its annual book and article prize competitions, which should be submitted by August 31, 2018.

In Memoriam

Hyung Il Pai, professor of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, passed away May 28, 2018, after a long battle with cancer. Her husband Alex Jose, her brother Hyung Min Pai, her dog Yoda, and other family members and friends were at her side. Everyone who knew her agrees that she left us far too soon. She brought light into whatever room she entered, and she still had much to contribute to the field of Korean Studies through both her teaching and her writing. 

I have known Professor Pai since she was an undergraduate at Sogang University in Seoul, where she was a student in a class I taught there in 1980 on how Korean history and culture were portrayed in English-language writing. She was the best student in that class, and I remember her from that time as both bright and enthusiastic about learning. She was a joy to teach. She went on to graduate with a degree in history from Sogang in 1981. By that time I had returned to the U.S. and lost touch with her until 1992, when we ended up on the same panel at a conference in Hawaii. When she saw me there, she addressed me as “Father,” since she assumed that a white guy teaching at Sogang in 1980 must have been a Jesuit priest!

By the time we met again at that conference, she had gone on to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology at Harvard in 1989 and had already begun teaching at UCSB and working on her first book, a multi-faceted study of the role of the Han dynasty Korean-peninsula outpost of Lelang in the Korean national imagination. Constructing “Korean” Origins: A Critical Review of Archaeology, Historiography, and Racial Myth in Korean State-Formation Theories appeared in 2000 and immediately sparked controversies. Professor Pai used her expertise in archaeology to demonstrate that not only was Lelang a Han dynasty settlement, something nationalists in Korea deny, it also served as a stimulus to state formation on and around the peninsula, which angered nationalists even more since they insist that there were states in Korea long before the Han dynasty had emerged in China. Furthermore, drawing on her training in physical anthropology, she challenged the nationalists’ insistence that the peoples living in and around the peninsula two thousand and more years ago constituted a Korean “race,” despite the lack of evidence that they formed a single biologically-defined ethnic group. 

Undeterred by the criticism her first book received from nationalists, Professor Pai then moved almost two thousand years ahead into the twentieth century. Refusing to be restricted by the straitjacket of ethnocentric ideology, she drew on her ability to work with Japanese-language materials to analyze the role Japan played in the construction of modern Korea’s cultural identity. She had already foreshadowed this new research interest by co-editing Nationalism and the Construction of Korean Identity with Timothy R. Tangherlini in 1998.  In 2013 she published Heritage Management in Korea and Japan: The Politics of Antiquity and Identity. Again showcasing her ability to draw from a wide variety of sources (including postcards and guidebooks for tourists), she laid out an argument that Japanese scholars searching for the continental roots of Japanese civilization and Japanese tourists looking for an “exotic” experience close at hand together stimulated and shaped the modern Korean vision of Korea’s cultural heritage. She traced the roots of South Korea’s current cultural heritage management policy back to the colonial period and showed that many of the buildings and other objects Koreans today point to with pride as evidence of the creativity of their ancestors were first identified as cultural treasures by the Japanese.

Professor Pai had planned to continue her exploration of Korea’s modern construction of its cultural identity. There was much she had learned on her Fulbright, Japan Foundation, and Korea Foundation research fellowships that she was not able to include in her two books and numerous articles, and she had many more writing projects on her “to-do” list. It is a real loss for the field of Korean Studies that she left us too soon. It is even more of a loss for her family, her colleagues, and her many friends who will miss not just her insights into Korean culture and history but her smile and her sense of humor as well.

— Donald Baker, University of British Columbia

We welcome submissions for the AAS Member News & Notes column, so please forward material for consideration to mcunningham@asian-studies.org. Please note that we do not publish book announcements in this space; new books by AAS Members will be announced on the association’s Twitter feed (@AASAsianStudies) and Facebook page (@AASAsianStudies).