Resolution of Thanks, AAS 2023 Annual Conference

The Board of Directors of the Association for Asian Studies, AAS Secretariat staff, and I would like to thank individuals and groups who contributed to the 2023 Annual Conference. So many people and organizations helped to make the conference possible, and we are grateful for their time, talents, and assistance.

Thanks first to the 2023 Program Committee: Chair Mary Zurbuchen and Vice Chair Anne Gerritsen; Tina Chen, Hsiao-Wen ChengKristina Kleutghen, and Guojun Wang (East and Inner Asia); David AmbarasSeung-kyung Kim, and Daniel Smith (Japan and Korea); and Elora Chowdhury and Jane Ferguson (South and Southeast Asia). This group assembled an outstanding program of over 400 in-person sessions and 120 virtual sessions, which formed the foundation of an engaging and productive dual-component conference format.

Heartfelt thanks go to the curator of the AAS Film ExpoJason Finkelman, for organizing and running an outstanding film expo; and to Asian Educational Media Services (AEMS)/Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies (CEAPS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for their continued support of this event. 

Words cannot express how grateful we are for the work of the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC), whose work enriched the conference experience with special programs. The LAC organized special performances of the Angkor Dance Troupe at the Opening Ceremony on Thursday; the wonderful addition of AAS Member and DJ Anthony Lovenheim-Irwin, who shared the sounds of Southeast Asian Music at the Member Reception; and the Saturday evening performances from the MIT Bhangra Club and the Gund Kwok Women’s Lion Dancers. We hope everyone was also able to enjoy some of the many museum discounts secured by the LAC, as well as get a taste of Boston via the very detailed dining and about town list created by the LAC chair, Merry “Corky” White. A big thank you to all committee members, including Gavin Whitelaw (co-chair), David Odo, and Mariè Abe.

We are grateful to the foundations and organizations that sponsored sessions, participant travel, special events, and plenaries at the Annual Conference, including the Harvard-Yenching Institute, Geiss-Hsu Foundation, The Henry Luce Foundation, and Japan-US Friendship Commission. We would also like to thank our sponsoring exhibitors: AM, East View Information Services, Gale, and University of Hawaii Press.

The AAS Mentor program, which we attempted to launch in 2020, finally took place in person in Boston. Thank you to the following individuals who served as mentors:

Jessamyn Abel, Jonathan Abel, Dayna Barnes, Nicole Barnes, James Benn, Hsiao-wen Cheng, Rebecca Corbett, Xiaolin Duan, Maura Dykstra, Alisa Freedman, Sabine Fruhstuck, Qin Gao, Sarah Grant, William Hedberg, Denise Ho, Joseph Ho, Rachael Hutchinson, Suma Ikeuchi, Lynn Kalinauskas, Liang Luo, Roberta Martin, Lindsay Nelson, Lynn Parisi, Morgan Pitelka, Antje Richter, Brooke Schedneck, Amy Stanley, Paige Johnson Tan, Erica Vogel, Ann Waltner, Gennifer Weisenfeld, Susie Woo, Shellen Wu, Anand Yang, Yanqiu Zheng, and Ran Zwigenberg.

We are grateful for the volunteers who stepped up to assist with monitoring session rooms and coat check. We look forward to continuing to identify areas of need and offering volunteer opportunities at future conferences.

I would also like to thank our Board of Directors, council, and committee members for their commitment to the profession and considerable time devoted to association affairs. We are grateful to 2022-2023 AAS President Kamran Ali for his steadfast leadership as we determined the format for our 2023 Annual Conference. We would like to thank outgoing board members Catherine Phipps, Bill Tsutsui, Tom Rawski, Christine Yano, and Mary Zurbuchen for their work in supporting preparations for the conference, together with continuing board members Manan Ahmed, Kamran Ali, Joe Alter, Eunsook Jung, Sonja Kim, Hy Luong, Jean Oi (current AAS President), Siddharth Chandra, Shellen Wu, and Don Wyatt. We look forward to collaborating on the upcoming 2024 Seattle conference with those continuing board members, as well as incoming members Hyaeweol Choi (Vice President), Jan Bardsley, Rebecca Corbett, and Anne Gerritsen. Work on our board, councils, and committees is 100% volunteer. It is a labor of love and devotion, and it is beyond valuable.

I would like to commend our incredible staff. Director of Conferences and Events Robyn Jones is the master organizer of the entire event who, together with Conference and Events Coordinator Angela Bermudez, spends months preparing the program, exhibits, and special events, among other happenings at the conference so that participants can gather in a professional and collegial environment. Staff members Molly DeDona (Grant Programs Manager), Bill Warner (Membership Manager), and Jenna Yoshikawa (Advertising and Marketing Manager) worked tirelessly in areas such as registration, technology support, exhibits, and communications. Maura Cunningham (Digital Media Manager) worked behind the scenes covering the conference on social media and publishing the conference daily newsletter, as well as leading the new attendees’ orientation. Jon Wilson (Publications Manager) ran the AAS publications exhibit and supported “meet-the-editors” events. Krisna Uk (Director of Special Initiatives) diligently coordinated the effort to support and schedule the keynote speaker as well as other special sessions and meetings at the Annual Conference. Mark Persitz (Director of Finance) and Christopher Perez (SIDA Project Controller) worked the student stipend and reimbursement counter, daily handling a long line of participants who benefitted from AAS support. Program Support Specialist Arlo Johnston worked the information booth in the Sheraton, cheerfully and adeptly answering all questions and inquiries that came their way. In addition, our wonderful interns Joe Cacese, Lexa Molinari, and Isaac Wittenberg worked tirelessly in areas such as the information booth, coat check, exhibits, and registration. 

I would also like to recognize that it had barely been a month since the wrap up of the virtual component of the Annual Conference in February when the staff had to run the meeting in Boston. Many weekends and late nights were spent preparing the program and trouble-shooting issues so that the Association for Asian Studies could offer both virtual and onsite conferences. The staff goes above and beyond to ensure that the mission of the Association can be achieved and that as many Asianists as possible can benefit from our programs and initiatives.

I would also like to recognize the crucial work of Ricky Hopkins at ConferenceDirect, Scott Okeefe with Levy Show Service, and Alana Gregory with Expo Logic in ensuring the smooth running of the Annual Conference. Special thanks go to Meet Boston for their assistance in securing overflow hotels, and other vendors as well as to Mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu, for her warm welcome letter.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for your participation in the Association for Asian Studies 2023 Annual Conference. Whether you attended virtually or in person, or both, you participated in a gathering of nearly 4,000 Asianists worldwide. Regardless of medium, the act of coming together, sharing our work, and exchanging ideas is a testament to our strength as a community. We are grateful for your ongoing support!

Once received, please make sure to complete the post-conference survey, which will remain available through April 21 for all attendees to complete. Hearing about what went well and what needs work is essential for us to provide ever-stronger programs for you. Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to do this. And, please keep in mind that the online conference offerings will be up until April 30. Thank you!