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Who Is the Asianist? The Politics of Representation in Asian Studies (Will Bridges, Nitasha Tamar Sharma, and Marvin D. Sterling, Editors)

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9781952636295. 220 pages. Paperback. AAS MEMBERS: use the code AASMEMBER at checkout for your 20% discount.

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.


CONTENTS

Introduction: Do Black Lives Matter for Asian Studies? by Will Bridges, Nitasha Tamar Sharma, and Marvin D. Sterling

Who Is a South Asianist? A Conversation on Positionality by Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi and Isabel Huacuja Alonso

A Different Way of Seeing: Reflections of a Black Asianist by Carolyn T. Brown

From Bhagdād to Baghpūr: Sailors and Slaves in Global Asia by Guangtian Ha

The Asianist is Muslim: Thinking through Anti-Muslim Racism with the Muslim Left by Soham Patel and M. Bilal Nasir

Racial Capitalism and the National Question in the Early People’s Republic of China by Jeremy Tai

Science without Borders? The Contested Science of “Race Mixing” circa World War II in Japan, East Asia, and the West by Kristin Roebuck

Toward an Afro-Japanese and Afro-Ainu Feminist Practice: Reading Fujimoto Kazuko and Chikappu Mieko by Felicity Stone-Richards

Black Japanese Storytelling as Praxis: Anti-Racist Digital Activism and Black Lives Matter in Japan by Kimberly Hassel

From Black Brother to Black Lives Matter: Perception of Blackness in Viet Nam by Phuong H. Nguyen and Trang Q. Nguyen

“We Have a Lot of Names Like George Floyd”: Papuan Lives Matter in Comparative Perspective by Chris Lundry


“In this uniquely conceived volume, editors Will Bridges, Nitasha Tamar Sharma, and Marvin D. Sterling have assembled a cast of progressive-minded contributors whose collective aim is to decenter Asian Studies from its customary self-absorption and circumscription and propel the discipline into a broadened engagement with and advocacy for Black Studies. Through its eclectic and insightful scholarship contending that such intersectionality can only benefit the interests of all parties, no work currently matches Who Is the Asianist? as an indicator and expression of the emerging imperatives within Asian Studies for racial equity and justice. More so than any other now available, this book fully represents and reflects the expanding vision and transformed agenda of the future that Asian Studies is destined to embrace.

DON J. WYATT, McCardell Distinguished Professor, Middlebury College and Chair, Diversity and Equity Committee, Association for Asian Studies

“These outstanding essays compel us to reflect on the ways in which the pernicious ‘color line’ belts the world (Du Bois), including Asia, but in ways that must be attentive to both the singularities of locality and the entanglements of our worlded conditions. This means that we must also interrogate the past and present of Asian Studies as a radicalized formation. A courageous, timely, and important intervention that should be read in and far beyond Asian Studies.

TAKASHI FUJITANI, Dr. David Chu Professor and Director in Asia Pacific studies, University of Toronto and author, Race for for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans During WWII

“This extremely timely and crucial book helps Asian Studies to finally reckon with its racial unconscious in epistemological, pedagogical, and institutional terms. It examines the racial logic in various Asian countries in relation to the global racial formation, and shows how such studies are critical for Asian Studies. A must read for all Asianists.

SHU-MEI SHIH, Irving and Jean Stone Chair in the Humanities, and Professor of Comparative Literature, Asian Languages and Cultures & Asian American Studies, UCLA


Will Bridges is Associate Professor of Japanese 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 is Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. She is author of Hawai’i is my Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific and Hip Hop Desis: South Asian Americans, Blackness, and a Global Race Consciousness, both published by Duke University Press, and coeditor of Beyond Ethnicity: New Politics of Race in Hawai’i, published by the University of Hawai’i Press.

Marvin D. Sterling is Associate Professor, Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington. His research centers on the popularity of a range of Jamaican cultural forms in Japan, mainly roots reggae, dancehall reggae, and Rastafari. In a more recent line of research, he has shifted geographical perspectives from Japan to explore the Japanese community in Jamaica, one primarily centered on an interest in learning Jamaican culture at its source.


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