Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies Celebrates 60th Anniversary
Maeve Cook '22, Sasha Schroeder '22February 1, 2021
UNC Global Affairs
The Old Well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)
Experts from across the world participated in the 60th annual Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies via videoconference from January 15 –17, 2021.
Co-hosted by the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, Carolina Asia Center (CAC) and Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the conference consisted of 43 panels featuring 137 speakers from 13 countries, including 12 faculty members and 3 students from Carolina and several Triangle-area panelists. Nearly 300 participants attended the conference.
Programming began with a plenary session that included welcoming remarks from hosts Ji-Yeon Jo, director of the Carolina Asia Center, and Morgan Pitelka, chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as a performance from acclaimed violinist Haoli Lin. Lin played the violin in a video recording from Shenzhen, China.
“Music is one of the best ways to connect people from different places around the world,” Lin said.
After Lin’s performance, Christine R. Yano, president of the Association for Asian Studies and professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai’i, gave the keynote address, titled “Global Asias: Moving Beyond Spatialized Identities.”
Yano’s talk introduced the concept of a global Asia that is transnational, transhistorical and trans-geographic.
“Asian studies has a huge responsibility. The Association for Asian Studies is teaching us how to be better collaborators,” Yano said. “Asia and its relation to the world is constantly shifting. There are dynamic social, political and cultural forces that ignore state boundaries.”
The conference program sought to conceptualize Asian studies through this lens and represent the diversity within academic field. Presentation topics not only included diverse regions in Asia, but also highlighted transnational connections across Asia and beyond.
Speakers were from a broad range of institutions, including teaching universities, research universities, community colleges, minority–serving institutions (MSIs), and K-12 schools.
The conference included an outreach track centered around the theme “Migration in/from/around Asia,” which included two panels for K-12 and community college educators wanting to learn more about Asia and to integrate Asia content into their classrooms.
“The conference served as an excellent vehicle for the Carolina Asia Center to advance our mission to improve education and research on Asia and Asian Diasporas and our vision to serve as a hub for Asian studies in the Southeast,” Ji-Yeon Jo said. “I am very pleased that the all-online format also enhanced our global engagement by convening a wide range of participants–including Asianists from distant parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom, Russia, and Qatar–on Carolina’s virtual platform.”
This conference was organized by the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, Carolina Asia Center (CAC) and Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Additional support was provided by the College of Arts & Sciences and the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs at the UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education.