Author: Jessica Castro-Rappl

Interview with EASTS editor Wen-Hua Kuo

IMG_20190909_143508646Wen-Hua Kuo is editor in chief of East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (EASTS) and Professor at the Institute of Science, Technology and Society and the Institute of Public Health at National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan. We sat down with him to discuss the history of EASTS, what sets the journal apart, and where EASTS is heading from here.

How did you come to be involved with EASTS?

I’ve been involved with the journal since its inception. When EASTS was in its preparation, I was in the United States; I earned my degree in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) at MIT. When I finished my degree, I started participating in activities like attending the annual meetings of 4S, the Society for Social Studies of Science—the first time I attended was in 2006. This was about the same time that scholars in Taiwan were trying to become more international in their approach to the history and philosophy of science. We had published an English journal on the history and philosophy of science (an STS-related field in the East Asian context) with a local publisher, but it didn’t work out. This time, we had the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan, which recognized science studies as an emerging topic and had the mission of promoting our work to a wider readership. I feel very lucky to have joined the journal at the very beginning—at that time, although we had several scholars working in STS, I was one of only a handful with a degree in the field.

13-3What qualities set EASTS apart from other journals in the field?

First, there are several journals published in Asia, but even some journals with longer histories than us still have some trouble with English. Although we’re not native English speakers, we’re very careful about that. We feel like for new topics like STS, you need to speak the same language so that it’s readable for scholars and for a common understanding of theoretical terms. You need some common ground to start with.

On another front, we treasure local communities: this was the most important feature in mind when we started EASTS. We’re not just a channel between Taiwan and the rest of the world; we want to see interactions among Asian societies. We intentionally set up an editorial structure to reflect that at the beginning, and we keep that tradition in mind while reviewing or soliciting papers or opening up special issues.

13-1

Can you talk about EASTS’s rich archive of special issues?

Over the years, we’ve created many special issues—probably ⅔ of our issues are thematic. This is one of the ways we recognize local traditions. The cover of our issue “Life, Science, and Power in History and Philosophy” (13.1) features a bust that’s instantly recognizable to people from Japan, especially those involved in the history of medicine, and it tells a story.

A good thing about special issues is that you can have local scholars control the quality of the issue and invite or encourage local contributors. The journal’s structure sets some basic limitations and provides a form that scholars can build on with their own creative, innovative sense. In that sense, Duke University Press did a great job working with us on that because we have a structure for our scholarship.

13-2What are you looking for in submissions now?

Our main source is international meetings, like 4S. We also attend regional conferences or conferences on Asian studies. This is very competitive work; at every conference, people compete for visibility. One phenomenon we’ve observed is that there are more and more STS or science panels at Asian studies conferences. That’s very different from what we had 10 years ago when I was a graduate student—in Asian studies, the dominant topics were culture, language, religion.

We also now have some local STS societies in East Asia: Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, and we’ve seen sizable submissions from some of these areas. And we value using the lens of STS to explore understudied areas such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and even Cambodia and India. That’s something we didn’t expect in the beginning, but we’re interested in providing good scholarship on these areas.

How would you like to shape the journal’s direction going forward?

We want to return to something universal, which is a bit of a conceptual change. Historically, we’ve emphasized the regional: providing scholarship on areas that are overlooked, understudied, marginalized, or even distorted by mainstream narratives. Now, though, it’s time for us to consider region as a lens for looking at the world. Some people assume that Asia is like Mars or the moon, separated from the rest of the world—but instead, through empirical studies or case studies on Asia, you can see the world in a different way.

We want to change the world through Asia. We want to pay more attention to connections, behaviors, common interests, collaborations, rather than just focusing on the differences between regions. That’s how we can creatively deal with global issues.

Read EASTS online, subscribe, or sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.

Congratulations to the 2019 MacArthur Fellows!

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant! We’re proud to count several of this year’s MacArthur Fellows among our journal contributors. In honor of their achievements, we’ve made a selection of their essays freely available through the end of the year.

Saidiya Hartman
The Anarchy of Colored Girls Assembled in a Riotous Manner
South Atlantic Quarterly 117:3, 2018

Sujatha Baliga
The Day the Jail Walls Cracked: A Restorative Plea Deal
Tikkun 27:1, 2012

Annie Dorsen
The Sublime and the Digital Landscape
Theater 48:1, 2018

Jeffrey Alan Miller
“Better, as in the Geneva”: The Role of the Geneva Bible in Drafting the King James Version
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 47:3, 2017

Elizabeth Anderson
Rationality and Freedom
The Philosophical Review 114:2, 2005

A Quarter-Century of Common Knowledge

Congratulations to Common Knowledge on twenty-five years of publication! In honor of the journal’s anniversary, its editors have pulled together a triple-length special issue consisting of outstanding and representative articles, editorial statements, book reviews, poetry, and fiction published over journal’s history.

A Quarter-Century of Common-Knowledge” maps the life of a journal that Susan Sontag called her “favorite” and that Stephen Greenblatt praises as showing “what it means boldly to choose compromise over contention, reconciliation over rejection, civility over strife.”

Contributors to this volume include many of the most controversial and influential thinkers and writers of the turbulent years since the end of the Cold War, among them

  • heads of state and government: Václav Havel, King Michael of Romania, Edward Heath
  • dissidents: Fang Lizhi, Adam Michnik, Sari Nusseibeh
  • imposing literary figures: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, J. M. Coetzee, Wisława Szymborska, Edward Albee, Lydia Davis, Anne Carson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Thom Gunn, Frank Kermode
  • groundbreaking social scientists: Amartya Sen, Marilyn Strathern, Albert O. Hirschman, Julia Kristeva, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro
  • reshapers of religion: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, Caroline Walker Bynum, Gianni Vattimo, Jack Miles
  • political philosophers: Isaiah Berlin, Bernard Williams, Cornelius Castoriadis, György Konrád
  • theorists of the “linguistic turn”: W. V. Quine, Richard Rorty, Clifford Geertz, Stanley Cavell, Quentin Skinner
  • microhistorians and their critics: Carlo Ginzburg, Natalie Zemon Davis, Keith Thomas, J. H. Elliott
  • key developers of science studies: Bruno Latour, Paul Feyerabend, Ian Hacking, Barbara Herrnstein Smith

Start reading with renowned political economist Albert O. Hirschman’s essay “Self-Subversion,” made freely available through the end of the year, or explore the full contents of this exceptional issue.

Open-Access Journal Critical Times Now Available

We are pleased to announce that Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal, is now available to read online. The journal is edited by Samera Esmeir and published by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs, housed at the University of California, Berkeley.

Critical Times aims to foreground encounters between canonical critical theory and various traditions of critique emerging from other historical legacies, seeking to present the multiple forms that critical thought takes today. The journal publishes essays from different regions of the world in order to foster new paths of intellectual exchange and reformulate the field by accounting for its regional and linguistic inflections.

The newest issue of Critical Times opens with a special section of memorial essays and testimonies on the life, work, and legacy of Saba Mahmood. The issue also features a group of scholarly essays that reflect on the critical situations of universities in South Africa, Chile, India, and Mexico.

Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.

Interested in publishing an article? Critical Times seeks to publish texts that shed light on contemporary practices of authoritarian and neo-fascist politics, nativist and atavistic cultural formations, and forms of economic exclusion, as well as spaces and forms of life where emancipatory social worlds might be imagined, articulated, and pursued. The journal publishes essays, interviews, dialogues, dispatches, visual art, and various other platforms for critical reflection, transnational exchange, and political reflection and practice. For more information on how to submit an article, visit the submission guidelines page.

Celebrating the publication of Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature

We are excited to announce that the first issue of Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature published by Duke University Press is now available.

Prism, edited by Zong-qi Cai and Yunte Huang, presents cutting-edge research on modern literary production, dissemination, and reception in China and beyond. It also publishes works that study the shaping influence of traditional literature and culture on modern and contemporary China.

The journal actively promotes scholarly investigations from interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives, and it encourages integration of theoretical inquiry with empirical research. Prism strives to foster in-depth dialogues between Western and Chinese literary theories that illuminate both the unique features of each interlocutor and their shared insights into issues of universal interest.

Prism is a new incarnation of the Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese (JMLC), founded in 1987 by the Centre for Humanities Research at Lingnan University.

Subscribe to the journal, learn more about submissions, or sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.

The Plantation, the Postplantation, and the Afterlives of Slavery

“The Plantation, the Postplantation, and the Afterlives of Slavery,” a new special issue of American Literature edited by Gwen Bergner and Zita Nunes, interrogates the plantation as a form, logic, and technology that continues to produce inequalities.

Contributors follow the evolution of plantation slavery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through its subsequent iterations in the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, and into the neoliberal present, where the carceral state props up fantasies of postracialism.

The contributors rethink the necro- and biopolitics of plantation slavery, uncovering laborers’ strategies of self-determination, affiliation, and communication in spite of the plantation’s mechanisms of control.

Browse the issue’s contents and read the introduction and Monique Allewaert’s article “Super Fly: François Makandal’s Colonial Semiotics,” freely available for a limited time.

Trans*/Religion

In “Trans*/Religion,” new from TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, editors Max Strassfeld and Robyn Henderson-Espinoza stage a long-overdue conversation between trans studies and religious studies. Read their introduction to the issue, freely available.

Contributors consider trans identity alongside Mizrahi (Arab-Jewish) identity, examine concepts of gender and spirit possession in Cuban Santería through a trans lens, present a trans analysis of the beginnings of revival preaching in evangelical Christianity, braid crip theory with trans theory and phenomenological theology, and more.

The issue also includes art, book reviews, and more. Check out the full table of contents.

Make sure you’ve signed up to receive email alerts about new issues of TSQ, and ask your library to subscribe to the journal if it doesn’t already!

Our Professor: A Toni Morrison Memory

Houston A. Baker Jr. is Distinguished University Professor of English and African American Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. He was the editor of American Literature from 1999 to 2006. Here, he remembers Toni Morrison from his time at Howard University.

The fortunes of being rejected by selected white colleges and universities during my senior year of high school manifested themselves when I received, and accepted, a handsome scholarship offer from Howard University in Washington, DC. It was 1961. I was leaving my home in Louisville, Kentucky, for the “Capstone of Negro Education.”

On a sweltering late summer afternoon, with a small cohort of other African American (then called “Negro”) high-school matriculants, I boarded a train from Louisville’s Union Station to Washington, DC. Louisville’s station still boasted the readable sign and signature of racial segregation: “Colored Waiting Room.” I wondered if I would find the same at the other end of my journey.

To enter Howard University’s campus in 1961 was to encounter a neatly maintained greensward sentineled by the classical cathedral design of Founders Library. Drew Hall (the new men’s dormitory) was a wonder in its impeccable hospitality. And as we young men sat on the short wall outside the Ira Aldrige Theater, we were confirmed in our first impressions that we were indeed occupants of a brave new world. We marveled at a slow parade of abounding beauty, pristine grace, and assured self-possession as young women of color made their way past us. These young women were simply mesmerizing. They seemed so far beyond our country selves. They left us breathless.

There was no ease in this beautiful Zion when we entered our first classes a few days later. The Howard professoriate was unstinting in its demand for excellence. All courses required commitment to black achievement grounded in a proud legacy of historically black colleges and universities. During the first week, we were challenged to serious intellection and adept manners of scholarly exchange.

Toni Morrison, 1970. Photo by Bert Andrews.

The foregoing variables were energized by the uproarious revolts of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The direct address—the praxis—of that radical assault on centuries of black abjection and exclusion in America was everywhere near at hand. Black resistance and revolutionary projects were the temper of the times at 1960s Howard, despite administrative injunctions for the student body to maintain a traditional decorum of colored amiability. A crowning moment of my freshman year was enrollment in a required course whose title I forget but whose import was something on the order of “Great Books of the World.” I do not recall a syllabus, but there was a reading list that did not (I believe) include African American authors.

The first day of class, students filed respectfully into the room. I took a seat on the front row as an earnest demonstration of my consummate interest in everything the professor might have to say. The professor’s chair was one of those yellowish, hard wooden strongholds that signify scholarly austerity. The chair sat at the back of the desk.

The moment of arrival unfolded when one of the most arresting presences I have ever encountered in the academy floated into the classroom. She moved to the desk, slipped around and past its back, seated herself atop the front of the desk, and sat eloquently at ease before us. She flashed a welcoming and serious smile. “Good morning. My name is Toni Morrison. I am your professor for this course. This is a required course and we will accept no excuse for absence or failure to do the work.” I was rendered breathless—not so much by her undeniable poise and gesture as by her calm equanimity of presence and intellectual authority.

Our text was William Faulkner’s “The Bear,” to be taken up at the next class meeting.

The following class session, I had nothing to say, having been completely mystified by Faulkner and his bear. Professor Morrison began to unfold for us an extraordinary explication of the Faulkner story, when all at once a hand shot up just down the front row from me, and a loud mellifluous voice commanded: “Black people in the United States are being beaten and dying. The capitalist system is corrupt. Why are we reading this racist old white man who said he would defend Mississippi against any civil rights intervention with a shotgun in hand?” He continued: “We should be reading Chairman Mao and Che Guevara. We should be learning the sober dialectics of revolution.”

It was, indeed, the voice of Stokely Carmichael. His face was swollen, and he had a bandage over his right eye from participation in a civil rights action in neighboring Maryland just a few days before. He looked weary and incredulous that something as seemingly inane as a Faulkner story should ever occupy the mind of any black student.

Without so much as a small readjustment of her professorial posture, Professor Morrison answered: “Mr. Carmichael, scripture tells us there is a time and place for every occasion. For today, the time before us is reserved for Faulkner’s masterpiece “The Bear.” Please, let us continue, in season, with Faulkner’s astonishing creative achievement.”

Silence fell. Professor Morrison’s lucid and brilliant explication recommenced.

As class was adjourning, I found the courage to say hello to a young woman who had returned my friendly nod during the prior class session. I ventured an opinion: “That was pretty terrific of Professor Morrison to put Faulkner and his complicated book ahead of the civil rights movement, wasn’t it? I’m Houston.”

She said: “Hi, I’m Charlotte. And, yes, I think Professor Morrison was astonishing in her handling of Mr. Carmichael’s interruption.”

Toni Morrison became my ever-loved genius of the humanities and authorship.

Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Touré) still represents my best exemplar of what it means to be young, brilliant, and daringly committed to the global struggle for black liberation. Charlotte eventually became my wife. And in the late ’90s, Charlotte’s publisher sent Toni Morrison a draft copy of her book Surviving the Silence: Black Women’s Stories of Rape. Toni Morrison called Charlotte of a winter’s evening and lauded her book: “This,” she said, “is a love story.” Toni Morrison befriended my academic career and writing at many a turn of life’s wheel. News of our professor’s passing is very, very hard to bear in these most awful of times in America.

Remembering Toni Morrison with American Literature

Groundbreaking, beloved author Toni Morrison’s literary legacy will continue to reverberate long beyond her lifetime. In the wake of her death, we are honored to offer a small tribute: a reading list of American Literature articles that study her work, all made freely available through the end of November.

Signifyin(g) on Reparation in Toni Morrison’s Jazz
Marjorie Pryse, 2008

Toni Morrison’s Paradise: Black Cultural Citizenship in the American Empire
Holly Flint, 2006

Houses of Contention: Tar Baby and Essence
Susan Edmunds, 2018

What The Bluest Eye Knows about Them: Culture, Race, Identity
Christopher Douglas, 2006

The Literary Afterlife of the Korean War
Joseph Darda, 2015

Ruins Amidst Ruins: Black Classicism and the Empire of Slavery
John Levi Barnard, 2014

“what Is Your Mother’s Name?”: Maternal Disavowal and the Reverberating Aesthetic of Black Women’s Pain in Black Nationalist Literature
Meina Yates-Richard, 2016

Disorienting Disability

Disorienting Disability,” the latest issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly, edited by Michele Friedner and Karen Weingarten, is available now.

This special issue examines the stakes of orienting toward or away from disability as a category and as a method. Building on Sara Ahmed’s conceptualization of “orientation” as the situating of queer and raced bodies, the contributors ask how the category of disability might also change how we think of bodies orienting in space and time. Are all paths, desire lines, objects, and interpellations equally accessible? How do we conceptualize access in different spaces? What kind of theoretical and empirical turns might emerge in disorienting disability?

Drawing on feminist studies, critical race studies, and queer studies, the contributors probe the meanings of the term disability and consider disability in relation to other categories of difference such as race, gender, and class. Essays challenge the historicity of disability; push disability studies to consider questions of loss, pain, and trauma; question the notion of disability as another form of diversity; and expand arguments about the ethics of care to consider communities not conventionally defined as disabled.

The issue’s Against the Day section, “Contentious Crossings: Struggles and Alliances for Freedom of Movement across the Mediterranean Sea,” brings together researchers and activists to reflect on struggles against the European border regime. All articles in this section are freely available for six months.

Browse the issue’s contents here, or read the introduction, freely available.

You might also find these recent books in disability studies of interest:

In this revised and expanded edition of Medicine Stories, Aurora Levins Morales weaves together the insights and lessons learned over a lifetime of activism to offer a new theory of social justice, bringing clarity and hope to tangled, emotionally charged social issues in beautiful and accessible language.

In Black Madness :: Mad Blackness Therí Alyce Pickens examines the speculative and science fiction of Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due to rethink the relationship between race and disability, thereby unsettling the common theorization that they are mutually constitutive.

Jane Gallop explores how disability and aging are commonly understood to undermine one’s sense of self in Sexuality, Disability, and Aging. She challenges narratives that register the decline of bodily potential and ability as nothing but an experience of loss.

Bridging black feminist theory with disability studies, in Bodyminds Reimagined, Sami Schalk traces how black women’s speculative fiction complicates the understanding of bodyminds in the context of race, gender, and (dis)ability, showing how the genre’s exploration of bodyminds that exist outside of the present open up new social and ethical possibilities.