Asian Studies

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.

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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.

New Books in October

It’s official—fall has arrived! With the start of this new season, we’re releasing dynamic new reads in art and visual culture, anthropology, feminist studies, cultural studies, sociology, and more. Check out all of these exciting books available in October.

Continuing the work she began in The Promise of Happiness and Willful Subjects by taking up a single word and following its historical, intellectual, and political significance, Sara Ahmed explores how use operates as an organizing concept, technology of control, and tool for diversity work in What’s the Use?

In Where Histories Reside Priya Jaikumar examines seven decades of films shot on location in India to show how attending to filmed space reveals alternative timelines and histories of cinema as well as the myriad ways cinema constructs India as a place.

Eva Haifa Giraud contends in What Comes after Entanglement? that recent theory that foregrounds the ways that human existence is entangled with other nonhuman life and the natural world often undermine successful action and calls for new modes of activist organizing and theoretical critique.

The contributors to Reading Sedgwick (edited by Lauren Berlant) reflect on the long and influential career of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, whose pioneering work in queer theory has transformed understandings of affect, intimacy, politics, and identity.

Conceptualizing anthropology as a mode of practical and transformative inquiry in A Possible Anthropology, Anand Pandian stages an ethnographic encounter with the field in an effort to grasp its impact on the world and its potential for addressing and offering solutions to the profound crises of the present.

In Symbolic Violence Michael Burawoy brings Pierre Bourdieu into an extended debate with Marxism by outlining the parallels and divergences between Bourdieu’s thought and preeminent Marxist theorists including Gramsci, Fanon, Beauvoir, and Freire.

Achille Mbembe theorizes the genealogy of the contemporary world—one plagued by inequality, militarization, enmity, and a resurgence of racist, fascist, and nationalist forces—and calls for a radical revision of humanism a the means to create a more just society in Necropolitics.

In Fidel between the Lines Laura-Zoë Humphreys tracks late-socialist Cuba’s changing dynamics of social criticism and censorship through Cuban cinema and its cultural politics.

In A Fragile Inheritance, Saloni Mathur investigates the work of two seminal figures from the global South: the New Delhi-based critic and curator Geeta Kapur and contemporary multimedia artist Vivan Sundaram, illuminating  how their political and aesthetic commitments intersect and foreground uncertainty, difficulty, conflict, and contradiction.  

Ronak K. Kapadia examines multimedia visual art by artists from societies besieged by the US war on terror in Insurgent Aesthetics, showing how their art offers queer feminist critiques of US global warfare that forge new aesthetic and social alliances with which to sustain critical opposition to the global war machine.

In Eros Ideologies Laura E. Pérez analyzes Latina art to explore a new notion of decolonial thought and love based on the integration of body, mind, and spirit that offers a means to creating a more democratic and just present and future.

Edited by Frances Richard, I Stand in My Place with My Own Day Here features essays by more than fifty renowned international writers considering thirteen monumental works of art commissioned by The New School between 1930 and the present. We are distributing this beautiful art book for The New School.

Between Form and Content is a catalog that accompanied the first exhibition to focus on Jacob Lawrence’s experience at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1946, where his interaction with Josef Albers had a lasting impact on his future career. We are distributing this catalog for Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center.

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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.

Critique and Cosmos: After Masao Miyoshi

Contributors to the newest issue of boundary 2: an international journal of literature and culture explore the works of Masao Miyoshi, who introduced the concept of “aftering” — the act of prolonging and transforming impacts across cultural, political, and disciplinary borders.

Critique and Cosmos: After Masao Miyoshi,” edited by Rob Wilson and Paul A. Bové, is a reflection of Miyoshi’s concept and a tribute to the scholar himself, as illustrated in Harry Harootunian’s essay “As We Saw Him: Masao Miyoshi and the Vocation of Critical Struggle,” available free for three months.

The remaining essays offer fresh takes on several of his critical visions, including a humility of our knowledge system and the quest to exceed it, relearning the sense of the world in which we live, the practice of “anti-photography,” and the need for humanistic disciplines to address the global commons created by runaway consumption and environmental deterioration.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction, freely available.

“Emotion and Visuality in Chinese Literature and Culture”

“Emotion or qing 情 has been identified at the core of Chinese thinking about literature, such that ‘lyrical tradition’ becomes an encompassing concept for many to distinguish Chinese literary tradition from its Western counterpart,” write the editors of the newest Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture issue in their introduction, freely available

“Emotion and Visuality in Chinese Literature and Culture” explores topics such as the presence of emotion in medieval Chinese burials; image-text relationships of gendered emotions, such as is depicted in the “hundred beauties” (baimei 百美) genre of the late Ming and Qing dynasties; and the affective experience of Chinese culture, as evidenced in the works of Chinese artists Chen Hongshou, Qiu Canzhi, and Yuan Kewen.

Browse the table of contents, read the introduction, and sign up for email alerts to not miss an issue.

New Books in July

Our Spring 2019 season may be drawing to a close, but we’ve got some exciting new titles this month to help keep your summer reading in full swing. Check out our new releases for July!

HoweBoyerTogetherCymene Howe and Dominic Boyer have written a duograph subtitled “Wind and Power in the Anthropocene.” In Ecologics, Cymene Howe traces the complex relationships between humans, nonhuman beings and objects, and geophysical forces that shaped the Mareña Renovables project in Oaxaca, Mexico, which had it been completed, would have been Latin America’s largest wind power installation. In Energopolitics, Dominic Boyer examines the politics of wind power and how it is shaped by myriad factors—from the legacies of settler colonialism and indigenous resistance to state bureaucracy and corporate investment—while outlining the fundamental impact of energy and fuel on political power. The two books can be read together or separately and are available for purchase as a set at a special price.

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In Blood Work, Janet Carsten traces the multiple meanings of blood as it moves from donors to labs, hospitals, and patients in Penang, Malaysia, showing how those meanings provide a gateway to understanding the social, political, and cultural dynamics of modern life.

Leah Zani considers how the people and landscape of Laos have been shaped and haunted by the physical remains of unexploded ordnance from the CIA’s Secret War in Bomb Children.

Florence Bernault retells the colonial and postcolonial history of present-day Gabon from the late nineteenth century to the present in Colonial Transactions, showing how colonialism shaped French and Gabonese obsessions about fetish, witchcraft, and organ trafficking for ritual murders.

978-1-4780-0467-7_prIn The Uncaring, Intricate Worldedited by Todd Meyers, anthropologist Pamela Reynolds shares her fieldwork diary from her time spent in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi valley during the 1980s, in which she recounts the difficulties, pleasures, and contradictions of studying the daily lives of the Tonga people three decades after their forced displacement.

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Citizen Science: Practices and Problems

“Citizen Science: Practices and Problems,” the newest issue of East Asian Science, Technology and Society, is now freely available online for three months.

Topics include:

and more. Read the full issue, freely available for three months.

Digital Methods and Traditional Chinese Literary Studies

JCL_5-2_coverIn the newest issue of the Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, contributors explore how the digital humanities have revolutionized the study of classical Chinese literature. Edited by Jing Chen, Thomas J. Mazanec, and Jeffrey R. Tharsen, the issue depicts how modern technologies can enhance traditional philology and literary studies.

Methods discussed include computational analysis of Tang dynasty poems, using Gephi software to compare Ming dynasty anthologies, and creating network diagrams from ancient Chinese annotations.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction, freely available.

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Reads

In honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month or Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are featuring some of our recent books and journals that explore Asian American and Pacific Islander studies.

racial melancholiaDavid L. Eng and Shinhee Han draws on psychoanalytic case histories from the mid-1990s to the present to explore how first- and second-generation Asian American young adults deal with difficulties such as depression, suicide, and coming out within the larger social context of race, immigration, and sexuality in Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation.

Also looking at the lives of young Asian Americans,  Straight A’s, edited by Christine R. Yano, Neal K. Adolph Akatsuka, features personal narratives of undergraduate students at Harvard University in which they reflect on their shared experiences with discrimination, stereotypes, immigrant communities, their relationship to their Asian heritage, and the difficulties that come with being expected to reach high levels of achievement.

In Paradoxes of Hawaiian SovereigntyJ. Kēhaulani Kauanui examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law, showing how Hawaiian elites’ approaches to reforming land, gender, and sexual regulation in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of indigenous Hawaiians.

Dean Itsuji Saranillio’s Unsustainable Empire offers a bold challenge to conventional understandings of Hawai‘i’s admission as a U.S. state. Saranillio shows that statehood was neither the expansion of U.S. democracy nor a strong nation swallowing a weak and feeble island nation, but the result of a U.S. nation whose economy was unsustainable without enacting a more aggressive policy of imperialism. With clarity and persuasive force about historically and ethically complex issues, Unsustainable Empire provides a more complicated understanding of Hawai‘i’s admission as the fiftieth state and why Native Hawaiian place-based alternatives to U.S. empire are urgently needed.

postcolonial griefIn Postcolonial Grief, Jinah Kim explores Asian and Asian American texts from 1945 to the present that mourn the loss of those killed by U.S. empire building and militarism in the Pacific, showing how the refusal to heal from imperial violence may help generate a transformative antiracist and decolonial politics.

In Migrant Futures, Aimee Bahng traces the cultural production of futurity by juxtaposing the practices of speculative finance against those of speculative fiction, showing how speculative novels, films, and narratives create alternative futures that envision the potential for new political economies, social structures, and subjectivities that exceed the framework of capitalism.

worldmakingDorinne Kondo draws on critical ethnographic work and over twenty years of experience as a dramaturge and playwright to theorize how racialized labor, aesthetics, affect, genre, and social inequity operate in contemporary theater in Worldmaking.

Jan M. Padios examines the massive call center industry in the Philippines in the context of globalization, race, gender, transnationalism, and postcolonialism in A Nation on the Line. She outlines how it has become a significant site of efforts to redefine Filipino identity and culture, the Philippine nation-state, and the value of Filipino labor.

Migrant Returns  by Eric J. Pido also takes a transnational look at the Filipino experience. His award-winning book examines the complicated relationship between the Philippine economy, Manila’s urban development, and Filipino migrants visiting or returning to their homeland, showing migration to be a multidirectional, layered, and continuous process with varied and often fraught outcomes.

New Books in May

Jump-start your summer reading with one of our new titles this May!

In Coral Empire Ann Elias traces the history of two explorers whose photographs and films of tropical reefs in the 1920s cast corals and the sea as an unexplored territory to be exploited in ways that tied the tropics and reefs to colonialism, racism, and the human domination of nature.

The contributors to Remaking New Orleans, edited by Thomas Jessen Adams and Matt Sakakeeny, challenge the uncritical acceptance of New Orleans-as-exceptional narratives, showing how they flatten the diversity, experience, and culture of the city’s residents and obscure other possible understandings.

The ChasersRenato Rosaldo’s new prose poetry collection, The Chasers, shares his experiences and those of his group of twelve Mexican-American Tucson High School friends known as the Chasers as they grew up, graduated, and fell out of touch, conveying the realities of Chicano life on the borderlands from the 1950s to the present.

In Queering Black Atlantic Religions Roberto Strongman examines three Afro-diasporic religions—Hatian Vodou, Cuban Lucumí/Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé—to demonstrate how the commingling of humans and the divine during trance possession produce subjectivities whose genders are unconstrained by biological sex.

Written in 1937, published in Spanish in 1973, and appearing here in English for the first time, Freddy Prestol Castillo’s novel You Can Cross the Massacre on Foot is one of the few accounts of the 1937 massacre of tens of thousands of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic.

Book Reports

In Book Reports, a generous collection of book reviews and literary essays, rock critic Robert Christgau shows readers a different side to his esteemed career with reviews of books ranging from musical autobiographies, criticism, and histories to novels, literary memoirs, and cultural theory.

The contributors to From Russia with Code, edited by Mario Biagioli and Vincent Antonin Lépinay, examine Russian computer scientists, programmers, and hackers in and outside of Russia within the context of new international labor markets and the economic, technological, and political changes in post-Soviet Russia.

In Camp TV Quinlan Miller reframes American television history by tracing a camp aesthetic and the common appearance of trans queer gender characters in both iconic and lesser known sitcoms throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

The coauthors of Decolonizing Ethnography integrate ethnography with activist work in a New Jersey center for undocumented workers, showing how anthropology can function as a vehicle for activism and as a tool for marginalized people to theorize their own experiences.

In Work! Elspeth H. Brown traces modeling’s history from the advent of photographic modeling in the early twentieth century to the rise of the supermodel in the 1980s, showing how it is both the quintessential occupation of a modern consumer economy and a practice that has been shaped by queer sensibilities.

In Figures of Time Toni Pape examines contemporary television that often presents a conflict-laden conclusion first before relaying the events that led up to that inevitable ending, showing how this narrative structure attunes audiences to the fear-based political doctrine of preemption—a logic that justifies preemptive action to nullify a perceived future threat.

In Anti-Japan Leo T. S. Ching traces the complex dynamics that shape persisting negative attitudes toward Japan throughout East Asia, showing how anti-Japanism stems from the failed efforts at decolonization and reconciliation, the U.S. military presence, and shifting geopolitical and economic conditions in the region.

The Cuba Reader

Tracking Cuban history from 1492 to the present, this revised and expanded second edition of The Cuba Reader presents myriad perspectives on Cuba’s history, culture, and politics, including a new section that explores the changes and continuities in Cuba since Fidel Castro stepped down from power in 2006.

The Fernando Coronil Reader, a posthumously published collection of anthropologist Fernando Coronil’s most important work, highlights his deep concern with the global South, Latin American state formation, theories of nature, empire and postcolonialism, and anthrohistory as an intellectual and ethical approach.

The extensively updated and revised third edition of the bestselling Social Medicine Reader (Volume I and Volume II) provides a survey of the challenging issues facing today’s health care providers, patients, and caregivers with writings by scholars in medicine, the social sciences, and the humanities. It will be a great addition to courses in public health, medicine, nursing, and more.

Catherine Waldby traces how the history of the valuing of human oocytes—the reproductive cells specific to women—intersects with the biological and social life of women in her new book The Oocyte Economy.

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