After experiencing the first two days of the Association for Asian Studies 2021 virtual conference, I have come to realize the profound problem of trying to organize major events during COVID-19. The papers that I have attended have been great, the audio and powerpoints have been clear, and the mechanism for asking questions and fostering discussion has been easy to navigate. But with the conference being virtual, many of us are attending while balancing a range of other responsibilities: teaching courses, answering emails, dealing with the burden of racism in our country, operating in the shadow of two recent mass shootings, chores, childcare, eldercare, and the daily stresses of life during a pandemic. During a typical conference year, we would jet set across the country to a random urban enclave to listen to the research of our peers. We mill about the exhibition hall and drink overpriced coffee from the hotel cafe. But this experience is only enabled by canceling two or three days of our courses (an act that is already a luxury that not everyone can afford). But in conversations with colleagues, I’m hearing the same thing: most people are doing the conference on TOP of everything else in their lives (and not instead), and as a result, it becomes really difficult to authentically engage in the work of one another. I’m sorry that I’m distracted, but I’m sure I’m not alone! I’m hoping to watch some panels I missed during the evenings, but I admit that it feels like a lonely endeavor!
So with that — I miss you all. And I hope that our fortunes change and we can see one another soon. And, of course, missing a single event is a cakewalk compared to what so many in our country have already lost. I’m grateful that we can still share our work, regardless. But I can’t help but wonder how this will change the conference landscape moving forward…
So with that being said, if you have some time bright and early this Wednesday morning (3/24), please feel free to join us to talk about transnational trends in Asian photography! I’m so humbled to share a Zoom room with these amazing women.
March 24th, 2021: 8:30AM-10:00AM EST
G008: IMAGINARIES IN MOTION: EARLY TRANSNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN AND BEYOND ASIA
Chaired by Yeewan Koon, University of Hong Kong
Roberta Wue, University of California, Irvine: “John Thomson and Chinese Spaces”
Jung Joon Lee, Rhode Island School of Design: “Scopophilia and World’s Fair Photographs: Books Versus Stereographs”
Christina M. Spiker, St. Olaf College: “Optical Consistency in Ainu Photography: Tracing Networks of Transnational Reproduction”
Jie Guo, University of South Carolina: “The Shan Chief Goes to Delhi: The 1903 Delhi Durbar and the Optical Order of Empire”
Yeewan Koon, University of Hong Kong: Discussion