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Recapping the Conference, Upcoming Events, and More!
A A D S  E V E N T S  + O P P O R T U N I T I E S
AADS Brown Bag: Devouring the Inscrutable: Eating Asians and the Politics of Enfleshment

When: Friday, September 30, 12-1pm EST
Where: Pink Parlor, East Duke Building 
This talk juxtaposes and contextualizes the phenomenon of Asian “eating” content (such as popular Korean “eating broadcasts” or Mukbang videos, Asian diasporic food writing, and daily eating vlogs) alongside the historic figure of the “starving/hungry” Asian, a lingering trope from mid-twentieth century famine rhetoric and nutritional literature. By analyzing literary, visual, and performance archives, I argue that for Asian/American and diasporic subjects, food and eating become mediums through which bodies that are otherwise inscribed as mechanical, surplus, or inscrutable are able to find expressive modes for feelings of love, regret, forgiveness, and sympathy. As these affectively imbued biological processes of feeding, eating, and digesting come to mediate complex, intergenerational feelings, food and the Asiatic body have also been mobilized in the imperial American repertoire as a site of incongruity and terror. Thinking through the scalar and lingering affects of the stomach, this talk asks us to consider: how does Asiatic flesh travel and adhere through points of contact with its own biological processes–of weight-gain and loss, hunger and fullness, illness and aging? RSVP here

O T H E R  E V E N T S
Chosen Screening + Q&A
When: September 28, 7-9pm EST 
Where: East Duke 209

Join us for a screening of CHOSEN, a feature-length documentary on five Korean Americans who ran (and are also running this year) for US Congress in 2020. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Director Joseph Juhn. This event is sponsored by Korea Forum, AMES, AADS, and APSI, and is open to the Duke community.

Minor Aesthetics Symposium
When: October 12 - October 13 
Where: East Duke Parlors

Join the Minor Aesthetics Faculty Working Group for a two-day symposium on queer, Asian, and diasporic art with events including a performance, artist talks, a research showcase, AADS Brown Bag, and a closing roundtable. The symposium features two artists-in-residence, Chanel Matsunami Govreau-a Brooklyn-based artist who explores the intersections of monstrous femininity, queerness, and Japanese-American identity-and Jae Quisol-a Charlotte-based artist who brings the force of history and cultural power to intentional songwriting and collaborative experimentation. The Minor Aesthetics Working Group is convened by Dr. Anna Storti (GSF) and Dr. Yun Emily Wang (Music), with support from GSF, Music, FHI, AADS, and the Duke Endowment. RSVP here and find the program and schedule here!

New Day Film Festival
When: October 21, October 22 
Where: Rubenstein Arts Center

The New Day Film Festival feature film, "Far East, Deep South," sheds light on the history of Chinese immigrants in the American South and the discrimination they faced during the late 1800s to mid-1900s through the emotional journey of Charles Chiu and his family as they travel from California to Mississippi to find answers about Charles’ father, K.C. Lou. "Far East, Deep South" will be shown at 7pm on October 21st. New Day will also be showing "Cruisin' J-Town," a film about the roots of the popular jazz fusion band Hiroshima, on October 22nd at 2pm. 
Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies is publishing an interdisciplinary special issue that "invites contributions of scholarly, creative, movement, and visual works that speak to the historical, theoretical, methodological, experimental, and pedagogical possibilities of Asian American Abolition Feminisms. More information can be found here.
Last Week: Southeast Conference on Asian American Studies

AADS Student Staff

It’s easy to let momentous-ness wash into the current of small logistics: the shoes that tape won’t hold, the baby quiet in a corner, the caterers folding black tablecloths and the blue folders waiting to be filled. Still, it was impossible to miss the waves of new-ness at this conference – the first one centered around Asian American Studies (AAS) in the U.S. American South – even though geographic categorizations are largely arbitrary, even though what “Asian American Studies” means is constantly in flux. 

The conference opened on Friday evening with a keynote address given by Dr. Sylvia Chong (University of Virginia), who eight years ago did the external review for Asian American Studies at Duke. She wove through the distortions of history which make possible an Asian male victimhood, the gravity of enmeshed identity categories illegible to legal structures, the expanding imagination as a goal of Asian American Studies pedagogy. Seeing oneself in or as the other, she concluded, is a political project, and one that is ultimately the impetus for teaching Asian American Studies well. The project is complicated when we start to pick at this idea of “Asian Americanness,” foregrounding the messiness of a heterogeneity which came (and comes) before any version of Asian America. Despite, or rather, because of, this difficulty, students and faculty are still pushing for Asian American Studies, and are doing so, critically, in the American South(east). 

The next morning, the first panel worked through AAS program building, outlining the pressures, obstacles, and dilemmas of bringing new programs into existence at universities often hostile to change (panelists: Heidi Kim (UNC), Shilpa Davé (UVA), Francis Tanglao-Aguas (William & Mary), Aimee Kwon (Duke), moderated by Elieen Chow (Duke)).  Parallel trends emerged across campuses –  the importance of allies at all levels, the necessity of flexible and creative strategy, the constant doubt and decision intrinsic to . Even so, faculty, staff, and students continue to organize towards a kind of university knowledge production that not only includes them in the liberal multicultural formulation, but is critical of the folds into which the academic subject is incorporated. Always at the center of these swirling impulses, though, are students – demanding more courses and faculty, refusing the false competition between student and academic affairs, asking for frameworks to explain instinct and language to articulate hurt. The University was not a tool built for us, one panelist remarked. It wasn’t built for us, but the people in that room are still doing the work that the university ought – building up programs that will challenge and inspire students towards more complex understandings of themselves and their worlds. 

The second panel featured a group of wildly talented junior faculty, weighing in on new directions in Asian/American Studies (panelists: Cheryl Naruse (Tulane), Erica Kanesaka (Emory), Anna Storti (Duke) and Calvin Cheung-Miaw (Duke), moderated by Chinua Akimaro Thelwell (William & Mary)). Taken together, the professors’ research points to a constantly expanding Asian American Studies: their work is interested in rethinking violence and its implications for Asian/American bodies, grappling with U.S. empire in Singapore, tracing an intellectual history of Asian American studies towards deeper multiracial solidarities, exploring the racial and sexual politics of cuteness. Mostly, though, the roundtable held space to imagine hopeful futures for AAS, unrestrained by Euro-American epistemologies, by the inescapable pressures of commodification, or even by the University itself. 

The final open mic, centered around this very topic – the future of AAS in the U.S. Southeast – drifted through questions about the critical differences, and thus solidarities, between AAS and Asian Studies; different dimensions of student organizing and identity; dissemination of AAS in K-12 education and public discourse; the dissonance of existing within flawed universities. Can academia provide pathways to liberation, to healing, can the master’s tools bring us closer to a destroyed house? If a conclusion exists, the conference didn’t find it, but two things become clear in its reflection. First, mostly, the pressing need for Asian American Studies, because the right programs will give students more ways to push against the boundaries of their worlds, and give communities more ways to think and theorize in relation to each other. We can’t talk about Asian American Studies without acknowledging its origins in anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist organizing, or without acknowledging the ways anti-Asian racism is intertwined with racism against other people of color in the U.S. and around the world. Second, critically, the insufficiency of Asian American Studies, at least in its current forms – not only because of the limitations imposed by a lack of funding and attention and administerial insight, but also generally because of the limits of what can happen within the classical University. This means professors venturing beyond teaching; it means students creating their own political learning and organizing spaces (join AASWG!); it means Asian American Studies happens outside of the university all the time. It means, I hope, that despite however hard and messy it might get, AAS will continue straining towards a light that perhaps we can’t yet imagine.  

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