By Heidi K. Lam (Yale University)
The Society for East Asian Anthropology (SEAA) sponsored 22 panels at the 113th AAA Annual Meeting in Washington DC. Of these panels, 12 engaged with topics across East Asia, six in China, two in Korea, and two in Japan. Three of the panels were poster sessions. The panels touched on a wide range of pertinent themes, including: cultural production and consumption, gender, identity, mobility, new media, popular culture, psychology, tourism and youth.
SEAA hosted two invited sessions, which took place on Saturday December 6, 2014. With Ralph Litzinger (Duke U) as chair, Susan Greenhalgh (Harvard U) and Li Zhang (UC Davis) organized the roundtable “Troubling the ‘China Dream’: Paradoxes of the Good Life in China Today.” Dan Lin (Chinese U Hong Kong) was the organizer, with Gordon Mathews (Chinese U Hong Kong) as chair, of “Africans in Guangzhou: Will China Ever Have Its Own Barack Obama?”
SEAA Business Meeting and 2014 Awards
At the business meeting, SEAA President Li Zhang and prize committee members presented the annual awards.
Manduhai Buyandelger (MIT) received the 2014 Francis LK Hsu Book Prize for her book Tragic Spirits: Shamanism, Memory, and Gender in Contemporary Mongolia (University of Chicago Press). She examines the revival of shamanism among the Buryat people in Monogolia against a backdrop of economic impoverishment and regime change, focusing on issues of historical memory, gender, and politics.
The 2014 David Plath Media Award recognized the film Playing with Nan, which was directed by Dipesh Karel (U Tokyo) and Asami Saito (Media Help Line, Kathmandu). The film follows the life of Ram, a 28-year old Nepali man, and his family after he migrated to work in Japan. Honorable Mentions were awarded to two works: Rupert Cox (Manchester U) and Angus Carlye (U Arts London) were recognized for Kiatsu: The Sound of the Sky Being Torn (blog), while David Novak (UC Santa Barbara) for the podcast and website Sounds of Japan’s Nuclear Movement.
Student Mentoring Workshop
On December 6, SEAA organized a mentoring workshop for graduate students. The workshop invited SEAA President Li Zhang (UC Davis), Amy Borovoy (Princeton U) and Jennifer Hubbert (Lewis & Clark C) to have lunch with and share advice with graduate students. Twenty graduate students participated in this mentoring workshop and were divided into three groups by academic stage (pre-field work, post-field work, and currently on the job market). Some of the issues discussed were: “strategies for conducting productive fieldwork,” “job searches, job talks, and salary negotiations,” and “balancing academic life and personal life.”
Participants indicated in the post-event survey that the workshop eased their “intellectual” anxieties, developed their skills in academic publication and job seeking, and helped build stronger connections between professors and students. SEAA will continue to organize its mentoring workshop at future AAA meetings.
SEAA Column: Goals and Upcoming Activities
The SEAA column editors, Heidi Lam and Yi Zhou, reiterated their goal of involving more graduate students in SEAA column’s readership and contributors, as well as interaction among scholars at different career stages. To that purpose, they are planning a series of columns centered on a pertinent topic, such as new media, tourism, and professionalization, and will solicit papers from faculty and graduate student SEAA members. Details will be announced at a later date.