Society for East Asian Anthropology
Aaron Su and Jieun Cho
December 15, 2021
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Society for East Asian Anthropology (SEAA) convened a vibrant virtual business meeting and featured many stimulating panels in its program for this year’s AAA. Membership and finance increases revealed a productive year of accomplishments, while numerous announcements, awards, and transitions took center stage at the business meeting.
Also announced at the meeting were a new theme for SEAA’s Anthropology News column and a call for open SEAA positions, each listed at the end of this recap.
SEAA received a total of 31 individual paper and panel submissions this year, exploring pressing themes ranging from the resurgence of pandemic nationalisms in East Asia to the cultural and affective economies of tourism in China, Japan, and Korea. From these submissions, SEAA offered 2 invited sessions and 1 co-sponsored session with the Association for Queer Anthropology.
SEAA members gathered virtually for the annual Business Meeting, where the Board and section members reviewed activities throughout 2021, announced new positions, and awarded book and essay prizes.
Silvia Lindtner from the University of Michigan was awarded this year’s Francis L.K. Hsu Book Prize for Prototype Nation: China and the Contested Promise of Innovation (Princeton University Press, 2020). The award’s Honorable Mention was given to Lyle Fearnley from the Singapore University for Technology and Design, for his book Virulent Zones: Animal Disease and Global Health at China’s Pandemic Epicenter (Duke University Press, 2020). This year’s book prize committee was chaired by Marvin Sterling.
In addition, the 2021 SEAA Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Prize, chaired by Nicholas Harkness, was awarded to Ruiyi Zhu (University of Cambridge) for her essay, “Aspiring to standards: Mongolian vocational education, Chinese enterprise, and the neoliberal order.” Timothy Y. Loh (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) was awarded Honorable Mention for his paper, titled: “Mother Tongue Orphan: Multiculturalism and the Challenge of Sign Language in Singapore.”
A virtual yet spirited shamoji (rice paddle) ceremony reigned in this year’s transitions in SEAA board positions. As the incoming present, Ellen Oxfeld took over the shamoji from former president Sonia Ryang; Christine Yano, the president-elect, will assume this role at the end of Oxfeld’s term.
We also said goodbye to several outgoing members: Satsuki Kawano (Secretary 2019-21), Andrew Kipnis (Councilor 2019-21), Nicholas Harkness (Councilor 2019-21), Yifan Wang (Student Councilor 2020-21), and Hanna Pickwell (Anthropology News SEAA Section Editor 2019-21). We welcomed a cohort of new members as well: Teresa Kuan as Secretary; Zachary Howlett, Beata Świtek, Jennifer Prough, and Yi Wu as Councilors; Yookyeong Im and Tim Quinn as Student Councilors; and Aaron Su and Jieun Cho as Anthropology News SEAA Section Editors.
Thank you to all of these members for volunteering their time and energy to keep SEAA a thriving forum for intellectual exchange! We also thank Guven Witteveen, who has deftly overseen SEAA’s Digital Communications.
New Anthropology News Column Theme, and Open SEAA Positions
The SEAA Column in Anthropology News will be publishing pieces in 2022 under a new theme, after receiving several submissions during a call for papers: “Materialities and Movements in a Changing East Asia.” The column publishes SEAA members’ reflections and photo essays based on original ethnographic research.
In addition, new SEAA positions will be open soon. Two Councilor positions, one Treasurer position, and one Student Councilor position are available for those who wish to run. Please contact Ellen Oxfeld (oxfeld [at] middlebury.edu) announcing your intent to run as soon as possible.
Aaron Su is an editor for the SEAA section news column. He is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Princeton University with interests in medical and environmental anthropology, urban design, and contemporary China.
Jieun Cho is an editor for the SEAA section news column. She is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and currently writing up her dissertation on children’s health, everyday life, and radioactive uncertainty in post-nuclear Japan.