NYCAS 2012

by Liz on October 12, 2012

in Opinion

Clockwise from top right: Wilson Lee, Elim Wong, and Lim Tai Wei of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, NYCAS members listening to a lecture by Theodore Bestor of Harvard. Painting by Ushio Shinohara, Doll Festival, 1966.

New York state is not yet a hotbed of Asian Studies, but there are signs it already rivals Tokyo and Hong Kong.

This was one consensus at the annual New York Conference on Asian Studies at SUNY New Paltz, the largest regional academic conference of the Association of Asian Studies.

Over the course of two days in late September, fifty-seven panels on subject matter ranging from sustainable development in China to Japanese tabloid television provided an opportunity to reexamine Asia in a new light.

Housed inside the Student Union, a campus building with a distinct, glass silhouette, the din of scholars consuming bagels and coffee did nothing, though, to abate opinions about the conference.

Scott Craig of Waterloo, Ontario, who had presented on the role of religion in Canada’s Southeast Asian communities, recounted the long path to paper acceptance. “I’ve definitely had mixed experiences. I was initially invited as a presenter, then was told otherwise a few weeks later.”

Craig was able to resolve the confusion when he later learned the glitch was a miscommunication with conference organizers, and “e-mails not being received.”

“Once I was registered everything was fine.” He smiled.

Michelle Ho, a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at SUNY Stony Brook, said she, too, experienced administrative problems. “Because I signed up as a presenter independently, I feel like the committee just placed me on a panel nobody cared to attend.”

Ho was told she would need to present her paper at 8:30am on Saturday, and feared a low audience turnout.

Pre-conference glitches aside, nearly all attendees agreed the conference was well organized.

Lim Tai Wei, an assistant professor of Japanese Studies, traveled from Hong Kong to attend the two-day conference. Lim received his doctorate in history from Cornell in 2007, and admitted close ties to New York.

“I’ve been attending this conference for a couple years now, at least since my student days. It’s better organized than equivalent conferences in Japan and other parts of Asia,” Lim observed.

“The topics covered in the conference are also more diversified than what you would encounter in Hong Kong,” he added, referring directly to the wide range of papers that ran the gamut from Ottoman narratives on China to the effects of ecotourism on Japan’s Ainu population.

Lim was just one of many jet-lagged international scholars in attendance at this regional conference on Asian Studies. Like others though, he was happy to mingle with the crowd and establish new connections.

Or, better yet, take the moveable feast of networking to the dining hall, where a catered lunch was a welcome change of pace from the deluge of panels.

  • Scott Craig

     Great article!

Previous post:

Next post: