About this guide
This focus on inclusivity and emphasis on openness strike a decidedly relevant chord when situated within the context of contemporary U.S. politics. Earlier this year, the o icers, Board, and sta of the AAAS publicly condemned Executive Order titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," issued on January 27, 2017. In its denunciation, the AAAS stressed the following: “The order, notwithstanding declarations otherwise, is guided by, and more importantly furthers, an overt anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant agenda" that is “bigoted in scope" and “Islamophobic in nature." Since issuing that statement, the Trump administration has reintroduced another version of the ban that – despite revision – continues the troublingly exclusionary and discriminatory politics of the original order. The AAAS is, to reiterate its public statement and mission, is dedicated to “advocating and representing the interests and welfare of Asian American Studies and Asian Americans," as an organization committed to promoting “professional dignity in the field...so as to have a positive influence upon American public opinion, society, and government in all areas where Asian Americans are a ected," and as an assemblage of practitioners invested in “the history of Asian Americans and the contemporary issues and problems they face in the United States," it is very much the AAAS's interest to tirelessly advocate and support the civil rights and human rights of U.S. citizens, immigrants, and refugees.
This commitment to rights was very much at the forefront of a di icult decision involving the 2018 AAAS conference, which was originally slated to take place in Nashville, TN. On April 28, 2016, Governor Bill Hassam (Tennessee) signed into law a bill (HB 1840) that allows counselors and therapists to reject certain clients if the therapy provided goes against the practitioner's “sincerely held principles." Couched as a bill concerned with “religious freedom," this bill is – as many have observed – part of a wave of anti-LGBT legislation proposed in other states (such as North Carolina). Though the site was chosen by the AAAS board well before the passage of HB 1840, we were moved to act in a manner that ensures the equal rights of all its members. Accordingly, we relocated the 2018 conference to a site free from such restrictive legislation: San Francisco, California. Though this was incontrovertibly the right decision, it is one that has come at considerable operational cost. We are therefore in a very precarious position right now, and we look to each of you to help us – as your association – negotiate and overcome unprecedented financial challenges in the weeks and months following the Portland conference.
To be sure, such a commitment to rights and dedication to social justice is very much a characteristic of the AAAS as a participatory body comprised of activist scholars, practitioners, and teachers. This inspirational assessment of our organization is at once evident in two resolutions that will be presented at this year's AAAS business meeting: the first involves future conference sites and sanctuary cities; the second takes seriously the need to stand against denials concerning the violations experienced by “Comfort Women" during World War II.
It is therefore fitting and presciently apt that this year's theme is “At the Crossroads of Care and Giving." The AAAS Program Committee Co-Chairs Eleanor Ty and Angie Chung have skillfully curated a presentation schedule that reflects where the field of Asian American Studies is and where it is going; they have likewise attended to the multivalent challenges facing a field wonderfully and capaciously engaged in questions of citizenship, migration, refugee-ness, and belonging. Lynn Fujiwara and Patti Duncan have brought together multiple communities involved in “care work" in Portland and the surrounding area, as evidenced by their site committee plenary. They have also labored to connect conference to community via tours that bring together attendees and neighborhoods. In addition to these local community engagements, the AAAS has engaged a new collaboration with the Smithsonian's Asian Pacific American Center (APAC). Expressly, the Smithsonian has offered very generous support via its co-hosting of this year's early career faculty forum/ workshop. Invested in facilitating new generations of public scholars, thinkers, and activists, Smithsonian's APAC will lead a session specifically grounded in public scholarship and practice.
As an association, we have benefitted enormously from a very talented and dedicated board. Without their willingness to donate their time, expertise, and labor, we simply could not exist as a viable organization. It is therefore with sizeable gratitude that I acknowledge the service of the following outgoing board members: Janelle Wong (Mid-Atlantic Representative), LeiLani Nishime (Pacific Northwest, Hawai'i and Pacific Islands, & Western Canada Representative), and erin Khue Ninh (Southern California Representative). It is with considerable generosity that I welcome our newly elected board members: Theodore Gonzalves (President-Elect), Stanley Thangaraj (Mid-Atlantic Representative), Robyn Magalit Rodriguez (Northern California Representative), and Christine Yano (Pacific Northwest, Hawai'i, and Pacific islands, & Western Canada Representative). Continuing in the spirit of transition, we will – this summer – have a new editor for the Journal of Asian American Studies (JAAS), Rick Bonus, a former AAAS President and series editor for Temple University Press's Asian American History & Culture initiative. He follows in the editorial footsteps of Anita Mannur, whose leadership of the journal has been considerable and impressive. Last, but certainly not least, the AAAS staff – Anna Gonzalez, Tamara Ko, and Jenny DeLuna – have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and in front of computer screens to ensure that the conference, as has been the case in previous years, runs smoothly and without interruption. To say that we would not be here if it were not for their efforts is a profound understatement.
As a longtime member, I have consistently found solidarity in the AAAS and inclusivity at its annual gathering. Though the present is characterized by very difficult times, divisive polemics, and trying politics, I am heartened by the fact that you are each here in Portland, Oregon.
With much respect and admiration,
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials,