On behalf of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, I want to welcome you to our site and program. To be sure, since our founding in 1993, we have capaciously expanded our sights (and sites) to include multiple regions within Asia (particularly with regard to China, India, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia). We have likewise extended our vistas to include hemispheric migrations (to Latin American, the United States, and Canada) and oceanic imaginaries (inclusive of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans). Such national reorientations and global reconfigurations — which involve serious interdisciplinary considerations of borderlands and homelands, transnational evaluations of civil rights and human rights, and multifaceted analyses of movement and diaspora – operate at the forefront of the Institute’s current course offerings and faculty research.
This year is a particularly meaningful one for the Institute. We are presently the proud home for the vibrant, innovative India Studies program; this initiative is at the forefront of our programming initiatives with regard to South Asia. It is also the institutional hub for a minor specifically dedicated to India Studies. We are in the process of revising our minor offerings: by the end of this academic year, we will have an Asian Studies minor and an Asian American Studies minor. This shift in our curriculum, along with our increased course offerings, productively confirm and fruitfully reinforce our longstanding commitment to global education, interdisciplinarity, and ethnic studies.
With regard to teaching and research, we are happy to welcome two exciting new faculty members who have recently joined the Institute’s core ranks: Professor Alexus McLeod and Professor Manisha Desai. Professor McLeod received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut and returns to us as an Assistant Professor in Philosophy and Asian/Asian American Studies. His research interests include Indian Philosophy, Mesoamerican (Maya) Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Metaphysics, Ethics, and the History and Philosophy of Science. He specializes in Early Chinese Philosophy and Comparative Philosophy. A well-published scholar, Professor McLeod brings to UConn a reputation as one of the leading scholars in the field. Likewise significant is the addition of Professor Desai to our faculty; presently the head of the Department of Sociology, Professor Desai’s research specialties include transnational feminism, social movements and activism, South Asian studies, diasporic Asian American studies, globalization, and human rights. She has worked closely with the United Nations and remains a foremost authority on grassroots rights movement and social justice.
As has consistently been the case, the Institute remains mindful of the multivalent ways in which history matters. This is most certainly a significant “anniversary” year. 2017 marks the 75th – anniversary of the passage of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This order, unilaterally applied to those of Japanese descent, paved the way for what has been rightfully couched as a “dark moment” in American history: the Japanese American internment, wherein 110,000 individuals were forcibly relocated to and incarcerated in euphemistically-named detention/surveillance centers. The University of Connecticut was in many ways on the “right side of history” vis-à-vis internment. To wit, it was one of the few institutions of higher learning willing to allow Japanese American internees an opportunity to finish their education during the World War II-era. In conjunction with the Institute’s annual “Day of Remembrance” lecture, and with the intention of contemplating the ongoing legacies and lessons of internment, we will be co-hosting a major event with the Dodd Center and the Asian American Cultural Center. 2017 also marks the 70th – anniversary of Indian independence; we will accordingly focus some of our spring programming on this occasion.
Please stay tuned as we move to confirm our programming, which reflects the absolute diversity of the Institute’s many research and teaching engagements. I wish you the very best over the next academic year.
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials
Director, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute