Working Groups

Asian Studies Initiative

 This working group brings together scholars across Rutgers in order to foster ongoing conversations aimed at building a University-wide endeavor to advance the study of Global Asia at Rutgers. This initiative recognizes that Asia is home to two-thirds of the world population and the center of twenty-first century challenges, ranging from trade wars to nuclear proliferation, refugee crises to environmental disasters. Solutions to these problems require a renewed, integrative focus on Asia’s place in the world – and the world’s place in Asia. While the growing policy and academic emphasis on global processes and transnational relations challenges a traditional area studies model of scholarship, recent trends show nationalism and regionalism to be on the rise, due in part to globalization itself. Because Rutgers is home to a wide diversity of scholars actively engaging in research on Asia, we are uniquely positioned to take a leading role in reshaping conversations on the region.Our goals are to transform Rutgers into a hub of expertise on Asia and its diasporic and hemispheric locales by leveraging existing, but scattered, faculty expertise, as well as existing academic programs across the University, to better respond to and engage the Asian and Asian American communities at Rutgers and beyond. We will work towards integrating existing faculty collaborations, programs, and student/alumni organizations focused on Asia and Asian America. We seek to move beyond traditional area studies models, which grew out of policies responding to a Cold War era world order.  Instead, we will foster deeper examination of the fundamental intellectual underpinnings of area studies in a new era of globalization and workshop new ways of framing regional and transregional conversations. 

This working group grows out of several years of ongoing discussion, aimed at identifying and developing areas of research collaboration across schools and departments. Over the course of the past year, we identified two different sets of challenges. The first is the intellectual challenge of addressing the scope of area studies, of critically rethinking the status of “Asia” as a world region, and of redefining the methodological and theoretical frameworks that tie various faculty members’ interventions together.  The second is in working out the institutional framework for bringing disciplines together, of finding a space in which we can convene regularly and coordinate lectures and activities, plan curricular directions, and organize seminars and speakers.  It also entails working out the pragmatics associated with organizing and launching a more permanent coordinated program in Asian studies, such as the structure of the executive committee, the appointment of a (rotating) program director, and locating funds for administrative support and events (e.g., speakers, performances, conferences) through different departments at Rutgers. It is our hope that CCA can serve for us as a monthly meeting space for continuing our conversations and working together to build new programs in Asian Studies.