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Journal of Asian American Studies 4.3 (2001) 191-192

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Guest Editor's Note

This special issue of JAAS devotes itself to African and Asian interactions. At a fall 2000 conference titled "Blacks and Asians: Revisiting Racial Formations" organized by Vijay Prashad (Trinity College) and Sudhir Venkatesh (Columbia University) and sponsored by Columbia University's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and Institute for Research in African-American Studies, scholars and community activists addressed the "Afro-Asian traffic" in the past and present.

"From Crown Heights to South-Central L.A., from Jackie Chan to Foxy Brown, from African American Korean War veterans to Asian American Black Panthers - this is a part of that place of Afro-Asian Traffic," the organizers declared. "The study of Asians and their interactions with Blacks . . . opens two doors: it allows for a rich exposure to the constitution of ethnicity in the U.S. and it offers some sense of the multiple interactions among Blacks and Asians that are otherwise obscured by studies that emphasize Asians themselves or simply the Black-White dichotomy."

With that in mind, Manning Marable (director of Columbia's Institute for Research in African-American Studies) and I (director of Columbia's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race) agreed to publish selected papers from that conference in our respective journals, Souls and the Journal of Asian American Studies, to reach separate (and oftentimes separated) audiences. I thus urge JAAS readers to check out Souls generally but particularly 3:3 (Summer 2001) in which other papers from the conference appears, even as I invite Souls readers to engage this (and other) issue(s) of JAAS. We believe this is a first (and hopefully not the last) for both fields of study. [End Page 191]

I note that Boston University's African American Studies program is holding an international conference on "Blacks and Asians: Encounters Through Time and Space" in April 2002, and Columbia's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race is sponsoring a conference, "Racial (Trans) Formations: Latina/os and Asians Remaking the United States," in March 2002. May a thousand and one such conversations commence.

gary y. okihiro



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