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  • A Tribute to Donald Lowe
  • Li Xiaojiang
    Translated by Tani Barlow, Paul Atkins, Sachi Schmidt, Claudia Pozzana, Anna Krylova, Chong Eun Ahn, Indranil Dutta, and Wolfgang Kubin

Donald M. Lowe (1927 – 2009) appears in all of the photos of the founding of positions. Tucked away from light for many years, these prints retain the vivid, awkwardly artificial polychrome of plastic film from two decades ago, before digitalization, so his already gray hair, hanging down his back in its customary ponytail, turns blue-white in the field of color. All of us look carefree. Lighter, more vivid than is really human, way cuter, more of us in the frame, even some of our children who have in the meantime grown into adults. Face to the camera, face to another, Don Lowe looks like a peer with the rest of us, then mostly in our late thirties and early forties; he was twenty years older.

There he is and now he is gone.

Lowe worked tirelessly on this journal from its beginning. He knew firsthand how much passion and conflict accompanied the founding of positions. Fiery breaks with scholars holding other views, uproar around the new [End Page 1] look of the journal, dismay that not everyone could read what at that time seemed to so many scholars to be our impenetrably awful prose. There were other hurdles, big ones, to get over. The compatibility or incompatibility of what passed for Marxism then and so-called theory or postmodernism or poststructuralism were the razor's edge; our intellectual debts to the other theory projects then in process, such as Subaltern Studies, Public Culture, and Cultural Critique, were meted out during the journal's first decade. Don Lowe was the only Asianist intellectual of his generation who could distinguish what in retrospect was a thoroughly predictable generational conflict from the true stakes of the project. These were, and continue to be, the endless work of opening an inclusive and collaborative international forum that contributes to shifting the epistemic and foundational assumptions of studies of "Asia," no matter where the scholarship originates.

In service of the journal Donald did more than his share of the slogging grunt work it takes to get any large-scale project off the ground. We worked with Ken Wissoker, who appears in the pictures, too, and Sue Hall, the designer, as well as Rob Dilworth, to put the artifact together. Every year for sixteen years Don proofread the galleys until, courtesy of Rice University's Chao Center for Asian Studies, we could afford a full-time editor, Ms. Meagan Williams. Don also did his share of anonymous reviewing and many of the graduate student part-time editors (Jennifer Holbrook, Tomiko Nomura, Riki Thompson, Brandy Parris, Dipika Nath) during the journal's long stay at the University of Washington remember his customary gruff and decisive opinions, written in a style that belied his gentle social manners. At his request the journal created a special issue entitled "War Memorial" (5:3, 1997) commemorating the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and before he died he was discussing a possible special issue on Maoism with Alessandro Russo. More quotidian work involved leafleting the Association for Asian Studies for the journal's first subscription drive and doing his shift with the other editors at the table set up each year during the first five years of the journal's distribution, to solicit interest. It was a lot more fun after the journal had shown it would survive and we could start holding the annual meeting in the conference hotel bar.

Donald M. Lowe is with the immortals now. His work lives on in his path-breaking scholarship and in his social labor. But so does his sweet spirit for, in the words of the tribute's poet, "he's [still] here." [End Page 2]




同志别哭他在那里静静的温暖的   微笑着等候我们在天上在天堂

—By Li Xiaojiang [End Page 3]

Comrade, do not weepHe's hereIn our heart and mind

a cavity whence came passionate amitya life burnished off with magnanimityan eternal round of scintillating reparteean avenue, sunlit all the way.

no real need for him to staybecause he's herenothing possibly could be...


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