- Chair’s Note—Note of Farewell
When I began as chair of the editorial board with volume 51, Archives of Asian Art still advertised its gravitas with a cover of heavy beige paper emblazoned with maroon text in Baskerville font, but the venerable journal was poised for change. Riding this wave of change was exhilarating, but also a source of anxiety as financial resources grew increasingly scarce. That Archives might die on my watch was unthinkable, at least to me. Rumor spread about the demise of the journal, but like that of Mark Twain’s “death,” it was greatly exaggerated. Still, for a time, losing the journal was a very real possibility kept at bay only by the concerted efforts of the four continuing editorial board members, James Cahill, Helmut Brinker, Yoshiaki Shimizu, and Joanna Williams, and the six members who joined the board with volume 52, Fredrick Asher, Robert Brown, Donald McCallum, Jerome Silbergeld, Wu Hung, and Yi Sŏng-mi. The journal also survived thanks to its home at the Asia Society under the leadership of Vishakha Desai and the work of Asia Society Museum staff, especially Helen Abbott and Marion Kocot. James Cahill, Helmut Brinker, and Yoshiaki Shimizu have since retired from the board, and it is past time to acknowledge the debt of gratitude we owe them not only for their support when the future of the journal looked bleak, but also for their work in shaping the contents of many issues.
For the most part, the work of the board happens quietly behind the scenes. Members hear exciting conference papers and encourage the authors to submit them to Archives. Board members are the mainstays of our double-blind review process, although we also invite other specialists to read submissions. When an article is received, the chair of the board forwards it to two, sometimes three, reviewers, without identifying the author. Conversely, the readers are not identified to authors. On occasion, however, board members have offered to step out from behind the screen and allow me to reveal their identity to an author in case this unidentified person would like to contact them directly about their critique. Thus, while working to ensure the originality, integrity, and relevance of the journal, members also serve as scholarly mentors, especially to authors submitting their first articles. We strive for a balance of familiar and new voices in Archives, are especially glad to publish the work of early career scholars. Indeed, many of us published early articles here and enjoy affording young scholars the same opportunity.
Over the last decade, we have increased the size of the board from ten to eighteen members to keep pace with developments in the field, notably increased Englishlanguage scholarship on certain regions and growing interest in modern and contemporary Asian art, and to have more representation from the museum community. In 1999, there were no historians of Korean art on the board; now we have three with expertise in a range of topics, and the number of articles on Korean art appearing in these pages has increased accordingly. Similarly, Southeast Asian and Himalayan art were not represented; now the board includes experts on both. Melissa Chiu, Museum Director of the Asia Society, recently joined the board, adding her expertise in modern and contemporary art and signaling the board’s goal of attracting more submissions in this area.
Visually and administratively, the greatest changes in the journal in the last decade came with its migration to the University of Hawai‘i Press (UHP), which began publishing the journal for the Asia Society in 2005. The Journals Department at UHP, under the benevolent leadership of Joel Bradshaw, assisted by production manager Cindy Chun, has ushered Archives into the 21st century. They have given it a completely new look, with a color cover featuring an object discussed in one of the articles, and an essential online presence, including a dedicated webpage and full-text access through major databases. Our authors can now count on their work being immediately and continuously available to readers around the world, thus more influential and frequently cited than before.
Through the times of uncertainty about the journal’s future and...