- Editor’s Preface
My turn as JAAS editor beginning with this issue comes at a moment of great anxiety and uncertainty. As I’m writing this preface several months before its actual publication, we’ve been reeling from the nightmare that’s been unnecessarily placed upon many of our students due to the president’s rescission of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. We’re facing continuing battles over the management of the national debt ceiling, on how to get massive student loans out of default, on what to do with historical and current (as well as worldwide) manifestations of white supremacy and other kinds of hate-motivated violence, and on how to deal with dictators, oppressive regimes, and military incursions near and far. We have also been witnessing and otherwise suffering from—if we’re indeed on their paths—the onslaught of the most destructive and deadliest storms the world has seen in ages. And even if you don’t believe in climate change, I’m sure you’ve already heard one or several alarming comments about weather extremes everywhere we live, rising ocean tides, forest destruction, and shrinking ice sheets in our polar habitats. These are more than enough to make anyone worried about what’s happening now, what else we don’t know or can adequately report on, and what’s coming up next.
What is the place of JAAS in all of this? We can take these events in at least two ways: one would be the “exceptional” position (i.e., the extraordinary confluence of events), the other would be what we might call the “recurring” position (i.e., the regularity of catastrophic change). Or, for those who are not into simplistic zero-sum thinking, we can also choose to say it is both, or maybe that it is neither. I say all of these not to trivialize or needlessly exaggerate the extent to which we experience and get affected by events, and the potential power that we hold in making meaning out of [End Page v] these events to the degree in which our capacity to engage our fates may be realized. Add to this the usually missed incidents of daily and collective resistances, acts of defiance and resilience, and celebratory moments of hard-fought accomplishment that animate all these struggles we face. You may sense that the pitch I’m pushing for here connects with the conditions, roles, actions, and values that we take on as engaged participants in the worlds of scholarly journal production where JAAS is located.
Not simply out of self-interest (and self-preservation), I want to say that I took on the JAAS editorial helm—surely with humility and honor—because, like many of you, I do believe in the power of the word and the image, in the potency of ideas, analyses, and reflections, and in the potentials and pleasures of fantasy and imagination that journals like ours strive to be a forum for, encourage, and support. So I look forward to being partners with you in reflecting on, and even creating yet another set of, “events” so that we can help make sense of our worlds to ourselves and to each other. I invite you to join me on this three-year road—carved out for us already with such outstanding work by previous editors like John Liu, Gary Okihiro, Robert Lee, George Anthony Peffer, Huping Ling, Min Song, and, most recently, Anita Mannur—to critically pursue ideas, conditions, even rarely visited spaces and seemingly unnavigable propositions that can otherwise be fruitful to our multiple and diverse audiences and ways of thinking and doing. I hope that the first five essays in my inaugural issue, including our book reviews (courtesy of Lan Dong, whose reviews editorship also commences in this volume), provide you with a glimpse of such a pursuit.
Please allow me to thank, on behalf of the leadership of the Association for Asian American Studies, and everyone connected with JAAS through the Johns Hopkins University Press, Anita Mannur, Camilla Fojas, Winona Landis, and the esteemed members of the editorial board, for their immeasurable and exceptional work with our journal during their...