- Editor's Note
This issue begins with Kandice Chuh's presidential address delivered at the ASA annual meeting in Chicago in November 2017. In the face of a wide range of attacks on academic freedom nationally and globally, Chuh asks us to deliberate responses to the current scene, not by defending academic freedom but first by tracing the longue durée of the principle originating in professionalization of the academy with its underpinning liberal ideology and US nationalism. She further reminds us of the conceptions of the autonomous rights-bearing citizen that shape the understanding of academic freedom, which has then been deployed against the interrogation of racism and settler colonialism in the name of civility. She calls on us, as an association, to unlearn the inherited ways of knowing and being and to practice the year's conference theme, "a pedagogy of dissent": "an organized approach to un/learning grounded in the world and founded in generosity and compassion, understood to be essential to social transformation." In response, Soo Ah Kwon reflects on the ways in which our own professional labor in universities is often implicated in the logic of liberal academic freedom and its neoliberal products—for instance, in our advocacy for institutional diversity that is devoid of political and structural inquiry into inequality and injustice. She reminds us of the need for a relentless critique of our profession, its governing logic, and our relationship to universities as our workplace. Jodi Melamed uses Chuh's address to situate US higher education in the context of the proliferation of rights-based forms of racial and colonial capitalist violence in the name of the common good. Discussing how the ASA itself has been a very site of such contestations, she asks us to contemplate the kinds and forms of "thick relationality" that would form pedagogies of collective action in our own association.
Four essays address various modes of temporalities and spatialities in the way the world is captured by artists, writers, and critics. Frances Tran's elegant essay, "Time Traveling with Care: On Female Coolies and Archival Speculations," approaches the history of the coolie trade and the figure of the female coolie using the science fiction trope of time travel, proposing an affective and aesthetic practice with the archive that does not aim to reproduce mastery or establish subjects as knowable entities. In "Appraisal Narratives: Reading Race on the Midcentury Block," Adrienne Brown problematizes another set of archives—narratives of residential segregation in literary fiction, forms, manuals, maps, and urban reportage—to illustrate how idioms of perception, value, and taste undergirding home ownership and neighborhood value in the United [End Page vii] States have been organized by race. Brandon Webb's "Laughter Louder Than Bombs? Apocalyptic Graphic Satire in Cold War Cartooning, 1946–1959" examines the left-liberal divide in the works of the nation's leading syndicated cartoonists, Herbert Block and Jules Feiffer, to argue that satirizing the contradictions of the nuclear era meant questioning the basic assumptions of the Cold War rivalry and breaking from the consensus framework. Simon Willmetts's "Digital Dystopia: Surveillance, Autonomy, and Social Justice in Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story" analyzes the question of autonomy in Shteyngart's novel to argue for personhood presented in the dystopian genre that is socially embedded and politically engaged, and a necessary but insufficient precondition for the resistance and refusal of digital mass surveillance.
The issue carries four book reviews on topics that are all the more relevant in our times. Joseph Stuart reviews five books on racial formation and the civil rights movement. Rebecca Hill discusses works on the history of political culture and the shaping of public opinion and discourse. The three books reviewed by Benjamin Medeiros take up the political and cultural battles over free speech on college campuses. Christopher Perreira discusses three books that deal with the cultures and logics of the carceral state and settler colonialism.
In the Event Review, Doug Ishii discusses the exhibit on the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II at Alphawood Gallery in Chicago. The social impact game Survivance—which takes its name from Anishinaabe scholar Gerald Vizenor's term that...