Verge: Studies in Global Asias is a new journal that includes scholarship from scholars in both Asian and Asian American Studies. These two fields have traditionally defined themselves in opposition to one another, with the former focused on an area-studies, nationally and politically oriented approach, and the latter emphasizing epistemological categories, including ethnicity and citizenship, that drew mainly on the history of the United States. The past decade, however, has seen a series of rapprochements in which, for instance, categories “belonging” to Asian American Studies (ethnicity, race, diaspora) have been applied with increasing success to studies of Asia. For example, Asian Studies has responded to the postnational turn in the humanities and social sciences by becoming increasingly open to rethinking its national and regional insularities, and to work that pushes, often literally, on the boundaries of Asia as both a place and a concept. At the same time, Asian American Studies has become increasingly aware of the ongoing importance of Asia to the Asian American experience, and thus more open to work that is transnational or multilingual, as well as to forms of scholarship that challenge the US-centrism of concepts governing the Asian diaspora.
Verge showcases scholarship on “Asian” topics from across the humanities and humanistic social sciences, while recognizing that the changing scope of “Asia” as a concept and method is today an object of vital critical concern. Deeply transnational and transhistorical in scope, Verge emphasizes thematic and conceptual links among the disciplines and regional/area studies formations that address Asia in a variety of particularist (national, subnational, individual) and generalist (national, regional, global) modes. Responding to the ways in which large-scale social, cultural, and economic concepts like the world, the globe, or the universal (not to mention East Asian cousins like tianxia or datong) are reshaping the ways we think about the present, the past and the future, the journal publishes scholarship that occupies and enlarges the proximities among disciplinary and historical fields, from the ancient to the modern periods. The journal emphasizes multidisciplinary engagement—a crossing and dialogue of the disciplines that does not erase disciplinary differences, but uses them to make possible new conversations and new models of critical thought.
First issue is tentatively planned for publication November 2014.
At Public Books Eric Hayot writes about the presentation of China in literature available to readers of English, by way of a review of Gail Tsukiyama’s A Hundred Flowers, Christopher Buckley’s They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?, Dung Kai-cheung’s 董啟章 Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City (translated by the author with Bonnie McDougall and Anders Hansson), and Lenin’s Kisses by Yan Lianke 阎连科 (translated by Carlos Rojas). Here’s how Hayot frames his discussion:
… these four novels—two satires, one melodrama, and one modernist pseudo-documentary—might all be grasped as part of the contemporary social call to understand China, to see it clearly, to name or frame it, to place it in relation to local or global politics, or to locate it inside recent or universal world history. In the last decade economic historians like Ban Wang and Kenneth Pomeranz have demonstrated that the Chinese economy dominated the planet from about 500 to 1500 CE, creating the world’s first global economic system. The possibility of China’s return to that position of dominance—and here I ask all readers to call up a mental image of a sleeping dragon awakening—is what has folks on both sides of the Pacific trembling, in fear or glee, for the “Chinese century” to succeed the American one. “China” is thus one of the names of the global future as we imagine it.
China is also, therefore, an intellectual and social problem, for everyone. What is China to us today—assuming the “us” includes (and how could it not?) the wide variety of people who think of themselves as “Chinese”? What kind of place is it? What must we know to comprehend its nature (if it has one)? What would it mean to recognize ourselves (again, the first person plural includes the Chinese) as people who want to know what China is, and who are willing to work hard, as authors and as readers, to understand it? How will such an understanding return us, like fiction, to a new vision of the world we have known until now?
Click on any of the images to link to the essay.