Statement in Support of Student Protestors and Recommitment to BDS Read

April 17-19 in Boston

Re-Orienting Asian American Studies in a time of resurgent ethnonationalism and fascism

The Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) was the first such association to commit to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, in 2013, and it endorsed a statement of Solidarity with Palestine ten years later, in 2023. In line with this commitment, for our 2025 annual conference in Boston, Massachusetts, we invite proposals that re-orient the field of Asian American Studies: in terms of the place of South West Asian North African (SWANA), Muslim and Arab Americans in the field, in relation to the violence of the U.S. settler state, and in consideration of the geographical, temporal, and cultural margins and mainstreams of the discipline.

As many scholars in Asian American studies have aptly pointed out in the past six months, the field of Asian American Studies stands on the shoulders of Palestinian scholar Edward Said’s pathbreaking work, Orientalism. Though early Asian American Studies scholars understood Orientalism through the geography of East Asia (and US imperialism) and defined themselves against the idea in order to build their cultural nationalist scholarship, Said’s Orient was grounded in a different Asia (and European imperialism). We call for a return to Orientalism’s original context – SWANA, and the Muslim and Arab world so often on the fringes of Asian American studies. This re-orienting is more urgent than ever, especially as we recognize the role that the US has and continues to play in shaping the “middle east” since well before the publication of Said’s seminal work. Though we have never been without the threat of ethno-nationalism and fascism both at home and abroad, its accelerated resurgence in the past ten years should make us all question how we got here, and how decades of silence around Palestine have helped pave the way. How does centering Said’s Orient enable us to explore our own complicity in state violence and the violence of the settler colonial state? How does centering a free Palestine help us to confront the attacks on ethnic studies across the nation, gun violence on our campuses, and the precarity of students who dare to boycott, protest, and challenge local, state, and federal authority? As we re-orient, we must necessarily also reorient the field to include locations, temporalities and subjects that have heretofore been “Othered ” in Asian American studies. As we converge on Boston in April 2025, how might we, for example, think of the eastern seaboard, and indeed the Atlantic and Caribbean world as central to the field? How might a “yellow/brown atlantic” approach shift some of our long-standing narratives and broaden our engagement with the western hemisphere and the world? How can the consideration of Asian American “others” –particularly those East of California grow our understanding of Asian American history and who is a part of it?

We invite Asian American Studies practitioners, scholars, teachers, artists, activists and beyond to engage broadly with the theme of re-orienting, from their various fields, disciplines and areas of expertise including, but not limited to:

  • Transnational and Transimperial
  • Militarism and the settler state
  • Critical pedagogies of tourism
  • Indigeneity and the nation state
  • Global indigeneity
  • Kinship across borders
  • Women, gender and sexuality
  • Bodily autonomy
  • Global studies
  • Cultural studies
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Trans-racial/pacific/national/etc- solidarities
  • East of California
  • Transnational adoption
  • Islamophobia Anti-Semitism?
  • History and Memory
  • Language politics
  • Surveillance
  • The Neoliberal University Divestment and boycott