Dimensions of Violence, Resistance and Becoming: Asian Americans and the “Opening” of the COVID-era
Guest Editors: Eric Tang (UT Austin) and Lily Wong (American University)
Deadline to submit abstract and brief bio: August 1, 2021
It has been a year of exceptional violence and loss. For many Asian Americans, such violence and loss are tethered to a campaign of anti-Asian attacks that both reinforced and challenged what it means to be Asian in the United States. The violence was familiar and patterned; “we’ve seen this before,” so many of us noted. And yet so many of us felt completely thrown—unsure of what exactly was happening to us. Five decades of racial liberalism—its facts (demographic growth) and fictions (multicultural inclusion) will have that effect. As the U.S. and other wealthy nations enter the post-vaccinated age (of “opening back up”), and as a new U.S. presidential administration replaces an avowedly reactionary one, Asian Americans might be compelled to seek haven in the unfinished promise of racial liberalism—in a return to the “progress” we were making before the nation turned against us. And yet, if the pandemic and its attendant violences have taught us anything, it is that racial liberalism is an unreliable teller of time and a poor interpreter of loss. What it sells as progress has been repetition and foreclosure. What it narrowly determines to be racially violent obscures the multiple fronts on which Asian Americans have been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic. Nearly a third of the nurses who have died of coronavirus in the U.S. are Filipino, even though Filipino nurses make up just 4% of the nursing population nationwide. Over 1.2 million Asian American workers labor in food-related industries nationwide at farms, food processing factories, grocery stores, and restaurants, being placed at disproportionate risk of infection and mortality. As these workers returned to the workplace, so too did white, lone gunmen who, in the span of two months, murdered Asian Americans in Atlanta, Indianapolis, and San Jose (all of these victims “essential service workers”). Through it all, millions took to the streets to resist the relentless brutalization and murder of Black lives, reminding us that anti-Asian violence takes place in the time of slavery’s afterlife, and on the terrain of settler colonialism.
What, then, is the time and space in which Asian Americans now live as we “open back up”? How might “moving on” be premature resolution, a preemptive form of foreclosure signaling, simply, a return “back to” what liberalism has to offer? We lost people. What are we to do with such trauma? How might we choose other dimensions of politics, life (being and becoming), or resistance (forming and reforming our politics) that is not limited to the false resolutions and dehistoricizations of liberal-humanist progress? For indeed, liberal humanism may today be more the domain of Asian American conservatives who resist notions of racial justice and redress in favor of colorblind individualism.
This special issue of Journal of Asian American Studies seeks submissions from multiple academic disciplines, community activists/organizations, and public intellectuals who are thinking through the new dimension(s) of Asian America in a “post-”pandemic world. It reappropriates the post-pandemic notions of “opening up” and “moving on” by asking what are the new dimensions we might open, and in which we might move, if we refuse to simply move on? Dimensions in which more challenging discussions can be had about cross-racial solidarities–conversations that make no assumptions of conflict and offer no guarantees of alliance? Dimensions in which new forms of organizing and coalition building are envisioned and enacted? Dimensions in which we can re-interpret the quantitative and qualitative data to tell us something more than whether or not we are making it?
We invite original and unpublished manuscript submissions of 5,000 to 7,500 words (including references) from interdisciplinary, research-based approaches, and community engaged perspectives. This special issue will aim to enact “different dimensions” of JAAS’s scholarly platform, juxtaposing and putting into dialogue scholarly articles, forums with activists, organizations, and public intellectuals.
PROCEDURE for Submitting articles:
- By August 1 2021, please submit a one-page, double-spaced abstract summarizing the article. The abstract should state the article’s central argument, its methodologies, and the research base (the data source/evidence) it draws upon. Email abstracts and a brief bio to: JAAS.firstname.lastname@example.org
- By September 1 2021, potential authors will be notified if they should submit a full-length version of their article for peer review.
- The due date for full-length article submissions is December 15, 2021. The projected publication date is October 2022.