Critical Asian Studies Roundtable Proposal Critical Asian Studies

Critical Asian Studies

Association for Asian Studies 2019 Annual Meeting

Roundtable: Who Funds Asian Studies? The Impact of Government Funding on Research and Teaching 

In the 1960s, American scholars and graduate students criticized the close relationship between Asian Studies programs and United States government agencies such as the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. The Michigan State University Vietnam Advisory Group (MSUG), the Center for Vietnamese Studies at Southern Illinois University, and the East-West Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa (established in 1961 with funding from the US State Department), are some among several such programs that were scrutinized.  

Area studies funding is now radically different. In the current era of university restructuring and budget cuts, more and more tertiary institutions in North America, Europe, and Australia have turned to country-specific sources for funding Asian Studies programs. The Korea Foundation, the Japan Foundation, Taiwan’s Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and the Chinese government’s Confucius Institute network all provide funds for the study of their respective countries. Yet there has been little discussion about the potential ramifications on teaching and scholarship when universities accept money from a foreign government to fund research on that very government’s society – except in the case of the PRC’s funding of Confucius Institutes. Should we assume that when the Korean, Japanese, and Taiwan governments provide financial support to universities, these are gifts that transcend the reciprocal demands sketched out by Marcel Mauss in his seminal work, The Gift? There are no pure gifts, as Mauss so eloquently showed: an expectation always accompanies these.

We invite proposals that address this question. Accepted discussants will receive $500 travel grants for the 2019 AAS meeting in Denver, Colorado in appreciation. Please send proposals, including personal details, to or by July 15th,  2018.