Asian Studies Program

University of Hawaii at Manoa

CFP: Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference 2021 – Innovation, Adaptation, and Resilience

“Innovation, Adaptation, and Resilience: Overcoming Challenges Across Asia”

The School of Pacific and Asian Studies (SPAS) and the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) welcome proposals for papers, performances, and panels for the 32nd annual Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference. The conference will be held on Zoom in synchronous webinar format April 14-15, 2021. 

We are proud to present the theme Innovation, Adaptation, and Resilience: Overcoming Challenges Across Asia for the 2021 Conference. From climate change to COVID-19, the past several decades have challenged the Asian region to find ways to innovate, adapt, and remain resilient.  New normals brought about by modernization have necessitated the adaptation of groups across the region. Additionally, the challenges faced by indigenous groups have allowed for a renewed sense of cultural solidarity and tradition preservation. The development of 5G and cyber security abilities by China and South Korea have surpassed technological advancement across the world. Innovation, adaptation, and resilience in Asia is not exclusively a modern phenomenon; from the rise of new religious systems like Buddhism or Confucianism in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE to the colonization of the region starting in the 16th century, Asia is historically an innovative, adaptive, and resilient region. The goal of this conference is to evaluate the ways in which Asian nations have innovated, adapted, and remained resilient in the face of adversity, thus we welcome submissions from interdisciplinary fields that tackle novel theoretical approaches to new and old challenges alike. 

The 2021 Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference will feature three keynote speakers: Dr. Jeremy Spoon of Portland State University, Dr. Aynne Kokas of the University of Virginia, and Dr. Mireya Solís of The Brookings Institution.

Why Apply?

The SPAS Graduate Student Conference gives students an opportunity to present their research to a friendly group of peers and professors. As many students from across the U.S. Europe, and Asia attend the conference, there are ample opportunities to network with fellow academics with a passion for the study of Asia. Additionally, there will be several “Best Paper” prizes awarded of an amount to be determined. 

Who Can Apply?

Graduate students in any academic discipline with a focus on Asia. 

How to Apply?

Applicants should submit a 250-300 word abstract to with “SPAS 2021 Grad Conf Abstract” as the subject by January 31st, 2021

Please direct any questions to conference organizers Kimery Lynch and Hannah Cole at

Co-sponsored by the School of Pacific and Asian Studies (SPAS) and Department of Asian Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Alumni Spotlight: Annie Reynolds

Annie Reynolds graduated from the Asian Studies program with an MA focusing on Southeast Asia, and continued on to complete a PhD in Asian Theatre here at UH Mānoa. Now the curator of the East-West Center Gallery, in this video she welcomes new students to the Asian Studies program, and talks about how the program helped shape her career trajectory.

Her full bio is as follows:

Annie Reynolds earned her PhD in Theatre and MA in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and her BM in Music from San Francisco State University. Reynolds has a background in music, especially composition and violin. While completing her undergraduate degree, she became interested in Balinese gamelan music. Prior to undertaking her graduate studies, Reynolds spent several years in Bali studying music and dance, including one year of study as a Darmasiswa RI scholarship student at the Indonesian Arts Institute (Institut Seni Indonesia) in Denpasar, Bali. Reynolds has lived in Hawai‘i since 2007. Since 2009 she and her husband, I Made Widana, have been leading the Honolulu-based Balinese gamelan music and dance ensembles Gamelan Segara Madu, and more recently Gamelan Taksu Gitaning Shanti. Together they have offered numerous educational outreach programs across Hawai‘i through the auspices of the Statewide Cultural Extension Program (UHM Outreach College), UHM Department of Theatre and Dance, Arts Focus Southeast Asia, and the East-West Center.Reynolds has worked with the East-West Center Arts Program since 2008 assisting with operations, administration, educational outreach, and curation. Reynolds has curated a number of exhibitions at the East-West Center Gallery including “Cosmic Characters: Wood Puppets of Asia,” “Inside Out: 15 Years of Exhibitions at the East-West Center Gallery,” and “Musical Instruments: Sounds of the Asia Pacific.” Reynolds prioritizes teaching about cultures through the arts and approaches her work by understanding the interconnected nature between the performing and visual arts.

MAAS student Kimery Lynch in New Media & Society: K-Pop fans on Reddit and East-West Information Flows

Picture of Kimery Lynch
Kimery Lynch

Kimery Lynch, 2nd-year MAAS student and graduate assistant, published her first academic article in New Media & Society. The article analyzes how fans of the K-pop group BTS curate information about the group on Reddit.

Congratulations Kimery!

Lynch, Kimery S. “Fans as Transcultural Gatekeepers: The Hierarchy of BTS’ Anglophone Reddit Fandom and the Digital East-West Media Flow.” New Media & Society, (September 2020).

This article describes how fandom organization on visibly hierarchical social media platforms differs from rhizomatic social media platforms. It discusses how Reddit’s hierarchical structure controls the flow of information into digital Anglophone K-pop fandoms, shedding light on this aspect of the East-West transcultural flow. Through analysis of comments and interviews with eight moderators of the K-pop group BTS’ subreddit (/r/bangtan), I show that when certain fans are in a position of power over other fans, they become digital gatekeepers. I argue that by becoming gatekeepers, these fans gain unlimited social capital and use it to control the content seen by the rest of the /r/bangtan community, much like a traditional news gatekeeper. Doing so controls what BTS content /r/bangtan users will continue to interact with, perceive, and further spread along this East-West flow. It also demonstrates a user desire for expert curators to filter out “fake news” for them.

Stevie Suan: Alumni Spotlight

Picture of Stevie Suan

Stevie Suan (MA Asian Studies, 2012) is now Assistant Professor of Global and Interdisciplinary Studies at Hosei University in Tokyo.

He recently guest-edited an issue of the Asian popular culture journal Mechademia (University of Minnesota Press).

The theme of this issue is “Materialities across Asia,” exploring how attending to materiality and medium can reveal the transnationality of media in/across/from Asia. The articles submitted to this issue tended to focus on East Asia, but the various frameworks employed aim to emphasize media-specifics and cross-border flows more generally. In analyzing contemporary media such as anime, manga, webtoons, 2.5D theater, the labor that produces them, and the sites of their sale and engagement with fans, this issue underlines how materiality seems to both locate us and expose the intensity of movements occurring.


Stevie Suan holds a Doctorate in Manga Studies from the Graduate School of Manga Studies at Kyoto Seika University. He received his M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai‛i at Mānoa and a B.A. in Cinema and Cultural Studies at Stony Brook University. Born in Sri Lanka, but raised in New York City, Stevie has spent considerable time living and travelling within Asia, where he has studied and researched a wide variety of topics relating to the arts and media, ranging from traditional theatrical performance to contemporary media. 

Conceptualizing the dynamics of performance modes has been one of the principle interests that have guided Dr. Suan’s research across different fields. Having engaged with various different mediums, he has had a sustained interest in Asian theater, producing a master’s thesis on gender and aesthetics in medieval Noh performance theory. Moving towards philosophical theories of performativity, Dr. Suan has since focused his research on contemporary media. In particular, his area of expertise is in anime (and manga), and how we can use aesthetics as a method to explore the dynamics of globalization through anime, in particular its transnational production. In his recent research he has been developing an approach that uses performance theory and media theory to approach issues of area studies (Japan studies and Asian studies), using anime as a prime example of the shifting currents of cultural production and consumption in our moment of globalization.

Learn more and contact Stevie Suan at his website.

Cathryn Clayton wins SSRC Rapid-Response Grant on COVID-19

A People’s History of the Pandemic: Global Households and Covid-19 in Asia

Asian Studies Chair Cathryn Clayton and her team have been awarded a Rapid Response Grant on COVID-19 and the Social Sciences by the Social Science Research Council. The research program is described below.


How are social relations in global households in Asia changing as a result of the barriers erected to flows of goods, money, and people in the wake of Covid-19? Millions of households in Asia depend on the income, labor, and other resources of members residing overseas. In this pilot project, researchers will collaborate with nongovernmental organizations run by and for Filipinas married to Japanese and Korean men in Japan and South Korea to develop innovative, socially distanced, collaborative research methodologies with the goal of generating an online audiovisual archive of qualitative data that can be used—by social scientists, NGOs, social service agencies, and the research participants themselves—to understand how the pandemic has altered the composition, income, labor-sharing, and daily routines of such households. This grassroots transnational perspective is crucial to understanding the short- and long-term effects of Covid-19 in a global era.

Aaron Clark: Alumni Spotlight

Aaron Clark (BA Asian Studies, 2008), Global Operations Director and Managing Partner at NEXSTEP Thailand, shares his appreciation for UH Manoa and the Asian Studies program.

He shares how the amazing professors and staff and extra curriculars provided enormous opportunity to learn and immerse during his studies. He speaks of how the chance to study abroad in two different programs lead to a career in International Education over the past 12 years, allowing him to live and work in a field he loves since his graduation in 2008. The video includes images, clips all of which come from actual student programs and events that he has provided students via study abroad, internships and more across East and Southeast Asia. He has over the years worked with many top academic institutions across the US and world supporting students abroad.

What is NEXSTEP? Find out more about this international internship and study abroad institution here.

Kristi Govella on Japan and the Global Commons: Podcast and Publication

Kristi Govella on the National Bureau of Asian Research’s Asia Insight Podcast
  • Asian Studies Program Assistant Professor Kristi Govella was recently interviewed by the National Bureau of Asian Research about her research on increasing competition in the outer space, cyberspace, and maritime domains and how countries such as Japan and the United States are responding. This podcast is part of NBR’s ongoing Asia Insight series. Asia Insight features interviews with top Asia experts about key issues affecting the Indo-Pacific region, with a focus on implications for US policy and businesses.
  • Listen to the podcast here.

Webinar Wed. Sept. 16, 12:00-1:30: China’s BRI in SE Asia and Future Prospects

Please register in advance to receive Zoom details. For registration and more info, please go here.

This webinar is a part of the Crossing Borders: International Affairs between China and Southeast Asia Fall 2020 Roundtable Series hosted by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, together with the East-West Center.


Direct Chinese involvement in Southeast Asia through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) began in 2013. Designed as a catalyst for regional growth, BRI infrastructure projects bring Chinese revenue and people directly into Southeast Asia, contributing to the porousness of nation-state borders in the region.


Jefferson Fox (Research Program, East-West Center)

His NSF- and NASA-funded research on land-use and land-cover change in Southeast Asia examines the impact of these changes on the region and global environment. He’ll focus on the impacts of BRI-related road and dam construction in Mainland Southeast Asia.

Mary Mostafanezhad (Geography/Environment, U Hawai’i at Mānoa)

Her NSF-funded research explores transboundary haze pollution, produced in part by current BRI projects, across three Southeast Asian countries: Myanmar, Thailand and Lao PDR.  She’ll bring grounded Southeast Asian perspectives on BRI impacts to this discussion. 

Elina Noor (Political-Security Affairs, Asia Society Policy Institute)

Until recently with the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Strategic Studies, her research focuses on security developments in Southeast Asia. She brings perspectives on the articulation between BRI initiatives in Southeast Asia and regional security issues.

Xiaojun Wang (Economics, U Hawai’i at Mānoa)

His main research interests in China include macroeconomic perspectives on the Chinese ecology and labor market reforms. He’ll provide context on BRI issues that affect its implementation in SEA. 

Henryk Szadziewski (PhD Candidate, Geography/Environment, U Hawai’i at Mānoa)

He brings academic and applied experience in Uyghur human rights to his dissertation research on China’s impact in its far peripheries.  His ongoing focus on community responses to Chinese expats running BRI projects in Fiji helps place Southeast Asian responses in broader context. 


Cathryn Clayton (Asian Studies, U Hawai’i at Mānoa)

With more than 20 years’ experience in Macau, Cathryn Clayton will moderate this webinar series. Her focus on conceptions and practices of Chinese sovereignty throughout and after colonial interventions offers insights on the political impacts of BRI in Southeast Asia. 

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