Dear Members of the Harvard Community and Beyond,
As we begin our Fall 2020 term, we are delighted to share a link to an episode of "Japan on the Record," a podcast hosted by former Reischauer Institute postdoctoral fellow Tristan Grunow. The episode features EALC graduate student Kimberlee Sanders and colleagues talking about #BlackInTheIvory and the issues facing Black scholars of Japanese studies. The topic is important well beyond Japanese and even East Asian studies at large, and I would urge anyone in academia to listen to it.
In June, Levi McLaughlin (North Carolina State University), Michelle Wang (Georgetown University), Jolyon Thomas (University of Pennsylvania), and Kimberlee collected 1410 signatures for a petition to the Association of Asian Studies (AAS). The petition urged the organization to "acknowledge publicly that anti-Black racism is an endemic issue in Asian studies" and "take immediate measures to acknowledge and ameliorate barriers faced by Black scholars" in Asian studies and the academy more generally. The AAS responded the same month by issuing a statement on taking "Action to Build Diversity and Equity in Asian Studies,” and followed this up in July with an online dialogue titled "Asian Studies and Black Lives Matter."
Harvard EALC also made commitments towards these ends, found in the "Statement on Anti-Black Racism and Antiracism Initiatives." We look forward to working with faculty and graduate student representatives on developing steps that bring us continually closer to the long-overdue objectives/goals.
David L. Howell
Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Professor of Japanese History
Chair, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Professor of History
Editor, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies