Faculty, Student, and Alumni News

The World Trump and Putin Want: A Conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill

On Wednesday, November 2nd, Dr. Fiona Hill, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Former Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs on the National Security Council, discussed her experience in the Trump administration, including her testimony during President Trump's first impeachment inquiry. Dr. Hill spoke to a packed house in the Alumni Hall Auditorium where the event was co-sponsored by UCIS. Dr. Hill also discussed Vladimir Putin's authoritarian vision for Russia, the subject of her new co-authored article in the centennial issue of Foreign Affairs. Finally, Dr. Hill addressed her remarkable journey from a coal mining community in northeastern England to serving three American presidents and what she has learned along the way about the best way to safeguard American democracy, the subject of her recent memoir, There Is Nothing For You Here. She also took questions from the crowd and autographed copies of her new book.

Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Indian Cinema Book Launch Event

On Saturday, January 28th, people from all over globe tuned in to listen to a online book discussion on Indian Cinema. In connection with the publication of 25 essays in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Indian Cinema (2022), the co-editors, Neepa Majumdar (University of Pittsburgh) and Ranjani Mazumdar (Jawaharlal Nehru University) invited six speakers to engage with the keywords archives, technology, circulation, and bodies as they relate to the book and to the fields of film and media studies and South Asia studies. The speakers at this Zoom event were: Mark Betz (King’s College, London), Manishita Dass (Royal Holloway, University of London), Vinzenz Hediger (Goethe University Frankfurt), Priya Jaikumar (University of Southern California), Juan Llamas-Rodriguez (University of Pennsylvania), and Rosie Thomas (University of Westminster).
 
The Asian Studies Center was proud to help host this event and support increased interest in South Asia as a whole, and Indian culture more specifically. The Asian Studies Center always seeks to highlight distinguished accomplishments by the Pitt Community such as Prof. Majumdar's new book.

Return of the Pittsburgh Asian Studies Undergraduate Research Conference

The University of Pittsburgh, in coordination with the Pittsburgh Asian Studies Consortium, is pleased to announce that it is holding the Pittsburgh Asian Studies Undergraduate Research Conference on February 25, 2023 at the University of Pittsburgh after a multi-year long hiatus due to the pandemic. Students are encouraged to sign up to give presentations of their undergraduate research projects and papers. This conference is an important event for both the Asian Studies Center and the University of Pittsburgh.
 
This is being organized as an in-person conference to allow students the opportunity to meet and network with one another on Pitt’s campus. Virtual participation cannot be accommodated except in the case of emergencies. Students interested in presenting will participate in panels, with speaking times between 10-15 minutes. Students interested in any region of Asia are encouraged to join. To register for the program, students only need to provide a subject for their paper/ title and the name and email of a faculty member who can vouch for them. Students who would like to attend the conference and hear the papers are also encouraged to register. For students planning on watching please ask them to indicate such in the title screen. The Undergraduate Asian Studies Research Conference will be an opportunity for undergraduates at any level to meet with other students interested in Asian Studies from around the northeast US.
 
Please encourage your students to participate. We are interested in every level of undergraduate student research, and we intend to publish papers from the conference digitally as part of our student research white paper series. This is an excellent opportunity to advance the professional development of your students and to contribute to the Pitt community. Students will gain valuable presentation and academic skills and will hopefully foster interest in Asian Studies.
 

Asian Studies Center and 5 other UCIS centers win 12 awards from U.S. education department

Pitt has won 12 concurrent U.S. Department of Education awards that will support teaching, research and learning about five different world regions, key world languages and overarching global themes.
 
All six of the University Center for International Studies’ global and area studies centers have been chosen to receive both National Resource Center grants and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships by the federal government. These competitive awards will bolster the work of Pitt faculty and their students with more than $11 million in funding over the next four years.
 
“The University of Pittsburgh is dedicated to preparing our next generation of global leaders,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “And — as this news shows — the team behind our University Center for Institutional Studies has positioned our international and global studies programs to be among the best in the nation. It’s both an exceptional achievement and a well-deserved one.” 
 
The six centers are: Asian Studies Center, Center for African Studies, European Studies Center, Center for Latin American Studies, Global Studies Center and Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.
 
National Resource Center funding will allow all six centers to maintain and expand existing programming, broadening the University’s student and community engagement and offering global perspectives. Current center initiatives include teaching foreign language and area studies courses, offering study abroad opportunities to students, showcasing the immigrant communities of Pittsburgh and bringing international visitors and academic research to Pitt.
 
“We are very excited that the excellent work done by all of Pitt's global and area studies centers is recognized at this level. This is a historical achievement,” said Ariel Armony, vice chancellor for global affairs and director of UCIS. “The unprecedented number of awards places Pitt in a top group of global institutions that offer the best international research and learning experiences to all students."
 
The six centers also have plans for expanded programming moving forward, including advancing initiatives to promote diversity, inclusion and equity within area studies; supporting course development to foster essential skills to students engaging in international careers; developing a consortium of colleges and universities across Appalachia to expand access to foreign language and international studies courses; and increasing the teaching of endangered and less commonly taught languages such as Quechua (an indigenous language of South America), Irish Gaelic, Twi and Slovak.
 
Foreign Language and Area Studies funding will directly support Pitt students as they seek to become proficient in less commonly taught languages and deepen their knowledge of related regions. Target languages include Portuguese, Arabic, Russian and Swahili, among others. This funding will finance as many as 280 graduate and undergraduate students with academic year and summer fellowships over the next four years.
 
Starting in the spring of 2023, students will be able to apply for Foreign Language and Area Studies funding through the UCIS website.
 
 

Farewell to Rachel Jacobson

The Asian Studies Center is saying a bittersweet farewell to our longtime, beloved Administrative Assistant, Rachel Jacobson. Rachel has been working with Asian Studies since her student days, and has been a wonderful source of knowledge on topics ranging from Anime, getting student scholarships processed, Japanese light novels, and Asian film procurement. She is moving on to bigger things, and we could not be more excited for her! We look forward to seeing Rachel at various Asian Studies events.
 

Byeonsa: Crossroads of Youth

On Saturday, November 5th, with help from the Asian Studies Center, Screenshot: Asia, and Pitt Professor Seung-Hwan Shin, The Crossroads of Youth Byeonsa Performance US Tour visited the University of Pittsburgh, bringing its troupe from South Korea to the United States for a multi-city tour in Fall, 2022. The byeonsa troupe presented Crossroads of Youth (Cheongchunui sipjaro, Ahn Jong-hwa, 1934), Korea’s oldest surviving silent film, with live storytelling, music, and acting in accompaniment. The troupe reimagined and reconstructed byeonsa culture, Korea’s unique film watching tradition from the colonial period. The performance was held in the Alumni Hall Auditorium alongside food and period attire.
Byeonsa refers to film narrator. Byeonsa performance was a mode of movie watching popular in colonial Korea. This tradition was unique to the film culture of East Asia at its early stage. As opposed to the intertitles common in Western silent film, byeonsa performance would usually include both description of events and verbalization of characters’ voices. It came to Korea via Japan—benshi—during the colonial period and Korea developed its own style of film narration with its distinctive stylistic flourishes. Byeonsas were highly trained and highly respected artists and allegedly, some of them enjoyed greater celebrity than famous actors.
 

2022 SCREENSHOT: Asia Film Festival

The second annual SCREENSHOT: Asia Film Festival took place from September 28th to October 2nd. Students, faculty, and members of the Pitt community gathered in auditoriums across Pitt’s campus and in the Pittsburgh Cultural District to share and experience Asian and Asian American Culture through film. Eleven films were shown in just a few days celebrating the powerful artistic medium of film and creating a space in the Pitt Community to engage with Asia.  
 
On the second day of the festival, Screenshot: Asia celebrated the Japan Documentary Film Award which recognizes an outstanding filmmaker for a project they may submit to the competition. The award was given to director Mizuko Yamaoka for her film, Maelstrom. Yamaoka and her sister traveled to Pitt from Japan to participate in a reception, ceremony, and screening of the film. 
 

Dr. Alter, ASC Director, named Editor for the Journal of Asian Studies

For many academics, especially those affiliated with a top-ranked research institution such as the University of Pittsburgh, being involved in the publication of an academic journal is a major accomplishment. So, in July 2021, when he was named the Editor for the Journal of Asian Studies, it was a high personal honor for Dr. Joseph Alter, the Director of the Pitt Asian Studies Center.
 
The Journal of Asian Studies, or JAS, is the premier peer-reviewed academic journal for the field of Asian studies and is the primary organ for the Association for Asian Studies. The journal was founded in 1941 as the Far Eastern Quarterly, but the scope and focus of the journal has shifted over time along with the changing nature of Asian studies and especially recently as Asia continues to play a bigger and bigger role in global affairs, a term Dr. Alter calls “Global Asia.” Indeed this “Global Asia”, or the growing impact that Asia, in particular the developing countries of China and India and the cultural exporters of Japan and South Korea, is what Dr. Alter would like his 5-year term as editor to focus on. Dr. Alter said that he is seeking to publish papers and academics that tackle this topic regarding the new and profound ways that Asia interacts with the rest of the world, and vice versa. 
 
Dr. Alter stressed is that while being named Editor for the JAS is a personal honor, it is also a big responsibility that he takes extremely seriously. Due in large part to his editorial predecessors, the JAS is a well-known and well-run academic journal that has a reputation for being the foremost journal regarding Asian studies. Dr. Alter also talked in-depth about the challenges that he will face as an editor for a membership-based publication. As more and more journals become open-access rather than subscription-based, journal editors must adapt to the changing technologies and continuously improve their publications to keep their readership willing to pay, a process that hinges on making sure that the journal is as good of a publication as possible and worth reading. Dr. Alter also readily shared that this is also an honor for the ASC and the University of Pittsburgh as a whole. As both the Director of ASC and the Editor of the JAS, he hopes this prestigious position will help to elevate the Center and the University, bringing in new resources and new academic collaborators. 
 
As editor, Dr. Alter said that he would continue to advocate for policies and highlight papers and books that meet and surpass the high bar for quality that has come to be expected from the JAS. There are two policy priorities that Dr. Alter seeks to put forth during his tenure. The first is that he wants to have more papers submitted and published by authors from Asia, especially the often-overlooked countries. Relevant to this point, his second policy regards publishing topics that deal with these lesser-known countries and topics that are often excluded from other journals.
 
Congratulations to Dr. Alter on this wonderful accomplishment and best of luck during his tenure as Editor for the Journal of Asian Studies.

 
 

The University of Pittsburgh Celebrates India Republic Day

On Sunday, January 29th from 2:00 to 5:00 ET in the Frick Fine Art Building the Indian Nationality Room Committee at the University of Pittsburgh, along with the Asian Studies Center and Screenshot: Asia, presented a celebration of India's Republic Day with an afternoon of food, dance performance, and short film that highlighted Indian culture. India Republic Day is the day when India marks and celebrates the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect. Ranjani Shankar, the Committee Chair of the Indian Nationality Room Committee, served as the MC for the event. Dr. Joseph Alter, Asian Studies Center Director, gave a short speech about the importance that India has in his personal life and in the overall Pitt Community. Various schools of Indian dance were performed by dancers of different ages and levels. Dance performances were intermixed by singing performances of famous Indian songs including the national anthem and Vande Mataram.

The Asian Studies Center Welcomes new Assistant Director for Partnerships & Programming, Linda Lieu

Please join the entire Asian Studies Center staff, faculty, students, and community in welcoming Linda Lieu to her new position as Assistant Director for Partnerships & Programming.

Linda was formally the Assistant Registrar for Student Records and Graduation for the University of Pittsburgh’s Registrar’s Office. Prior to working at the University of Pittsburgh Linda spent many years in community engagement roles at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. She has presented on topics such as sexual assault, the Model Minority Myth, Pitt’s PeopleSoft student information system and conducted programs in the Allegheny County Jail. She is currently co-chair of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus through the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). 

As ASC’s Assistant Director for Partnerships & Programming, she will be responsible for most of the great programming held by the center. Additionally, she will oversee partnerships with community organizations. Welcome Linda!