HistoryShortly after , the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, gave Mortimer Graves a mandate to develop Chinese studies. Kenneth Scott Latourette would recall in 1955 the "people of the United States and those who led them knew little of the peoples and cultures of the Far East" and that was "in spite of political, commercial and cultural commitments in the region and of events which already were hurrying them on into ever more intimate relations." Graves worked with Arthur W. Hummel, Sr. of the Oriental Division of the Library of Congress, the Institute of Pacific Relations, the Harvard-Yenching Institute, the American Oriental Society, as well as with colleges, universities, and museums. Twenty-eight people attended the first meeting of the planning group, which was held at the Harvard Club in New York in 1928, and further meetings were held over the next decade. In 1936, the group began publishing the ''Far Eastern Bibliography''. On 6 June 1941 the Far Eastern Association was formed and issued '' The Far Eastern Quarterly'' as its organ, with Cyrus Peake as Managing Editor. The ''Quarterly'' survived the war with the financial help that Kenneth W. Colgrove obtained from Northwestern University. After the war, an organizational meeting of some 200 people was held at Columbia University April 2, 1948, following the annual meeting of the American Oriental Society, to which many of the Far Eastern group belonged. The Constitution of the new group was drafted by Edwin O. Reischauer, Woodbridge Bingham, and Earl H. Pritchard. The first president of the Association was Arthur W. Hummel, Sr. In 1956, the organization was renamed to the Association for Asian Studies to expand its scope to cover all areas of Asia, including South and Southeast Asia. Attendance grew from 200 for the organizational meeting in 1948 to 605 at the first annual meeting in 1949 and to 2,434 in 1963. The organization was further restructured in 1970, when four elective area Councils were formed, representative of each of the four areas of Asia: South Asia (SAC), Southeast Asia (SEAC), China and Inner Asia (CIAC) and Northeast Asia (NEAC). The councils were formed so that each area of Asia could have a proportionate voice in the Association and on the Board of Directors. In 1977, a Council of Conferences (COC) was established both to co-ordinate the regional conferences held by the Association and to discover ways to better serve the needs of Asia studies scholars in various parts of the United States. Area library organizations have been formed for South Asia (CONSALD), South East Asia, and East Asia (CEAL).
Background and controversiesWorld War II brought many academics into the government, some in the active military and some in the Office of War Information or the Office of Strategic Services, both of which were intelligence agencies which used academic disciplines and scholarly forms of analysis. When the war was over, political scientists, historians, and social scientists continued to be concerned with contemporary affairs. The Far Eastern Association reflected an Area studies approach, geographically grounded division of labor, rather than by academic discipline, with the association subdivided into East Asian, Southeast Asian, and South Asian Studies. (In the late 20th century, the field of Central and Inner Asia was added.) The Ford Foundation provided money and co-ordination to area studies centers, which, in turn, supported the AAS. Some members were critical. Bruce Cumings, writing in the ''Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars'', charged that for the AAS to participate in this way of funding scholarship on Asia led to confusing academic research and government intelligence work. He further argued that the areas studies approach in general emphasized contemporary social science theory, not the classic approaches of Oriental studies, which used philology and studied ancient civilizations. Cumings called that an "implicit Faustian bargain." In the 1960s, some members agitated for the AAS to express opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, opposition to American involvement in Vietnam. AAS President William Theodore de Bary called for the organization to take a position on the war that was "nonpolitical but not unconcerned." The active opposition to the war was left to the much smaller Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars.
Annual ConferenceEach spring, the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) holds a four-day conference devoted to planned programs of scholarly papers, roundtable discussions, workshops, and panel sessions on a wide range of issues in research and teaching, and on Asian affairs in general. The 2013 Conference was held in San Diego; Philadelphia (March 27–30, 2014); Chicago (March 26–29, 2015); Seattle (March 31–April 3, 2016); Toronto (March 16–19, 2017); Washington, D.C (March 22–25, 2018).
Book PrizesThe AAS administers and awards a number of prizes: * Joseph Levenson Book Prize, Joseph Levenson Pre-1900 Book Prize (China) in honor of Joseph Levenson. * Joseph Levenson Book Prize, Joseph Levenson Post-1900 Book Prize (China). * E. Gene Smith Book Prize (Inner Asia) in honor of E. Gene Smith. * Patrick D. Hanan Book Prize for Translation (China and Inner Asia) in honor of Patrick D. Hanan. * John Whitney Hall Book Prize (Japan) in honor of John Whitney Hall. * James B. Palais Book Prize (Korea) in honor of James Palais. * Bernard Cohn Book Prize (first book on South Asia) in honor of Bernard Cohn (anthropologist), Bernard Cohn. * A.K. Coomaraswamy Book Prize (South Asia) in honor of Ananda Coomaraswamy. * A.K. Ramanujan Prize for Translation (South Asia) in honor of A.K. Ramanujan. * Harry J. Benda Prize (first book on Southeast Asia) in honor of Harry J. Benda * Franklin R. Buchanan Prize for Curricular Materials in honor of Franklin R. Buchanan.
Publications*''The Bibliography of Asian Studies'': Now an online database, the BAS is the single largest record of research and scholarly literature on East, Southeast, and South Asia written in Western languages. It comprises over 800,000 citations and can be electronically searched. Started as an annual section of the ''Far Eastern Quarterly'' edited by members in 1941, the BAS grew to an annual supplement produced by a specialized professional staff. However, by the mid-1980s, gathering the burgeoning data and printing the increasingly thick volumes led to the annual editions falling several years behind. The Association determined to transfer BAS to an electronic database, incorporating all entries from the print volumes for the years 1971 to 1991 and entering new citations from 1991 onward. *''Key Issues in Asian Studies'': designed for use in undergraduate humanities and social science courses, as well as by advanced high-school students and teachers, and anyone with an interest in Asia. *''Asia Past and Present'': a scholarly monograph series covering all countries of Asia and all disciplines. *''The Journal of Asian Studies'': ''The Journal of Asian Studies'' has been published quarterly since 1941, when it was founded as ''The Far Eastern Quarterly''. ''JAS'' publishes multidisciplinary work on Asia, spanning the arts, history, literature, the social sciences, and cultural studies. * ''Education About Asia'': ''Education About Asia'' (EAA) is a journal published three times a year which contains scholarly articles and practical teaching resources for secondary school, college, and university instructors, as well as for students, scholars, libraries, and others with an interest in Asia. Topics include anthropology, Asian studies, business and economics, education, geography, government, history, language and literature, political science, religion, and sociology. The complete run of the journal was put online for free access in 2014
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