Curry, Facebook and Networking

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Seo Young Park
Xia Zhang
Neal Akatsuka

SEAA Graduate Students Connect at the 2012 AAA

One of the most exciting things about living in this globalized world is our ability to reach out to and connect with others with shared interests. For SEAA graduate students, the excitement of making connections with their peers in the amazing city of San Francisco this year was flavored by the wonderful combination of curry and naan. This year the SEAA Graduate Students Dinner, held at the Little Delhi restaurant in Union Square, drew twenty participants who came from thirteen different American and Asian universities. Their research focuses on major countries in East Asia—China, Japan, and South Korea. And their research interests cover a wide range of topics: globalization, transnationalism, development, migration, gender, sexuality, identity, media, arts, the environment, health and medicine, science and technology, and beyond. Imbibing San Francisco’s cosmopolitan air, the graduate students discussed their research, fieldwork, career plans, and areas of common interest. The dinner was enjoyed by student participants in general, but particularly appreciated by those who travelled from outside of the US, belong to a discipline other than anthropology, or attended the annual AAA meeting for the very first time. They found the dinner provided a great opportunity for a growing community of young scholars with diverse academic backgrounds in East Asian anthropology to exchange ideas and cultivate networks.

This annual event is part of the reason there are currently 186 graduate student members of the SEAA—the largest number of student members our section has ever had. To facilitate lasting connections between peers who work in East Asia, the SEAA graduate student councilors also created a Facebook group where students can expand their interactions outside of conferences. As of November 2012, 91 members have joined the group. Members post articles, video clips, and job ads. Notably, they also share their published papers and review articles. There are many other possible ways to make use of this group: finding roommates for conferences, asking for advice about fieldwork travel and research, as well as looking for reference sources. More importantly, we hope this new Facebook page will enable students to collaborate in co-hosting panels at future conferences, and to create a shared database for teaching materials for their discussion sections and lectures.

In addition, we are planning to organize a small-group mentoring workshop during the annual meeting in 2013, where graduate students can have in-depth conversations with scholars in East Asian anthropology over breakfast or lunch. In their board meeting, SEAA board members were highly supportive of this idea. If you have any thematic or organizational suggestions for the workshop, please let us know.

In other graduate student news this year, the Theodore C Bestor Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper was awarded to Chigusa Yamaura for her paper entitled, “From War Orphans to Brides: Localizing Cross-Border Marriages between Japan and Northeast China.” This paper examines arranged Japanese-Chinese cross-border marriages, and in particular, the ways in which such marriages are rendered comprehensible in light of history. It builds upon two overarching themes: first, the relationship between the local and the transnational; and, second, the processes through which marriageable communities are created. Yamaura shows how seemingly apolitical and even generously positive framings, such as familiarity, similarity, and proximity, are intricately interwoven with past and present power dynamics. Her project suggests that, in the context of transnational marriage in Japan, it is not notions of “difference” that generate desire, but rather tactical productions of proximity that create marriageability. Congratulations, Chigusa Yamaura!

In closing, we would like to announce that Xia Zhang will leave her service as graduate student councilor to the SEAA. During her tenure over the past two years, she co-organized graduate student dinners at three AAA annual meetings, represented graduate student interests at SEAA board meetings, and provided support to the incoming student councilors. Neal Akatsuka joins as a new councilor, and has already started his service by co-organizing the SEAA student dinner at the annual meeting.

As current graduate student councilors to the SEAA, we welcome additional ideas for serving the graduate student community. Please contact us at and

Please send news items, contributions, and comments on section news to Anru Lee ( and Bridget Love (


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