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At this year’s Annual Meeting, the Society for East Asian Anthropology (SEAA) hosted a range of activities, presentations, and events. Highlights included 35 panels (including four co-sponsored invited sessions), the annual Business Meeting, a faculty-student mentoring workshop, and a student dinner.

SEAA panels

The SEAA program consisted of 35 panels, including four invited sessions, 23 volunteered sessions, and sessions built from 10 individual papers, and two posters. Of these, 12 were sessions with papers featuring research on different regions of East Asia. The panels explored a range of topics including politics, climate change, gender, activism, demographic transitions, popular culture, and intimacy.

This year, SEAA featured the following four invited sessions that were co-sponsored with other AAA sections:

  • “Bad Air and the Everyday Landscape of Asia” (co-sponsor: Society of Environmental Anthropology)
  • “Indigenous Psychology in China” (co-sponsor: Society for Psychological Anthropology)
  • “Toward the Establishment of a Network for Ainu and Indigenous Studies in North America” (co-sponsor: Association of Indigenous Anthropology)
  • “Trans Asia Pacific: Queering Climates I” (invitation to co-sponsor from the Association for Queer Anthropology)

Business Meeting

SEAA members gathered for the annual Business Meeting, where the Board reviewed the activities throughout 2019 and announced prize recipients. Sasha Su-Ling Welland was awarded the Francis L.K. Hsu Book Prize for Experimental Beijing: Gender and Globalization in Chinese Contemporary Art (2018). Graduate student Victoria Nguyen won Best Student Paper with her article titled “Designing Sustainability: Containment, Circulation, and Contingency in Beijing.” Honorable mention was given to Kaitlin Banfill’s “When the Han Came: Intergenerational Memory and History Making in Butuo County, Southeast China.”

Victoria Nguyen received the award for best graduate student paper. Jing Wang

Victoria Nguyen (center) received the award for best graduate student paper. Jing Wang

Sonia Ryang took over the “rice paddle” from former president Glenda Roberts and assumed the responsibility of SEAA president; and president-elect Ellen Oxfeld will assume this role at the end of Ryang’s term. We said goodbye to several outgoing members: Susan Brownell (treasurer 2016–2019), Shao-hua Liu (councilor 2016–19), Ayako Takamori (councilor 2016–19), Jing Wang (student councilor 2016–19), and Heidi Lam (Anthropology News SEAA section news contributing editor 2013–19). We welcomed five new board members to the SEAA team: Isaac Gagne as treasurer, Jie Yang and Marvin D. Sterling as councilors, Yifan Wang as student councilor, and Hanna Pickwell as SEAA section news contributing editor. SEAA thanked these members for volunteering their time and energy to keep SEAA a thriving forum for intellectual exchange.

Outgoing Treasurer Susan Brownell received a Certificate of Appreciation from President Glenda Roberts. Jing Wang

Outgoing treasurer Susan Brownell received a Certificate of Appreciation from president Glenda Roberts. Jing Wang

Student activities

This year SEAA hosted a mentoring workshop centered on the challenge of “Rethinking East Asia.” More than 25 members, including graduate students and early-career scholars, participated in the event. Professors Sonia Ryang and Beth Notar offered their insights and mentorship on researching across Asian contexts, applying to jobs, teaching and pedagogy, and the importance of rethinking the politics and genealogies of area studies today. Participants reported satisfaction not only with the workshop, but also with the delicious breakfast catered by the section.

For several years, SEAA’s student committee has organized a social gathering for students whose research interests fall under the broad category of East Asian anthropology. It offers an opportunity for graduate students to socialize with other young scholars from various institutions over food and drink. This year approximately 25 students joined the informal dinner, where they reunited with old friends and made new connections across diverse regional and theoretical research interests.

Hanna M. Pickwell is a contributing editor for the SEAA section news column. She is a PhD candidate in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include material culture, time, everyday life, and popular religion in China.

Shuang L. Frost is a contributing editor for the SEAA section news column. She is a PhD candidate in social anthropology and science and technology studies at Harvard University. Her research interests include platform ethics, digital economy, social policymaking, and urban studies.

Cite as: Frost, Shuang L., and Hanna M. Pickwell. 2020. “SEAA Highlights at the 2019 AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting.” Anthropology News website, February 13, 2020. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1345