Celebrating Asian cultures and languages

By

Emily Balli

For decades, the Center for Asian Research has been Arizona State University’s hub for research and teachings about Asia. With a recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country and calls to stop Asian hate, the center is continuing to engage the ASU community with the Asian region and its people through language and culture, virtual programming, research, fellowships, events and more.

“We are dedicated to supporting students of Asian descent and other minority students in this field," said Juliane Schober, director of the Center for Asian Research and professor of religious studies.

The center, which is based out of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, recently released a statement condemning violence against Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, echoing a university statement from ASU President Michael Crow.

“The Center for Asian Research condemns the recent wave of violence against Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and stands in solidarity with all groups and individuals affected by prejudice and discrimination. We remain committed to combating these shameful actions through education, and our events and programming reaffirm our dedication to public outreach and engagement,” the statement read.

With over 80 affiliated faculty members in disciplines and professional programs across the university, the center offers degree programs in Asian studies as well as certificate programs.

Since 2018, the center has awarded more than 90 Title VI Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships to ASU students, with nearly 40% of these fellowships going to students of color and heritage students (heritage students are those whose parents speak the language; the students were exposed to the language but may not speak it well). This year, the center awarded seven summer Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships to students who will be studying Chinese and Japanese. A faculty committee also selected six graduate fellows and 18 undergraduate fellows to receive awards that will cover living stipends and tuition. During their fellowship, students will study an Asian language and Asia-related area studies. 

In addition to academic offerings, the center hosts ongoing conferences and events. Topics discussed at recent events included Asian identity in films, reactions to the COVID-19 diaries in Wuhan, China, and the impact of the pandemic on the study of Asia. In the upcoming fall semester, events will explore caste and race in transnational contexts.

Moving forward, the center hopes to continue providing resources and opportunities to the ASU community and beyond that celebrate Asian culture while furthering education, research and awareness. 

“The surging economies, populations, popular cultures and political power of Asia’s rising nations are reshaping the contemporary world,” Schober said. “Arizona has significant economic links to Asia as more than a quarter of the state’s global exports go to the Indo-Pacific region. Expertise about Asia and its global connections is critical to Arizona and to national and international interests and to ASU’s mission to shape equitable and sustainable global futures.”