Today I was invited to become–and accepted–membership on the Steering Committee of the Asian North American Religions, Culture, and Society (ANARCS) Group of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). It is an honour and a pleasure to have been invited by such a great group of friends. The duties of Steering Committee members is to design a call for papers for forthcoming AAR conferences, to vet abstracts and panel proposals, and to make sure that presenters actually write their papers and have a great time presenting them at panels and sessions that we sponsor. Accordingly, we are influential in shaping what ANARCS will be doing and hope to have some influence on the development of the field of Asian North American religious studies as a whole.
I am very excited to be part of this. During this year’s AAR, there were three ANARCS-sponsored sessions: 1) E Pluribus Pluribus: Transnational Hinduism in North America, 2) Asian North American “conservative” Christian communities, masculinities, and gender issues (in which I presented), and 3) Boundary Crossings: new directions in Asian American theologies (over which I presided–thanks, Sharon Suh, for the opportunity!). The quality of the papers was very high, but what struck me even more was the abundance of younger, emerging scholars in the field who are pushing the boundaries of what should be studied as part of Asian American religious studies. My sense from this year’s discussion was that there is a lot of emerging work on the intersection of Asian American religions and sexuality–an intersection that is similarly coming to fruition in geographies of religion, I might add!–and that there is much more attention being paid to critical theory among the younger scholars. There was also a sense of these younger scholars being mentored by more senior faculty discussants on the panels who were very approachable for questions and constructive feedback after the sessions as well.
I am excited to be part of this burgeoning field that crosses American ethnic studies and religious studies. Many thanks to ANARCS for the opportunity to serve in the Steering Committee, and I look forward to working with everyone.