22 March 2021

Dear Everyone:

So much has happened in a week, including the start of spring with sunny and warm days, program conversations and committee work on faculty appointments and curriculum revision, continuing work on admissions and all the seminars meeting and such, and, on the personal front, my first professional haircut in more than a year (a function of fully vaccinated life)!  I hope wherever you are, you’re getting a taste of the pleasures and promise of joy that (for me) accompanies seasonal shift (at least in the northern hemisphere) toward the sun!

What didn’t happen last week was, well, the end of white supremacy or the absurd and murderous availability of guns, or misogyny and cisheteropatriarchy, or the gendered precarity that is the long-lived and pernicious effect of global racial capitalism….there’s still an awful lot of work for us to do, not that we needed more evidence to know as much….

The universe does provide at times things necessary to make sense of things.  As evidence, I submit Laura Kang’s recently published book, Traffic in Asian Women, which I’ve had occasion in the past few weeks to engage deeply, and more importantly, which is so, so helpful to understanding current events and their historicity, and urges us all to think about the politics and effects of hypervisibility and the need to avoid (re)congealing racial and gendered identity perhaps especially in the face of violence and trauma. (For a super sharp and thoroughly engaging review of the book, see “Seen and Unseen”, written by Zoë Hu! (one of the students in our program)!)

There are lots of other things to read, and organizations with which to work and to which to contribute, and always, the vital and ordinary act of looking out for each other. Multiple scales and registers of work, so thoroughly interrelated – it all needs doing, and I’m grateful that so many of you undertake that effort in whatever part. All the things we’ve been navigating in the thick of public discourse – the deep inequities laid bare and exacerbated by pandemic; the perdurance and toxicity of anti-Blackness and settler colonialism; the pervasiveness of sexual harassment; the prioritization of national boundaries over people’s welfare; the jagged disjuncture between the celebration of essential workers and the wages for those same people; the interrelatedness of all of this with what is frustratingly shorthanded as “Asian hate” in so much media coverage – knowledge of how this present conjuncture has emerged won’t itself defunction it all, but I do believe it is vital to that project. *That* is our work – not only but distinctively so – that is, the project of learning and unlearning towards the ends of creating the world we want, right? (right!)

In other news!

Spring break is soon upon us! I strongly encourage you all to take a genuine break – I will be! For however long you can, in whatever spaces you can, create a pause, a time/place when you don’t have to hold it all together and/but can cry loudly or dance joyfully or not worry about tidying for the next zoom meeting or go digging frantically for the link to the thing you’re supposed to attend. The work will be there after the interlude…

You might wish to include on your list of things to attend following spring break, The Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Lincoln Prize ceremony (as announced earlier, Prof. David Reynolds’s Abe is this year’s winner!) will be held online on April 19 at 7 pm  and is open for registration.  If you’re interested in attending, here’s the registration link [gilderlehrman.org].  Congratulations again to David!

That’s it for now, except as always to offer abundant well wishes,


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