Category Archives: Gender Studies

Q&A with ‘Queering Contemporary Asian American Art’ editors Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe

This Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month we are excited to share special features with authors and editors of new and recent titles that celebrate Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Today we speak with Queering Contemporary Asian American Art editors Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe about their groundbreaking volume, published this spring, and corresponding website.

Queering Contemporary Asian American Art takes Asian American differences as its point of departure for bringing together artists and scholars pushing back against normative assumptions, expectations, critiques, and practices within Asian American art and visual culture. Taken together, these nine original artist interviews, cutting-edge visual artworks, and seven critical essays explore contemporary currents and experiences within Asian American art, including the multiple axes of race and identity; queer bodies and forms; kinship and affect; and digital identities and performances. The interdisciplinary and theoretically informed frameworks in the volume engage readers to understand global and historical processes through contemporary Asian American artistic production.

Why did you want to put together this book?

Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe: Most of the contributors of Queering Contemporary Asian American Art met at a 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities supported summer institute entitled “Re-envisioning American Art History: Asian American Art, Research, and Teaching” at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University. There we discussed the ways in which we could advance the field of Asian American art history through our teaching, writing, and curatorial projects.

We were very fortunate to have listened to a lecture on “doing” Asian American art history by the late Karin Higa. In her lecture, she described those of us invested in the field as “the termites of art history.” It was a call to critique and nibble away at what we call in the book “the white hegemonic pillars of art practice, history, and criticism.”

We wanted to heed Higa’s call to find innovative and timely ways to work on Asian American art history and thus formed a group at the seminar called “Que(e)rying Asian American Art,” for which the title of our book is named. We saw intense interest by the members of the group to think about the ways in which queer theory could inform Asian American art criticism.

In many ways, the discussions we had during the seminar and at many conferences after the seminar had ended informed the creation of our book. We like to think that our book is a product of our termite activities.

What was it like writing and putting together this kind of volume?

LK & JCB: The process of writing the book was extremely intense but exhilarating! We invited seven authors to write critical essays for the anthology and in total we interviewed 17 artists, from emerging to established in their careers. We started the process of interviewing during the summer of 2014 with genderqueer and transgender artists in Chicago: Kiam Marcelo Junio and Greyson Hong, respectively.

We worked together virtually and in coffee shops throughout Chicago in the two years of the book’s production, and we made a point of organizing panel discussions at academic conferences with the various artists and scholars involved in the book as. There was a lot of transcription of interviews involved as well as selecting artwork to be in the book. Our last interview was in spring 2016 with Tina Takemoto, a San Francisco based artist who self-describes as a “queer, gender queer, gender nonconforming, Asian American dyke.”

What do you hope is the book’s most important contribution?

LK & JCB: We hope our book builds on a queer of color critique and advances the field of Asian American art and contemporary art. The book is a call to build queer coalitions of resistance, to push back against the dominant “model minority” paradigm in Asian America of assimilationist “good” behavior—of not making waves and being silent and complicit in the face of anti-blackness, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and so forth that pervades US culture.

What is your next project?

LK & JCB: We are currently curating a virtual exhibition inspired by our book for the Center for Art and Thought called “Queer Horizons.” In this current moment of political and cultural transformations, especially affecting people of color and LGBTQ communities, the show seeks to envision what a queer futurity looks like. This idea of a queer horizon, borrowed from the late Jose Muñoz, proposes what he calls “a greater openness to the world.”

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

LK & JCB: The artwork is the most important thing. On a basic level, we just want to introduce the important work of the artists and scholars in this book to a wider audience. On a broader level, we want to inspire readers to form their own queer coalitional politics; we are writing to bring together feminists and queer of color artists and scholars to take up our “termite activities” and keep on nibbling at the hegemonic foundations of art history.


Laura Kina is an artist and a Vincent de Paul Professor of Art, Media, and Design at DePaul University. She is the coeditor of War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art. Jan Christian Bernabe is the operations, new media, and curatorial director at the Center for Art and Thought. The contributors are Mariam B. Lam, Eun Jung Park, Alpesh Kantilal Patel, Valerie Soe, and Harrod J Suarez. Featured artists are Anida Yoeu Ali, Kim Anno, Eliza Barrios, Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, Wafaa Bilal, Hasan Elahi, Greyson Hong, Kiam Marcelo Junio, Lin + Lam (H. Lan Thao Lam and Lana Lin), Viet Le, Maya Mackrandilal, Zavé Martohardjono, Jeffrey Augustine Songco, Tina Takemoto, Kenneth Tam, and Saya Woolfalk.

March 2017 News, Reviews, and Events

News

Our job posting for the 2017-2018 Mellon Diversity Fellow is now live and we are accepting applications through March 15. If you know of excellent candidates, please send them our way!

Reviews and Interviews


The New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog features No-No Boy by John Okada: “Reading No-No Boy, this week, it no longer seemed bound to its past; it felt like a prophecy, a cosmic tragedy, a message in a bottle that arrives a half century later.”—Hua Hsu


A collaborative piece with PRI’s Global Nation Education and Densho mentions Miné Okubo’s Citizen 13660 in an article about activists working to keep the story of Executive Order 9066 alive today. Bustle also features the book in a round-up of “10 Graphic Novels Written by Activists That You Need to Read Now More Than Ever”: “Heartbreaking, candid. . . . Okubo recounts her experience with poignancy and a surprising amount of humor.”—Charlotte Ahlin

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February 2017 News, Reviews, and Events

News

We are pleased to announce that Catherine Cocks is joining our acquisitions team as Senior Acquisition Editor, starting February 15. She started her career in academic publishing at SAR Press, the publishing arm of the School for Advanced Research, where she established the cutting-edge series in Global Indigenous Politics, among other accomplishments. She worked most recently at the University of Iowa Press, where she is currently Editorial Director. Please join us in welcoming Catherine to the press!

The University of Washington Press has five selected entries in the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) 2017 Book, Jacket, and Journal Show. Congratulations to the designers, our Editorial, Design, and Production department, and all involved!

Nine University of Washington Press authors will be participating in the 12th Annual Literary Voices event on May 3, 2017. Annie Proulx is this year’s keynote speaker.

Reviews and Interviews

The Times Literary Supplement reviews Ice Bear by Michael Engelhard: “Engelhard has an apt and unusual background for a book such as this. . . . Among the strengths of Ice Bear is its grasp of the rituals by which humans have always aspired to draw the strength of the polar bear into themselves.”—Mark Abley

The Spectator also reviews the book: “[A] beautifully illustrated, hugely engaging book. . . . For all its nightmare-haunting power, however, the aspect of the polar bear that really makes it an icon of the age is its vulnerability . . . . Another merit of the book is the author’s willingness to track these themes to their origins.”—Mark Cocker

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National Women’s Studies Association Conference Preview

We are thrilled to attend the 2016 National Women’s Studies Association annual conference in Montréal, Québec, Canada, from November 10 -13, 2016.

If you will be attending the conference, we hope you will join us for a few book signings at booth #102. On Friday, we mark the publication of Figuring the Population Bomb: Gender and Demography in the Mid-Twentieth Century with author Carole R. McCann—the first book in the Feminist Technosciences series. On Saturday, we celebrate author Sylvanna M. Falcón and her 2016 NWSA Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize winner, Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activism inside the United Nations.

Edited by Rebecca Herzig and Banu Subramaniam, the Feminist Technosciences series seeks to publish emerging, intersectional, cutting-edge feminist work in science and technology studies. As science and technology move to center stage in contemporary culture and politics, the need for new and multifaceted analyses becomes even more pressing. Interdisciplinary feminist science studies continues to seek ways to improve science and technology, including addressing the persistent underrepresentation of women and people of color in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The series will foreground insights from queer studies, critical race studies, disability studies, animal studies, postcolonial theory, and other critical approaches that reframe and reignite longstanding questions in feminist science and technology studies. Learn more in the series brochure.

UW Press Editor in Chief Larin McLaughlin and Direct Marketing, Exhibits, and Advertising Manager Katherine Tacke will be representing the Press at booth #102. Please come by to learn more about our new and forthcoming titles in women’s and gender studies. Use the #ReadUP and #NWSA2016 hashtags to follow along with the conference on social media.

Check out more information about the scheduled book signings and select featured titles below.

BOOK SIGNING WITH CAROLE R. MCCANN

Friday, November 11 at 4:00 p.m., Booth #102

Figuring the Population Bomb: Gender and Demography in the Mid-Twentieth Century
By Carole R. McCann

The debut title in the Feminist Technosciences series traces the history of demography as a discipline and the twentieth-century “facts” that created a panic about a looming population explosion. McCann reveals the gendered geopolitical grounds of demographic theories and measurement practices, popularized in the 1970s in Paul Erlich’s best-selling book, “The Population Bomb,” that continue to influence how governments and scholars talk about and influence women’s reproductive lives.

BOOK SIGNING WITH SYLVANNA M. FALCÓN

Saturday, November 12 at 10:30 a.m., Booth #102

Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activism inside the United Nations
By Sylvanna M. Falcón

Winner of the 2016 NWSA Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize

In Power Interrupted, Sylvanna M. Falcón redirects the conversation about UN-based feminist activism toward UN forums on racism. Her analysis of UN antiracism spaces, in particular the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, considers how a race and gender intersectionality approach broadened opportunities for feminist organizing at the global level. The Durban conference gave feminist activists a pivotal opportunity to expand the debate about the ongoing challenges of global racism, which had largely privileged men’s experiences with racial injustice. When including the activist engagements and experiential knowledge of these antiracist feminist communities, the political significance of human rights becomes evident. Using a combination of interviews, participant observation, and extensive archival data, Sylvanna M. Falcón situates contemporary antiracist feminist organizing from the Americas—specifically the activism of feminists of color from the United States and Canada, and feminists from Mexico and Peru—alongside a critical historical reading of the UN and its agenda against racism.

Read a Q&A with the author

Read a guest post from the author on the United Nations Secretary-General election

FORTHCOMING SPRING 2017

Queering Contemporary Asian American Art
Edited by Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe
Foreword by Susette Min
MAY 2017

Queering Contemporary Asian American Art takes Asian American differences as its point of departure, and brings together artists and scholars to challenge normative assumptions, essentialisms, and methodologies within Asian American art and visual culture. Taken together, these nine original artist interviews, cutting-edge visual artworks, and seven critical essays explore contemporary currents and experiences within Asian American art, including the multiple axes of race and identity; queer bodies and forms; kinship and affect; and digital identities and performances.

Using the verb and critical lens of “queering” to capture transgressive cultural, social, and political engagement and practice, the contributions to this volume explore the connection points in Asian American experience and cultural production of surveillance states, decolonization and diaspora, transnational adoption, and transgender bodies and forms, as well as heteronormative respectability, the military, and war. The interdisciplinary and theoretically informed frameworks in the volume engage readers to understand global and historical processes through contemporary Asian American artistic production.

OTHER FEATURED TITLES

What Would Bertha Lutz Say? Making Sense of the United Nations Secretary-General Election

October 24 is United Nations (UN) Day. In this guest post, Sylvanna Falcón—author of Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activism inside the United Nations—weighs in on the recent election of António Guterres to Secretary-General-Designate of the UN.

Struggles over representation, power, and voice occurred during the first United Nations (UN) conference in 1945 where delegates discussed the structure of this new multilateral institution, including the formation of the Security Council and the drafting of the UN Charter. The struggle over representation at the UN is further complicated by geopolitical dynamics in which certain countries of the world are disproportionately empowered at the UN and tend to stifle the voices of those who are less powerfully positioned. Today, these geopolitical dynamics remain reflected in the Security Council, which wielded its formidable influence regarding the recent election of the next Secretary-General—Portugal’s former prime minister, António Guterres—through secret straw polls. With its current configuration of 15 members, including only one woman (US Ambassador Samantha Power), the Security Council forwarded its recommendation to the General Assembly for a full vote that occurred within a matter of days earlier this month.

Bertha Lutz, the Brazilian delegate to the 1945 UN conference, remarked at the time, “The men like to hear themselves very much.” As one of four women to sign the UN Charter (out of 160 signatories), Lutz was a feminist associated with the Brazilian suffragist movement. She became frustrated with the men from the conference, whom she described as amicable but determined to create an international organization in which women would not play any central role. It would be fitting to ask ourselves in Lutz’s honor why “the men like to hear themselves very much” and about the evaluation criteria the Security Council referenced for their endorsement of Guterres.

The representation of women in high level positions at the UN has been too infrequent. The late Dame Margaret Anstee of Britain, who dedicated her life to the UN, reached the highest level appointment ever occupied by a woman in 1987, when she was named Under Secretary-General. Importantly, seven out of thirteen candidates for the UNSG position were women, indicating that at least the applicant pool had some gender balance to it, but it completely lacked any semblance of equity in terms of regional representation (for example, no applicant came from the African region). While that outcome is disappointing, it is not surprising given the UN has been troubled by problems of representation since its founding.

Mr. Guterres is by all accounts an established and respected diplomat. Having formerly served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, he expressed a commitment to gender equality and gender parity in his vision statement, which I believe is at least promising. He wrote, “The UN must be at the forefront of the global movement towards gender equality, an inalienable and indivisible feature of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Perhaps he should look closely at the work of feminist activists who understand that gender equality and parity can only be achieved with a simultaneous commitment to combating global racism.

Sylvanna M. Falcón is author of Power Interrupted and an associate professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She will be awarded the 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa book prize given by the National Women’s Studies Association at the 2016 NWSA annual conference in Montréal, Canada, in November.

October 2016 News, Reviews, and Events

News

The Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library announces the finalists in eight categories for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards for outstanding books published by Washington authors in 2015. Congratulations to our finalists Ana Maria Spagna (Reclaimers; Biography/Memoir) and Ruth Kirk (Ozette; History/General Nonfiction). The winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 8, 2016. Emcee for the evening is Frances McCue, twice a UW Press finalist for a WSBA (in 2011 for The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs and in 2015 for Mary Randlett Portraits). The awards celebration is free and open to the public.

University of Washington Press shares in the remembrance of Sarah Reichard, who died suddenly in her sleep on August 29, 2016. Dr. Reichard directed the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, was coeditor of Invasive Species of the Pacific Northwest, and advised UW Press on other projects. Read obituaries and details on the October 13th memorial celebration in the Seattle Times and Offshoots (blog of the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences).

Reviews and Interviews

Michael Upchurch reviews Looking for Betty MacDonald by Paula Becker in the Seattle Times: “The Egg and I, The Plague and I and Anybody Can Do Anything practically cavort off the page. How did [Betty MacDonald] do it? Seattle author Paula Becker has some answers in her compact, finely crafted biography.”

Lory Widmer Hess reviews the biography on her Emerald City Book Review blog: “I was delighted to explore MacDonald’s life and work through Paula Becker’s thoughtful, painstakingly researched biography, and even more thrilled to see that University of Washington Press is going to be reprinting three hard-to-find later works by the bestselling author of The Egg and I: Anybody Can Do Anything, The Plague and I, and Onions in the Stew. . . . If you’re not a MacDonald enthusiast, you will be soon. . . . We can be grateful that Becker has preserved it for us in words, and has given us valuable insights into her world, her books, her family, and the writer herself.”

Barbara McMichael reviews in the Kitsap Sun: “The pages zing with unexpected detail and nuggets of lacerating wit. . . If you’re Looking for Betty MacDonald, you need look no further.” Paula’s other book (The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition) and the MacDonald reissues (The Plague and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, and Onions in the Stew) also get mentions.

Steve Donoghue reviews the books at Open Letters Monthly: “A smart and immensely readable portrait, taking readers through MacDonald’s life. . . . Becker has combed every interview and profile, and her book veritably glows with MacDonald’s recaptured wit. . . . Thanks to Paula Becker’s exhaustive research and the compassionate, standard-setting book she’s shaped out of it, 21st century readers can meet a much fuller and more fascinating version of that complex, challenging, laughing woman. Readers of her books will still want to thank her, but thanks to Looking for Betty MacDonald, they’ll know her much better.” The Plague and I (“improbably funny. . . equally remarkable”) and Anybody Can Do Anything (“again improbably funny”) also get mentions.

Bainbridge Community Broadcasting’s “What’s Up Bainbridge” host Wendy Wallace speaks with Paula Becker about the biography and reissues.
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September 2016 News, Reviews, and Events

News

Congratulations to Sylvanna M. Falcón, winner of the National Women’s Studies Association 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize for Power Interrupted, selected “for its clear writing, as well as its adept integration of intersectional and transnational analyses to assess the grassroots feminist work that employs international frameworks when addressing gender and racial issues through the global stage that the UN provides.”

Reviews and Interviews

David Takami reviews Judy Bentley’s Walking Washington’s History in the Seattle Times: “Coming soon to a city near you: clusters of visitors gazing intently at a handheld object as a way to engage with their surroundings. . . . The commendable new book by Judy Bentley. . . . is an immensely appealing approach to writing history. . . . Bentley demonstrates that history is not abstruse and remote from our current experience; it is ever present—and just around the next corner.“

Christian Martin reviews the book on the Chattermarks blog from North Cascades Institute: “Bentley provides brief but engaging historical overviews. . . . There are stories in the ground beneath our feet, dashed dreams lingering in the air, as well as legacies of benevolent forethought from a not-so-distant past all around us.”


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