For some time now, we have been hearing in media and cultural discourses about a widening chasm within American social and economic order that threatens national life. For many observers, the presidential election in 2016 served as stark evidence of a deep divisiveness that has been long apparent to many Asian/Pacific Americans and other BIPOC. The past four years have seen the enormous fallout of such disunity, for diplomatic and trade relations, immigration policy, public health, environmental policy, and a host of other political and legal issues. In 2020, with the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic and the explosion of world-wide protests against structural anti-Black racism and police violence in the United States, the time-honored feminist adage that “the personal is the political” seems as urgently meaningful as ever. The Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU is committed to understanding our turbulent and swiftly changing political landscape, as well as the role Asian/Pacific Americans play in these changes, and their impact on our communities. We are excited to announce our programming theme for the 2020-21 academic year, “Our Politics, Our Selves.”
We certainly plan to address the pivotal elections that will take place this fall in relation to the concerns of A/P/A students, scholars, activists, artists, and workers. But we also wish to call attention to A/P/A politics beyond the four-year national electoral cycle to consider Asian/Pacific American constituents at local, regional, and transnational scales. How does the heterogeneity of A/P/A constituencies give rise to varied political visions, practices, and effects? To what political ends have Asian/Pacific Americans been mobilized in the past, and how does that shape our conception of what is possible in the present? What forms of solidarity and justice become available when we challenge political orthodoxies about race and ethnicity, such as the caricatures of Asian/Pacific Americans as model minorities or “forever foreign”? We look forward to bringing a range of voices together to examine how politics shape every aspect of Asian/Pacific/American identity, life, and experience.