Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

PAAFF Conference 2019: Call for Proposals

The Talk about Asian Americans:
Taking Stock Seven Years after Timothy Yu’s “Has Asian American Studies Failed?”

November 8-10, 2019

In 2012, Timothy Yu published a short article entitled “Has Asian American Studies Failed?”  In it, he argued that—although Asian American Studies is now an established and increasingly robust academic field—it has largely failed “in our goal of shifting the racial discourse around Asians in the United States.”  He stated that Asian Americanists needed to take their work to the public:  to be advocates and “cultural first responders” who popularized the field’s insights.  In concluding, he asserted that Linsanity gave Asian American Studies scholars an opening to reach “mainstream” audiences, and that we needed to run with this opportunity.  Now that seven years have passed, it is time for us to take stock.  What has changed, and what hasn’t?

We invite scholars, community organizers and artist-activists to submit a proposal in the form of a 250-word abstract on a topic related to the racial discourse around Asian Americans outside the academy in the past decade.  Presentations may take the form of individual presentations (15 minutes), panels (45 or 60 minutes), workshops (30, 45 or 60 minutes), lecture-performances (30 minutes), or something innovative (up to 60 minutes).  Research that explores the experiences of Southeast and South Asian Americans are particularly welcome.  Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • What effects have successful “mainstream” productions, such as Crazy Rich Asians, Fresh Off the Boat, and Always Be My Maybe, had on the discourse about Asian Americans?
  • What do the growth and struggles of “indie” Asian American film festivals, blogs, and memory institutions (such as museums and digital archives) tell us about the visibility of Asian Americans?
  • How have conflicts and “dirty laundry” within Asian America been discussed, mediated and memorialized both within and outside our communities?
  • What is the relationship between Asian American Studies scholars who work in universities and Asian Americanists who work primarily in public spaces?
  • Does the field of Asian American Studies need to be decolonized?
  • What roles can Asian Americanists play in fermenting solidarity between different marginalized groups, and in fighting gentrification?

To submit, please send an email to by 11:59 EDT on July 31, 2019.  The body of the email should contain your name, presentation title, affiliation for the program (if any), and presentation format (e.g., individual paper, panel).  Please send the 250-word abstract as a .pdf attachment.  As the abstracts will be evaluated anonymously, do not include your name or any other identifying information in the .pdf.  Notifications of acceptance will be sent in mid-August.