Reading IACS in a season of discontent: an appreciation
Inter-Asia Cultural Studies is by design a border-crossing journal, but everyone reads it from a particular location. Mine is the University of California, Santa Cruz. The autumn of 2009 has been a season of anger and organizing in California’s public universities. Across the UC and California State University (CSU) systems, draconian budget cuts have led to furloughs, layoffs, the gutting of programs that took years to build, threats to recruitment and retention efforts for both faculty and students, and a further degrading of the education we can offer our students. When the Regents of the University of California system voted in November 2009 to raise student fees 32%, students occupied buildings on several campuses, both in anticipation of the decision and after the fact. The occupations were followed by police actions against student protesters, and several days ago by an attack on the residence of the UC Berkeley Chancellor. Many faculty members have been caught up in immediate responses to these events, while simultaneously scrambling to develop a longer-term analysis of how this crisis came to be and what can be done to intervene.
Gail Hershatter is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she co-directed the Center for Cultural Studies from 1995 to 2007.