AALA, and the emergence of Asian American studies in Japan
Abstract This article sets forth the history of the academic activities of the Asian American Literature Association (AALA) in order to explore the evolution of Asian American Studies in Japan. When AALA was established in 1989, several scholars had already published research papers on Asian American literature, as had researchers involved energetically in the study of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans. Around the time when AALA was established, other research groups focusing on immigration studieswere formed. In 1993, several members of AALA presented their papers at the annual meetings of other associations and, as a result, the activities of AALA became known to a wider academic community. In 1994, AALA published its first annual journal and, around 1995, the number of papers on Asian American literature and culture accepted by authoritative journals in Japan began to increase. By the end of the 1990s, Asian American studies made their presence conspicuous in the field of American studies in Japan. Since the turn of the century, a growing number of Asian Americanists in Japan have become engaged in interdisciplinary studies, thus providing new perspectives.
Mie Hihara is currently Professor of American Literature and Culture at the Department of English of Kyoto Women’s University and, since April, 2010, President of Asian American Literature Association. Hihara published numerous papers on works by Japanese Americans and by James Baldwin, Willa Cather and other writers. She has co-edited Crossing Borders, Peripheries and Diaspora: Three Literatures of America (2005) and co-authored Asian American Literature: Threading Past, Present, and Future (2001), Japanese Canadian Community and Culture after the War (2003), and other books. Mie Hihara has co-translated Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories (2008) by Hisaye Yamamoto.