ASAA Book Series Report

ASAA Book Series Report

The following information on the book series of the Asian Studies Association of Australia provides a record of the historical content, trends and impact for each of the four series. It is intended to preserve their institutional memory. It may also serve as a reference for current and future reviews of the field of Asian Studies. 

East Asia Book Series

At the May 1982 ASAA Council meeting, Professor Wang Gungwu and Dr Stephen Large were commissioned to prepare a report exploring the possibility of establishing an East Asia Monograph Series in conjunction with the Department of Far Eastern History, Research School of Pacific Studies, ANU. On 5 December, the Council meeting resolved to establish the series which would be published by Allen and Unwin (Australia). Professor Jack Gregory and Dr Large were nominated as initial editors of the series, along with Dr Andrew Fraser and Professor Wang Gungwu. The first title in the FEH/ASAA East Asia series was published in 1985 and the final title appeared in 1990. A total of six titles were published during that time by Allen and Unwin. Subsequently, the series moved to Routledge c. 1991 under the editorship of Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki and Dr Morris Low. In 2019, Low remains as the editor of the series. In the Routledge/ASAA East Asia series, seventeen titles have appeared. In terms of geographic coverage, since 1985, there have been thirteen Japan-related titles, nine China titles and three Korea titles published. As for disciplines, historical titles dominate but there are also books which have examined literature, management, gender relations, anthropology, politics and society in East Asia. Authors have tended to be based in Australia and North America but two authors are based in institutions in Asia (Hong Kong and Japan respectively). (Response prepared by Morris Low, University of Queensland)        

Southeast Asia Book Series

The series began in 1979 published initially by Allen and Unwin. To date, some 60 manuscripts have been published. A full list of titles (barring the most recent) is on the ASAA website. Over half the titles concern Indonesia (34), while the remainder focus on Malaysia (12), Vietnam (3), Thailand (3), one for each of the Philippines, Singapore and East Timor (the most recent), and five across the region. For the first couple of decades, practically all of the titles were on Indonesia and Malaysia, so the trend in recent years has been towards mainland Southeast Asia, while retaining the series’ strength in maritime Southeast Asia. Just on half have been histories (29); the remaining titles can be difficult to capture precisely due to the inherently interdisciplinary character of the series but broadly speaking, they cover political economy and anthropology (10 titles each), politics (7), literature (1) and interdisciplinary studies (3). It is difficult to say for the entire series how many authors were from institutions based in Asia but 3 of the 22 volumes published by NUS Press since 2004 fall into this category.

Since 2004, Taylor’s Khmer Lands of Vietnam won the inaugural EuroSEAS Social Science Book Prize 2015 and was shortlisted for the ICAS Book Prize 2015 for Best Study in the Social Sciences. It also got a CHOICE Highly Recommended ranking; and, Peters’ Surabaya, 1945-2010 was shortlisted for the EuroSEAS Humanities Book Prize 2015. In terms of media engagement, Sandra Khor Manickam spoke on radio station BFM89.9 about her Taming the Wild, and both Katherine McGregor and recently Vanessa Hearman were interviewed on the New Books Network. Christopher Shepherd will shortly also be featured on the Network talking about Haunted Houses. (Response prepared by Professor Edward Aspinall and Dr Nick Cheesman)

South Asia Book Series

The South Asia series was founded in 1986 to publish outstanding work in the social sciences and humanities, the series entered a new phase in 2010 when it joined with Routledge to continue a notable tradition of Australian-based research about South Asia. Works in the series are published in both UK and Indian editions. The series publishes outstanding research on the countries and peoples of South Asia across a wide range of disciplines including history, politics and political economy, anthropology, geography, literature, sociology and the fields of cultural studies, communication studies and gender studies. Interdisciplinary and comparative research is encouraged.

From 2016-2019, Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra was the editor of the series. In that time, five books have been published with several others in the pipeline. Several authors have been based in Asia, including Laila Ashrafun, Marzia Balzhani (NYU, Abu-Dhabi) and Subh Mathur. The series also features several ‘diaspora’ authors too. One forthcoming book is a collaboration between an Australian based and Asia-based authors (Andrew May and Warphrang Diengdoh). In general, there is a diversity of authorship in terms of topic, country of focus, origin and author career stage. Between 2016 and 2020, four out of five books were written by female scholars.

In 2020, editorship of the series was passed to Dr Rahul Giarola and A/Prof Bina Fernandez. Bina withdrew in 2021, and Rahul now edits the series on his own. (Response prepared by Professor Duncan McDuie-Ra)

Women in Asia Book Series

The series started in 1992 with Chief Editors Lenore Manderson and Susan Blackburn. As of March 2019, 54 books have been published (with 2 more under contract and 2 more under review as of October 2019). The countries covered empirically and thematically in the book series include: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. While there is a book on North Korea that underwent review in 2019 there is a notable absence of books with a significant focus on Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, or Pakistan—these nations appear in some edited collections but have yet to be the sole focus of a book. Almost all our books are interdisciplinary HASS with core representation from History, Sociology, Literature, Anthropology, Sexuality, Health, Politics, religious studies, labour studies, youth studies, urban planning, marriage studies, and legal studies.

The book series sets Australia as the global leader in scholarship on Women and Gender in Asia—no other series has the same interdisciplinary, multi-national scope. We seek to maintain a mix of senior and junior scholars, native and non-native speakers of English, edited, co-authored and sole authored monographs. As numbers of authors from the Asian region increase, we anticipate that the series will play a major role in supporting Women and Gender Studies teaching programs and research projects throughout the region. Our engagement with the NGO sector is also significant with some of our authors employed in that sector. Kaori H. Okano’s Young Women in Japan: Transitions to Adulthood (2010) won the Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year 2010.

The numbers of manuscripts from Asia (in particular Indonesia) are increasing, making the challenge of editing for English more significant. This trend marks the expansion of higher education in the region as well as the sustained support for the series by the ASAA Women’s Forum that has been instrumental in supporting the series through their regional networks. Challenges that we face include the increasing pressure on academics to publish with US and UK university presses rather than commercial presses. We aim to provide fast turnarounds in reviewing etc in order to maintain attractiveness in this competitive market. (Response prepared by Professor Louise Edwards)

Alexander E Davis is a lecturer in International Relations at The University of Western Australia and the Publications Officer on the ASAA Executive Council.

Georgina Drew is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Adelaide. She was formerly the Publications Officer on the ASAA Executive Council.

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