Rice undergrads launch Rice Asian Studies Review

What began as an assignment in Sonia Ryang’s Asian studies seminar in the fall to draft an academic journal-quality article on an Asia-related topic has led to the creation of the Rice Asian Studies Review (RASR), a journal with articles authored by Rice undergraduates and published by members of the Rice Asian Studies Organization (RASO). The students recently launched and introduced the journal to the Rice community, aspiring, as they say, “to produce a compilation of diverse, unconventional and informed Asian-studies perspectives.”

The journal debuted during the year that Rice is celebrating 100 years of Asian undergraduate life.

The members of the Rice Asian Studies Review editorial board: from left, Avery Jordan, Justin Park, Connie Yichen Zhang, Jackson Neagli, Taylor Ginter, Aidan McBride and Juliann Bi. Not pictured: Aaron Huang. Photo by Amber Szymczyk

“Early in the seminar, Dr. Ryang spent a chunk of class time outlining a few venues where seminar participants might send their final manuscripts for publication,” said Jackson Neagli, the review’s editor-in-chief and a Brown College senior majoring in Asian studies and policy studies. “Many of the publication venues listed by Dr. Ryang were undergraduate journals, most notably Synergy: The Journal of Contemporary Asian Studies out of the University of Toronto. At that point, the idea of Rice Asian Studies Review just fell into our laps. ‘Why not Rice?’ we thought.”

The journal, a letter-sized paperback with a red-dotted map of Asia on its cover, spans 70 pages. It invites readers to explore six articles that range from “Gods Among Us: Anatomical Devotional Icons in the Medieval Examined Through the Lens of New Materialism” by Rachel George, a Will Rice College senior majoring in anthropology and art history, and “India and China: Health Care, Female Empowerment and Capabilities Approach to Development” by Manasi Joshi, a Lovett College senior majoring in kinesiology and anthropology, to “Life is Too Fast: Looking Into South Korea’s Antibiotics Overconsumption” by Justin Park, a McMurtry College senior majoring in Asian studies and biological sciences.

Around the same time the students decided to move forward with the review, the School of Humanities’ Chao Center for Asian Studies was in the final stages of publishing the inaugural edition of its online journal, Transnational Asia. “The extensive research, review, revision and publication experience of many faculty and staff within the Chao Center afforded us a deep well of expertise upon which to draw in our publication of the Review’s inaugural issue,” Neagli said.

“After serious consideration, we realized that an undergraduate Asian-studies journal would have immense potential at Rice, due to the fact that most upper-level Asian studies courses are writing-intensive, and Rice students are uniquely passionate about pursuing their academic interests outside of the classroom,” Neagli said. “We didn’t create the Review as a forum for the publication of our seminar manuscripts. Instead, I think that the Review is a constructive venue for students at Rice to showcase research that they have conducted in any setting, be it through a course, an internship or independent research.”

The Review editors said they hope that “this tradition of investigating a broad range of Asian-studies issues through diverse and often unconventional academic lenses remains at the core of the journal for years to come. We see the unique approach to Asian studies embodied by this journal, with its disregard for borders and boundaries of all kinds, be they national, normative, academic or cultural, to be Rice Asian Studies Review’s institutional anchor.”

Ryang, the Chao Center director and Rice’s T.T. and W.F. Chao Professor of Asian Studies, and Haejin E. Koh, the center’s associate director, served as faculty advisers.

‘Intellectual capability, analytical skill and lucid writing’

“The assortment of papers in this collection represents not only the intellectual capability, analytical skill and lucid writing of our Asian-studies students, but also their editorial and organizational skills as well as collaborative work ethic, as the editorial group of the Rice Asian Studies Organization took the initiative from the very first step of this production,” Ryang wrote in the Review’s foreword. “We at the Chao Center for Asian Studies and all Asian studies-affiliated faculty are immensely proud of our students’ achievement.”

The Chao Center for Asian Studies hosted a gathering at its offices April 21 to celebrate the launch of the Review. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

In addition to Neagli, members of the Review’s editorial board were Aidan McBride, a Lovett College senior majoring in Asian studies and political science, who served as managing editor; Justin Park, who served as director of publications; Avery Jordan, a Wiess College senior majoring in Asian studies and computer science; Connie Yichen Zhang, a Baker College senior majoring in Asian studies and chemical engineering; Taylor Ginter, a Wiess College senior majoring in Asian studies; Juliann Bi, a Hanszen College junior majoring in Asian studies, economics and history; and Aaron Huang, a Baker College senior majoring in Asian studies, economics and policy studies.

Printed copies of the journal are available at the Chao Center for Asian Studies in Room 205 of the Mechanical Laboratory, and it will be offered to all Asian-studies majors and faculty. It can also be accessed online at http://rasr.rice.edu.

Rice Asian Studies Review will be an annual publication, and those who have questions or are interested in submitting an article can contact the editorial board at riceasreview@gmail.com.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.