Commentary | Warren A. Stanislaus, The Great Reset: Afro-Japanese Pasts, Futures

"The Great Reset”

An enduring COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-mutating virus of racism, among other urgent challenges that intensified during a turbulent 2020, have urged the World Economic Forum to label this moment as “the great reset” – a unique opportunity for a global rethink about the future. Similarly, academia is facing its own great reset. The pandemic has upended the traditional model and norms of higher education, and accelerated the need to address existing crises within the academy such as digital transformation, public relevance and inequality gaps.

Through digital formats such as blogs and video webinars that will come to characterize our much more hybrid futures, the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) and its members have highlighted particular issues that affect the field of Asian Studies. In the wake of the global spread of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in 2020 a diverse group of scholars submitted a petition to the AAS calling for a commitment to combat anti-Black racism within Asian studies, while others asserted the centrality of Black life and blackness in scholarship on Asia. Tristan R. Grunow made the case for digital scholarship arguing that the pandemic induced new normal is a chance to embrace public-facing digital output as a valuable and core component of scholarly life, rather than simply as an extra distraction. Writing about a perceived crisis within my own sub-field of Japanese Studies, Paula R. Curtis notes that to go beyond doom and gloom narratives of the “Death of Japan Studies” as an outdated field, scholars must share best practice and collaborate on promoting a “rebirth” that meets the complex challenges of our time.