Asian Studies conference goers debate politics, get books

By Scott Breen
April 22, 2019

DENVER — There were over 350 panel discussions and film presentations at the 2019 Association for Asian Studies Conference here March 21-24 on a wide variety of subjects. These included the Japanese rulers’ abuse of Korean “comfort women” during the Second World War; labor relations in China and Vietnam; the Indonesian military’s massacre of hundreds of thousands of unionists, Communist Party members and other workers in 1965; as well as Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative today and its impact on Africa and Latin America.

Several thousand attended — a majority professors, graduate students and researchers from U.S. universities. There were also many associated with universities in China, Korea, Japan, elsewhere in Asia and around the world.

The conference also featured a special presentation on the Chinese rulers’ mass detention of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims by China. A few days after the conference, the Association for Asian Studies issued a statement protesting the Chinese government’s repression, saying it “constitutes a major violation of human rights, and in the case of our academic colleagues, a clear disregard for academic freedom.”

Supporters of Pathfinder Press set up a booth that was visited by scores of participants. Sixty-four books were purchased, with the best-seller being a new edition of Our History Is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution. The book — interviews with Generals Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui and Moisés Sío Wong — tells the story of the historic place of Chinese immigration to Cuba through their participation in the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and the decades of revolutionary action and internationalism since. Over 20 copies were sold in English, Spanish and Chinese.

Conference goers also purchased four copies of Maoism vs. Bolshevism, a bulletin on the 1965 Indonesia massacre, and three of Leon Trotsky on China — all the copies we had with us.

There was also interest in U.S. and world politics today, with a number of participants getting Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power; Are They Rich Because They’re Smart?; and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, all by Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes. Two other popular titles were In Defense of the US Working Class and Is Socialist Revolution in the US Possible? by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters.

Many participants took promotional flyers with them, signed up to be on Pathfinder’s mailing list, or took photos of the books, saying they would order them when they got home. A number told Pathfinder volunteers to get in touch with them to set up a visit to discuss ordering books for their classes or libraries.