AASWG's Resisting, Recovering, Remembering Panel

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20 years ago, students held Duke’s first teach-in for Asian American Studies – a teach-in that represents only a moment in a much longer lineage of Asian American student organizing, but still a moment worthy of commemoration. Last weekend, AASWG (Asian American Studies Working Group) invited back alumni from the last 20 years who were involved in Asian American organizing spaces during their time at Duke. The alumni spoke about their experiences at a three-part panel centered around ‘resisting, recovering, remembering.’ They described the burnout, frustration, and uncertainty born of organizing against an institution often hostile to their efforts, but also the joy and community which emerged from the same sustained struggles. Within the logics of the Academy, some alumni suggested, such student efforts are often intentionally erased from institutional memory or else twisted into a bastion of superficial diversity ideologies. This selective hostility to critical memory is part of what made last weekend so special to many current students, several of whom noted the ways in which AASWG is indebted to the students who imagined and thought and worked before them. “A lot of these alumni were working way ahead of their time,” one student noted. “They were dreaming of and straining towards futures that still don’t exist, futures that we still might not have the language for.”