Title positions: east asia cultures critique
Location Seattle; Houston
Publisher Duke University Press
Periodicity Thrice a year
ISSN 1067-9847
URL positions Website
Published Since 1994-
Indexed Holdings 2000-


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Periodical's Overview

"positions offers a forum of debate for people concerned with the social, intellectual, and political events unfolding in East Asia and within Asian diasporas. Profound political changes and intensifying global flows of labor and capital in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century are rapidly redrawing national and regional borders. These transformations compel us to rethink our priorities in scholarship, teaching, and criticism

Mindful of the dissolution of the discursive binary East and West, positions advocates placing cultural critique at the center of historical and theoretical practice. The global forces that are reconfiguring our world continue to sustain formulations of nation, gender, class, and ethnicity. We propose to call into question these still-pressing yet unstable categories by crossing academic boundaries and rethinking the terms of our analyses. These efforts, we hope, will contribute toward informed discussion both in and outside the academy.

positions' central premise is that criticism must always be self-critical. Critique of another social order must be as self-aware as commentary on our own. Likewise, we seek critical practices that reflect on the politics of knowing and that connect our scholarship to the struggles of those whom we study. All these endeavors require that we account for positions as places, contexts, power relations, and links between knowledge and knowers as actors in existing social institutions. In seeking to explore how theoretical practices are linked across national and ethnic divides, we hope to construct other positions from which to imagine political affinities across the many dimensions of our differences. positions is an independent refereed journal. Its direction is taken at the initiative of its editorial collective as well as through encouragement from its readers and writers."

Selected Subject Headings

  • Afro-Asian politics
  • Aliens - Japan
  • Anarchism - China - 20th century
  • Atayal - social life and customs
  • Augmentation mammaplasty - Japan
  • Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars
  • Homosexuality - China
  • Hosiery - China
  • Indian Ocean - history
  • Intellectuals - India
  • Japan - colonies
  • Kwangju Uprising, Kwangju-si, Korea, 1980
  • Magical thinking - China
  • Muslims - China
  • Non-governmental organizations - Thailand
  • Le paria (periodical)
  • Proletariat in literature
  • Science fiction, Chinese
  • Sexual ethics - Tibet
  • Shamanism - Korea
  • Technocracy - Japan
  • Tone, Yasuano (1935)
  • Vietnamese in Japan
  • Vegetarianism - religious aspects - Buddhism
  • Women poets, Korean


We used a brief quote from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s in our Thresholds text, which we’d like to use again here:

"Typically, the entire literature of China, say, is represented by a couple of chapters of The Dream of the Red Chamber and a few pages of poetry."[1]

To address this gap in knowledge, positions, a dense scholarly journal, is an essential tool to expand our understanding of what is broadly defined in their masthead as East Asia. “Mindful of the dissolution of the discursive binary East and West” they write in their editorial statement; the italics are ours, as the complexity embraced by this journal, this shattering of binaries offers us a vast array of living nuances that cannot but enrich our knowledge, and our experiences. We like that.

For example, the journal was initiated at the University of Washington, Seattle; United States' West, its Northwest Pacific Rim; and then it moved, and it’s currently being published from Rice University, in Houston, Texas, United States’ Southwest, or in historical terms--what it really means--United State’s South. We raise these ever-important local specificities because they point to the crux of what positions is proposing: specificities are of the essence if we are “to construct other positions from which to imagine political affinities across the many dimensions of our differences.” We like that too.

Published thrice a year, the journal’s pages are populated by a scholarship that is a hybrid, a transnational attempt at triangulating, or rather, polyhedrating the imposed reductive frameworks, a new space in which the East thinks itself using Western tools that have already been changed by the diasporic flows resulting from the histories of all the parties involved, i.e. humans and their many colonialisms; humans, and their many post-colonialisms; and always, the continued complexities purported in the field of what is at the core of their interests: culture and its manifold objects of knowledge.

Yes, Tanizaki’s Makioka sisters were as excited in the 1930s with the telephone as the Singaporean youth might be nowadays with our current hand-held computing devices; the social effects were historically different, but they shared a similar feeling of paradigmatic shift; and there’ve been many between these technological breakthroughs, Hiroshima and Nagasaki very importantly among them; but one must not forget that in the 1930s, Yukiko, one of the Osaka sisters, did not like to use the phone, as we shall not forget that the assumptions beamed down to us about our “interconnectedness” should not be received uncritically, as networks do not but connect specific, contingent nodes.

To such nodes, positions dedicates its pages; as perceived from a vertiginous array of nodal points, Eastern, Western, and the new complex beyond, all dispersed around our globe, resisting, and dispelling, Vajra-like, the non-innocent flattening out of our world’s complexities, its richness.

Or, a politics of knowing.

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[1] Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Death of a Discipline. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003: xii.