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The 2023 ASCA Award Committee--Daniel Loick, Emelia Quinn, and Yvette Wong--nominated the following ASCA members for the best ASCA publications in 2022:
Janna Cattien

Jana Cattien, ASCA Article Award 2023

The award for the best article by an ASCA member goes to Jana Cattien, 'On not becoming Chinese: The racialisation of compliance' published on Radical Philosophy.

Since the fall of 2019, the outbreak of covid-19 pandemic was not merely causing sickness and death, but the renewal of forms and ideologies of lives. The social order and our sense of self were changing. During that period of global crisis, there were a group of scholarships putting focuses on thinking about how to overcome or reconfigure distancing and isolation from the perspective of embodied connectivity and the embodiment of connectivity. Alongside this mentioned line of scholarships, Jana Cattien’s philosophical article delineates one of the challenging dilemmas that appeared during the pandemic——the racialized relations between China and the West.

Whilst COVID-19 scripts a unique episode in human history, Jana Cattien hereby unpacks the longstanding racialization between Europe and the East. As she addressed, the fact that East Asian people have been seen as carriers of Covid-19, being obedient to the public health measures rather than preventing its spread, “reflects the persistence of Orientalist associations of Chineseness with compliance and conformity, on the one hand, and disease and bodily weakness, on the other”.

Furthermore, by having a dialogue with John Stuart Mill’s classic liberal text On Liberty, Jana Cattien acutely explicates the nostalgia of pandemic Europe “for an idealised past in which ‘our’ horror at the ‘alienness’ of compliance was still untroubled by the uncomfortable fact of ‘our’ waning superiority”. Her article speaks along with both political and philosophical concepts, crucially underling the racialization of different embodiments of health measures. The committee sees this article as an outstandingly timely and influential response to the continuing racist idea of Chineseness.

 

Divya Nadkarni

Divya Nadkarni, ASCA Dissertation Award 2023

Divya Nadkarni’s thesis, “Poetic Understanding and Political Community: Actualizing Plurality through Poetry,” speaks to a question that has long plagued those who seek to justify the devotion of their careers to the reading and analysis of poetry: what is the point of poetry? This question is increasingly pertinent in the face of the neoliberalisation of the modern university and concomitant devaluation of the humanities, forcing a continual justification of what poetry can do or make happen.

If the perceived difficulty and inaccessibility of poetry is one of the principal drivers of critique as to its ineffectiveness for political influence, Nadkarni offers a corrective: that poetry’s difficulty is essential to its political power, where poetry is difficult in the same way that other people are difficult to understand. In this framing, poetry offers us a way of attending to and appreciating the opacity of others; of forging solidarity across lines of race, caste, and class without seeking to erase difference.

Nadkarni posits the politicality of poetry not as something to be found in the content of the poem, nor in the ambitions of the poet, but as belonging to the act of reading itself and the interaction between reader and poem. The thesis is not therefore about poetry that is explicitly political in thematic content, but views poetry as political through the ways in which it demonstrates “how to facilitate political community through transformative processes of understanding” (9). She advances the concept of “poetic understanding” to consider poetry’s contribution to contemporary politics in its offer of a way of radically transforming and reshaping our ways of relating to each other. This involves seeing ourselves as a ‘we’, a ‘we’ that does not homogenise but that is constituted by difference in relation.

This thesis is of timely relevance, in an age of increasing political polarization and shocking indifference, particularly in the Global North, to the plight of refugees. Nadkarni’s decolonial, anti-racist, and anti-identitarian analysis offers up poetry as a way of grappling with our differences in order to construct new communities in the context of racial othering and the legacies of coloniality. The thesis also contributions to wider conversations about the role and value of literary study, offering a passionate reinvestment in the political importance of the humanities.

The committee particularly noted the sophistication and poeticism of the prose as well as the impeccable presentation of the thesis. Nadkarni demonstrates a deft handling of theoretical material to advance a thoughtful, nuanced, and complex reflection on poetic value and modes of reading.

Asli Özgen-Havekotte

Asli Özgen-Havekotte, ASCA Book Award 2023

The award for the best book by an ASCA member goes to Asli Özgen’s brilliant study The Aesthetics and Politics of Cinematic Pedestrianism: Walking in Films, which came out in 2022 with Amsterdam University Press. In this book, Asli investigates a seemingly trivial everyday act – walking – to reveal its uncanny, courageous, insurgent, and willful facets. Utilizing the theoretical tools provided by the interdisciplinary toolbox of urban studies, film theory, philosophy and feminist theories, Asli explores the cinematic aesthetics of walking to shed light on the affective and corporeal experience of the modern pedestrian. Through a captivating array of case studies, the book meticulously dissects iconic archetypes like the flâneur/flâneuse, the vagabond, and the nomad, unveiling how filmmakers have rebelled against oppressive structures through showing the simple yet subversive act of walking. In her book, Asli skillfully employs the theoretical frameworks of a number of heretogeneous  thinkers, from Lefebvre via Rancière to Braidottii, to illuminate the hidden narratives surrounding feet, shoes, and audacious wanderers.

The committee found that this book was serious and light at the same time – it has the two seemingly paradox characteristics of a good walk.