Published: April 18, 2021

Introducing Asian Studies Program Director, Dr. Lauren Yapp

Lauren Yapp

CAS is very pleased to welcome our new Asian Studies Program Director, Dr. Lauren Yapp. Lauren is an anthropologist and archaeologist fascinated by how present-day communities remember, preserve, and contest their pasts. Her research explores cultural heritage, memory politics, and postcolonial urbanism in Indonesia, where she has spent many years doing ethnographic fieldwork with local activists, architects, curators, artists, government officials, and city residents in Semarang and Jakarta. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on this research – “Colonial Pasts, Future Cities: Urban Heritage Advocacy in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia" – which reveals how a growing number of initiatives aimed at preserving the country’s colonial-era sites as “urban heritage” are not only shaping the material fabric of historic neighborhoods, but also producing new forms of citizenship and governance, renegotiating the relationship between civil society and state authority, and profoundly impacting the lives of marginalized city residents.

Given the difficulty of international travel for the time being, Lauren is also developing a new digital ethnography project that will explore how young heritage activists and history enthusiasts in Indonesia build their movements through creative engagement with both the virtual space of social media and the physical environment of their cities. Prior to joining CAS, Lauren was a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University, where she taught courses on urban history, museum studies, community-engaged scholarship, and the political (mis)uses of archaeology in colonial and postcolonial Southeast Asia. 

At CU, Lauren oversees the curricular aspects of the Asian Studies major and minor, teaching lecture courses that introduce students to this incredibly diverse region and in-depth seminars that explore topics such as urban life and memory politics in Asia. Since joining CAS in the fall, she has developed and taught two new courses for the Asian Studies program: ASIA 1000 Origins of Contemporary Southeast Asia and ASIA 4200 Politics of Memory and Heritage in Asia. Lauren also advises students interested in conducting their own Asia-related research and assists students in finding meaningful study abroad programs and internships. Having lived in the Bay Area, Rhode Island, and coastal Java before moving to Boulder, Lauren misses the ocean but is quickly falling in love with Colorado’s mountains.

Faculty Updates

Loriliai Biernacki, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, published a chapter, “The Body and Wonder in Tantra,” in Prayer, Worship, Ritual and Contemplation in Hindu Traditions. New York: Routledge, 2020, and was invited to join the steering committee for a new group on Hindu Philosophy as part of the American Academy of Religion.

Albert Chong, Professor of Art and Photography, participated in a recent exhibition that examined the Asian Diaspora through the lens of artists of Asian descent from those regions. This follows another exhibition along a similar thematic thread called "Circles & Circuits: Chinese Caribbean Art" at the Chinese American Museum and the California African American Museum in Los Angeles a couple years ago. 

Albert Chong artwork

Kudos on the inauguration of the International Journal for Bhutan & Himalayan Research to CU alumnus Sonam Nyenda (MA Religious Studies 2015), now serving on the faculty at the College for Language and Cultural Studies in Takse, Bhutan. Associate Professor of Religious Studies Holly Gayley served as the guest editor for the inaugural issue on “Contemporary Bhutanese Literature,” based on a 2019 panel at the Association for Asian Studies conference. 

Holly Gayley research

In Spring 2020, Professor Emeritus of Economics Frank Hsiao and Mei-Chu Wang Hsiao (Professor Emerita of Economics at CU-Denver) published their third coauthored bookDevelopment Strategies of Open Economies: Cases from Emerging East and Southeast Asia. Vol. 11 of Advanced Research on Asian Economy and Economies of Other Continents, Hian Teck Hoon, Series Editor. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co., 2020. 

Hsiao book cover

Carole McGranahan, Professor of Anthropology, published several articles about her ongoing ethnographic and historic research on Tibet: "Activism as Care: Kathmandu, Paris, Toronto, New York City" (in Kritisk Ethnografi), "Ethnographic Witnessing, or Hope is the First Anthropological Emotion" (in Journal of Legal Anthropology), and "The Intimacy of Details: A Tibetan Diary of Dissent" (in The Intimacy of Dissent). She also served as a judge for the 2020 Bayly Prize in Asian Studies, awarded annually by the Royal Asiatic Society.

Dr. Mutsumi Moteki, Pianist and Professor of Vocal Coaching and Berton Coffin Faculty Fellow at the College of Music, gave a performance presentation titled “Songs of East Asia” at the College Music Society National Conference in October 2020, with Dr. JungWoo Kim, baritone and CU alumnus (DMA, 2014).  This program consisted of Western-style art songs from Japan, China, and Korea with brief historical backgrounds.  

The Kimono in Print is the first art exhibition and publication devoted to examining the kimono as a major source of inspiration and experimentation in Japanese print culture from the Edo period (1603-1868) to the Meiji period (1868-1912). Assistant Professor of Asian Art Stephanie Su’s article, “Weaving Art, Science and Modern Design,” investigates the mechanisms which led to new trends in Japanese prints through the 1890s, including the new model of collaboration between nihonga artists and textile companies, the new curriculum at art schools, the translation of color theories from France, and the invention of new chemical dyes and printing technology. 

Su book cover

Assistant Professor and Curator of Archeology William Taylor's research explores the early history of domestic horses in East and Central Asia through the study of animal skeletal remains. In 2020, a publication in PNAS with partners from Northwest University, Xi'An, revealed clues to some of the region's earliest direct evidence of mounted horseback riding, while another manuscript in the journal Scientific Reports explored changes in the distribution and management of domestic horses across Mongolia and Central Asia during the earliest centuries of horse domestication.

Professor of Geography Emily T. Yeh coauthored the article “Pests, keystone species, and hungry ghosts: The Gesar Epic and Human-pika relations on the Tibetan Plateau” with CU alumnus Gaerrang in cultural geographies. doi: 10.1177/1474474020963144. The article investigates Tibetan analytics of pikas, in relation to worlding practices of pikas as pests and pikas as keystone species, based on interviews, observations, and readings of the Epic of King Gesar.

Yeh research

 Photo credit: Gaerrang [CU Boulder alumnus]

CAS Visiting Scholars in 2020

Mason Brown joined CU as a Visiting Scholar in January.  Mason is the Reviews & Reports Editor for Himalaya: Journal of Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies and a remote instructor at the Kathmandu University Department of Music.  Mason hopes to move to Nepal and become a full-time teacher at KU in the future.  He is currently working on a book manuscript to be finished by year end 2021.

Alton Byers began his journey as a Visiting Scholar in January 2019.  Alton shared his work in a 2019 talk for CAS and continues to research climate change in high mountain environments.  His most recent book is Khumbu Since 1950, a unique collection of historic photographs of the Mount Everest region that he has replicated over the years.

Reed Chervin joined CAS in September 2019.  Reed presented his research at CAS’ first virtual event in April while working on his book manuscript exploring the history of Sino-Indian border conflict from 1950-1970. 

Munsuk Lee joined CAS in September 2020.  Munsuk worked with Sangbok Kim, Senior Instructor of Korean Language, to study the accents of Korean learners and research teaching methods to improve pronunciation.

Angus Lockyear started as a CU Visiting Scholar in January 2020. Angus is a historian working to complete a manuscript that examines Japan's abiding enthusiasm for expos from the late 19th to early 20th Centuries.

Dian Sawitri joined CAS remotely in Fall 2020, teaching Beginning and Intermediate Indonesian as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant.  She was able to get to Boulder in January 2021 to continue teaching Indonesian and taking courses. Dian has also conducted regular Indonesian Nongkrong, a series of Indonesian conversation table talks in partnership with ALTEC.