This issue sees off three years of my serving, from 2016 to 2018, as editor-in-chief of EASTS. As I did when I started, I would like to thank all our authors, reviewers, and editorial team—in the past three years, together we have proudly presented cutting-edge scholarship in individual papers and thematic issues from issue 10.3 to 12.4. My particular thanks go to associate editors Hee-Je Bak, Francesca Bray, Michael Fischer, Sean Hsiang-lin Lei, and Togo Tsukahara, for their generous support. Without them, this journal would not have developed into what it now is.
Special thanks also go to Professor Honghong Tinn, convener of the book review editorial board from 2012 to 2018. In her long and excellent service, Professor Tinn successfully secured high-quality reviews, making East Asian books more accessible to English readers. In some reviews she invited alternative perspectives, not always Asian but definitely stimulating, to mainstream scholarship. We are grateful indeed for her efforts and are delighted that she will be staying with us on the editorial team. It is also a pleasure to have Professor Jia-shin Chen, who joined the team as a book review editor in 2016, to take on this challenging job. Both will be writing in this issue: Professor Tinn summarizes her achievement, and Professor Chen envisions the future of book reviews at EASTS.
This issue also opens another term of my editorship. While writing this note, I could not help remembering the 1990s landmark television series Orchestra!,1 which very much suited its title. Just as if EASTS were an orchestra, my wish is that every season subscribers are able to enjoy a refreshing opening concert with great music and a program of what the orchestra will be doing in the year to come. But Orchestra! has additional layers of meaning. The series was produced when classical music had already become rather obsolete for a new generation of music lovers. The orchestra in question both represented this artistic form while inspiring new works created for it. It was thus a means of bringing a musical tradition to existing concertgoers while also expanding its ability to communicate to an emerging audience. In the title Orchestra!, the exclamation mark is all-important. The maestro Sir George Solti was joined by actor and comedian Dudley Moore, who was also an accomplished pianist, to host the show. Proudly entertaining, they not only introduced the instrumental sections of a symphony orchestra but also highlighted varieties of classical music via these, from classics like Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos to contemporary jewels such as Witold Lutosławski’s Third Symphony.
Just like the Orchestra! series, the thrilling reading experience and the sense of intellectual togetherness in STS are what EASTS hopes to bring to its readers. As discussed in the “EASTS in Conversation” forum at the 2018 Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) meeting, the academic journal is an age-old business facing the challenge of survival in the information world. While managing content and format to reach a sizable audience, editors have to pay equal attention to the sustainability, both financially and scholarly, of the journals they are running. Fortunately, the unconditional support of Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology and our longstanding partnership with Duke University Press allow EASTS to focus more on the networking of meaningful STS in and for East Asia, the task we have been undertaking since our inception.
As I wrote in the editor’s note for issue 11.3, in our first decade EASTS gradually broadened out to new disciplines and territories via networks of scholars and societies, something which we appreciate deeply. We believe that this organic, growing network is the main reason for readers to enjoy this young journal, and we are glad that the 4S recognized these efforts when EASTS was awarded the 2018 Infrastructure Award. Meanwhile, we have also been informed that, starting from our 2016 issues, our content is to be indexed and abstracted in the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI) and the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). We anticipate that a growing number of authors, especially those based in areas where these privileged indexes count, will consider EASTS for their work, and we welcome the chance to meet and work with them. (For more on both 4S Infrastructure and our inclusion in the Web of Science indices, see the News and Events sections in 12.3 and 12.4.)
The dynamic between author and readership, as presented in EASTS, then, will be a central issue worthy of notice. Without tracing matters back to some ground-breaking literature like Foucault’s on the meaning of the author and the network of texts (Foucault 1979), in our last (beautifully titled) issue “Networked Human, Network’s Human: Humans in Networks Inter-Asia” (12.4) we were able to achieve a strong collection of articles and essays that tackle theoretical frames as well as emerging situations in Asia. No less important is the present issue on the history and philosophy of medicine, guest edited by Professor Akinobu Takabayashi with the collaboration of our senior editor Akihito Suzuki. The origin of this issue, as set out in its introduction, was the untimely death of our senior editor Osamu Kanamori and his idiosyncratic approach to STS via European philosophy and reflections on biopolitics. Even so, with the wonderful editorship of Professors Suzuki and Takabayashi, this issue has grown beyond just a memorial to Professor Kanamori. Led by Suzuki’s analysis of twentieth-century public health in Japan, the four articles nicely present some lively scholarship from Professor Kanamori’s colleagues revolving around the themes he was thinking of throughout his career. They also present new ways of doing the history of medicine and public health, via solid cases, to their East Asian colleagues.
It should be clear that EASTS does not seek only harmony in Asian values; instead, as an academic journal committed to nothing other than high-quality scholarship, EASTS encourages debates and conversations. The reflective essay by Togo Tsukahara, John Law and Wen-yuan Lin’s research note, and Casper Bruun Jensen’s response to that note, all in this issue, state this standpoint most clearly. The real skill of EASTS lies in producing scholarly networks and readerships and passing them on to coming generations of scholars. We are sure that in the coming years EASTS will be able to maintain and hone this skill with its new editorial team.
But in addition to attracting more of an audience with creative pieces both solicited and submitted, as an intellectual “orchestra” EASTS is undergoing painstaking organizational transitions. As stated in the acceptance speech for the 4S Infrastructure Award, our core started out as a group of scholars in the history and philosophy of science, mainly from Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and what we used to call “outside of East Asia.” Twelve years have passed, and this journal has made itself both a transitional space for a growing network of scholars across Asia and a space for global scholars to work within. To borrow our musical metaphor once more, it has developed from an ensemble to a chamber orchestra and now to a symphony orchestra. We would like to invite more scholars on board to strengthen our ability to better handle manuscripts and curate our more exciting thematic issues. Yet we certainly do not want to lose the sensitivity and subtlety we had when we were a smaller and more intimate team. Reorganization will include an expanded panel of associate editors, function-oriented boards for papers and book reviews, and a more responsive advisory board, not unlike an orchestra’s board of patrons. It will not be an easy task, but I hope to have more to report in the next issue.
Yet one thing is certain: for the next three years I’ll be serving as “musical director,” so to speak, of EASTS. I would like humbly to follow in the editorial tradition EASTS has established with its previous editors-in-chief, and with the help of our advisers and editorial team I promise to bring you enjoyable and unforgettable issues every three months. Journals, and the peer-reviewed papers they publish, used to be something foreign to East Asian scholars. Even so, just like the spread to Asia of an educational series like Orchestra! and those dramas and films that started featuring orchestras as their theme in the early 2000s,2EASTS is gradually learning and appreciating how to make and circulate scholarship on our own. Our editorship is no exception.
The metaphor of the conductor is nothing alien to STS scholars. In her widely cited chapter “The Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies: Constitutions of Self in Immune System Discourse,” Donna Haraway pointed out the role of the conductor in early understandings of the immune system, in which cellular interactions were well orchestrated (Harraway 1991). But East Asian STS scholarship has become way too complicated, as I wrote at the beginning of my last term (Kuo 2016), and I have no intention of playing a godlike conductor who possesses absolute authority. There have indeed existed charismatic conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein, but, echoing the spirit of transnationality, I might wish to be like Seiji Ozawa, the Chinese-born, Japanese-trained conductor who has been so successful in major American and European orchestras but who has chosen to establish one in Japan that is both international and Asian. Maestro Ozawa seldom sets out grand arguments about music, but in delightful conversations with the novelist Haruki Murakami we can see how it’s possible to make music that is both transnational and transcendent with his Saito Kinen orchestra (Murakami and Ozawa 2016).
STS, just like music, is boundary free, but it is also culturally distinct. Let EASTS be your orchestra, and enjoy every concert it brings to you!
Directed by Declan Lowney, this 1991 BBC series was originally broadcast on public television, with a DVD version made available in 2007 by Decca.
Notable examples include the television dramas and films based on the Japanese manga series “Nodame Cantabile” (のだめカンタービレ, by Tomoko Ninomiya, 2001–2009).