Alexa Alice Joubin Interviewed in the American Journal of Chinese Studies

February 22, 2024

Cover Image for a the American Journal of Chinese Studies. A Multidisciplinary Journal Published by the American Association for Chinese Studies.

How might we de-colonize hegemonic knowledge about East Asia and its relationship with the West? Elliott School professor emeritus Ed McCord (former director of the Sigur Center) commissioned this interview with Alexa Alice Joubin on her interdisciplinary work. It was published in The American Journal of Chinese Studies (JSTOR link). In Joubin’s book, Race, she sought to deconstruct what she calls “compulsory realpolitik”—the conviction that the best way to understand non-Western cultures is by interpreting their engagement with pragmatic politics. In tandem with Anglo-Eurocentrism, she argues, compulsory realpolitik leads to the habitual privileging of the nation-state as a unit to organize knowledge. 

At the time of the interview, Americans were experiencing the fourth surge in COVID-19 cases, Taiwan had started administering its own homegrown vaccine, and Japan was recovering from its just-completed “pandemic Olympics.” Anti-Asian racism was frighteningly prevalent in the United States and Sinophobic attitudes were on the rise throughout much of East Asia. Joubin’s work on race and gender is all the more relevant in the current political climate, and the interview touched on how promoting understanding Asian cultures can help fight anti-Asian racism.