Artwork by Viet-My Bui | | Commissioned by Liminal Magazine, April 2022
Artwork by Viet-My Bui | | Commissioned by Liminal Magazine, April 2022

I chatted to Liminal Magazine recently and appeared as their 200th interview.

It’s hard to describe how it felt to do so because I hold Liminal and its founding editor Leah Jing McIntosh in such high esteem. I remember when Liminal first appeared and started publishing beautiful, insightful, savvy interviews with a broad range of Asian Australians. In writing this post, I had the chance to browse over the whole collection and it is DAZZLING, representing a thoughtfully diverse range of creative areas and backgrounds, identities, activist philosophies, and career tracks. The conversations are compelling and a welcome contrast to the often irritatingly predictable things that racial minorities get asked in other media outlets. The Liminal interviews are sometimes relatable and rife with the in-jokes of shared experience; other times fascinating because they offer views and contexts that were very different from my own. The whole team that’s brought the publication and its associated projects into being is damn fine.

The accompanying photos, often taken by Leah, are gorgeous. Here’s a screenshot of just a selection from the earliest interviews from 2017:

early liminal

In time, fabulous illustrators came on board and lent interview subjects additional visual personality through their artistic styles. My interview was illustrated by Viet-My Bui and it was a real privilege to ‘meet’ (via email!) and work with her. I loved the illustrations, a couple of which I’ve included in this post. I was especially thrilled to have my book, Banana Bending, included in the drawings – how cool is it to have an academic book rendered in this way? So. Cool.

Artwork by Viet-My Bui | | Commissioned by Liminal Magazine, April 2022
Artwork by Viet-My Bui | | Commissioned by Liminal Magazine, April 2022

Immediately after I finalised the interview with Leah, I thought of all the colleagues and projects I didn’t get a chance to mention that were significant to the AASRN and Asian Australian Studies more generally. So, here’s an additional list of them below:

Olivia Khoo and Dean Chan:

Olivia and Dean were Jacquie Lo’s and my core crew from AASRN’s earliest days. Good friends, great colleagues, fun times – these are the kinds of connections that make academia worthwhile. They were integral to the foundational events and publications from the network. Dean has run away gleefully to the world of research development consultancy (he wrote about making this kind of move for Research Whisperer) and Olivia’s now an Associate Professor at Monash Uni.

Peril Magazine:

I was part of the founding team for this pioneering online publication, which was started in 2006 and is still going! It features an incredible archive and current crop of creative work  across different types of media and genres. There’s always been an inclusive, innovative edge to what Peril does, and it has established a strong network of creative folks who are cultural activists and community connectors. You should read this 2020 piece about Peril’s history by founding editor Hoa Pham. Here’s an exerpt that includes the founding moment:

Peril was founded over a meal of dumplings, in a meeting with Tseen Khoo, the founder of Asian Australian Studies Research Network (AASRN), the author Tom Cho, and Alister Air, the initial IT designer for Peril. I modelled Peril after Rice Paper, an Asian Canadian online publication. At this time, there were no high profile Asian Australian authors in mainstream culture. There was no Nam Le, no Alice Pung. Brian Castro and Michelle de Kretser were arguably the highest profile Asian Australian names in the Australian literary landscape – writers who a now a part of a rich and growing clutch of incredible Asian Australian authors.

Screenshot of Peril homepage | 14 May 2022
Screenshot of Peril homepage | 14 May 2022

Organisations focused on research about Chinese Australian history and heritage: 

There’s a stack of amazing work done in this area by a range of groups and I just wanted to give a shout-out to a few I’ve worked with when I was AASRN convenor and have always had on my radar. Many of the people involved are  professional historians and heritage folks so their websites are wonderfully neat repositories of previous event and project information. Kudos, colleagues, and I wish I had been as diligent about mapping AASRN history and materials!

Ruth De Souza:

I’ve known Ruth for a long time, including about the entire time that AASRN has been around. Ruth’s work covers the broad intersections of race / nursing / cultural safety. Ruth is an absolute powerhouse and a social media ninja to boot (follow her on Twitter @DeSouzaRN). She’s currently an RMIT research fellow and part of her fellowship work is the podcasting project, Birthing and Justice. The  show is rich with savvy angles on the politics of race and reflective experiences around birth and parenthood. Cannot recommend it enough.

On finalising this blogpost, I’m sure I’ll remember another swag of fabulous people and events that had AASRN intersections that I want to mention, and so the cycle will go on.

Last thing: I wrote a post back in the day about stepping down as convenor after many years. You might find it interesting to read alongside the Liminal interview.