UI CLAS professor is elected to become the new vice president for the Association of Asian Studies

CLAS professor Hyaeweol Choi elected to serve as vice president for the international non-profit Association of Asian Studies. Choi will officially be seated following the organization’s annual conference in March of 2023.


Shuntaro Kawasaki

Newly elected vice president of the Association for Asian Studies Dr. Hyaeweol Choi poses for a portrait at Gilmore Hall on Feb. 15, 2023.

Jack Moore , News Reporter

A University of Iowa department chair will serve as vice president of the international nonprofit the Association of Asian Studies.

Hyaeweol Choi, UI department chair of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and director of the Korean Studies Research Network, will start her position in March. Choi will be the first Korean-born vice president for the organization since its founding in 1941.

The association is a global non-profit organization with over 6,500 members where scholars and students share research and establish networking opportunities. The organization also offers grants and awards geared toward Asian studies.

The role is a four-year commitment, and she will automatically become president of the organization in 2024.

RELATED: First new hire of UI Transformational Faculty Hiring Program to start August 2023 

Choi said she is looking forward to the potential connection her new position can make for students visibility Asian studies program.

“This younger generation is just amazingly talented and has amazing possibilities,” she said. “I’m trying to, as a senior academic, [figure out] how to foster this opportunity for the younger generation, and I think that is, in some sense, the most exciting part of the job.”

Regarding the goals of her new position, Choi says she has four areas of focus.

First, she would like to develop inter-area, transnational, and diasporic studies. She plans to do this by cultivating active collaboration in traditional areas of humanities and social sciences as well as natural, medical, and environmental sciences.

Second, Choi wants to link the academic communities in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, Oceania, and Europe to AAS.

Third, she wants to strengthen the variety of programs to support a younger generation of scholars.

Lastly, Choi wants to use diversity to reveal structural inequalities in gender, race, class, and other areas to allow for new perspectives and practices.

Jean Chun Oi is the current vice president of AAS and will take over as president when Choi is officially seated. She says she is excited to begin working with the new vice president-elect.

“I am delighted that Hyaeweol Choi is the vice president-elect of AAS,” Oi said. “Dr. Choi has distinguished herself as a leading scholar and institution builder in Korean studies. She sheds new and human light [on] our understanding of transnational issues. I look forward to working with her on the AAS leadership team.”

UI associate professor of communication and Korean studies and fellow AAS member Jiyeon Kang says Choi is a perfect fit to shape the future of Asian studies.

“She’s a great orchestrator, but also she has a clear vision as a scholar and is pursuing and encouraging inter-area transnational, interdisciplinary, and diasporic scholarship.” Kang said.