Letter From the Editors, Spring 2020

Dear Culture Section, 

Hello from your new newsletter editors, Yu Ching Cheng (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science), Johnnie Lotesta (Harvard Kennedy School), and A.J. Young (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis). With this being our first issue, we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves, explain what you can expect in the issues ahead, and solicit your input and contributions. 

We are honored to continue the vibrant tradition that is our section newsletter. Building on the knowledge and work of previous editors Hillary Angelo (UC Santa Cruz), Diana Graizbord (Univ. of Georgia), Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz (Northwestern University), and section webmaster Dustin Stoltz (Univ. of Notre Dame), we will continue much of the content with which you are familiar. This includes conference reports, book symposiums and reviews, virtual roundtables, interviews with scholars of culture, and the “From the Archives” section introduced by the previous editorial team in 2017. We will also continue the newsletter’s current publication schedule, releasing new issues three times per year: once in late winter/spring, once in the summer, and once in late fall. 

Looking forward, we aim to regularly feature member-authored essays that place current world affairs in conversation with cultural theory and sociological debates. We are also excited to broaden the newsletter’s scope by highlighting culture-related research from non-sociologists. Our hope is that members will find these initiatives helpful in thinking critically about current events and in identifying relevant research from other fields. 

In the present issue, we are pleased to publish an essay by Alexandre White, which places the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in comparative and historical perspective to consider possible trajectories for sociology produced in and about pandemics. We also include two book symposiums, one on The Civil Sphere in East Asia edited by Jeffrey C. Alexander, David A. Palmer, Sunwoong Park, and Agnes Shuk-mei Ku, and one on A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr. We round out this issue’s content with “Four Questions for Steven Lukes,” teaching abstracts of courses designed by section members, and a number of exciting book and article announcements. 

We invite you to share your ideas and contributions for future issues. Please contact us with suggestions for essays, book reviews, symposia, and conference reports. We also welcome your input on topics or debates you’d like to see covered in the section newsletter. Lastly, we invite you to consider volunteering as our section webmaster and social media manager, as Dustin Stoltz will be vacating his seat after three years of excellent service. All contributions and queries can be sent to the editorial team at asaculturenews [at] gmail [dot] com

With warmest regards, 

Yu Ching, Johnnie, and A.J