Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars

The Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars (CCAS) was founded in 1968 by a group of graduate students and younger faculty as part of the . They proposed a "radical critique of the assumptions which got us [The United States] into Indo-China and were keeping us from getting out".[1] The caucus was held at the Association for Asian Studies convention in Philadelphia, but was a radical critique of that professional association's values, organization, and leadership. The group was largely formed due to the Association for Asian Studies lack of public stance on the Vietnam War.[2] Most of the original members were graduate students or junior faculty in Area Studies programs at Harvard, Stanford, University of Michigan, University of California at Berkeley, and Columbia University, although there were also independent scholars and those with no affiliation in the field.[3]

On 30 March 1969, the group passed the following Statement of Purpose:

We first came together in opposition to the brutal aggression of the United States in Vietnam and to the complicity or silence of our profession with regard to that policy. Those in the field of Asian studies bear responsibility for the consequences of their research and the political posture of their profession. We are concerned about the present unwillingness of specialists to speak out against the implications of an Asian policy committed to ensuring American domination of much of Asia. We reject the legitimacy of this aim, and attempt to change this policy. We recognize that the present structure of the profession has often perverted scholarship and alienated many people in the field.

Richard Madsen of the University of California at San Diego sees the CCAS as part of a long line of populist criticism of academia, in this case projecting their values onto Mao's China. As graduate students, some of whom were in danger of being shipped off to Vietnam, "they identified themselves with the oppressed and saw the Cultural Revolution as a populist revolution expressing the aspirations of people like themselves." Their understandings of China, Madsen concludes, did not explain that cataclysmic event any more adequately than the social science theories they rejected.[5]

Richard Baum of University of California at Los Angeles claimed that the CCAS anti-establishment stance had a polarizing effect on the field, that its early members promoted Maoist doctrine uncritically. He continued that CCAS made ludicrous claims such as all U.S.-government funded academic pursuits were being manipulated by the U.S. government if they were not outright forms of espionage, a stance quickly espoused by the P.R.C. which led to distrust and suspicion between P.R.C. representatives and academics.[2]