Asia Center announces incoming director

June 9, 2016

The Harvard University Asia Center is pleased to announce the appointment of Karen Thornber, Professor of Comparative Literature and of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, as Victor and William Fung Director of the Center, as well as Chair of the Council on Asian Studies, for three years beginning July 1, 2016.

Professor Thornber’s directorship follows the eight-year tenure of Professor Arthur Kleinman as the Victor and William Fung Director of the Asia Center from July 1, 2008, through June 30 of this year. Professor Kleinman also served as Chair of the Council on Asian Studies, and he has been the longest-running director of the Asia Center since its founding in 1997. He will continue to serve as Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology; Professor of Medical Anthropology, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine; and Professor of Psychiatry (HMS).

Professor Thornber will be on sabbatical leave during the 2016-2017 academic year. During that time, from July 1 through June 30, 2017, Professor Andrew Gordon, the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History, will serve as Victor and William Fung Acting Director of the Asia Center.

“In the two decades since its founding, and most recently under the expert leadership of Arthur Kleinman, the Asia Center has distinguished itself as a preeminent site for the study of economic, political, and social issues related at once to individual Asian communities, to Asia more generally, and to societies outside Asia,” Professor Thornber said. “As the new Victor and William Fung Director, I look forward to working with colleagues across the university, Asia, and the world to strengthen even further transnational and transdisciplinary research on the world’s largest, most populous continent.  Directing the Asia Center is an irresistible opportunity to advance intra-Asian and trans-Asian as well as transregional scholarship at the university and global level.”

Incoming Acting Director, Professor Gordon, added, “I look forward to working with Karen Thornber and many faculty colleagues in the coming year to build on Arthur Kleinman’s legacy of bringing to the Asia Center a deeper and wider focus across Asia.”

Please stay tuned for departing words from Professor Kleinman, as well as an in-depth introduction to and words of welcome from Professors Thornber and Gordon.