Warp, Weft, and Way

Chinese and Comparative Philosophy 中國哲學與比較哲學

Statistics on Asian Philosophy Panels at the 2015 Pacific APA

This last Saturday evening, I was carping to a colleague about the fact that three panels on Chinese philosophy were scheduled simultaneously during the very last time slot of the Group Program of the Pacific APA. Now that the APA has distributed a link to the evaluation survey, I decided to take a look at the actual numbers to see if there is a genuine issue of equity at the conference.

Below are the stats that I got from a first-time run-through of the main and group programs (I’m concerned with Asian philosophy broadly, which I categorized, following the panel titles or society names, as Chinese, Buddhist, Japanese, Comparative, and Martial Arts (didn’t see Indian, alas!)).

 

# of Panels in Main Program

# of Panels on Asian Philosophy in Main Program # of Panels in Group Program # of Panels on Asian philosophy in Group Program

Wed.

42

1 22

3

Thurs.

42

4 20 3
Fri.

40

2 16

3

Sat.

40 0 22

3

Total 164 7 80

12

 

Asian Field

# of Panels in Main Program

# of Panels in Group Program

Chinese

3

6

Buddhist

1

2

Japanese

1

0

Comparative

1

2

Martial Arts

1

2

Total

7

12

 

Time Slot

Asian Panels in Main Program

Asian Panels in Group Program

Wed.9-12

X

NA

1-4

Buddhist

NA

4-6

X

NA

6-9

NA

Buddhist

Chinese

Martial Arts

8-10

NA

X
Thurs.

9-12

Comparative (“cross-cultural”)

Martial Arts

Japanese

NA

1-4

Chinese

NA

4-6

X

NA

6-8/9

NA

Buddhist

Chinese

Comparative

8-10

NA

X

Fri.

9-12

Chinese

NA

1-4

Chinese

NA

4-6

X

NA

7-10

NA

Chinese

Chinese

Martial Arts

Sat.9-12

X

NA

1-4

X

NA

4-6

X

NA

6-8/9

NA

Chinese

Chinese

Comparative

Key: X = none; NA = Not applicable

First-look conclusions:

  1. Compared to other evenings, the scheduling of three simultaneous Chinese panels (one of which was comparative) on Saturday night turns out to actually not be a serious oversight.
  2. Asian philosophy is making significant inroads in the Group Program at the Pacific APA, comprising 15% of all panels, and Chinese philosophy dominates.  This seems to show that the number of people who do Asian philosophy is significant.
  3. The number of Asian philosophy panels on the Main Program is comparatively paltry.  Not sure if I should be happy that they are there at all or frustrated that the appearance in the overall program is that Asian philosophy is ghettoized–we do real philosophy during the day, then at night we are free to dabble in esoteric disciplines.

April 6th, 2015 Posted by | Chinese philosophy - 中國哲學 - 中国哲学, Comparative philosophy, Indian Philosophy, Japanese philosophy | 2 comments

2 Responses to Statistics on Asian Philosophy Panels at the 2015 Pacific APA

  1. Eric Hutton says:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this analysis. I’d like to comment briefly on your provisional conclusion #3, since I have served on the program committee for the Pacific division. In my experience, panels usually get on the main program in one of two ways: 1) they are assembled from paper submissions that were blind refereed and accepted, and 2) the program committee has some discretion to assemble panels by invitation. One thing I was surprised by when I served on the committee was the paucity of submissions that related to Chinese philosophy. I think the program chair generally tries to distribute papers according to the reviewer’s expertise, and given the makeup of the rest of the program committee, it is likely that I would have been asked to review all of the ones on Chinese philosophy. In my recollection, I reviewed merely 2-3 papers on Chinese philosophy each year during the three years I served on the committee, and not all of those were good, so I could not do much to help put Chinese philosophy on the main program in that regard. I do not know why there were so few submissions, but if I had to guess a reason, I think it may be that people felt their chances of having a paper accepted on the main program were low and so decided to submit for the group programs instead. (At least, I had felt that way when I was fresh out of grad school, based on the experience of having a submission of mine get rejected.) If the situation is still the same as it was when I served on the committee, then that would partly explain why the number of panels on Chinese philosophy on the main program is low. The location of the meeting can also play a role: when it is held in popular venues like San Francisco, the volume of submissions tends to jump, and then there is some pressure on reviewers to be more selective in what they endorse for inclusion on the main program. That probably factored into the Vancouver case as well.
    Another part of the explanation for the scarcity of panels on Asian philosophy on the main program would likely be that in the first place there are not so many program committee members with interests in Asian philosophy who can use their limited discretion to assemble invited panels in that area. I should add that, to my knowledge, and to the credit of the Pacific division, I think there has been a deliberate effort for the past several years to have at least one person who specializes in Asian philosophy on the program committee each year. I do not have hard figures, but my offhand impression from the lists of names I have seen is that the number of people on the program committee who specialize in Asian philosophy is perhaps within the range of what one might reasonably consider proportionate, when compared with the number of North American philosophers who specialize in other areas. (In the past, the Pacific division has had a policy of not publicizing the names of program committee members in order to prevent lobbying by those outside the committee and in order to protect the junior faculty who serve on the committee, which seems a wise policy to me. So, exact numbers may be difficult to come by.)
    I do not know whether the other divisions of the APA operate the same way as the Pacific does, and whether the same factors I noted also lead to Asian philosophy being less prominent on the main program for the other meetings. Is there anybody here who has served on the program committee for the Central or Eastern division meetings and would be willing to share their experiences?

  2. Brian Bruya says:

    Thanks, Eric. This information is very good to know.

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