Asian American Literature Festival revived after Smithsonian cancellation

Asian American Literature Festival revived after Smithsonian cancellationAsian American Literature Festival revived after Smithsonian cancellation
via slowking4 (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Bryan Ke
24 days ago
The Asian American Literature Festival (AALF) is set to make its return in September 2024 after its abrupt cancellation by the
last year.
Key points:
  • The Asian American Literature Festival Collective (AALFC), a group of writers, journals and organizations, announced the event revival in a press release on Thursday. The AALF 2024 will be held both in-person and virtually from Sept. 14 to 22.
  • The event will take place across multiple cities, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Seattle, Atlanta, Athens, Georgia and Champaign, Illinois. Those in New Zealand and Australia will also be able to watch the event online.
  • The announcement came as the United States celebrates the month-long Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month this May.
The details:
  • In the press release, the AALFC noted that they are organizing the event independently using the funds they collected.
  • The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center had traditionally served as a collaborator in the biannual event since 2017. Previous events were held at several sites in Washington, such as at the National Portrait Gallery and the Library of Congress.
  • The festival is curated and produced by a collective of artists, librarians, educators, scholars and publishers, aiming to celebrate the diversity of voices within the Asian diaspora, especially Palestinian, transgender and queer voices “at a time when this space is needed most,” the press release noted.
  • Outrage ensued after the Smithsonian Institution abruptly canceled last year’s celebration in July, just a month before the festival was set to be held. In a statement to reporters, Smithsonian Institution officials noted that the decision was due to “administrative/logistical reasons” and had nothing to do with the festival’s content, which features books by transgender and nonbinary writers.
What they’re saying:
  • While the Smithsonian Institution will not be returning as a collaborator this year, the institution said that it had not ruled the possibility of future collaboration. It said, “We’re delighted to learn that an Asian American literary festival will take place later this year.”
  • Cathy Linh Che, executive director of Kundiman, a nonprofit dedicated to uplifting Asian American writers and readers, alleged that the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center still owes organizers money. Che emphasized the importance of accountability and repair to rebuild trust.
  • In response, Smithsonian Institution officials stated that 48 people and three organizations were paid honoraria for completed work, while two others waived payment. They clarified that anyone who submitted the necessary paperwork received payment.
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