Interview with Columbia Journal of Asia

Laidlaw Scholars Mrinalini Wadhwa & Suan Lee share their experience launching a new publication featuring Asian narratives in the context of transnational and global shifts.


Mrinalini Wadhwa and Suan Lee are Laidlaw Scholars at Columbia University. Together they launched the Columbia Journal of Asia (CJA), an open-access, peer-reviewed platform for creative and academic pieces on Asia, the Asian diaspora, and comparative studies broadly related to Asia, written by undergraduates in the U.S. and abroad. Developed in partnership with Columbia Libraries, CJA addresses an urgent need for more representation and understanding of Asian narratives—not in isolation, but as an integral part of the study of humanities and social sciences in academic and artistic circles. 



00:40 - What inspired you to start this project?

04:47 - You are both current Laidlaw scholars! How did your experience in the programme factor into your leadership of this team & this project?

07:24 - You respectively looked at women’s rights in colonial India and anti-caste activist Ambedkar’s place in contemporary exchanges. How did your work on these subjects influence your approach to building the journal?

10:30 - When looking at these sidelined voices and seeing what they have to bring to the table, what have you learned from their efforts to "make the world a better place" that you can apply to your own life?

14:27 - How does analyzing the actions and contributions of Ambedkar impact your views of ethical leadership?

18:40 - When you were beginning your leadership journey, what were the most difficult challenges you had to face?

24:55 - Did you have any surprising revelations when you were reading your contributors’ work i.e. any unusual thematic connections, commonalities, or new discoveries? If so, what were they?

31:22 - What are your hopes and plans for the future of the journal?

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