GLOBAL ASIAS 4 CONFERENCE
PENN STATE UNIVERSITY
March 31-April 1, 2017
Penn State’s Department of Asian Studies announces Global Asias 4, a biennial conference hosted to complement the work of our journal Verge: Studies in Global Asias (published by the University of Minnesota Press). By bringing into relation work in both Asian Studies and Asian American Studies, Verge covers Asia and its diasporas, East to West, across and around the Pacific, from a variety of humanistic perspectives—anthropology, art history, literature, history, sociology, and political science—in order to develop comparative analyses that recognize Asia’s place(s) in the development of global culture and history. In that expansive and multidisciplinary spirit, we invite proposals for the specific panels and roundtables listed below for the conference, to be held March 31-April 1, 2017. Please submit materials (250-word abstract and brief c.v.) to specific roundtable and panel organizers directly by November 1, 2016.
Thanks to the generous support of the College of the Liberal Arts, the School of Languages and Linguistics, the Department of Asian Studies, and the Luce Foundation, Penn State will cover lodging and food costs for all conference presenters. In addition, we will provide all conference participants with a 1-year subscription to Verge: Studies in Global Asias.
General questions can be directed to Tina Chen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In her recent essay “Which of These Things Is Not Like the Other: Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders Are Not Asian Americans, and All Pacific Islanders Are Not Hawaiian,” Lisa Kahaleole Hall writes about the problems inherent in conflation—of Asian Americans with Hawaiians, Hawaiians with other Pacific Islanders, and Oceania with Polynesia or the Asia-Pacific . Despite the serious problems with conflating disparate populations, experiences, histories, social contexts, and legal frames, scholars from outside Pacific Studies continue to emphasize overlap, connection, and conjunction—often at the expense of indigenous peoples, critics, and practices. In this roundtable, we are interested in charting the interactions between notions of indigeneity and Asian-ness by focusing especially on Pacific Islanders and Oceania and attending to the particular histories, ideas, and epistemologies that such targeted attention might highlight. Specifically, we hope to elicit comments (provocations, position statements, explorations) exploring the stakes of “Pacific Islander” as a conceptual and legal category. We are interested in the politics, economics, and human geography of the displacement of Hawaiians by Asian settlers; the many problematics, demographic and otherwise, of categorizing Pacific Islanders with Asian Americans; the historical encounters of indigenous groups with expanding Asian states and empires; and the aesthetic, cultural, and activist interactions between and among peoples identifying with (or against) these groupings.
The past few decades have seen an upsurge of interest in what historian Carol Gluck has termed the “operations of memory.” Critically, though, war memories are products of amnesias both selective and vast, and the profound amnesias occasioned and required by war have in turn shaped our geopolitical present. This roundtable foregrounds forgetting as itself a technology of war by asking participants not only to rethink the dominant discourse of memory but also to explore the conceptual terrain of when, where, and for whom forgetting matters—especially in relation to war and conflict in the Asia-Pacific region.
We understand the political and psychic work of forgetting to be more than the other to commemoration. How might an attention to forgetting permit us to reconsider wartime and postwar epistemologies of Asia as well as to appreciate the thorough and continuing technologies of forgetting that continue to shape the region and the globe? What of the significant omissions that have not only been neglected by projects of recovery or redress but, in fact, have been disabled or made impossible by such efforts? How has forgetting war shifted the ways in which we think of the time and space and subjects of Asia?
This roundtable examines the dialogic relationship between art, archives, and human rights at the forefront of past/present debates concerning redress and reparation in Asian nation-states, diasporic Asian communities, and/or contemporary Asian America. If integral to contemporary contemplations of rights violation is an often tactical recollection of state-authorized violence that occurs in the face of strategic amnesias and state-sanctioned forgetting, what is the role of archives in the making of human rights subjects? How do artists engaged in such “memory work” offer alternative ways of seeing and experiencing justice, particularly when faced with profound belatedness and non-recognition? We invite presentations that investigate the possibilities and limitations of “the human rights archive,” inclusive of historic documents, records, institutions, and/or museums; we likewise encourage proposals which consider the multifaceted ways in which Asian and diasporic Asian artists engage human rights activism via visual arts, music, and performance.
Mobility and Space in Global Asia
Jessamyn Abel (email@example.com)
This panel examines the ways in which changing patterns, infrastructures, and representations of mobility within and beyond Asia affect the physical and conceptual spaces of the region. Focusing on the intersection of spatial theory and mobility studies, our aim is to consider the mutual impact of mobility and the transformation of space through examples of Asia and Asians. Space is, of course, a topic well covered in several fields, such as critical social theory, architecture, political science, and history, and mobility is an emerging subfield in anthropology, geography, and sociology. We invite proposals from these and other disciplines that examine how movements of people transform places and how economic, political, architectural, and cultural structures of space impact mobility. By bringing together scholars considering space and mobility in various historical and geographic circumstances, though multiple disciplinary approaches, we hope to achieve richer theorizations about space through the theme of global Asia, itself a space that must be defined, at least in part, through mobility.
The Circulation of Asian Medicine and Medical Knowledge
Kathlene Baldanza (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Susan Whyte, Sjaak van der Geest, and Anita Hardon argue that “the ‘thingness’ of medicines and their tendency to become commodities” allow us a sweeping vista on “processes of commoditization, globalization, and localization.” But medicines do not travel alone—they carry with them forms of medical knowledge and health practices. This panel focuses on the specific conditions of circulation, exchange, and epistemological conflict occasioned by Asian medicine, medical knowledge, and health practices. What can studying medicine as commodities tell us about trading networks and economic history? What do we learn by analyzing the cultivation, production, and marketing of drugs? How did printed books contribute to the spread of medical knowledge? And how do practitioners learn their practices? We invite papers dealing with any aspect of the circulation of medicine or medical knowledge within or between any region of Asia or the Asian diaspora. Papers from all relevant disciplines are welcome.
Hong Kong as Archive
Shuang Shen (email@example.com)
In the wake of the “Umbrella Movement,” academic and public cultural circles in Hong Kong have demonstrated an increased interest in tracking the changing scenes of community formation and social movements. Yet how does this concern for the present and the future benefit from the fruit of many years of Hong Kong cultural studies, which have been focused on searching for historical evidence for the existence of a uniquely local political and local articulation? This panel addresses this question by rethinking the meaning and status of the “Hong Kong archive.” Specifically, the panel asks the following questions: How and for whom is the “Hong Kong archive” as an instituting imaginary constructed? How does the archive speak to Hong Kong’s condition of “in-betweenness,” its specific experience of time and place, and the global city’s transnational flows? How has it been policed and experienced? How does this archive exist in relation to other archives, those of China and the Asia Pacific? How does one use it for the present and the future? How do technologies of storage shape the form and content of the archive? What accounts for the need of transmedial translation? And how do we deal with its sustainability and renewal?
Knowledge Flows: STS in Asia and its Diasporas
Prakash Kumar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Science and Technology Studies scholars have recently illustrated the usefulness of Asia as a regional formation and postcolonial archipelago for interrogating notions of diffusion and circulation that privilege specific modes of understanding of science and technology. This panel invites empirical and theoretical examination of flows of knowledge in studies of science and technology in Asia and its diasporas while focusing on the connections between object, episteme, and place. How and when does scientific and technical knowledge move? And how do we form narratives of knowledge flows or the lack of it? What types of indigenous learning may take place besides and in spite of knowledge flows? How does knowledge change when it moves? We especially welcome case studies of people, non-humans, commodities, and discourses that cross national, regional or local “borders.” By making hybridity the starting point of investigation in studies of science, this panel de-privileges conceptual frames that maintain the hegemonic position of certain knowledge forms and efface others.
Recent scholarship has shown that the binary between modernity and “tradition” can no longer explain the dynamics of Asian art in the past century and half. The former was never monolithic or linear, and the latter cannot account for the many acts of antagonism and alterity that emerged in the process of either “modernization” or other forms of engagement with the idea of modernity. The paths that artists and theorists have taken not only de-center the territorial hegemony of modernism but also interrogate notions of temporal inevitability that are embedded within the idea of modernity. This panel invites studies of artists, movements and theories from Asia and the Asian diaspora that keep a critical distance from the Eurocentric discourse of the modern by creating works, institutions and concepts that envision and articulate radical new possibilities. We welcome proposals from scholars studying modern art from all regions of Asia, especially papers investigating hitherto overlooked or marginalized artists and art groups.
The Present Futures of Techno-Orientalism
Jonathan E. Abel (email@example.com)
This panel considers the roles of techno-orientalism within Asia and beyond not only as markers of Asian identity, through perception and misperception, but also as a reality of a 21st century in which Asia remains a leader in the production world’s automobiles, high speed rail, electronic appliances, digital devices, robotics, and, now, space-exploring vehicles. What is perhaps uniquely underprivileged in the existing discourse on techno-orientalism are the riven categories of technology and the Asia/n at its heart. Techno-orientalism replaces the fetish for the backwardness of a pastoral premodern other in traditional orientalism with a desire for a futuristic Asia. But scholarly focus on Asia/n futurity belies the present material reality of a post-industrialized technical Asia. Specifically, approaches to techno-orientalism have tended to expatiate on either the problematic politics of identity inherent in any orientalist project or the hypertechnological innovations associated with Asian technical superiority. This panel responds to such binarism, which can be mapped loosely onto the fields of Asian American Studies and Asian Studies, by trying to create an opportunity for engagement between the inside and the outside, the images and the realities behind them, technological dominance and technology as an expressive vehicle for racial aspiration and racial fears.
If technology now incontrovertibly defines much of what Asia signifies to the world, what does it mean that a global techno-orientalism persists, fetishizing Asia as being uniquely, inherently, and exceedingly technological? How does techno-orientalism continue to color and distort understandings of Asia, its people, its cultures, and the technologies produced, cultivated, and developed there? Where are the centers of techno-orientalism outside of Asia and within? How do auto-exoticization and exo-exoticization overlap? What are the continuing effects of techno-orientalist belief, desire, and fetishization? Is techno-occidentalism a corrective for or repetition of techno-orientalism? Is techno-orientalism simply a subset of orientalism or something substantively different?
Global Crises and 21st-Century World Literature
Tom Beebee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Underlying the rise of world literature are the same globalization processes that also amplify local problems to the level of global crises. From epidemics to sports scams and scandals, financial crashes to terrorism, these crises by definition affect Asia, and often arise in Asia. World literature, including works by Asian writers, reflects, intervenes in, and is shaped by these crises. This panel will examine the intersection between global crisis and world literature, addressing issues such as scale, perspective, language, and whether world literature is itself a crisis mode of cultural production. Abstracts accept for this panel will be considered for a special issue of Comparative Literature Studies on this theme, tentatively scheduled for 2018 publication.