Global Asias 5 Conference: Call for Papers

Global Asias 5 Conference: Call for Papers

Penn State’s Department of Asian Studies announces Global Asias 5, a biennial conference hosted to complement the work of our award-winning journal Verge: Studies in Global Asias (published by the University of Minnesota Press). By bringing into relation work in Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, and Asian Diaspora 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 paper proposals for the specific panels and roundtables listed below for the conference, to be held April 5-7, 2019. Please note: this year we are also accepting panel submissions (detailed submission instructions can be found at the end of this announcement). Materials (250-word abstract and brief c.v.) to specific roundtable and panel organizers, or panel submissions to the general conference submission email (vergevents@psu.edu), should be submitted by November 5, 2018.

Thanks to the generous support of the Department of Asian Studies, the College of the Liberal Arts, and the School of Global Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Penn State will cover 3 nights 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 about the conference and the panel submission process should be directed to Tina Chen (tina.chen@psu.edu).


IMAGING INFRASTRUCTURE Jessamyn Abel (jua14@psu.edu) and Leo Coleman (lc1049@hunter.cuny.edu)
Infrastructures are often invisible—pipes running underground, wires tucked inside walls, opaque legal regimes and economic forces channeling human mobility—but some are meant to be seen. Glittering commuter rail systems, smooth highways, and bridges spanning impressive distances at dizzying heights move people but also broadcast a statement about the states that built them or the spaces and people they connect. This roundtable explores the aesthetic dimension of infrastructure: what Brian Larkin characterizes as a form of poetics and John Durham Peters refers to more colloquially as “bling.” Our aim is to ask how image-making through infrastructure has shaped identity in different ways at various levels of society. We welcome paper proposals addressing the connection between identity, spectacle, and any aspect of the planning, construction, and operation of infrastructures, as either concept or material reality in Asia, Asian America, and Asian diasporic communities around the world.

OCEAN OF ARTISTRY: RENDERING THE INDIAN OCEAN THROUGH ARTS AND LITERATURES Bruno Jean-Francois (ebj2@psu.edu) and Neelima Jeychandran (nuj47@psu.edu)
The maritime trade networks in the Indian Ocean facilitated not only the movement of people, but also played a crucial role in nurturing commercial, cultural, and religious exchanges between Asia, Africa, and the Arab world over extended historical periods. Many sites in the Indian Ocean world—including coastal regions and their hinterlands and myriad islands—evidence this cross-pollination of people, culture, and ideas. In particular, the migrations of Asians across the Indian Ocean maritime littoral and beyond to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are visible through hybrid architectural structures, motifs, surface designs, cuisines, sacred geographies, and linguistic traditions. In Indian Ocean studies, while much attention has been devoted to studying mobilities and transcultural exchanges, the circulation of artistic practices, crafts, performances, and literary traditions, remains less explored. This roundtable aims to pay special attention to artistic practices and literary imaginations to discuss how the world of the Indian Ocean is constructed, portrayed, and articulated through material, performative, and literary registers. How do artists, craftsmen, writers, poets, and performers borrow and reinvent popular and shared lexicons, trends, and imageries of the Indian Ocean? How are these artistic and literary practices either constructing or reconstructing notions of shared Asian affinities, personhood, and knowledge?

GAMING AND GAMIFICATION IN ASIA Jonathan E. Abel (jea17@psu.edu) and Joseph Jeon (jjjeon@uci.edu)
The history of contemporary gaming cultures, whether openly sold as games or hidden behind game-like incentive strategies in the open market, can trace its route through computerization and modeling cultures beginning in the early cold war. Much of this history of has been told from an Anglo(phone)centric perspective. This roundtable looks at what a difference bringing Asia and Asians into consideration of this discourse makes. We are especially interested in papers addressing the following questions:

  • How do gaming and gamification as optics reconfigure our sense of geopolitical transnational relations routed through Asia?
  • What is distinctive about game production and game cultures in Asia?
  • Are the military roots of game theory part of the Asian history of game theory?
  • When did the gamification of contemporary culture begin?
  • Do video games lead or follow gamification in Asia?
  • What games or gamified venues (media, platforms, infrastructures, etc) are key to
    understanding the multiple Asian histories of gaming?

Sites of Intervention: Asian Art in the Age of the Anthropocene Chang Tan (cut12@psu.edu)
To comprehend and ultimately reconfigure the Anthropocene world, one must tackle the tension between the planetary scale of the issues and the human scale that is particular to each locale. The countries and communities of Asia, many of which are in the process of creating and sustaining a modernized lifestyle for large populations in already overburdened environments, have become a fertile ground for ecologically-minded and site-specific art. This panel invites scholars, critics and artists to investigate the strategies, affects, and ethics of ecological art in Asia and the Asian diaspora, with an emphasis on artworks and projects that engage and intervene with the space in which they position themselves, both topographically and socio-politically. We welcome papers addressing topics such as the dialectics between aesthetics and activism, the production and reception of ecological art in its targeted milieu, art’s role in unveiling and disrupting networks of eco-exploitation within and beyond the Global South, and the possibility of art as means to imagine non- Anthropocene heterotopias in their locality.

Against Witness: Non-Commemoration, Counter-Memorialization, and Anti-Monumentality in Global Asias Tina Chen (tina.chen@psu.edu)
As Andreas Huyssen has noted, “Remembrance as a vital human activity shapes our links to the past, and the ways we remember define us in the present. As individuals and societies, we need the past to construct and to anchor our identities and to nurture a vision of the future.” But Cathy Park Hong argues that “when a poem becomes commemorative[, i]t becomes all pious gesture and drained of meaning. When a poem becomes commemorative, it dies.” Without challenging the importance of historical memory itself, this panel builds on Hong’s provocative assessment to explore the ways in which remembrance can be made possible through artistic practices of non-commemoration, counter-memorialization, and anti- monumentality. As part of this exploration, we welcome papers that theorize alternatives to narratives and monuments of official remembering; examine specific sites illustrating the ways in which historical traumas have been both remembered and forgotten; study the possibilities and limits of “secondary witness”; and explore the formal and generic innovations that accompany efforts to produce non-commemorative accounts of the past.

De-essentializing Asian Medicine Ran Zwigenberg (ruz12@psu.edu)
Over half a century ago, Joseph Needham famously characterized modern science as “being like an ocean into which the rivers from all the world’s civilizations have poured their waters.” In his attempt to highlight the significance of Chinese science, technology and medicine in world civilizations, Needham admirably argued for putting non-Western medicine on the same level as Western medicine. However, such an approach, its good intentions notwithstanding, obscures the power dynamics of the meeting between “Asian” and “Western” medicine. It also homogenizes “Asia” as a monolithic whole and downplays intra-Asian dynamics as well as the place of Asian diasporic practitioners. The panel proposes an examination of Asia-focused histories within the social history of medicine by examining how Asian and diaspora practitioners engage with medical issues, theories, and practices. We call for papers that examine the encounter between Asia and the West, as well as the ways in which inter-Asian connections mobilize regional/global medicine. We are especially interested in proposals that demonstrate how colonial and postcolonial encounters shaped the practice of medicine in Asia and the impossibility of disentangling some form of “pure” Asian medicine from its global context.

Colored Waters, Fluid Geographies: on Afro-Asia Connections Gabeba Baderoon (gxb26@psu.edu)
In 1996, Ania Loomba offered a fascinating analysis of gendered portrayals of Africa, Asia and the Americas in the imperial imaginary. Specifically, Loomba demonstrated how the Americas were viewed as an innocent, naked and virginal New World in contrast to Asia’s literate, wealthy polities, which were represented as secretive, veiled and unsettlingly calculating, whereas Africa formed a complex mixture – exemplified by Conrad’s barbarian woman, uncontrollable and possessed of inaccessible knowledge. These divergent imperialist discourses defined Africa and Asia as distinct cultural geographies. Yet, a history of pilgrimage, trade, mutual exploration and cultural exchange have linked these terrains for centuries, suggesting that the Indian Ocean and Western Asian land bridge are as much conduit as barrier, similar to the Himalayas and the Sahara. For this panel, we invite papers
that consider new ways of seeing and framing connections between Asia and Africa beyond received frames. Building on works of literary imagination and new scholarly frameworks— such as Indian Ocean Studies and Theories of the South—that have expanded the perspectives through which we see relations between Asia and Africa beyond the framework of postcolonial studies, we are particularly interested in considering vernacular literary expressions and ontological narratives of mobilities and complex histories of exchange, that construct and disseminate Afrasian consciousness differently.

Bordering and Knowledge Making in Asia
Shuang Shen (sxs1075@psu.edu)
Aimed at bridging the interdisciplinary studies of borders and borderlands (by political geographers David Newman and Anssi Paasi, philosopher Etienne Balibar, and anthropologists Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Nielson, and others) with a critical inquiry of knowledge production in and about Asia and Asians, this panel invites papers that map the ways in which academic disciplines (literary studies, cultural studies, anthropology, geography, etc.) come to terms with both geographical and conceptual borders. Border theorists have reminded us that the border is a more complex institution than a line in the sand, that its operation often manifests as an ongoing process that can never be finished. How do these discussions shed light on the notions of ethnicity, race, class, caste, and gender
that use borders as a framework of analysis? How do borders dictate questions of belonging– not just of population and communities, but of cultural artifacts and/or literary texts? How do they dictate distinctions between the local vs. the global, homeland and diaspora, colonial and post-colonial? How do borders condition the human experience of time and temporal categories such as periodization? This panel encourages contributions from both social scientific and humanities disciplines.

This year, we are also welcoming the submission of panel proposals. Panel proposals should include a 1-paragraph panel abstract, four paper abstracts (each no longer than 250 words), and the cvs of all panelists. We encourage panel proposals that embody the expansive mission of Verge’s Global Asias project; panels reflecting the varied kinds of diversity cultivated by the journal (geographic, historical, disciplinary, and field) will be especially attractive to the conference organizers. If a panel is accepted for GA5, we will ask a Penn State colleague to serve as the panel chair. The entire proposal should be submitted as a single PDF document to vergevents@psu.edu. All submissions are due by November 5, 2018.