CFP: Inter-Asia Intermediality: A Two-Part International Workshop

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    Brian Bernards

    Inter-Asia Intermediality: A Two-Part International Workshop
    Conveners: Brian Bernards (USC) and Elmo Gonzaga (CUHK)
    Part 1: University of Southern California (Los Angeles), May 20-21, 2022
    Part 2: Chinese University of Hong Kong, June 10-11, 2022

    Call for Papers
    Over the past two decades, intermediality and inter-Asia (much like interdisciplinarity) have emerged as key buzzwords in the humanities whose increasing presence as the theme and focus of scholarly conferences, journals, and monographs has followed a remarkably similar timeline and trajectory.Discussions of intermediality grew at the turn of the millennium in response to technological innovations to the platforms and networks for media circulation and consumption. Bolter and Grusin (1998), Murray (1998), Kittler (1999), Hayles (1999), Gitelman (2000), and Manovich (2000) challenged the limits of film, literary, and media studies by laying the groundwork for emergent critical approaches to comprehend the digitization and hybridization of print and audiovisual media. One strand, drawn from the seminal writings of Ito (2006) and Jenkins (2008) on media mix and convergence culture, was prompted by the rise of entertainment franchises, which produced narratives whose distribution crossed an array of platforms. Another strand applied methods of film history and media archeology to uncover the urban cultures of mass spectatorship in early 20th century cities. Building on studies by Hansen (1991) and Zhang (2005) about vernacular modernism, for instance, Bao’s (2015) work on 1930s Shanghai examines its reframing against drama, painting, propaganda, and architecture, which early moviegoers consumed in amusement centers and movie theaters.

    Almost concurrently with the rise of intermediality, inter-Asia emerged as a subfield of—as well as a challenge and response to the inadequacies of—the field of Asian area studies, a discipline linked to the history of Orientalism and cultural “knowledge retrieval” at Western institutions and often partitioned by specialization in national cultures. In the 1990s, scholars based at East and Southeast Asian universities launched the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies:
    Movements project “to move beyond the nation-state to intersect the regional and the subregional” while hoping to underscore the “imagination and possibilities of diverse forms of intellectual integration in Asia” (Chen and Chua 2007). The general aim of the project was not just to connect scholars at different institutions across the region but to encourage scholarship that would avoid the trap of East-West bilateralism by instead interrogating processes of regionalization in Asia in all their unevenness and variation. In 2000, the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies journal was launched, and in 2004, the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (IACS) Society began
    hosting a conference and an IACS summer institute at a different Asian university biennially.

    “Inter-Asia Intermediality: A Two-Part International Workshop” intends to highlight the intersections between these two emergent fields by bringing them into a productive scholarly conversation. Beyond the continuity and smoothness of encounter and passage within and between different forms of media (as well as between Asian subregions), we are interested in intermediality’s contradictions and frictions amid the tenuous relationships within Asia. Neves and Sarkar’s pioneering edited volume Asian Video Cultures (2017) highlights how video acts as a mediator for the social and historical contradictions of a diverse region such as Asia. Similarly,
    we seek to explore in this conference how intermediality can intervene in similar, multiple ways in the dynamic and elusive cross-cultural, intraregional, and trans-border exchanges between East, Southeast, and South Asia.

    The impact of the rise of digital media (and digital media’s refashioning—or remediation—of older media forms) as a catalyst of processes of inter-Asian regionalization—as well as its exposure of tensions and challenges in those processes—has not been sufficiently interrogated. To this end, our workshop will foreground two reciprocal and mutually reflexive questions for further inquiry:

    • How do processes of intermediality (including the frictions, contradictions, connections, and divergences between different platforms of media convergence) break up homogeneous or regionally bounded conceptions of Asia?
    • By modifying platform-specific media content for distribution and exhibition on unintended platforms or for unanticipated audiences, how do regionalized inter-Asian productions and circulations of media content challenge homogeneous or disciplinary-bounded understandings of specific media platforms?

    Subjects for submission may include:

    • The integration or cross-pollination of media platforms from East, Southeast, and South Asia, including but not limited to cinema, multimedia art, street art, televisual media, microblogging, live-streaming, video-sharing, video games, and music videos.
    • Inter-Asian media convergence through regional co-production, celebrity culture, crossborder migration and tourism, transnational racial and religious identities, feminist and LGBTQ+ activism, multilingual code-mixing, and shared environmental concerns (e.g., haze, typhoons, tsunamis, flooding).

    Please note:

    • The reason for the two-part conference is accessibility and affordability for scholars in Asia and the Americas, as the organizers want to strike a balance in representation from the two regions. Those submitting proposals should indicate their location preference for which part of the workshop (Los Angeles or Hong Kong) they would like to attend.
    • We are currently planning to hold the two-part workshop in a hybrid format (using Zoom-enabled conference rooms at both USC and CUHK), with both in-person and remote (via Zoom) participation options available to presenters.
    • As this workshop aims to curate a published volume, only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere are preferred. As cinema and media studies scholars will comprise majority of the contributors, we hope to draw in some contributions from other areas, including art, literature, and photography.
    • The workshop will give special consideration to scholars working on South Asia and Southeast Asia as well as underrepresented languages and cultures (especially Indigenous ones) in the fields of Asian studies and media studies.

    Submission instructions:

    • Please send a paper title, 250-400-word abstract, short bio (including institutional affiliation), location preference (Los Angeles in May 2022 or Hong Kong in June 2022), and modality preference (in-person or online) to Brian Bernards <> and Elmo Gonzaga <> by December 6, 2021.

    Confirmed presenters include:

    • Bliss Cua Lim, Nadine Chan, Palita Chunsaengchan, Lan Duong, Olivia Khoo, Adil Johan, Dorothy Wai Sim Lau, Joanne Leow, Shaoling Ma, Alden Sajor Marte-Wood, Sheela Jane Menon, Wikanda Promkhuntong, Phoebe Pua, Supawan Supaneedis, Jasmine Nadua Trice, Noah Viernes, Elizabeth Wijaya, Ka Lee Wong, Dag Yngvesson, Ling Zhang

    Recommended texts:

    • Weihong Bao, Fiery Cinema: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915- 1945 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015)
    • Joshua Neves and Bhaskar Sarkar (eds.), Asian Video Cultures: In the Penumbra of the Global (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017)
    • Jihoon Kim, “Between Auditorium and Gallery: Perception in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Films and Installations,” in Global Art Cinema: New Theories and
      Histories, eds. Rosalind Galt and Karl Schoonover (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 125-141
    • Kuan-hsing Chen and Chua Beng Huat (eds.), The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Reader (London: Routledge, 2007)
    • Jeroen de Kloet, Yiu Fai Chow, and Gladys Pak Lei Chong (eds.), Trans-Asia as Method: Theory and Practices (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020)
    • Prasenjit Duara (ed.), Asia Redux: Conceptualising a Region for Our Times (Singapore: ISEAS Publishing / New Delhi: Manohar, 2013)
    • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Other Asias (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008)
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