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CFP: Global Asia: Critical Aesthetics and Alternative Globalities

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    Cheryl Narumi Naruse

    Global Asia: Critical Aesthetics and Alternative Globalities

    June 27-28, 2016 – Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

    In the inaugural issue of Verge: Studies in Global Asias, Tina Chen and Eric Hayot posit that “ ‘Asia’ has been ‘global’ since long before the diasporas of the nineteenth century; the question is how, and why, and what kinds of forms—social, cultural, and historical—have consolidated themselves around the various forms of locality and worldliness that characterize any dynamic culture” (xi). This articulation participates in a broader critical conversation in Asian and Asian American Studies which uses the concept of “Global Asia” to center Asia as a driving force of cultural and economic globalization, emphasize the interconnectedness of Asia and the world, and recognize Asia as a heterogeneous cultural imaginary. However, while such a conceptual paradigm may help us to focus on the interconnectedness and heterogeneity of Asia, its institutionalization and popularization also runs the risk of flattening political valences. For example, when governments market Asian cities as centers of cosmopolitan modernity, the construction of “globality” as a commodity paradoxically collapses the very heterogeneity it is meant to celebrate. As such, “Global Asia” thus bears potentially homogenizing consequences even as it creates counter-narratives to Euro-American historicism.

    In this symposium, the organizers will concentrate on aesthetics as a means of interrogating “Global Asia” as an approach and a methodology. They begin with the premise that foregrounding the aesthetic is a radical and necessary approach to understanding the notion of “Global Asia” and its various problematics as an area of study and a mode of knowledge production. In particular, they seek papers that offer a “critical aesthetics” of globality—defined as an aesthetic practice that bears out critique of uneven power structures, transnational flows, cosmopolitanism, etc—as they are inherent in or perpetuated by the notion of “Global Asia.” How do these critical aesthetics espouse and/or critique the notion of “Global Asia,” and/or theorize alternatives? The organizers thus seek papers that study artworks which are critical of the uneven power structures that “Global Asia” may create and which may move us toward an understanding of an “alternative globality.” Through a focus on form, genre, and medium, the symposium aims to centralize the significance of literature, film, media, and art in order to investigate the aesthetic dimensions of “Global Asia” as a framework that shapes knowledge production in the humanities about Asia.

    Some areas of study may include:

    • What aesthetics of globality have arisen in/out of Asia and what do/did they look like?
    • What do artistic productions reveal about dominant or canonized notions of globality?
    • How are alternative globalities crafted into the very art object?
    • What does it mean for an arts practitioner to “think globally” and in ways not determined by global distribution?
    • Are there other kinds of global relationality and what kinds of socio-political structures do they resist?
    • How might a study of aesthetics pluralize or revise the “global”?
    • In what ways are language/cultural pedagogies and politics enabling or disabling a specific aesthetics of globality?

    Please send 250 word abstracts and a short bio to Nadine Chan ( and Cheryl Naruse ( by March 30, 2016. Accepted participants may be offered modest funds to offset the costs of travel to Singapore (funding priority will be given to graduate students and contingent faculty) as well as access to subsidized housing at Nanyang Technological University. Speakers will be given 30 minutes to present their papers and ample time for Q&A. Participants will also be given time to collectively engage some of the above questions through pre-circulated readings.

    Keynote speakers include:

    Tina Chen; Associate Professor of English and Asian American Studies at Pennsylvania State University, Editor of Verge: Studies in Global Asias

    Brian Bernards; Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at University of Southern California, Visiting Affiliate at Asia Research Institute, Singapore

    This symposium is organized and sponsored by the Global Asia Research Cluster, Centre for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

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