Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Disjoining approaches: tropes, hubs, and production of knowledge on East Asia
Location Schuster Lab Blackett
Date and Start Time 08 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
This panel aims at promoting a plural and multi-sited debate that allows a critical revision of hegemonic approaches involved in the scholarly study of East Asia.
It is well accepted that a key point in the scholarly study of East Asian societies is the development of a critical approach to the very notion of 'East Asia' as a politically and intellectually oriented category. In the emergence of this approach, factors such as the crisis of area studies, the discussion on centers and peripheries and the paradoxes brought about by globalization have played an essential role. Nevertheless, underlying this criticism there is a pervasive imbalance between epistemological traditions, hegemonic discourses, and dominant languages which deeply influence the production of knowledge. Through different disciplinary perspectives and combining different research methodologies (social and cultural anthropology, cultural and intercultural studies, gender studies, translation and literary studies), the panelists will analyze these intellectual processes and contexts in relation to the scholarly study of East Asia. Their works will explore which tropes have to be revised, how to configure alternative intellectual hubs and the possibilities that global formulations set up for a more horizontal production of knowledge. Ultimately, this panel aims at promoting a plural and multi-sited debate that allows a critical revision of hegemonic approaches involved in the scholarly study of East Asia.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
What one talks about when one talks about area
This overview paper is an introduction to the panel by reviewing practices and conditions that build up the East Asia Studies discipline, and how the field has coped with challenges posed by critical theory in a knowledge production framework.
We will begin by quickly reviewing some statistics regarding the conditions of the field of knowledge that East Asia Studies scholars build for themselves as they go about their research and teaching. The figures will help us illustrate and flesh out the fundamental issues also present in our fellow panellists' contributions. Then we will address more specific issues contributing to the 'status quo' and we will argue the need of specific initiatives that confront such issues (ranging from the curricula of grades to the the approach to team research endeavours). Finally, we will return to the heart of the matter and reflect about what it means for scholars to commit themselves to area studies thirty years after "Orientalism" and forty years after "The Archaeology of Knowledge." What the problem of imaginative geographies boils down to is the same argument that Said and Foucault confronted --can we actively shape the enunciative function of discourse or rather discourse is a Leviathan bigger than the sum of its components (discursive formations and their units, strategies, archive, accumulations, exclusions, positivity). And whatever the answer, we will consider what are the possibilities for an individual's ethical stance and a collective ethical 'doxia' effective beyond the realm of goodwill.
Disjoining areas: Peripheries and commonplaces in the anthropological study of Japan
By reviewing the historical emergence of Japan and the circum-Mediterranean region as anthropological field sites, the paper examines the ideological biases of anthropological research with the ultimate goal of fostering a non-hegemonic framework for knowledge production on East Asia.
A key issue in developing a critical approach to the topic of knowledge production on East Asia is the very notion of 'East Asia,' as an epistemological and geopolitical category defined by Western scholarship. In recent years, the crisis of area studies has played a crucial role in the deconstruction of a knowledge production framework where a few epistemologies and scholarly traditions are hegemonic, whilst other discourses are marginalized and relegated to peripheral positions. An issue that deserves special consideration here is how the production of knowledge in those 'peripheries' is affected by hegemonic discourses, and to what extent is possible to articulate alternative epistemologies that bypass centers and interconnect national traditions in a more horizontal context. The paper explores this question by reviewing the historical emergence of Japan as a field site for Western anthropology. Almost simultaneously to Ruth Benedict's definition of Japan as a 'shame culture' (1946), British social anthropology defined the circum-Mediterranean region as an anthropological field by means of the 'honor and shame syndrome' and the application of the structural-functionalist approach; one that was pioneerly applied by John Embree (1939) in the first Western ethnography on Japan. Underlying those ethnographic constructions, some critics have denounced the most pervasive myths of Orientalism in the study of contemporary world. Through the consideration of those intellectual contexts, the paper examines the ideological biases of anthropological research with the ultimate goal of fostering a more horizontal and non-hegemonic framework for knowledge production on East Asia.
The History of the Taiwanese Anthropology during the Colonial Era
Taiwan was colonized by Japan from 1895 till 1945. During that period, Japanese anthropologists worked in the island as government anthropologist as well as university professors. This paper looks at the track of that colonial anthropology for the future development of East Asian anthropology.
Taiwan was colonized by Japan since 1895 till 1945. During that period, Japanese anthropologists worked in the island as government anthropologist as well as university professors. Ino Kanori was the first anthropological field worker in East Asian anthropology and the first anthropologist concerned with ethnographic method. Utsurikawa Nenozo held the first PhD in anthropology and established and managed the first department of anthropology in Japan as well as in Taiwan. Kanaseki Takeo tried to maintain academic integrity and standards even under the military rule during the wartime years, and demonstrated a deep commitment to science, both in personal and professional life. These evidences are enough for reinventing the East Asian anthropology within the context of this area. Likewise, another key issue in the discussion of the legacy of colonialism and militarism is also applicable to the contemporary situation. I do not believe that there exists a clear cut demarcation between 'pure' and 'applied' sciences. An obsessive attitude toward 'pure' academicism has been widely and unnecessarily disseminated, and sometimes this approach can be an obstacle for understanding facts especially related to sensitive issues like war and working for a government.
On gender in East Asia: translation of concepts in a globalized order
From Beijing 1995, gender has been included into the political agenda of Western countries, China, Japan and South Korea. An analysis of how gender has been translated and put into practice will allow us to understand gender dynamics in the light of knowledge production in today's globalized world.
In the seventies, the theoretical developments of the US-based peripheral feminism put into question the use of "women" as the main category for its theoretical production. The analysis by peripheral feminism revealed the naturalization and the hierarchy that the use of the women category implied, since it took middle-class white women of the West as the natural reference for the concept. "Gender," as an analytical category, appeared to overcome the unintended consequences of the hegemonic "women" concept in feminist studies, providing to this new category a basic premise: the socially constructed position of the subject in gender studies. From the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995, gender has been included into the political agenda of governments of Western countries, China, Japan and South Korea. An analysis of how gender has been translated and is put into practice in these countries will allow us to understand gender dynamics in the light of knowledge production in today's globalized context.
Intercultural East Asia: beyond the knowledge
Intercultural processes developed after encounters are usually carried on under power hierarchies. The mainstream hegemonic academic knowledge, both in East Asia and in Euro-American regions, tends to neglect the power dimension in cultural analysis, thus reproducing hierarchies to overcome.
Heterogeneity influences, accommodations, resistances appear when people from different cultural backgrounds meet and get in touch, and more so in instances of people that either live together or are neighbours. Intercultural processes developed after an encounter are usually carried on under power hierarchies of majority/minority, dominant/subordinate, and powerful/powerless. The encounter is never held on equal positions and that has consequences. Throughout history, East Asia has been in touch with the rest of the world: thoughts, capital, products and people have moved back and forth and environments have experienced transformations on account of mutual influences. At the same time, the East Asia region has held interactions amongst its constituent territories, each one showing an inner diversity that departs from the image of homogeneity promoted in modern nation-state formations. Intercultural processes are also present within each supposed "culture," because different population segments have their own historical and constructed cultural backgrounds and agendas. By using an intercultural approach applied to all the scales of cultural encounters -between areas, as well as within areas- the power play is brought to the foreground, as a first step to go beyond the knowledge hierarchy. It is necessary to take into account all the voices and involved actors in order to overcome the mainstream discourses that, despite an appearance of objectivity and neutrality, are strongly ideologically loaded.
Practicing an Interactive Anthropology in East Asia
This paper discusses the future of anthropological practices in East Asia. Its major goal is to create a forum in which anthropologists of different backgrounds based in East Asia can interact in building an anthropological commons within the framework of "world anthropologies."
"Anthropologies" (in the plural form) throughout the world entail different practices stemming from different social, cultural, and historical backgrounds. Under the name of anthropology, anthropologists may be doing different things. In this context, the idea of an "interactive anthropology" was created to forge a space within which different anthropologies can meet and interact. The necessity for transnational interaction is becoming increasingly urgent, especially after the rapid development of anthropology in Asia in the latter half of the 20th century. Yet, East Asian anthropologists are not necessarily aware of what kind of anthropology their East Asian colleagues are doing. Based on recent transnational interactions among anthropologists in East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and including some Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand), this paper intends to promote anthropological practices across the region. Its major goal is to create a forum in which anthropologists of different backgrounds based in East Asia can interact on equal footing in order to work towards building a common base of anthropological knowledge and practices. It is intended to enlarge the anthropological horizon in pursuit of a "global anthropological commons" within the paradigm of a "world anthropologies" framework.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.