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October 23, 2008

Call for Papers - Global-is-Asian: Asian diaspora identities in the context of globalization

The Asian Pacific American Studies Program at Michigan State University is happy to announce their 3rd annual conference to be held on April 17-18, 2009 in East Lansing, Michigan.

Community and identity formation have never occurred in a vacuum. However, processes of globalization increasingly facilitate connections, both real and imagined, with other parts of the world. This conference focuses on Asian populations in diaspora—that is, living outside their ancestral homelands. Though the definition of diaspora and its application to various populations has long been debated, in using the term “diaspora? we assert the importance of understanding Asian communities within a global context; as sharing key similarities but as far from homogeneous. We aim to investigate how global forces, both historical and contemporary, have reshaped diasporic forms and analytical categories for examining collective memory, political alliances, transpacific migrations and movements, social spaces and global networks. We hope to explore what Jigna Desai (2004) has called the "heterogeneous connections to both the homeland and to other diasporic locations through such forms as political commitment, imagination, memory, travel, and cultural production."

The forms of cultural production --transnational youth cultures, art, cinema, literature, internet communities, new social movements-- that emerge in the context of globalization hold exciting potential. We are interested in exploring the range of identities that are constructed by Asian diasporic communities, and how these forms are then re-shaped through interactions, on both local and global scales.
• How do transnational flows of media, popular culture, goods, and capital originating from Asian communities in other parts of the world affect the expression and negotiation of “local? Asian identities?
• How are race, gender, class, sexuality, and religious identities reshaped or reworked through the experience of being in diaspora, or by local conditions that shape that expression?
• What new forms of travel, dwelling, migration, and exile emerge in the contemporary context of globalization?
• How do transnational religious movements among Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and other religions play out within the context of diaspora?
• How do “Asian? groups that did not previously view themselves as sharing similarities broaden their ethnic boundaries in the context of specific racial, economic, and social policies in their countries of settlement?
• Indeed, how might the very definition of “Asian? or the assumed congruence of “race? and “culture? be redefined in the context of diaspora, as in the case of hapa, adoptee, peranakan, and others that reflect the hybridity of diaspora populations?
• How do global forces facilitate or hamper the imagining of homelands, or the creation of new ties altogether? Are homelands merely a construct to compensate for losses?
• What happens when communities who had imagined one another from afar meet though a global encounter (Chinese Americans visiting the motherland, Korean adoptees on homeland tours, Japanese Brazilians going to Japan for work)?

At the same time, we also hope to question the ways that an overemphasis on “global? or “diaspora? as academic buzzwords which, as Sau-ling Wong has noted, can result in the glossing over of local, regional and national levels of organization, and distract from nation-based identities (such as Asian American) that allow for coalition building and empowerment. These terms can become so broad and all encompassing as to lose their specificity of meaning, or merely become a means of expressing old concepts in new packaging.

We cannot ignore the continued power of nation states to define both national and local contexts that shape the constraints under which actors explore and express identities.
• In what ways do state constructions of legal or cultural citizenship define the parameters within which local communities operate?
• In the context of shifting global economies, it is also important to consider how Asian diaspora populations interact with others in their countries of residence. How do the politics of race and multiculturalism in Brazil, the UK, South Africa, the U.S. and elsewhere differentially shape the lives of Asian populations in those locations?
• How does the broader consumption of “Asian? culture through transnational Asian foods, goods, popular culture, movies, affect mainstream perceptions of Asians in a given location?
• How do neoliberal economic reforms accompanying globalization and the emergence of various Asian countries as global powers shape interactions between Asian immigrant entrepreneurs and local populations?

Please submit proposals to Joseph Villafuerte at global.is.asian09@gmail.com no later than January 15, 2009.

All proposals must include:
1. 250-300 word abstract
2. one-page CV, including full contact information
3. A list of any audio or visual equipment needed for the presentation.

Posted by zzhu at October 23, 2008 05:46 PM