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2013 International Workshop - Syllabus

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2013 Situations Cultural Studies International Workshop 

Identity, Regionality, and Globality in the Asian Cultural Studies

Week 1: Hallyu within the Asian context



Much Cultural Studies scholarship centers on the construction of identity –be it through acts of consumption (alienated and/or "creative"), the formation of subcultures, or media representations, from above or from below -- and its implications for agency, experience, and social relations. This seminar considers how the study of East Asian cultural phenomena can develop our understanding of the notion of identity in ways that both complement and problematize American- and European-oriented research.We will focus on the idea that identity formation is the starting point for political resistance or subjection. Alongside short pieces by Maurice Blanchot and Giorgio Agamben that advocate for "anonymous" (non-identitarian) community in political resistance, we will examine Ackbar Abbas’s well-known argument concerning the rejection of stable self-representation as a mode of postcolonial resistance in Hong Kong, and Lauren Leve’s recent work on the paradoxical use of identitarian rhetoric in human rights struggles by Nepalese Buddhist communities – that is, by those whose spiritual practice negates the very notion of a self.


Abbas, Ackbar.1997. "Introduction: Culture in a Space of Disappearance."Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. 1-15.

Agamben, Giorgio.2007 (1990). "Tiananmen." The Coming Community Trans.Michael Hardt.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.85-7.

Blanchot, Maurice. 1988 (1983). "May ’68," "Presence of the People."The Unavowable Community. Trans. Pierre Joris.New York: Station Hill.29-33.

       Leve, Lauren.2011. "Identity." Current Anthropology52 (4): 513-533.


(Transnationalized) popular culture and (global) social movement are often seen unrelated, if not mutually exclusive. Popular culture is entertaining, consensual but trivial; social movement serious, idealized and oppositional. Yet how would globalized popular cultural flows benefit the cause of social movements and play a role in the development of local civil society? On the other hand, how would globalized social movement enhance/ extend the ‘soft power’ of East Asian popular culture? In this session, we will examine interplay between two major and becoming areas, both caught in different trajectories in the globalized and networked era. Using the case of Korean wave, we will ask the following: i) the dynamics and use of popular culture as mediation; ii) rise of globalized social movements as a concept and (cultural) practice, adopting Gamson’s notions of ‘collective action and framing’ iii) celebrity, affect and social movements; iv) activists as produsers / fans. We shall focus in the cases of the WTO Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong in December 2005, and/ or Gangnam Style. At the end of this session, we can gain a new insight into the critical remapping of regionalized popular culture, social movement and civil society, at this historical juncture in East Asia.


Leung Yuk Ming, Lisa (2009). ‘Daejanggeum as 'affective mobilization: Lessons for (Transnational) Popular Culture and Civil Society’, in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Taylor & Francis Publications, Vol.10, no.1.pp.51-66

Tsai, Eva (2008) ‘Existing in the age of innocence: pop stars, publics, and politics in Asia’. In Chua Beng Huat and Koichi Iwabuchi (eds.) East Asian Pop Culture: Analysing the Korean Wave, HK: HKU Press, 217-242.

(Suggested Readings)

Chua Beng Huat and Koichi Iwabuchi, Approaches to Asian Pop Culture: Shock of Korean Wave, Hong Kong: OUP Press

Fenton, Natalie (2009). ‘Multiplicity, autonomy, new media, and the networked politics of new social movements’. In Lincoln Dahlberg and Sean Phelan. Discourse Theory and Critical Media Politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.178-200

Kahn, Richard and Doublas M. Kellner (2006). ‘Oppositional politics and the internet: a critical/ Reconstructive approach. In Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Doublas M. Kellner (eds). Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks, London: Blackwell, pp.703-725

Turner, Graeme (2004) Understanding Celebrity, London: Sage. van Zoonen, Lisbet (2005) Entertaining the Citizen: when Politics and Popular Culture Converge, Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Wall, Melissa A. (2007) ‘Social movements and email: expressions of on-line identity in the globalization protests’, New Media and Society 9(2): 258-277, LA: Sage Publications.

July 10th (Wed.): SOUTH KOREAN TELEVISION DRAMA: CULTURAL IMPACT AND CRITICAL INTERROGATION (Jeongmee Kim, Manchester Metropolitan University)

The session will examine the international circulation of Korean television drama and explore some of the ways in which cross-border television impacts upon transcultural understanding. A number of recent scholarly works on Korean drama, primarily focusing on East Asian audiences, have displayed a tendency to identify commonalities between East Asian countries and East Asian viewers and have discussed these shared traits in relation to various aspects of pan-Asianism. Such studies have been invaluable in that they have identified themes and practices in the consumption and construction of discourses and meanings in relation to Korean television fictions that have crossed national borders. As a result, the existence of underlying pan-Asian appeals and qualities remain key assumptions that underpin much of the study of Korean television drama today. In the process of exploring some of the key arguments and influential ideas put forward as to why Asians enjoy Korean television drama, the key questions considered in this seminar will be the extent to which the perceived Asianness of Korean drama has been crucial to its international reception and critical examination and, conversely, the extent to which it has been detrimental.


Chua, Beng Huat and Iwabuchi, Koichi (2008b). ‘Introduction: East Asian TV Dramas: Identifications, Sentiments, and Effects.’ In Chua Beng Huat and Koichi Iwabuchi (eds.) East Asian Pop Culture: Analysing the Korean Wave. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, pp. 1-12.

Chua, Beng Huat (2008). ‘Structure of Identification and Distancing in Watching East Asian Television Drama.’ In Chua Beng Huat and Koichi Iwabuchi (eds.) East Asian Pop Culture: Analysing the Korean Wave. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, pp. 73-89.

Kim, Jeongmee (2007). ‘Why Does Hallyu Matter?: The Significance of the Korean Wave in South Korea.’ Critical Studies in Television, 2(2), pp. 47-59.

July 11th (Thurs.) : POPULAR CULTURE AND IMAGE BUILDING (Roald Maliangkay, Australian National University)

In Korea, many people spend considerable time on social networking systems such as Facebook and Kakaotalk. Although their behavior has not changed that much in recent years, the networks allow them to highlight their purchases, travels and decisions instantly and prominently. Popular culture and celebrity appear to have changed the notion of status and they have made people more aware of their own. How do popular culture and social networking systems affect the way in which people spend their money and time, and, ultimately, try to distinguish themselves?


Nemeth, Jeanne. "Contemporary Collecting: Examining Passionate Pursuits."Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education23 (2005): 41–51.

Shin Dong Kim. "Culture Industry and Cultural Capital: The Making of the Korean Wave and Transnationalization of Media Culture in East Asia."Han’guk pangsong hakhoe semina mit pogosŏ[Korean broadcasting research society seminars and reports] 2 (2005): 1–5.\


The “global” has been a mesmerizing catchphrase, a magic word promising international recognition and material opulence for South Koreans for about two decades. “Segyehwa,” the Korean version of globalization, was initiated by Kim Young Sam government, the first Korean regime that proclaimed it to be a foremost national goal in 1994. For many Koreans, this fad word meant the repositioning of South Korea “from the periphery to the center,” or its receiving the limelight on the global stage; and the shortcut to this rosy future was undoubtedly “opening” the door of the nation to the world. “Opening up” meant for most South Koreans an economic affair, that is, integration of Korean economy into the world economy. It promised easier and faster exchanges of goods and services across the national borders; it also promised improving the national standards in the various socio-economic activities to be on par with those of the advanced countries. It is a grim ironical history that by opening its door, South Korea, falling an easy prey to the global hedge fund, had to resort to International Monetary Fund in 1997 to bail herself out. This financial disaster resulted in some South Korean nationals virulently criticizing the beneficiality of de-regulating trans-national flows in goods, capital, and information. However, the Hallyu has been an exception to these South Koreans’ wary responses to the idea of participating in the de-regulated global world. The overseas success of the Korean Wave seems to substantiate the flimsy claim that the most national is also global. This session focuses on a theoretical inquiry about the significance of the ‘global’ and the ‘national’ to the nationals on the periphery of the globe. It will also discuss the presence of aporia within South Koreans’ sense of the global and the national, bringing to light the inconsistence in their responses to such inter-cultural exchanges as the Korean Wave and the influx of Chinese Koreans into South Korea.


Cheah, Pheng. The Cosmopolitical – Today. In Pheng Cheah & Bruce Robins (eds.) The Cosmopolitics: thinking and feeling beyond the nation. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1998.

Week 2: Asia as a Trans-national Cultural Space


This session introduces the ideas of comaprativism and colonial modernity in Asia by using the invention of "Literature" as an example. The modern sense of "Literature" is an invention of colonial modernity and it grows with an insistent desire for natinoal(ist) representation that is hinged upon a logic of comparativism. A "rediscovery" of literature as a complex notion of modernity thus allows us to critically engage with the history of colonialism and its lasting impact today. This session intends to familiarize students with a complex picture of colonial modernity in Asia as the ground in which literature--national, regional, comparative, or global--as we know it is to be re-imagined and re-tooled.

       Chen, Kuan-hsing. 2010.Asia as Method. Durham: Duke UP.

      Karatani, Kojin. 1993.The Origin of Modern Japanese Literature. Durham: Duke UP.

       Liu, Lydia. 1999.Translingual Practice. Stanford: Stanford UP.

       Mignolo, Walter. 2012.The Darker Side of Modernity. Durham: Duke UP.

      Spivak, Gayatri. 2009. "Rethinking Comparativism."New Literary History40.3: 609 -26.

July 16th (Tue.) : DO SPORTS MATTER IN MODERN ASIA? (Younghan Cho, HUFS)

Aided by new media technologies, sports have been globalized with tremendous rapidity. American sports in particular became an international juggernaut in the 1990s. However, the popularity of global sports has neither resulted in cultural homogenization (i.e., Americanization) among local sports fans. Instead, in spite of globalization, sports in Asia remain inherently connected to both national and local roots.  Rather, the globalization of sport in Asia comprises diverse connections among global, regional, and national identities. This session will deal with several issues in sports in Asia such as nationalism, media representation, governmentality, fandom, and identity politics in the contexts of South Korea and East Asia.  In so doing, it will ask whether or how the study on sports would contribute to providing a better understanding of modern Asia and its relation to the processes of globalization.


Cho, Younghan. 2008. "The National Crisis and De/Reconstructing Nationalism in South Korea during the IMF Intervention." Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 9.1: 82-96.

-------. 2009. "The Glocalization of U.S. Sports in South Korea." Sociology of Sport Journal, 26: 320-334.

-------. "Baseball in East Asia: Double Binding of East Asian Consciousness."  


The objective of this session is to explore the theoretical concerns in the consideration of urban public screens as "media objects," as well as the arguments in media and architectural postmodernisms that offer the broader contextual impetus for the understanding of public screens and how they are changing urban modernity in East Asia. The debate over the significance of the increasing ubiquity of public screens in cityscapes is not new. Yet the rapid proliferation of them, transformed as they have been in size, scale, varieties of messages, and locations of public appearances, not to mention their social and cultural significance, is a new phenomenon that has yet to be studied and put to practical, applied analysis. An emerging body of critical work in this area suggests that our current epoch has revealed to us that despite talks of the tendency of globalization to create "generic cities" (Koolhaas, 1995), public screens in fact are highly site- specific when it comes to their social and aesthetic functions and usages. Indeed, contemporary digital display culture is about the carriage and projection of context-sensitive information and images, forming a new sense of publics, aesthetic enchantment, and transformative social agency in specific locales.

The core questions to be explored in this session are:

1. Given the manifold presence of public digital screens whose messages bathe and flow through our urban field of visuality, how do we begin to delimit them as proper "media objects"?

2. What are the aesthetics of mundane everyday life as mediated through the small screens of mobile phones? What are the new forms of intimacy made available for dissemination and sharing?

3. In the East Asian urban networks (e.g. Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, etc.), how is cultural citizenship constructed through public screens (big and small), including the engendering of a cosmopolitan outlook and the consumption of aesthetics that shapes an inter-Asian sense of subjective world-making? How are these questions related to power? How might we conceive alternatives to commercial grids of social and economic power underlying digital screen cultures?

*A short ethnographic field trip to explore public screens in Seoul may be arranged*


McCarthy, Anna (2001). Ambient Television: Visual Culture and Public Space. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

McQuire, Scott (2008). The Media City: Media, Architecture and Urban Space. Los Angeles, London, New Delhi and Singapore: Sage Publications.

Yue, Audrey (2009). "Urban Screens, Spatial Regeneration and Cultural Citizenship: The Embodied Interaction of Cultural Participation." In Scott McQuire, Meredith Martin and Sabine Niederer (eds.), Urban Screens Reader. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 261-280.

July 18th (Thurs.) : FOOD, SPACE, IDENTITY (Gaik Cheng Khoo, Univ. of Nottingham Malaysia Campus)

This workshop discusses food, eating places and their related ethnic and national identities in the context of colonialism, postcolonialism and globalisation. In particular, food figures largely as a metaphor for Asian identities in white settler colonies and in Europe and acceptance or rejection of these foods are often regarded as analogous of in/tolerance of multicultural difference. While the readings and lectures focus on examples occurring in Australia and Southeast Asia, they provide a basis for thinking about food, the self/Other in contemporary South Korea as it deals with multiculturalism.

The first hour lecture will provide a theoretical or conceptual picture of food, place and identity, specifically dealing with Ghassan Hage’s concept of cosmo-multiculturalism, postcolonial feminist approaches by Narayan and Lupton. The second hour lecture will focus more specifically on an ongoing book project by Khoo and Duruz entitled "Making Rojak: Food, Space and Identity in Malaysia and Singapore." It will hone in on food and public ‘third places’ (Oldenburg 1989), accessible cheap eating places like hawker centres, Chinese coffee shops and Tamil Muslim eateries found in Malaysia and Singapore, to ask what makes these places suitable for ‘transethnic solidarities’ (Mandal 1994) or commensality that transcends ethnic and religious differences.


I. Food in the ‘West’: colonialism, cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism

Hage, Ghassan. "At Home in the Entrails of the West: Multiculturalism, ethnic food and migrant home-building." In Home/World: Space, Community and Marginality in Sydney’s West. Annandale: Pluto Press, 1997, pp. 99-153.

Lupton, Deborah. Food, the body and the self. London: Sage Publications, c1996. (Read chapters 1 and 4)

Narayan, Uma. "Eating Cultures: Incorporation, Identity, and Indian Food." In Dislocating cultures: identities, traditions, and Third-World feminism. New York: Routledge, 1997, pp.161-188.

II. Food in Southeast Asia

Khoo, Gaik Cheng. "Kopitiam: Discursive Cosmopolitan Spaces and National Identity in Malaysian Culture ad Media." In Everyday Multiculturalism. Edited by Amanda Wise and Selvaraj Velayutham. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp 87-104.

Leong-Salobir, Cecilia. "The Colonial Appropriation of Curry." In Food Culture in Colonial Asia: A Taste of Empire. New York: Routledge, 2011, pp. 39-59. EB

Rajah, Ananda & Chua Beng Huat. "Hybridity, Ethnicity and food in Singapore." In Changing Chinese Foodways in Asia. Eds. David Wu and Tan Chee Beng. Hong Kong: The Chinese UP, 2001, pp 161-197.

July 19th (Fri.) : FILMING EAST ASIA: THE CASE OF TAIWAN (Pin-chia Feng, National Chiao Tung University)

This session offers two case studies of cinematic representation of contemporary

Taiwan. The morning section will focus on the issue of cinema and national history by reading Chen Kuan-hsing’s analysis of Wang Tung’s Banana Paradise and Wu Nien-chen’s Dou-san: A Borrowed Life. Another film by Wong Tong about the 1949 migration from China to Taiwan, Red Persimmon, will also be discussed. The afternoon section will address the interpretation of urban culture by Malaysian Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang in four of his films, Rebels of a Neon God, Vive L’Amour, The River, and The Hole. What links the two sections together, I argue, is the issue of diaspora and politics of cinematic representation.


Chen, Kuan-Hsing. "De-Cold War: The Im/possibility of "Great Reconciliation." Asia as Method Toward Deimperialization:. Durham: Duke UP, 2010. 115-59.

Feng, Pin-chia. "Desiring Bodies: Tsai Ming-liang’s Representation of Urban Femininity." Tamkang Review 34.2 (Winter 2003): 1-22. ("Women and the City: Urban Femininity and Body Politics in Tsai Ming-liang’s Rebels of a Neon God, Vive L’Amour, The River, and The Hole."아시아 영화의 근대성과 지정학 미학. Eds. Kim Soyoung, Earl Jackson, Jr., Im Taegeun. Seoul: Hyeonsil Munhwa, 2009. 169-90. [Korean translation of the English version])


Tsai, Ming-liang. Rebels of a Neon God (青哪吒. 1992.

---. Vive L’Amour (愛情萬歲). 1994.

---. The River (河流). 1997.

---. The Hole (). 1998.

Wang, Tung, dir. Banana Paradise (香蕉天堂). Taipei: Central Picture Corporation, 1989.

---. Red Persimmon (紅柿. Taipei: Central Picture Corporation, 1995.

Wu, Nien-chen, dir. Dou-san: A Borrowed Life (多桑). Taipei: Long Shong, 1994.

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