The IAFOR Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2018: Recentering: Asian Spaces, Cultures and Ideas in the 21st Century

deadline for submissions: 
January 11, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
The International Academic Forum/Kobe, Japan, March 30-April 1, 2018
contact email: 

Call for Papers

Abstract Submission Deadline: January 11, 2018

If globalisation is characterised by simultaneous networks of information, has the concept of centres become obsolete? Or do certain recent geopolitical developments – the fading of America’s “global leadership” being counterbalanced by the rise of China’s, the latter’s new Belt and Road Initiative promising to become a new Silk Road, Britain’s exit from the EU, and the newly proposed trade agreements between Japan and Europe – put the world on the verge of a radical recentering? Will the burgeoning mega-cities in Asia displace the traditional nation-state in the competition for capital, status and enhanced technologies? 

Scholars and students of the humanities have long questioned the extent to which shifts in formations of power – empires, countries, regions, cities – resonate through cultural practices that centre on literary and aesthetic meaning, expression and representation. This provokes further questions about how such centres can be identified, defined and represented; and about their relations of other types and modes of centering. Is cultural prestige dependent on political centrality? Or can it be achieved through the circulation of forms and aesthetics that operate in their own economy? For that matter, what is central to its meanings and valuations of culture? 

What of the humanities themselves? Fears of their marginalisation are based on the assumption that they were once central, and that the only way to restore their former authority is to argue against their subordination to scientific, technological or vocational forms of education. Can the humanities find new life in multi- or cross-disciplinary frameworks? How can they survive the dominant trend towards more marketable or “useful” forms of education? What is central to the humanities? Should older disciplines such as Literature and Aesthetics reinvent themselves as it be Cultural Studies? Or should they now concentrate on comprehending their own historical genealogies in relation to current scholarly practices? 

There is also the question of why, in the wake of postcolonial and transnational decenterings, do elite Anglo-American universities retain so much of their cultural capital? How might humanities redefine themselves if recentred in Asian institutions? Is it possible for the prevailing discourses of Western humanism to be combined with Asian values, goals and traditions? Could such a transformation help to rehabilitate the humanities’ current beleaguered status in America and Europe? 

Our present historical moment compels us to think through the implications of these and other modes of recentering. The Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities 2018 provides an opportunity for academics, artists, writers and students to explore the challenges of multi-faceted and interdisciplinary rethinkings of the ways we imagine, articulate and work with centres. 

Plenary speakers: Dr. Eun Kyung Min, Seoul National University; Prof. Li Ou, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Dr. Yutaka Mino, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art; Dr. Shoso Shimbo, RMIT University

To submit abstracts and for more information, see