CFP: [Graduate] CFP: Spectacle East Asia

full name / name of organization: 
Godfre Leung

Spectacle East Asia: Translocation, Publicity, and Counterpublics

The Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies and the Global East Asia: Media, Popular
Culture, and the Pacific Century Humanities Project at the University of Rochester invite
submissions for an interdisciplinary graduate conference on Saturday, April 11, 2009. The
keynote address will be delivered by the curator and critic Okwui Enwezor. Professor Enwezor is
dean of academic affairs at the San Francisco Art Institute, adjunct curator at the International
Center of Photography in New York, and has served as the artistic director of the Second
Johannesburg Biennale in South Africa, Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany,the 2nd Biennial of
Seville in Spain, and most recently, the 2008 Gwangju Biennale in South Korea.

In East Asia, the year 2008 was marked by large-scale cultural spectacles: from the Beijing
Olympics to contemporary art biennales and triennials in Taipei, Gwangju, Yokohama, Shanghai,
Busan, Seoul, and Guangzhou. Each of these events reflected the local, national, and global
points of production, dissemination, and reception that characterize spectacle in East Asia in the
21st century. The various degrees to which nation-states have been involved in orchestrating
these events and the multifacetedness of public responses to and experiences of these spectacles
call for a critical examination of the formation of publics and counterpublics encouraged, if not
produced by, these events. This discussion, we contend, begins from looking beyond the long-
held binary between oppressive state power and oppositional political resistance that has come
to obscure the complexity of the various and competing trans-national cultural and political
agendas advanced in the East Asian public sphere.

This conference aims to expand the traditional understanding of the public as constituted by
print culture (articulated by Jürgen Habermas and Benedict Anderson, among others), by
emphasizing "the poetic functions of both language and corporeal expressivity" in shaping
publics (Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics). The focus on spaces of performativityâ€"
including but certainly not limited to print cultureâ€"as the site from which publics and
counterpublics arise requires reflection on multiple forms of spectacle, such as public
demonstrations, cyber space, film, video, performance, and other cultural practices.

Papers may include a theoretical model for how public and counterpublic discourses may emerge
in the 21st century and/or analyses on visual and cultural production that speak to the notion of
spectacle and/or publicity in the sociopolitical, economic, or cultural contexts of East Asia. The
conference is open but not limited to original scholarship in the following areas:

· International art biennials, film festivals, and sporting events as spectacles
· Politics of the spectacle in its local, national, and global contexts
· Public demonstrations as spectacle or counter-spectacle (the May 18 Gwangju Uprising in
South Korea in 1980, the June Fourth Movement in China in 1989, the candlelight vigil
demonstrations against U.S. beef import in South Korea in 2008, the protests against the Beijing
Olympic torch relay, etc.)
· Integration of art and activism
· Application of Internet, virtual communities, and new communication technologies (cell
phone camera, web blogs, youtube, social network service, etc.) in forming public/counterpublic
· Issues of techno-nationalism and netizenry
· East Asian subcultures (Otaku, QQ groups, migrant labor literature, outdoor exercise
gathering, underground church, underground music, Internet Café and online game cultures, etc.)
· New social classes formed by forces of globalization ("Freeters and Neets," migrant workers,
· "Independent" or "underground" filmmaking and distribution (documentary films, queer
films, home videos, pornography, etc.)
· Exchange of cultural products within East Asia and current shifts in their production and
reception (movie or soap drama remakes, cross-media adaptation of Manga to films, Hallyu the
"Korean Wave," collaboration and co-production among auteurs from different countries,
transnational funding sources, etc.)

Key words: spectacle, public, counterpublic, transnational identification

The peer-reviewed electronic journal In Visible Culture plans to publish the conference
proceedings in its Spring 2010 issue (

We also encourage artists to send in presentations of art projects related to these themes. We are
especially interested in video work.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words with a CV by January 15th, 2009 to Godfre
Leung and Sohl Lee ( and Authors will be
informed of the organizing committee's decision by February 1st, 2009.

The Spectacle East Asia conference is co-sponsored by the Graduate Program in Visual and
Cultural Studies and the Global East Asia Humanities Project.

For more information, please visit the Humanities Project website:

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Received on Tue Dec 16 2008 - 15:23:27 EST