CFP: What's Left of Asia? (3/17/03; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Daniel F Vukovich
contact email:

"What's Left of Asia?": Special Issue of *positions: east asia cultures

Why do we need to think about "Asia" as a problematic today? On the horizon
is the prospective intensification of flows of capital and labor in the
region through the strategic inter-state negotiation of "ASEAN" plus three
(Korea, China, and Japan). On the ground, variously based in the region and
laying a claim to it, transnational non-governmental networks and
organizations have in recent decades grown as products and responses to
globalization. In the fields of social analysis, there have been critiques
of the power of the West in shaping modernization trajectories and national
and regional identities, as well as the role of the (imagined) West as the
spectral address and consumer of knowledge production. Thus we can no longer
neglect inter-regional flows and connections in "Asia," in the history of
anti-colonial and national struggles, in the history of leftist movements,
and in the emergent intellectual efforts to conceive locales other than the
West as referents (cf. the efforts of *Inter-Asia Cultural Studies*, of the
Korean journal *Changjak Kwa Eipyong* or "Creation and Criticism," of *Asia'
s New Century*, a multi-volume project from Japan, of the inter-Asia *zhishi
gongtong ti* or "intellectual community" working group, etc.). Surely there
is an "Asia" out there, but "Asia" is also variously signified in these and
other discourses and practices, and is involved in the production and
negotiation of new visions of regional economy, accumulation of capital,
politics of culture, in present and emerging political alliances and groups
focused on the environment, gender and sexuality, and labor.

This is to say, then, that older debates about "the Asia question," or of
how and what "Asia" means or matters, today know a new lease on life. In
the current context of globalization and its discontents, the problematic of
"Asia," because of the imaginary and contestable status of its referent, is
on the agenda of critical, intellectual inquiry.

The proposed special issue also intends to link US-based concerns about
"area studies" with the discussions and debates over the question of "Asia"
in East Asia and other Third World contexts. The assumption of this project
is that neither the US-based critique of "area studies," nor Asia-based
discussions of "Asia," can be self-adequate or sufficient. The local
deconstruction of "area studies" in the US, having perhaps reached an
impasse in a post-Cold-War context, can be brought into productive dialogue
with scholarship and movements within Asia, so as to re-energize and help
transform the practice of Area or Asian Studies. Similarly, US-based
discussions of Cold War and post-Cold War politics in shaping Area Studies
could alert colleagues based in Asia to be aware of the self-interested
discussions of "Asia" in Asia. The meeting of these different projects might
help provincialize US-based critiques and might furnish an alternative
context where we can begin to transform the logic of the "universal"/theory
and the "particular"/data. We hope to promote a cross-fertilization of
discussions based in North America, Asia, and elsewhere. What kinds of
meaningful exchanges can be mobilized across generations of radical
thinking, and between critical thinking in Asia, the US, and elsewhere? We
think this is an open-ended question and challenge worth pursuing.

This issue of positions, "What's Left of Asia?," engages the problematic of
"Asia", and seeks contributions and interventions across several fronts. We
invite your contributions to the by no means exhaustive list of topics
below, or to one of your own devise:

-What are the influences of the Cold War on scholarship, thought, politics,
and the social divisions within Asia? What has changed with the alleged
 "end" of the Cold War? How should Area Studies, and its critique, proceed
in the context of post-Cold-War globalization?

-How has "Asia" been imagined or produced in the past, or how is it being
done today? What are the problems or legacies of Eurocentrism and
Orientalism in "thinking Asia"?

-When one addresses the problematic of "Asia" from within a particular
nation or region, what problems or questions about the local or "home"
context are generated?

-Production of narratives of "Asia" has been most active in Japan. How does
"Asia" mean when perspectives are located in South Asia, Southeast Asia,
China, Korea, etc.? What other narratives and histories of connections
between "Asian" societies can emerge? Can there be alternative, social
imaginaries of "Asia," and are these potentially progressive?

- Critiques of "Asian Studies" within Asia: In whose interest and by what
means is the "Asia question" pursued within Asia? How might this question
be related to the critiques of Area Studies within North America? What are
the limits of what can be said about "Asia" within Asia?

-How are current leftist projects related to historical socialisms? Can
socialism be resurrected as a viable space of critique in relation to
capitalism? Here we might want to speculate on what kinds of objects we
could organize our scholarship around, which would take into account the
sedimented histories and the specificities of place in ways that would
dissolve "Asia" as its central pivot.

- Nationalism, Regionalism, Internationalism in, or in reference to Asia.
Is nationalism/internationalism a false dichotomy? How does regionalism (or
"Asianism") relate to this pairing? In the context of global heterogeneity
and fragmentation, how do we re-examine or re-construct internationalism?
Is "regionalism" opposed to the "universal logic" of capital and

- "Asia" and the World System. What is the political-economic status of
"Asia" within the world capitalist system? Can Asia culturally, politically
or economically "de-link" (Samir Amin's term for establishing relative
national or regional autonomy) from the world system? Or more specifically,
can Asian nations or sub-regions consciously remove themselves from a
dependent relationship to the global capitalist system?

- "Asia" in the Third World or the Third World in Asia. How is "the Asia
question" related to the questions and histories of the Third World? Can we
think of Asia as insoluble part of the Third World? Since we now find the
Third World in the First World, and vice versa, how do we meaningfully link
"Asia" with "the Third World"?

We welcome your inquiries and contributions. Proposals (250-500 words) are
due by March 17th. Completed papers (of 25-30 pages) will be required by
September 1, 2003. Postions is an independent refereed journal. For
submissions guidelines, please visit Please send your
inquiries, proposals, and papers to Yan Hairong and Daniel Vukovich at
addresses below.

Yan Hairong, Society of Fellows, Joseph Henry House, Princeton University,
Princeton, NJ 08544. Email: Fax: 1-609-258-2783

Daniel Vukovich, Dept. of Film and Digital Media, Porter Faculty Services,
University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064. Email: Fax: 1-831-459-3535

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Received on Sat Feb 15 2003 - 23:07:26 EST

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