Crusoe in Asia Conference

full name / name of organization: 
University of Tsukuba, Japan
contact email: 
Yukari Yoshihara (

Criticism of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe has tended to focus on the period of his residence on the island, or even more narrowly on his initial complete isolation. Earlier episodes such as Crusoe’s own enslavement are usually erased, and comparatively little interest has been shown in the complex constitutional arrangements instituted on his return to the Caribbean. Yet if geographical space is compressed in the first volume, in the second, the action ranges globally: Crusoe not only goes back to his earlier domain but also roams across Asia.

This conference wishes to explore three aspects of this theme:

1) Focusing on the novel in its original eighteenth-century context, and examining how it draws upon contemporary debates on politics, finance, religion, and geography; in particular, how the moral-economic rationale established in the island scenes is applied to the later representation of Asia, and the extent to which this is deserving of the familiar post-colonial strictures on latent imperialist ideology?
2) Adaptations in a specifically Asian context. Reworkings by writers such as Golding, Tournier, Walcott and Coetzee have attracted considerable attention; however the diverse and innovative assimilation of the novel within numerous Asian traditions has been comparatively neglected. What is about the story of Crusoe that allows such free-ranging proliferation of afterlives? How can a narrative so contracted and apparently devoid of incident continue to generate such a dynamic process of cross-cultural translation?
3) Joyce famously described Crusoe as ‘the epitome of the Anglo-Saxon spirit’, yet the intransigently Protestant nationalism of the novel has not been an obstacle to multiple and fluid assimilation across the world. This raises the broader question of whether realism as a form has a specific European genealogy, based on empiricist observation and free-market consumerism, or whether it cross-mutates with genres already developed in other cultural traditions. Furthermore, if Crusoe offers an exemplary parable of economic individualism, to what extent might that lesson be compatible with indigenously Asian forms of capitalism?

Length of Papers (provisional): 20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for discussion

Submission of Abstracts:
Please e-mail abstracts in English of no more than 250 words to Yukari Yoshihara ( on or before May 31, 2014. Abstracts should be in Word format and should be sent as an attachment. The following information should be included in the body of your email:

1. author’s full name
2. author’s e-mail address and postal address
3. institutional affiliation and address

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Organizing Committee of Crusoe in Asia Conference.

Notification of acceptance of abstracts. Authors will be notified of the acceptance of their abstracts on or before June 30, 2014.

Organizing Committee
Stephen Clark (University of Tokyo)
Noriyuki Harada (Tokyo Woman’s Christian University)
Hajime Saito (University of Tsukuba)
Masaaki Takeda (University of Tokyo)
Yukari Yoshihara (University of Tsukuba)

cfp categories: