Problematizing East Asia: Theory and Engagement (CFP closes 30 June 2015)

full name / name of organization: 
Special Issue of Tamkang Review
contact email: 

Anglo-American neo-liberalism is a double-edged sword that at once consolidates and weakens the long-term Western dominance. On the one hand, global capitalism establishes new parameters for modernization and its universalized logic, as Fredric Jameson has argued, effectively penetrates "all these excluded or neglected, 'undeveloped' vacant lots" on the planet. The irrevocable subjection of Third World countries to the global economic system, in other words, testifies to the soft yet indomitable power of Western dominance, which is continuing under new guises in the wake of the Cold War. Nevertheless, it is also all thanks to the centrifugal force of global economy that considerably alters the geopolitical dynamics and affords a basis for the self-transformation of East Asia into a player to be reckoned with on the global chessboard. Even though China's "peaceful rise" to superpower status and Washington's strategic "returning to Asia" have added complexity to emerging cohesion of East Asia, it is the growing tendency to regard any attempt at "re-territorializing" East Asia as a threat to its regained autonomy.

The sea change in the regional and global dynamics that East Asia is precipitating and confronting should simultaneously involve a will to know, primarily because a geopolitically or economically strong presence is no guarantee of a genuine self-transformation. It is no accident that a will to theory in the East Asian intellectual circles is perceptibly expressed at the present moment, intimating the pivotal significance of conceptualizing and theorizing, or to put it provocatively, problematizing East Asia itself. This epistemological drive to raise East Asia up to the theoretical level, and to deal with it less as a study object than a set of problematics, always concerns the possibility of envisaging an "East Asia to come" both within and beyond the given theoretical co-ordinates. Herein involved the necessity of posing a series of fundamental questions in the first place: What does it mean to do theory in East Asia, particularly when theory is somehow pejoratively labeled (as "high theory" distanced itself from local reality, for example) or viewed with suspicion as the epistemological models imported from the West? Is "doing theory" in East Asia itself a symptom, pointing precisely to the long-standing presence of the West in the interior of East Asia? If that is the case, then is it a workable project to revitalize the old glory of East Asian intellectual tradition and envision it as a potential mine of solution to the complications caused by Western intellectual dominance? Why can't East Asia rather be seen as a symptom of Western modernity, which needs to be properly deciphered with the indispensable help of Western critical theories? Or is there also a likelihood that the encounter between theory and East Asia can develop a relationship more dialectical, making East Asia a singular set of problematics whence a more productive alternative to our habitual thinking is evolving?

The purpose of this special issue is to engage researchers who seek to create critical and experimental thinking on the complicated and thought-provoking relationship between theory and East Asia. Prospective authors for the special issue should write manuscripts in English and prepare them according to the latest edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Please send the manuscript along with a 300-word abstract and 5-6 keywords to the Guest Editors by 30, June 2015 at We will acknowledge receipt of the submission. In conformity with the submission guidelines of Tamkang Review, this special issue does not accept multiple submissions or submissions that are under consideration— either in whole or in part— simultaneously elsewhere. Authors are advised that submissions are referred to specialist readers and that revision may subsequently be required before the contribution is accepted for publication. Submissions are refereed anonymously. If you have any inquiries about this special issue, please feel free to direct them to

[Guest Editors]
Yen-bin Chiou, (Department of English, National Chengchi University, Taiwan)
Hung-chiung Li, (Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, National Taiwan University, Taiwan)