Call: Mechademia Conference on Asian Cultures: Kyoto 2020 “Ecologies”

Frenchy Lunning's picture
May 30, 2020 to June 1, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Japanese History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies

In the past few decades, media systems have been seen as increasingly complex, interwoven, and global in their scope. One way to approach this complex system is through the growing interdisciplinary discourse of ecology.  “Ecology” encompasses a range of concepts that began in the sciences and have spread to the social sciences and humanities. Scholars have discovered that the use of metaphors from environmental ecologies, such as regeneration, symbiosis, precarities, economies, flows, emergences, growths and disintegrations, webs and networks, and mutual dependencies -- create new methods to develop “new taxonomies, new visualizations, and fresh ways of thinking about how culture operates.” In this vein of thought, we may (re)discover the non-human, engage with its dynamism productively. 

As such, ecologies provide ways to map the full range of a cultural formation: from its recognized and documented quantitative evidence, to the intricate affective networks of individual and subcultural interconnections that provide the ever-renewing energy provoking growth and evolutionary change. Ann Markussen describes these ecologies as: “the many networks of arts and cultural creators, producers, presenters, sponsors, participants, and supporting casts embedded in diverse communities… cultivating a view of its wholeness and interconnectedness...We define the arts and cultural ecology as the complex interdependencies that shape the demand for and production of arts and cultural offerings” (2011).

Asian popular cultures in particular can be seen to encompass monstrous, entangled network of subjects, objects, and practices of media mix and fan culture. While these vast, multi-layered, multimedia constellations can seem overwhelming to the outside eye, they are recognizable to fans immediately by an index of familiar and familial elements via the various fandoms who produce, re-produce, and consume them. The popularization of anime and manga emerging in the latter half of the 20th century is exemplary, but both similar and distinct media and fandoms have developed across Asia (and elsewhere). We invite scholars, artists, and producers of Asian popular cultures to develop individual 20-minute conference papers and/or panels on Asian media ecologies to be presented at the Kyoto International Manga Museum in Kyoto, Japan on May 30th-June 1st, 2020. 

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Fandoms: works, formations, influences 
  • Historical mapping of contemporary forms of media ecologies 
  • Media mix: production, industries, and marketing 
  • Transnational interconnections
  • Developmental time/space in culture(s)
  • Family trees and taxonomies of particular works or franchises
  • Environmental elements that mark and index forms
  • Explorations of the structures of the non-human, fictional or other modes of existence, and their communities
  • Representations of ecological or environmental themes in manga, anime, and other media texts

Paper and/or panel proposals in abstracts of no more than 250 words are due on or before September 1st, 2019. Send conference proposals to:

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