CFP: Spying on East Asia: Intelligence and Surveillance in the Age of Information

Krystel Mowery's picture
Call for Papers
September 15, 2020
Missouri, United States
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Humanities, Journalism and Media Studies, Library and Information Science

Due to COVID-19 related concerns and uncertainties, “Spying on East Asia” conference has been postponed until February 27 – 28, 2021.  The new CFP deadline is September 15, 2020. Those who have already submitted a proposal do not need to resubmit.

Spying on East Asia: Intelligence and Surveillance in the Age of Information

February 27 – 28, 2021
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Washington University in St. Louis

This two-day conference will focus on secret agents and hidden control during hot, cold, and information wars in East Asia throughout the twentieth century to the present. Competition over information formed an invisible yet vitally important battlefield that had paramount effects on the war front in the first half of the twentieth century. Newly invented media technologies, such as radio, telegram, and tape recording, were mobilized to gather, reproduce, and disseminate intelligence. Secret agents and spies crossed institutional, regional, and national boundaries, destabilizing senses of truth and trust. The prevalence of the espionage genre in East Asia reflects the heightened political tension that persisted throughout the cold war, and also contributes to contemporary imaginations of wartime. Today, new technologies of surveillance and information control have largely reshaped people’s social experience and sense of security, raising pressing questions about power, privacy, and identity.

Bringing together scholars from various disciplines, this conference presents a collective effort to unveil the secrecy and significance of information circulation and control in changing historical contexts. How did hidden forms of control impact the trajectory of social history as well as everyday life? How is the secret world of espionage represented in popular culture? In what ways do new media technologies shape social relations and the production of identity? Topics contributors may wish to consider include:

  1. Spy novels, films and TV dramas
  2. Wartime and Cold War espionage trainings and activities
  3. Disguised identity and the issue of collaboration
  4. Media technology (radio, telegram, recording devices, computer, facial recognition, Artificial Intelligence, etc.) in information gathering and circulation
  5. Surveillance and control
  6. Security and privacy

Related creative approaches and inquiries are welcome.

We invite scholars and Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences to attend the conference, to be held on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, February 27 – 28, 2021. Please email an abstract of no more than 300 words to Dr. Yuqian Yan ( by September 15, 2020. Graduate students should also submit a short curriculum vita (1-2 pages) to receive full consideration. Successful applicants will be notified before October 1, 2020, and will be asked to submit a completed draft of their papers by February 10, 2021 for pre-circulation purposes.

Local accommodations including food and lodging will be covered by the conference. We regret that we are unable to cover faculty participant’s travel costs. Graduate students will be reimbursed up to $300 to cover travel expense.

This conference is supported by a grant from Taiwan Ministry of Education and funding from Washington University School of Arts and Sciences, and co-sponsored by East Asian Studies Program, Program in Film and Media Studies, and Performing Arts Department.

NOTE: The conference organizers are planning for a normal conference at this point, but they are also preparing for alternate arrangements (virtual or hybrid) if need be.


Contact Info: 

Dr. Yuqian Yan

Contact Email: