A Roundtable on "Commoning a Discipline: Asian Cultural Studies or Cultural Studies in Asia?"

Mithilesh Kumar's picture
February 18, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Humanities, Social History / Studies

A Roundtable on

Commoning a Discipline: Asian Cultural Studies or Cultural Studies in Asia?


February 18, 2022

5:30-7:30pm (SGT); 3:00-5:00pm (IST)

Registration Link: Multiple Decolonalities and the Making of Asian Commons | School of Humanities | NTU Singapore

As part of the conference on Multiple Decolonialities and the Making of Asian Commons, this roundtable is an attempt to review and explore the discipline of cultural studies for the actualization of “Asian Commons”. In other words, we ask in what ways cultural studies is currently structured in Asia disciplinarily, institutionally, and geographically, and how it needs to be reconfigured in order to fulfil the promise of “Asian Commons.” 

While the disciplinary practices in Western academia still function as a model for how cultural studies is researched and taught in the rest of the world, albeit with some local adjustment, the heterogeneity in Asia also implies that the political, institutional, and disciplinary imperatives have shaped the discipline in very specific ways, to the extent that each invocation of “Cultural Studies” may refer to a distinct epistemological object. This raises the question if an Asian Cultural Studies in distinction to Cultural Studies can be thought of in any meaningful way. As part of the “Asian Common” project, this roundtable intends to discuss the possibility of an Asian Cultural Studies and its limitations. In a sense, this roundtable is an attempt at translations between many practices in Asia under the disciplinary nomenclature of Cultural Studies.

The roundtable will take into consideration the following lines of questioning without limiting itself to them:

  1. Field— What is the ontological status of Asian Cultural Studies? Is it Cultural Studies with “Asian Characteristics,” meaning that the disciplinary frameworks, methodologies, and pedagogical areas remain derivative of the “mainstream” practices of Cultural Studies in Western academia, with Asia functioning merely as the field from which specific “data” are culled and interpretations of local particularities performed? Or, is Asian Cultural Studies a distinct field of inquiry with its own research agenda, methodologies, and pedagogical approaches? If this is the case, what would they be like?
  2. Genealogy— Is there a distinct intellectual tradition to Asian Cultural Studies? How can they be unearthed and articulated? How are they reflected in the contemporary practices of Cultural Studies in Asia? In what ways do they enable or limit new and potentially more radical and progressive intellectual projects to flourish in this field?
  3. Scale of theorization—While Western scholars incline to theorize at a global or planetary scale, Cultural Studies in Asia is practiced with more modest ambitions. The project of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies pioneered in building epistemological and institutional solidarities across many different kinds of borders in Asia. With this project in mind, we ask in what ways Asian Cultural Studies can empirically engage and theorize at the planetary scale? What methodological innovations would a planetary Asian Cultural Studies enable?
  4. Commons of Asian Cultural Studies— How could scholars, students, practitioners, and institutions in Asia create Asian Cultural Studies as an intellectual and creative common? How could existing networks be expanded and new ones built? What are the experiences in the past that can be recognized, revived, and mobilized for the end of making an Asian Cultural Studies?



Alima Bissenova, Nazarbayev University

Anaheed Al-Hardan, American University of Beirut

Chua Beng Huat, National University of Singapore

Chen Kuan-hsing, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University

C. J. WEE Wan-ling, Nanyang Technological University

Rashmi Sawhney, Christ University, India


Conference on Multiple Decolonialities and the Making of Asian Commons


Hong Kong Research Hub, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore;

Department of English and Cultural Studies, Central Campus, Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, India