Pacific Asia Cultural Studies Forum 

NEWSLETTER

Vol.4, No.3 

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Vol. 4, No. 1



NEWSLETTER Vol.4, No.3 
24 July 2001
Contents:
1. Seminar Report and Abstracts
2. Workshop Report
3. Special Talk Report and Abstract
4. Special Event Report and Abstract
5. Comments on the Summer Term Events
 

1. Seminar Report and Abstracts

10th May 2001: Copyright, Internet, Fandom and Globalisation

SPEAKERS
-- Bertha Chin (Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College) 
-- Gregor Claude (Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College) 
-- Neil Rae (Media and Communication, Goldsmiths College) 

COMMENTATOR
-- Prof. Scott Lash (Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College)
 

[ABSTRACTS]

Bertha Chin ‘Virtual Communities and Fandom’

Community is often defined as a group of people living together in a specific locality with a shared government, historical and/or cultural heritage. So when groups of people began to congregate on the Internet (on discussion forums, chat rooms and so forth) based on a common interest and began forming what is now commonly known as virtual or online communities, sceptics criticised the idea of the ‘virtual community’ as being naive and utopian. Cultural critics, like Neil Postman (1992), for instance, argued that virtual communities lack the fundamental feature of a common obligation and commitment. In fandom however, the notion of the fan community is taken seriously, and with the easy accessibility of the Internet, fans have began to gather and conduct their fan activities online. This paper aims to explore the relationship between fandom and virtual communities, and how the Internet is utilised by fandom in its practices. Looking at online communities of fans of the hit television show, The X-Files, I will be arguing that there is a complexity beyond the dystopian and utopian arguments surrounding virtual communities and we should be developing a more neutral approach that is more aware of the intricate relationship between the two.
 

Neil Rae ‘Global Links to Japan: Copyright, Manga and Globalisation from Below’

Japan has been a major economic force in recent history since it ‘found its feet’ after defeat in the Second World War. This success has generally been focused in heavy industry and more recently high technology, or to put it another way on hardware rather than software, with the result that most academic studies of this field focus on these areas: one example being the now widely theorised post-Fordist model of ‘Toyotism’. Conversely, as yet there have been few attempts to address the growing popularity and penetration of Japanese cultural and media products in foreign climes. This paper seeks to uncover the network of power relations that underpin the, now, global presence of Japanese comic books, or Manga, and discuss their implications in relation to standard discourse on globalisation. Rather than simply exporting their products in order to enter a foreign market (the hallmark of many a multinational company), there has been a general trend among Japanese publishers to institutionalise a practice of licensing their copyrighted material for reproduction by overseas entrepreneurs interested in making this product available to their local consuming publics. This results in a pattern noticeably different to that of so-called transnational companies, especially concerning the infrastructure of business relations that make this form possible. Therefore, in turn, the structure of power relationships, explained through relative levels of risk taken in this venture, is also fundamentally different. The potential to appropriate this form of globalisation in other media industries is discussed through comparison to the recent success of selling the format for the ITV show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” to interested parties overseas. 
 

Gregor Claude ‘Beyond Copyright: Culture Industries and Digital Media’

Intellectual property (IP) is arguably the defining product of the information age. It includes copyrighted culture, patented technologies, and global trademarked brands. My research focuses on copyright ? the cultural form of IP ? and concerns the intersection of cultural industries, digital media technology, and copyright law. 
Internet technology and its implementation as a global network has undermined the stability of copyright as a means of controlling cultural products. I want to investigate how cultural industries like the music, publishing and film industries, who hold much of their capital in the form of copyright, negotiate the technological development of networked information and communications technologies like the Internet.
I look at the digital cultural object as a synthesis of three key elements: culture, technology, and law. In this paper I begin by looking at the changing status of copyright law. I then look at two key technologies: that of computers and networks themselves, and encryption technology used in ‘digital rights management’ programs. Finally, I explore questions of control, jurisdiction, and boundaries in a globalized technological culture.
 

1st June 2001: Media, Politics and the Public Sphere in Transitional China

SPEAKERS
-- Shih-Diing Liu (Centre for Communication and Information Studies, University of Westminster, Former Journalist at China Times, Taipei)
-- Wei Shi (Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College, Former Journalist at China Central Television, Beijing)
-- Carol Pui-Yee Lai (Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College, Former Chairperson at Hong Kong Journalists Association)

COMMENTATOR
-- Professor James Curran (Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College)
 

[ABSTRACTS]

Shih-Diing Liu ‘Rethinking Localism in Taiwan’

After the fall of Kuomingtang (KMT) regime in 2000, the new ruling authority of Taiwan, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is encountering a new crisis. This crisis is mainly caused by a contradiction between DPP’s ideological localism and the increasing pressure from capitalist globalization.
This tendency of localism is composed of two dimensions: internally, it is a counter-politics against KMT in order to establish DPP’s new ruling status; externally, it is an anti-China strategy for reconstructing Taiwan’s international identity and recognition. The nature of localism is essentially ideological and political, nevertheless, localism has produced an unpredictable impact against globalization which characterises economic integration and beyond state boundaries. How DPP authority responds to the current crisis effectively is the crux of this paper.
 

Wei Shi ‘The Relationship between the Media and the Public Sphere in China’

How should we talk about the media in China? Although there are many references on its function as communist propaganda and the rising market-driven character from the late 1970s onwards, most of the works lack a dynamic thinking concerning the agency of the media in the public sphere.
Starting from this base, three points should be investigated. Firstly, the importance of media agency in the public sphere in China; secondly, whether the current discussions about the media as a public sphere suit the Chinese context; and thirdly, which kind of possible media systems can be suggested in China. Concerning these points, this paper re-conceptualizes the contemporary implications of the public sphere, civil society and the media in China.
 

Carol Pui-Yee ‘British Administration and the Hong Kong Press’

Since Hong Kong reverted back to China, there have been concerns on whether it can preserve its civil liberty. However, the Hong Kong example is fascinating because what has happened in the past is a kind of hard/soft combination of coercion/consent in which the notion of ‘freedom of the press’ becomes a myth.
Although the British government proclaims the importance of a free press, in actual practice, it was consistently repressive. Its main concern was to maintain public order and ‘nip in the bud’ threats aimed at that public order. While there was tension and commitment concern to wider public pressure in infringement of freedom, the priority it gave was to maintain authority and not with freedom. However, there is a developing tension between a non-liberal tradition in Hong Kong and the more liberal tradition, which has emerged in London. There have also been further complications with Beijing. Decisions taken by public administration in Hong Kong has to take into account Beijing because Hong Kong lies on its doorstep. This presentation attempts to argue the above by analysis of original correspondence within the British government.
 

2. Workshop Report

22nd June 2001: Talking about the Japanese Body

SPEAKER
-- Takashi Arimoto (Research student of Sociology, Goldsmiths College)

COMMENTATOR
-- Dr. Les Back (Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths College)
 

[Abstract and Reflection]

Takeshi Arimoto ‘Let’s talk about the body from non-Western experiences: Japanese bodies, Imperial powers’

My presentation was about the body in the modernizing Japan. In this presentation, I tried to show how people’s body in Japan has been constructed by a series of discourses, namely disciplinary power, nationalism, Western/Japanese imperialism, etc. My points were: 1) One of the discourses that produced the Japanese body was disciplinary power, which was embodied in the form of gymnastics since early Meiji. 2) On the other hand, there was another power that affected the Japanese body: the desire to catch up, or even identify with the Western body. 3) While these two factors strongly influenced the Japanese body, they were not separate, but rather intermingled through Japanese nationalism/imperialism. 4) However, finally, in order to show how such discourses could not be incomplete or collapsed at the very nodal point, I introduced a female Japanese athlete, Kinue Hitomi.
I tried to make my presentation very visual so as not to be boring. I think it succeeded in a sense because the audience had vivid images to support what I suggested. The atmosphere of the workshop was quite nice and I received lots of insightful feedback from the audience as well as the commentator, Dr. Les Back. And some participants even showed me how their research topics are related to mine, and we had great conversations about that.
I want to say thank you to PACSF for giving me such a great opportunity.
 
 
 

3. Special Talk Report and Abstract

17th February 2001: DuBois among the Asians

SPEAKER
Professor Homi Bhabha (Department of English Language and Literature, University of Chicago) 

INTRODUCTION
Dr Françoise Vergès (Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London)
 

[ABSTRACT]

Prof. Homi Bhabha ‘Dubois among the Asians’

Homi Bhabha calls for the reconsideration of DuBois’ notion of ‘double consciousness’ in the context of the contemporary trend of globalization. In emphasizing the nature of proximity, over-determinacy as well as non-decidable ambiguity in the construction of intra/international (post)colonial racial relations, Bhabha notes the political potential of ‘minoritization’, or subalternity, which is based on the people who desire to constitute and represent themselves as ‘we’, that is, as the subaltern agency. Subaltern minoritization is contestational in that it stands for incessant partialization by resisting homogeneous and/or naturalised hegemony. Subaltern minoritization, in a more positive light, bearing upon the ‘ethics of forbearance’ sustains ‘dogged strength’ to survive the present and dream of a future in pursuit of turning disadvantage in the present time into advantage.

By putting forward the notion of a minority, which is non-homogeneous nor non-dualistic but already-always contestational, Bhabha envisages another prospective form of racial politics, which is to emerge from the ‘shadows of colour line within the colour line’ in DuBois’ terms. The ‘strategy of supplementation’ in responding to the majoritarian order of globalization at the present time lies, he concludes, in the minorities’ action of ‘mimicry’, which is intended to continuously re-draw shadow lines in-between the hegemonic construction of (post)colonial binarism.
 

4. Special Event Report and Abstract

6th July 2001: Imagining a Homeland: Nation, Gender, Cinema

SCREENING AND TALK
-- Professor Soyoung Kim (Department of Film and Multimedia at the Korean National University of the Arts.) 

LECTURE
-- Professor Robert Chen (Department of Motion Picture in National Taiwan College of Arts.)
 

[ABSTRACTS]

Prof. Soyoung Kim ‘Koryu: Southern Women, South Korea’

The documentary deals with a feminine mode of living (often times wandering), writing and expression. And it is a way of storytelling and a historiography of women in digital. The documentary is composed of three parts: the first part is related to finding traces of my grandmother in her homeland. She was a writer of Onmunjaemun (a distinctive women’s writing system often dedicated to eulogies) and a victim of the cold war. The second part deals with two sisters, a Korean-English diaspora woman and her sister who takes care of her parents’ coffee shop and is also a pianist. They get together after their father’s death. The third part is concerned with a 23-year-old filmmaker, who was involved in the making of ‘Koryu’.
 

Prof. Robert Chen ‘The Imagery and Imagination of Chineseness in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”’

Like Edward Said wrote in his book Orientalism, the Orient can be described and imagined. Hollywood dominant cinema has been describing and imagining “China” as early as the day cinema was invented. Since then, we have seen Chinese people and China appear in a long list of films: Broken Blossom, Shanghai Express, The Good Earth, 55 Days in Peking, The World of Suzie Wong, among others. Will Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” be classified as one of them, with a certain tendency to mis(s)-represent the essence of Chineseness? Does Ang Lee evade the trap because he is Chinese? Or, does Ang Lee help to create another copy of the so-called “Orient’s Orientalism”, SIMPLY because he is a Chinese, as Zhang Yimou is being criticized for his early films? These are the issues I would like to deal with in this talk. I will begin by talking about the aesthetics of Chinese cinema (if there is such a thing!) and I will use King Hu’s films as examples. Then I will focus on “Crouching Tiger” to see whether it fits Hollywood’s imagination of China or not, while also showing some clips from the above-mentioned films.
 

5. Comments on the Summer Term Events

First of all, the PACSF organising committee would like to thank all those that have been involved in our activities over the past twelve months: speakers, commentators, members of the audience, the other organising members themselves for doing all the ground work to make the seminars etc. possible in the first place, as well as all the academic staff for their continuing support. 

We are pleased to finally bring to you a copy of the Homi Bhabha Abstract from last term’s events.

The first seminar of the summer term went off without a hitch, except for the exceedingly warm hand of Mother Nature. Many thanks to those who endured the heat and reserved some energy in order to make the individual paper discussions and the final, more general question and answer session very lively and stimulating for all involved. One of the highlights of the seminar has to have been the very revealing and amusing video on X-files fans, which garnered a lot of interest.

The Special Event seems to have gathered the most interest during this semester’s proceedings. Very mixed reactions to the ‘Koryu’ film became very apparent in the discussion session, and Professor Kim valiantly answered as best she could, though a few of the questions did seem to draw a blank. Inspiring even more participation in the question and answer session was Professor Chen’s paper on ‘Chineseness’ in cinema. This drew populist interest due to his discussion of the contemporary director Ang Lee, and his film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. The lecture was well delivered, and some of his arguments and opinions were grilled and tested by the informative observations of the audience. A most energetic special session was followed by more relaxed conversations in the pub afterwards, with a little amber lubrication for the atmosphere, a very pleasant end to this year’s academic activities.

Changing the subject a little, it is time for a round of applause for the efforts of two of the organising members that, sadly, will not be joining us in the new academic year. Firstly to Anita Naoko Pilgrim, who after many years of continued commitment to the committee is now Dr. Pilgrim, and is off to greener pastures in Nottingham Trent University. Secondly, we must also thank Takashi Arimoto, who is returning to Japan to continue his research there. Many thanks to both of you, and please keep in touch via the mailing list.

Concerning more administrative matters, there has been talk among the organising members concerning the idea of using PACSF as a body to air the worries and concerns (and hopefully some praise too?) of the overseas postgraduate research student community. Should this idea go ahead, it will require a lot more support from the grass roots level ? the organising committee can only do so much and complete their studies at the same time ? so we would like to encourage more support for all of our activities over the coming twelve months. 

We would also like to again raise the call for participants for seminars and the organising committee itself, from within the ranks of Goldsmiths, and wherever possible from outside the College.

So please enjoy the summer vacations and come back refreshed and ready for more hard work in September.

Thank you.

[Written and edited by Neil Rae (Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College)]