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“On Cosmopolitanism and Southeast Asia: imaginings, mediation and movement”

16 -18 February 2012

Organised and hosted by Island Southeast Asia Centre, School of Culture, Language and History, The Australian National University.

ABSTRACTS DUE: 15 September 2011

Keynote speaker: Prof. Pheng Cheah (University of California, Berkeley)

This conference follows a series of conversations started in the first “Intersections of Area, Cultural and Media Studies Workshop” hosted by the Southeast Asia Centre at The Australian National University in February 2010. The aim of the workshop was to focus debates and discussions on potential benefits of Southeast Asian studies engagement with cultural studies and media studies. The present conference focuses on the notion of “new cosmopolitanism”, the juncture of the social, political and cultural aspects of cosmopolitanism.

Cosmopolitanism, as a concept, has engendered much discussion, mainly in the last decade or so, in social, postcolonial and some areas of cultural studies. Many scholars agree that there are different forms/modes of cosmopolitanism. They recognise the Western (European) origin of the concept and its association with elitism, but increasingly recent theorisations agree on the need to accommodate diversity brought about by colonialism (in the past) and globalisation, and notions such as ‘cosmopolitanism from below’, ‘alternative cosmopolitanism’, as well as ‘rooted cosmopolitanism’. Concepts of ‘situated cosmopolitanism’ and ‘cosmopatriots’ have been raised specifically to the region of Asia and/or Southeast Asia.

This conference aims to contribute towards furthering our thinking on the concept of ‘new cosmopolitanism’, aiming to examine and enquire into Southeast Asia’s (nations and the region) membership of the global community. It recognises Southeast Asian nations are emerging nations with economic and political leverage within the region, and as a region vis-à-vis the rest of the world. This conference is interested in the process of socio-cultural changes that such inter-connectedness may foment or produce. The topics of discussion will necessarily evolve around issues of travel, hybridity, identities, social diversity, race and ethnicity, language, international politics, political economy and gender.

In conjunction with the series theme of “intersections” of the three areas of studies: culture, media and area, this conference organising committee calls for papers that deals with the following topics, focusing on the region’s inter-connectedness with cosmopolitan issues of human rights, democracy, identity, diversity:

· Travel/diaspora/migration

· Media, media industries and politics

· Global culture and identity

It will ask questions such as:

· How do we imagine ourselves as Southeast Asians within the global/cosmopolitan environment we live in today? How have these imaginings affected the everyday life of Southeast Asians? How important is regionalism in the everyday imaginings?

· How are the individual states within the region negotiating with issues of people, social and political movements that have reverberations across the region and the rest of the world, and/or vice versa? Is regionalism a solution or deterrence?

· How are these issues mediated between Southeast Asia and the rest of the world? What role (if any) has global media (including new social media) in the social and political changes within the region? How effective has this new global media been to local socio-political change?

· How have recent events (political, technological, etc.) in the region change the way we think of concepts such as “cosmopolitan patriotism”, “rooted” or “alternative cosmopolitanism”?

· In answering some of these questions, what new light can we throw onto our reconceptualization of the idea and practice of “area studies”? How should we do “area studies” in an era of ‘world openness’ and global connectedness?

Inquiries can be directed to We welcome abstracts of up to 250 words by September 15, 2011.

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