‘Asia as Method’: Emotional and Scholarly Investment in Knowledge Production


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When: Oct 1 2014 - 12:00pm until Oct 1 2014 - 1:15pm
Where: John a. Burns Hall, Room 2012

In this presentation Dr. Phan Le Ha will specifically address potential issues regarding ‘Asia as Method’ proposed by Chen (2010). Like any new theories, ‘Asia as Method’ has been ‘consumed’ in various ways, since Chen’s book was published. The concept and approach as well as methodology put forward by Chen have further endorsed more innovative ways to look at theory, scholarship and the production of knowledge, and thus have seemed to bring about new air to the knowledge sphere that has long been believed to be dominated by ‘the West’. However, this ‘new air’ may also cause potential problems to knowledge and scholarship, if the misuse of as well as the uncritical excitement about theory tends to lead the way. To critically address a number of potential issues underlying this problem, I will engage in-depth with the emotional aspect of ‘Asia as Method’ and how emotion affects those who have attempted to use the idea in different ways, evoking different responses and producing different energy levels. I will refer to the Asia as Method project that has attracted a number of faculty members and PhD students in universities in Australia. In particular, I will draw on the experiences of a PhD student who has embarked on using ‘Asia as Method’ in her research and writing. I will then also discuss two staff members’ accounts of their ambivalent positions regarding 'Asia as method' and the ways the excitement about Chen’s work has been promoted. I argue that it is essential that every writer needs to honestly and critically reflect on his/her scholarly and emotional investment in the knowledge building process, which would provoke knowledge constructors to critically engage with concepts, such as nationalism, nativism, civilization, colonialism, and East-West dichotomy, in ways that their emotion and scholarly stance is called into question, provoked to write back, and is likely to be challenged

This is part of the Fall 2014 Faculty Speaker Series put on by the International Cultural Studies Graduate Certificate Program, a collaboration between the East-West Center and the University of Hawaii.

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