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1-3 June 2013

Fulbright Conference: New Perspectives on Transnational Chinese Culture and History

In the past four decades, Asian American scholars have done ground-breaking work in de-constructing and rejecting racial discourses against Asian immigrants and their American descendents. The most visible achievement of this field is to revise and enrich American historiography and cultural studies to include Asians. Major themes of Asian American scholarships were to fight for representation and inclusion of Asian immigrants in American history. Priority of the field was to challenge the homogeneous image of America as white and claim the American-ness of Asians. Many publications during the 1980s and 1990s have convincingly demonstrated how Asian immigrants have actively participated in American social, economic, and political life. Rooted in the context American nation-state, such publications emphasized how Asian Americans have gradually become distinct from the Asians in Asia.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, Asian American scholarships have reached a new level of maturity. Concepts such as transnationalism, disaspora and globalization have provided new frameworks for research. More recent scholarships began to place the Chinese in America in a larger historical context beyond national boundaries, and emphasize the dynamics of Chinese American community as fluid and flexible global networks. To further promote a transnational, transcultural and multilingual approach to Chinese American experience, we organize this small-scale, high-level, and invitation-only symposium entitled New Perspectives on Transnational Chinese Culture and History. The University of Hong Kong is the ideal place for such a symposium. We invite established scholars with influential publications to attend this symposium. Our goal is to explore new themes, interpretation and theories on historical and contemporary Chinese experience in America. The ultimate goal of the symposium is a monograph publishable in the Global Connection Series by Hong Kong University Press. The sponsor of this symposium is the American Studies Program in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong. Each participant presents a paper based on new individual research interest. With transnationalism as theoretical approach, each paper should have its own specific themes, crucial issues, meaningful stories, and new scholarly implications in the context of Chinese transnational studies and historiography.

Our shared perspective, however, is to consider how we could further challenge the existing scholarships still embedded in nationalistic discourse and push the studies of Chinese in America or elsewhere towards a more immigrant-centered and community-based direction. Transnationalism and globalization are not an abstract rhetoric but useful research paradigms to deepen our understanding of Chinese migration as a circular flow of people, money, information and social relationships across national boundaries. Transnational perspectives focus on people rather than the nation states that they shuttle back and forth. Through this symposium, we are searching for a dialectical explanation of the linkage between Chinese in America and China, the multiplicity of Chinese American identity, and the significance of the geographical and cultural transnational space that Chinese Americans inhabited for a prolonged period of time and will continue to do so. While rejecting assimilationist viewpoints, we explore issues such as how race and international studies are key components in transnational scholarships. We further address the question of why Chinese migration and adaptation to the host country is not necessarily a linear progression from rural to urban, from traditional to modern, and from alienation to Americanization. We inquire how the identity of the Chinese in America is simultaneously local, national, and transnational. We examine how transnational and diaspora Chinese life has immensely enriched and expanded the meaning of Chineseness. We will bring new perspectives and interpretations to the field of Chinese and Chinese American studies.

* Fulbright Conference 2013 Website

We look for new projects in your research since we envision a collected volume as a result of this symposium to be published by the University of Hong Kong Press.

When and Where: The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, June 1-3, 2013.

Symposium Format: The Symposium will consist of several sessions of round-table discussion. Each session will be about one hour long during which participants will present followed by comments and questions from other symposium participants including scholars from the University of Hong Kong and other universities in Hong Kong. Each presentation is limited to 20-25 minutes followed by 25-30 minutes of comments and questions. We ask that each participant submits a draft of his or her paper by May 20, 2013 to Haiming Liu [hliu1@hku.hk]. The papers will be distributed to the fellow participants before the symposium begins.

Publications: We will publish the proceedings as an essay collection. Contributors will be asked to submit their final essays for purposes of publication by the end of December 2013.

Deadlines: Please email a working draft of the paper for distribution to fellow conference participants by May 20, 2013. We also need a brief bio-note and abstract of your paper as soon as possible.

Contact Person: Please correspond with Haiming Liu at [hliu1@hku.hk]. For conference logistics, please contact Zena Cheung [zcheung@hku.hk]

 

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