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Convergences

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Organizer: Yuji Kato

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One of the most appropriate topics for this coming conference would be the interactions and convergences of different identities and cultures in films, novels, poems, video clips, and other cultural works in our contemporary globalized cultural scenes. There are probably no genuine “local” cultures in our world today, and, therefore, understanding identities and cultures in their relatedness is inevitable for scholars and students anywhere working in any field.

The panel will discuss diverse aspects of the interactions, mergings, and convergences of identities and cultures and explore the problems and theoretical significance of the representations related to or based on them, since personal and cultural interactions do not come about naturally. 

Questions could be asked from multiple perspectives. Most conventionally, how are the influences from the West incorporated in Asian contemporary cultures? Or, conversely, how have Western cultures changed through influences from Asia? Can we say there are specific “cultural traits” peculiar to any areas, nations or cultures and definite differences in personal identities in the globalized contemporary world? If there are any differences, what are they? If not, how do we interpret and represent identities and cultures now? Do the differences in identities and cultures converge with ethnic, gender, or class differences? If they do, how are they related to each other and how the categories are constructed and perceived within and without cultural boundaries? Or, how identities and cultures without boundaries represented? These questions would lead us to the examinations of the significance of cultural artifacts from theoretical and historical perspectives.

For the organizer, who is based at a university for international studies in Tokyo, the most representative examples would be film directors such as Yasujiro Oz, Akira Kurosawa, Wim Wenders, Takeshi Kitano, or more recently Johnny Depp in Minamata and writers such as Korean-Japanese Yu Miri, Japanese-German Yoko Tawada, Americanized Japanese Haruki Murakami and Japanese-British Kazuo Ishiguro, whose cross-cultural identities and works would showcase the nature of our investigations. There would be similar examples from other areas of the world: European and American cinemas and literature adopted in Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Taiwanese or other Asian works; Asian cultural models appropriated in other cultures; the interactions among pop cultures of the world in contemporary art and music. Genuinely theoretical investigations are also welcome.

With the recognition we have already crossed the national, regional, gender, ethnic, class and other boundaries, we look forward to the convergences of different visions and re-visions on our global identities and cultures in the seminar.
 

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