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Intermediality and the Transboundary in South and Southeast Asia

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Organizer: Elmo Gonzaga

Co-Organizer: Brian Bernards

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This panel looks at inter-Asia intermediality through the lens of the transboundary in the understudied subregions of South and Southeast Asia. The concept of transboundary has gained importance in South and Southeast Asia because of urgent ecological issues such as water, drought, fire, and pollution, which have troubled the different nations that share common skies and rivers. Conventional frameworks of nationalism and regionalism have failed to adequately address such intertwined environmental and geopolitical concerns because they frustrate cross-cultural cooperation and reproduce long-standing hierarchies. Seen this way, the transboundary might offer a possible means for thinking critically and comparatively about inter-Asian connections and reciprocities beyond the limits of existing frameworks.

While national sovereignty has served as the dominant paradigm for studying political, ecological, and media cultures in South and Southeast Asia, the transboundary commons offer a blueprint for imagining the transnational, cross-border, and intraregional interactions, disparities, and frictions among different media platforms and cultural formations. First, the transboundary in South and Southeast Asia can be thought of in terms of interregionality, as proponents of inter-Asia cultural studies, or Asia as method, have challenged the institutional hegemony of East-West bilateralism in the knowledge production of culture by emphasizing interreferentiality across multiple locations and scales. Second, the transboundary can be thought of in terms of intermediality, as writings about this emergent arena of inquiry have aspired to comprehend the technological innovations in the infrastructures and networks for media convergence, circulation, and consumption, which have resulted in media hybridization. However, their ideas have not always taken into account the variance and unevenness of transmedia content across diverse local, national, regional, and global conditions.

We welcome proposals from interdisciplinary scholars who grapple with the diverse entanglements of intermediality and the transboundary on the local, national, regional, and global scales. For example, proposed papers might examine microblogging, live-streaming, video-sharing, cinematographic and televisual media, multimedia art, data sharing technology, video games, and music videos in relation to cross-border migration and tourism, transnational racial and religious identities, feminist and LGBTQ+ activism, regional co-production, celebrity culture, multilingual code-mixing, and transboundary ecological problems. Papers should try to address at least one of the following questions: How do conditions and processes of intermediality break up homogeneous or regionally-bounded ideas of Asia? How do transboundary productions and circulations unsettle homogeneous or disciplinary-bounded forms of media?

Our discussant will be Ben Tran (Vanderbilt University).

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