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Local/Global Literatures and Cultures

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Organizer: Yuji Kato

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We now live in a world where local literatures and cultures cannot be separate from the global political, economic, and cultural influences that infiltrate urban and provincial areas of all regions partly due to the information network enabled by the internet as Jean François Lyotard predicted in The Postmodern Condition. At a time in which nationalism is gaining power again, some writers and artists may find cozy niches in the frameworks of national, regional, or ethnic cultures, resisting the infiltration of global influences. Others may find ways to get away from such frameworks in search of global approaches to literature and culture even if being global does not necessarily mean being universal. 

However, we cannot define the interactions between the local and the global simply in terms of such binary oppositions. As some writers such as William Faulkner and Kazuo Ishiguro have shown, literature can be local and global. Writers such as Edgar A. Poe and Kobo Abe successfully sought universal approaches to literature without local specificity. In films, music, and art, the interaction of the local and the global has been the basis for almost all directors, musicians, and artists at least for the past 100 years. 

For example, Yasujiro Ozu’s films incorporated the styles and patterns of Hollywood films and influenced directors of the West in their turn after the 1970s. Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean film directors also have set their films in the spaces between their homeland and other, often Western, nations. As a consequence, we cannot even conceive of such genres as Asian, European, or American films now. Jazz and hip hop are certainly the national cultures of the United States, but they are not local cultures of the nation anymore, having been listened to and played in other areas of the world to form local traditions. Critical perspectives offered by such Western critical theories as gender studies, feminism, and postcolonialism also have local and global significance, calling forth receptions and reactions particular to each area and culture.

The trends toward globalization may help highlight and re-create local literatures and cultures, or the characteristics of the local culture may be dwarfed or eliminated in favor of more global perspectives. Yet, the interactions of the local and the global are inevitable in our contemporary world and need scrutiny. We invite papers from scholars from varied academic disciplines and backgrounds to shed light on the interactions between the local and the global in past and contemporary literatures and cultures and to examine the problematics in their complex and multifaceted manifestations from our current perspectives in the multicultural environment of the ACLA annual meeting at a time in which we face the crisis of political, economic, and cultural disruptions in Europe and elsewhere. 

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