Session Abstract: Recent decades have witnessed both dramatic economic growth and the resurgence of repression and exclusion in many Asian countries. How do community members in different contexts grapple with social changes brought about by revolutionizing or reforming policies, particularly as regards to gender, health, or the practice of religion? What role does silence play and what are its contours? How do stereotypes of Asian families and states as collectivist or authoritarian figure in the production of particular types of silences, or alternatively, dissimulative speech? Following Derrida’s (1978) and Foucault’s (1978) insights that there are different kinds of silences and that such silences render speech possible and interpretable, panelists will investigate the different types of tactics by which people enact silence while uttering words and performatively engaging in day-to-day activities. Drawing on their fieldwork in Vietnam, the Maldives, Indonesia, China, and Korea, papers and synthesizing discussion comments will further comparatively examine silence in relation to solitude and social change and seek commonalities and the points of difference across different urbanizing Asian locales. In particular, papers will attend to how various narrative forms or ritual performances overcome or underscore silence, sometimes by ambivalently protecting while also harming those involved in producing silence. Collectively, contributors will ask whether certain tactics of silence entail solitude for those who are silenced or silence themselves and interrogate the meanings of solitude for the different actors involved.
Paper Presenter: Merav Shohet – Boston University
Paper Presenter: Fathimath Anan (Anu) Ahmed – Boston University
Paper Presenter: Annemarie Samuels – Leiden University
Paper Presenter: Robert Weller – Boston University