Session Abstract: The ongoing pandemic is first and foremost a global health emergency, but also represents a critical historical juncture in the production of knowledge of and about Asia. Regional lockdowns have seen the vast upscaling of technologies of surveillance and control, the suppression of individual and collective movement, and the draconian censorship of news and information. At the same time, new spaces and possibilities for collective protection and preservation have appeared. This panel probes the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the politics of knowledge in the context of global Asia. Chua introduces three themes of governing through contagion: centralization and technology of law, normalization and technologies of moralization, and inter/dysconnectedness and the rearticulation of difference. Ching argues that, as a result of the pandemic, although “Asia” has once again returned as the radical negativity in the American imperial imaginary, it may also pave ways for Global Asia to decolonize from its own history of racism, Indigenous dispossession and mounting economic disparity. Lanza looks back on the experience of China scholars in the 1960s and 1970s, to reflect not only on how we can produce knowledge about a place from afar, but also on how we can be responsible actors, politically and intellectually, when facing global tensions, mutual demonization, and international crisis. Thornton explores the proliferation of guerrilla archives that appeared during the height of the pandemic in online spaces as grassroots activists struggled to preserve materials against strategies of silence and erasure imposed by regimes of bare life.
Paper Presenter: Leo Ching – Duke University
Paper Presenter: Fabio Lanza – University of Arizona
Paper Presenter: Lynette J. Chua – National University of Singapore
Co-author: Jack Jin Gary Lee – Kenyon College
Paper Presenter: Patricia M. Thornton – University of Oxford