Thursday, October 26, 2006

ASAK Conference: "Crossing America's Internal Borders"

(Image from ASAK)

Okay, today's just some serious stuff about ASAK (American Studies Association of Korea). On Friday, October 27th and Saturday, October 28th, Korea University will be hosting the ASAK's 41st Annual International Conference, the theme being: "Crossing America's Internal Borders."

You'll find the program schedule here on ASAK's website.

For your prurient interests, here is what to expect:
U.S. imperialism has been the object of study and criticism by scholars of many disciplines and, especially since the start of the Iraqi war, U.S. imperialism and militarism have been examined and severely criticized by scholars and activists both inside and outside the U.S. Alongside this scrutiny of U.S. imperialism, recent trends in American Studies or, all across the board in the Humanities and Social Sciences, have reflected various ways in which the intersection of gender, race and class have changed the way we view the U.S. both synchronically and diachronically.

The 2006 ASAK conference committee seeks to shift the current scholarly concerns to the “internal borders” within the U.S. The catastrophic events brought on by Hurricane Katrina have exposed and lay bare in the eyes of the world not only the actual material consequences of racial and class divides in the U.S. but also of the complex workings of other less visible internal borders within the U.S. Some of the questions that might be raised may be: Do regional differences still exist in the U.S.? How are the questions of race and class interrelated with economic and regional divides? How has the traditional notion of 'class' changed in terms of everyday life of Americans? How is the regional or geographical divide related to issues of race and gender?

The committee invites papers from all disciplines and in the spirit of the tradition of past ASAK conferences, welcomes new, innovative interdisciplinary approaches, but this year, the committee would like to especially encourage papers from various disciplines in the Social Sciences and from scholars with diverse background and training. The conference committee hopes to foster a productive and rewarding dialogue among the scholars of the Humanities and the Social Sciences, carefully seeking to go beyond the discursive realm and find possibilities of intervening in the social processes. Rather than viewing the U.S. as a monolithic superpower, locating the real or imagined 'third worlds' within the U.S. may transform the way we imagine the future world.
At least, you know what to expect. I should admit that I had a hand in this blockquoted material but only as one proofreading the English and not as one composing it.

(Parenthetically speaking, I see that my change of "have exposed and lay bare" to "have exposed and laid bare" got lost somewhere along the pathways of correction.)

I have my usual doubts about the terms "imperialism," "class," and even "race" because these are usually poorly defined at such conferences in the humanities. They stem from the New Left of the 60s, though they've been deconstructed and postmodernized, which has only served to make them even more poorly defined. Precision, however, is almost never the aim, for the terms aren't used to bring conceptual clarity but moral critique.

I'll be attending but not presenting, and anyone who recognizes me should say hello. I'll be the holy man juggling three yin-yang spheres -- as shown by my icon at this top of this blog.



At 8:48 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

Oh, Lordy. Everything I hate about today's "scholars" all combined into one awful conference. Are you sure this is being held in Korea and not in New York City?

Do you suppose there will be even one conservative presenting?

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Are they honestly asking the question,
"Do regional differences still exist in the U.S.?", as if "no" may be a possible answer?

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jeff, probably not (though this may be sloppiness that I should have caught in my proofreading).

More likely, they're asking what sort of regional differences still exist.

But I'll find out over the next couple of days.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Sperwer said...

Do these knuckleheads genuinely believe that they are engaged in scholarship? If so, I think a more interesting conference topic than the one they propose, is their own psycho-sociopathology. On their topic, btw, they could pick up just about any book by Andrew Hacker and get a solid plain-language account free of the all the pretentious "theoretical" scaffolding that threatens to topple over under the ponderous weight of all their self-ratifying evaluative presumptions. Anyway, it's always nice to have a remicer that I made the right decision in deciding to leave the academy.

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sperwer, I strongly suspect that many such 'scholars' are just playing a game for the career -- though I wouldn't point to anyone in particular (not having that specific insight).

Such 'scholars' look at the field, see what's acceptable, and then parrot the right lines.

I'd bet that many such 'scholars' know the terms without understanding the concepts. At Berkeley, I used to attempt to query fellow students who were prone to using the fashionable terminology in critical theory and found myself attacked for "falling into binary oppositions" -- or some such nonsensical accusation.

This is not to say that such 'scholars' are unintelligent -- they're often a lot quicker than I am (not too difficult to be).

Anyway, that's my opinion.

By the way, I can vouch that some of ASAK people are quite sensible.

Jeffery Hodges

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