Neoliberal Orientalism  (Roundtable)

American/Diaspora / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Chenrui Zhao (SUNY Binghamton University)

Confronted by the 2020 public health crisis one would remember as COVID-19, the notion of Orientalism as proposed by Edward Said in 1979 calls for continuous examinations. Said defines Orientalism as “not an airy European fantasy about the Orient, but a created body of theory and practice in which, for many generations, there has been a considerable materials investment.” From the trade war and technology race between the U.S. and China, the fascination of Korean and Japanese pop culture as received on a global level, to China’s, criticized by some, industrial and financial influence in Africa; then to the assaults targeted at Asian and Asian American communities during the public health crisis; locations of “Asia” on different levels add complexities in the perception of racial identities and exposes the intricate work of neoliberal biopolitics. The “material investments,” as highlighted by Said, continue to contour relationalities that work in communications and connections with the notion “Asia.” How does the notion of Asia showcase the strange and complex affinities between different races, nations, and subjects? How is the notion of Asia perceived in non-European and non-American locations contemporarily? How do we understand Asian and Asian American Identities in the age of neoliberalism? In other words, what does it mean to claim one’s racial identities as Asian? Topics include but are not limited to:

. Asian and Asian American history

. Pop Culture and Media Studies

. Neoliberal racialization and multiculturalism

. Neoliberal biopolitics

. Ornamentalism


. Coalitional thinking

. Commonalities

This panel invites proposals that address relationalities that are marked by the concept of Asia and ask for insights that maps ways of "Orientalism" with nuances in the age of neoliberalism. This panel hopes to encourage a conversation that addresses the complexities and intricacies of racial identities and national relations formed in the work of the global market. Specifically, what does "Asia" could mean and do for people of different cultural, social, and political locations.