Saturday, January 5, 2019

Call for Applications: 2019 Penn State Global Asias Summer Institute “Digital Asias”

Penn State University invites applicants for its annual Global Asias Summer Institute, to be held June 3-7, 2019. This year’s Institute, co-directed by Joseph Jonghyun Jeon (UC-Irvine) and Jonathan E. Abel (Penn State), focuses on the topic of “Digital Asias.”
Institute participants spend a week reading and thinking about the annual theme, as well as significant time workshopping their work in progress. Particularly strong work will be considered for publication in an upcoming special issue of the award-winning journal, Verge: Studies in Global Asias (
Penn State will cover housing and meals, and offer an honorarium to help defray travel costs (USD 400 from the East Coast, 600 from the Midwest, 800 from the West Coast; USD 1000 from Europe; USD 1350 from Asia). Applicants must have completed their PhDs no earlier than June 2014, or be advanced graduate students who are completing their dissertations.
On the theme:
We have been willing participants in our own digital colonization. This digitalization has some historical roots in Asia and today is routed through Asia. It is saturated in stereotypical techno-orientalist images of a futuristic Asia, and proliferates through Asian media, finance capital, and artistic production. In short, Asia has been entangled in the global digital culture that occupies our everyday. As a major node in digital mediations of the world, Asia plays a primary part in producing computational gadgets (whether made by Sunway, LG, or Fujitsu), designing new forms of social media (Line, Weibo, SyncYu, and KakaoTalk), or creating innovative digital content (Bollywood, K-pop, anime). The 2019 Global Asias Summer Institute is interested in promoting scholarship on all forms of Digital Asia. This may include, for instance, the role Asian diasporas play in global digital life; the social, political, economic, and artistic functions of digital connectivity in Asian communities around the world; the stereotype of Asian identity as binary; the global infrastructures and logistical innovations that increasingly characterize global Asia; and Asian inflections of global activities like the algorithimic determination of risk for venture capital and the corporate and government abuse of big data.
We seek to answer, at least provisionally, some of the following interrelated questions: How has the digitalization of life in Asia, and of Asian lives, transformed the world? How does a consideration of cultures that are born digital differ from those that grow up analog? If daily life has been colonized by the digital, what is globally consistent about contemporary digitalization? How is Asian cultural digitalization different from, innovating on, or
resistant to popular modes elsewhere? If the putatively real public persona has reigned supreme online since the dawn of Web 2.0, why have anonymous internet activities continued to flourish in Asia? How do the supposed “new” economies that surround digital production reimagine and/or restructure late capitalist practices, particularly as deindustrialization becomes an increasingly global phenomenon? What is new about Digital Asia and what is atavistic? What does this focus on the digital in all of its forms bring to the surface in Asian and Asian American Studies that would not otherwise be visible?
The Institute broadly will broadly consider how the study of digitalization and digitization impacts our understanding of Global Asias—itself a nebulously defined, contested, and generative concept. As such, we invite applications from the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences for projects that examine the culture, politics, economics, mathematics, networks, and aesthetics of “Digital Asias” as they manifest in Asia, Asian America, and global Asian communities.
To apply, please send the following documents to by March 4, 2019. Items #1-3 must be sent as a single PDF file; the recommendation letter for applications from advanced graduate students may be sent separately.
1. An abstract of 1500 words outlining research project and clarifying its
connection to the Institute theme.
2. A sample of current work.
3. A current c.v. (no longer than 2 pp).
4. A letter from a principal advisor about the advanced status of work (in the case
of graduate students).
Decisions will be made by mid-April 2019. Other inquiries regarding the Summer Institute may be directed to Jonathan E. Abel (