Inter-Asian banality and education
Wondering how to mark the 10th anniversary of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, I found myself trying to recall occasions that might credibly explain to strangers why the context of this project—a refereed academic journal, for goodness sake—has changed the course of my life. Marking any anniversary involves a work of memory and, if one is to honour a major international scholarly publication, surely dazzling moments of intellectual breakthrough should immediately come to mind. Yet while I have indeed experienced such moments during my years of reading, writing and conferencing for IACS, in seeking to grasp something personal yet holistic about this decade (and more) of activity my memory irresistibly flashes up images of friends behaving badly—usually, screaming and yelling around food and drink.
From the 2000 IACS conference in Fukuoka, for example, I remember a night in one of that city’s heavenly restaurants when my delighted discovery of a small, pretty, box-like thing into which a supply of sake over-flowed inspired a bout of scolding S,V. Srinivas and Madhav Prasad for not seizing the world domination of film studies that their work (I yelled) obviously deserved. Inter-Asia can be a small place; arriving back to work at Lingnan University in Hong Kong two bleary days later, the first words I heard in the corridor were, ‘You drank a lot in Fukuoka!’. From the Bangalore gathering in 2004 I recall a dear friend from Britain complaining bitterly every morning about the coffee, milky and sweet when he wanted it straight black; and from Seoul in 2005 I treasure a night spent in one of the tent restaurants of Insadong, furiously talking with friends—talk of which nothing has stayed with me except the warmth of soju and divinely stir-fried dishes. Most deeply, and so sharply that it can still make me blush, I remember an eruption of gross bad manners during my first trip to Taipei, indeed to Asia, in 1992 for the first of the ‘Trajectories’ conferences (Chen 1998) that preceded and gave rise to the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies project. After a couple of days I was deep in wine and good-coffee withdrawal (wine in particular, then, being both prohibitively expensive and largely unobtainable) and, on being taken to an exquisite traditional Chinese tea-house, I startled myself and my hosts by screeching, ‘I hate tea!’.
Meaghan Morrisis Chair Professor of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, and Professor in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Her books include Identity Anecdotes: Translation and Media Culture (2006), Hong Kong Connections: Transnational Imagination in Action Cinema (co-ed. with Siu-leung Li and Stephen Chan Ching-kiu, 2005); “Race” Panic and the Memory of Migration (co-ed. with Brett de Bary, 2001); and Too Soon, Too Late: History in Popular Culture (1998).