Inter-Asia Cultural Studies and the decolonial-turn
A black and white photograph of a Taipei cityscape adorns the bright neon-green cover. Two narrow columns of scripts in various translations of “movements” overlay the left side. Two hundred pages of text with scanned Asian fonts in the references and the slightly larger-than-average footprint provide a substantive feel. While the lower right corner of the cover indicates that the issue is also “available online,” it is its materiality that gives the inaugural issue of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies a striking first impression. Thumbing through the pages and glancing at the table of contents revealed some unfamiliar names but also riveting titles. (That some of the names were unknown to me speaks more to my own ignorance than the caliber of the scholars). Under the headline ‘Problematizing “Asia”’, the issue established arguably the first coherent attempt in cultural studies to critically assess the meanings of “Asia” from several “sites” of intervention: China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, India, Indonesia, and Singapore. From the now classic analysis of Japanese discourses on Asia (Sun Ge) to the alternative framing of possible dialogic and collaborative work among “third world” intellectuals (Tejaswini Niranjana), from the feminist critique of “compressed development” in Asian modernity (Cho Han Haejoang) to the penetrating study of “developmental racism” and class antagonisms under global capitalism (Ghassan Hage), these essays, and others in the volume as well, represent an intellectual endeavor of what can be called the “decolonial-turn” in knowledge production.
Leo Ching is associate professor and chair of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University.