Living with tensions: notes on the Inter-Asia movement
As editors who are responsible for the production of the journal, we take the 10th anniversary to be an instance to listen to criticisms from all directions and then to synthesize and put in practice the productive suggestions for the future years to come. At the same time, 10th anniversary also means to pause for a moment and to create an irregular condition for reflections. Living in the Third World time and space, compressed, speedy and often confused, to stop and to reflect on the on-going projects, practices and formations are often seen as a luxury. Our respected senior friends always say that “we are still moving forward, and have no time to look back yet”. They may go on to tell you that only retired people have the right to do so. But the reality is that these friends will never retire; even they do, they will tell you that “retirement is the beginning of a new life”, so they start new projects. This sentiment reminds of our committed and energetic political leaders (on the spectrum of both the left and the right), who would not stop until they were dying. Therefore, learning from history always means someone else’s history, never one’s own. It is in this spirit that I wish to share with you what I have learned from my own involvements in the Inter-Asia Movements project. I will do so by organizing the presentation in the form of a series of “tensions” of practices. In my view, these tensions are the driving forces of the project. As I learned from Deleuze and Guattari twenty some years ago, capitalism works by contradictions; the more contradictory, the better it works. But it is easier to say than done. If you are forced to live in the middle of those tensions, there is a chance that you may end up in the mental institution.
Kuan-Hsing Chen is a co-executive editor of the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies: Movements. His Asia as Method: Towards Deimperialization (Duke University Press) will be published in 2010.