Opening Keynote Lecture
Chua Beng Huat
Provost Chair Professor, Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore
Reflections on Institutionalizing a Transnational Cultural Studies
Apropos the occasion of the inauguration of a new Institute of Transpacific Cultural Research, I would like to reflect on some aspects of the institutionalization of the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Project, which has by now an approximately twenty-year history and gather some thoughts on my personal involvement with the project. Historically, the IACS project was inaugurated in early 1990s, when the rapid rise of capital in East Asia provoked simultaneously the triumphal discourse of ‘East Asia difference’ and its critical response within and outside the region. Two major conferences in Taiwan, in 1992 and 1995, organized by Kuan-hsing Chen, upon his return from the US. The edited volume of selected essays was entitled, Trajectories: Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. From this beginning, the institutionalization of Cultural Studies in Asia has gone beyond the flag-ship IACS journal to the conventionalization of the awkward concept of ‘inter-Asia’ by the global academic community, with Inter-Asia Cultural Studies advertised as a desired specialization for some academic jobs. This has been an exciting journey with great personal professional development and satisfaction for the members of the editorial collective, which I hope will provide some useful reference to the future success of the new institute with this inaugural event.