Pacific triangles: Australia, China and the reorientation of American studies

When

8.00am–5.00pm

10 August 2012 - 11 August 2012

Where

University of Sydney, Australia

Plenary speakers:

  • Kuan-Hsing Chen, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
  • Jacqueline Lo, Australian National University
  • Donald E. Pease, Dartmouth College, USA

In the period after World War II, the development of American Studies in Britain and other parts of Western Europe was crucially shaped by the efforts of US cultural diplomacy to expand the country’s influence in the face of perceived Soviet threats during the Cold War. In the twenty-first century, as more US political and diplomatic energies are focused on the rise of the People’s Republic of China, it is likely that Australia will be positioned in a similar triangular situation, with the United States keen to preserve and increase ties to its traditional “Western” ally and Australia itself caught between different political, economic and geographical pressures.

This symposium examined ways in which the twenty-first century has already reoriented the field of American Studies in relation to the PRC and Australia, and how this process is likely to continue and develop. The symposium brought together scholars from around the world working within and across American Studies, Asian Studies and Asian diasporic studies, to look not only at shifting relationships between the Chinese mainland and the West, but also how these shifts resonate in the Asia Pacific region (ie. Australasia, Southeast Asia and East Asia). In the process, the symposium took the transnational turn in American Studies outside the national boundaries and ideological frameworks of the US. At the same time, it promoted intercultural dialogue around the ongoing processes of deimperialisation and decolonisation throughout the Pacific Rim in the post-9/11 era.

Papers about the historical, political and economic dynamics of the triangular relationships among the Chinese mainland, Australia and the US were presented. The symposium considered developments in transnational history, literature, film and media, as well as political and cultural history, aiming to make a critical intervention across a broad range of transpacific cultures.

Conference convenors:

  • Paul Giles (English)
  • Jane Park (Cultural Studies)

in association with the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.