2014-2015 Mediating Asia

The Center for Asian Studies theme for the 2014-2015 academic year is 'Mediating Asia.' A great deal of our current knowledge about Asia comes to us via traditional media channels (such as print & broadcast journalism, feature films, and documentaries) and, increasingly, via less formal online channels such as blogs and social media networking sites. While Asian scholars based outside of Asia have, for some time, been engaged in critical readings of these ‘mediated’ representations of Asia, the rapid rise of Asian media industries within Asia has resulted in more diffuse representations of Asia than ever before. With ‘Mediating Asia’, the Center for Asian Studies seeks to explore the implications of these increasingly diffuse, multi-mediated representations of Asia. We take a broad definition of media to include not only print, broadcast, film, and internet formats, but also arts and literature, insofar as they might also be viewed as representations of Asia. How does Asia represent itself through Asian media?  How is the idea of ‘Asia’ as a coherent identity reimagined and represented through Asian media? What sorts of tensions, dialogues, contradictions, and collaborations exist between Asian and non-Asian media? In what ways do Asian media ‘respond’ to non-Asian representations of Asia?  How are different Asian peoples, places, or histories imagined, marketed, consumed through new Asian media channels?  ‘Mediating Asia’ will explore questions like this, and many others, in a year of programming, events, and outreach, culminating in our annual Spring Symposium.

Fall 2014

September 12
"Preferably Unheard": Indian Women in Western Media
CAS Speaker Series
Are Indian women seen as passive victims or agents of change? Please join this roundtable discussion of professors and students for a lively conversation on how Indian women are represented (or misrepresented) in Western media as we discuss popular perceptions and stereotypes.

Faculty Participants:
Rashna Singh: "The mark of the plural" in American media coverage of Indian women
In a Ted talk, Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie warns of the danger of telling a single story. Reportage of the brutal gang rape that took place in Delhi at the end of 2012 has often been told as a single story in the United States, one of Indian women as submissive and passive victims always in danger from misogynistic, predatory men. Their agency is denied, and narratives of resistance are neglected. In that erasure many strong, confident and courageous Indian women are effaced. In talking about Indian women, American media often use what Albert Memmi called “the mark of the plural,” generalizing, essentializing and speaking in monolithic terms. Indian women are not carved out of a single block of stone, yet The New York Times refers to how “India treats its women and girls.” Not all Indian women have access to media, of course, and not all can make their voices heard. But in the end Indian women must speak for themselves, save themselves, rescue themselves and represent themselves. Many are already doing that, but their stories are not being told or heard. I will discuss the aetiology of media coverage of the infamous Delhi gang rape and its larger implications.
Purvi Mehta: Historicizing predominant themes and tropes in media coverage
I will historicize and analyze the predominant themes and tropes that appeared in American media coverage of the 2012 Delhi rape case and subsequent high profile rapes in India. I will discuss the consistent casting of Indian women as victims of a patriarchal and degenerate culture, and the media’s focus on an apparent “rape culture” in India rather than on the vibrant and robust feminist activism that followed the 2012 rape. After highlighting the resurrection of colonial discourses with regard to gender in these media accounts, I will conclude by calling attention to the consequences of these representations in terms of activism against sexual violence here in the U.S.
Aditi Mitra: The social agency of Indian women
Women in India have made progress in terms of representation and participation in the public sphere. Though the progress has not been linear, strides have been made. Unfortunately, not much light has been shed on their socio-political accomplishments and increasing visibility in human rights activism. Coverage of events and activism is selective and does not comprise the whole picture. I will talk about women in India who are bringing about social change, either as activists in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or as elected governmental representatives. I will use specific examples of Indian women who are proactive in their own change and then move to discuss the social agency of women in NGOs in India. My talk will include short video clips.

Student Participant:
Krithika Vachali: Contesting identities as a female Indian college student in the United States
I focus on the lived experience of being a female Indian college student in the United States. As a student at Colorado College, I occupy a space where stereotypes are less likely to follow me, but not a space entirely devoid of stereotypes. The way that members of the college community, both peers and others, have related to me before and after the 2012 Delhi gang rape has been markedly different, and it is largely due to the perceived identity of the Indian woman that they construct from media sources. In order to assert my own identity, I have to go up against the one constructed for me and question the ways in which these constructions both valorise me and make me a victim. In order for me to relate to the people around me, and represent where I come from, it is important for me to have my own voice, a voice that Western media representations often take away from an Indian woman.
4:00 p.m., Hale 230, CU-Boulder.

Preferably Unheard

October 1

The Making of Milarepa: Reading and Writing the Life of Tibet's Great Saint
CAS Speaker Series
Andrew Quintman of Yale University will visit CU Boulder on Wednesday, October 1st to deliver a lecture on "The Making of Milarepa: Reading and Writing the Life of Tibet's Great Saint." Late in the eleventh century a wandering mendicant, the Yogin, starved himself in the frigid mountains of southern Tibet while undertaking ascetic practice. He was later recognized as a buddha famed for his poetry and songs of spiritual realization. Four hundred years later, a tantric adept emerged from the jungles of Tibet’s borderlands, naked, human entrails wound in his dangling dreadlocks. This adept, the Madman, composed a new and novelistic version of the Yogin’s life. The story it told of a great Tibetan saint would inspire new forms of religious literature across the Himalayan world, new styles of artistic production, new traditions of spiritual practice. In time, the Madman’s version of the Yogin’s life would become Tibet’s most famous book. In this lecture, Andrew Quintman explores the extraordinary life story of Yogin Milarepa composed by Madman Tsangnyön Heruka, tracing its historical formation, changing narrative voices, and enduring legacy across the region. Drawing on his recent book, The Yogin and the Madman: Reading the Biographical Corpus of Tibet’s Great Saint Milarepa, he presents a new way of reading The Life of Milarepa by foregrounding the unique relationship between Yogin and Madman together with the processes through which the narrative took shape. Andrew Quintman is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, specializing in the Buddhist traditions of Tibet and the Himalaya. His areas of teaching and research include Buddhist literature and history, sacred geography and pilgrimage, and visual cultures of the wider Himalayan region. He is author of The Yogin and the Madman: Reading the Biographical Corpus of Tibet’s Great Saint Milarepa (Columbia University Press, 2014) and translator of the new English translation of The Life of Milarepa, published by Penguin Classics in 2010. There will be a reception with Professor Quintman before his lecture at 3:30pm at the CU Art Museum. In tandem with his lecture, the CU Art Museum will be hosting an art exhibit by the Lhasa artist Gade on the theme of "pechas" or Tibetan texts, in which Gade creates surreal modern landscapes on traditional manuscript paper. Prior to the lecture, at 4:30pm, anyone is invited to visit the third floor of Norlin Library for a tour of our library display on Tibetan textual production and its translation and transmission to the West. The lecture takes place in the British Studies Room on the fifth floor of Norlin. The lecture will take place at 5pm in the British Studies Room on the 5th floor of Norlin Library. It is free and open to the public. These events celebrate the Tsadra "Translation and Transmission" Conference in Keystone, Colorado on October 2-5th. CAS is a partner for the conference.
5:00 p.m., British Studies Room, Norlin Library, CU-Boulder.

The Making of Milarepa

October 2 & 3
Korean Film Series
CAS Speaker Series
The Center for Asian Studies presents a screening of two Korean films and a public lecture by two distinguished professors of Korean film studies. Oldboy (2003), directed by Park Chan-wook, will be shown on Thursday, October 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Muenzinger Auditorium. The Host (2006), directed by Bong Joon-ho, will be shown on Friday, October 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Muenzinger Auditorium. The Host will be preceded by a public lecture by Hye Seung Chung, Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Colorado State University, and David Scott Diffrient, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at Colorado State University. The lecture, "The Politics of Transnational Korean Genre Films: Part Chan-wook's Oldboy​ (2003) and Bong Joon-Ho's The Host (2006), will be held at 6:00 p.m. in Muenzinger Auditorium.
Film Screenings: 7:30 p.m., Lecture: 6:00 p.m., Muenzinger Auditorium, CU-Boulder.

Korean Film Series

Spring 2015

February 12
Film Screenings: The Land of Many Palaces and Mountain Town
CAS Speaker Series
China is currently experiencing the most rapid urbanization of any place in history, with plans to relocate 250 million rural villagers into cities over the next two decades. New cities are popping up, seemingly overnight, and rural people are adjusting to a whole new way of life as they move from farmhouses into high-rise apartments and face a life no longer lived off the land. In The Land of Many Palaces co-directors Adam Smith and Song Ting chronicle this transformation in the Inner Mongolian city of Ordos. The film follows a government official who must convince local farmers that their lives will be better off in the city, and a farmer in one of the last remaining villages in the region who is pressured to move. Smith will also offer a preview screening his new film, Mountain Town, about the replica Wyoming town of Jackson Hole in Hebei, China. Free and open to the public. For more information see www.thelandofmanypalaces.com. Visit the film Facebook page at www.facebook.com/landofmanypalaces.

February 24
Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art: Tsherin Sherpa
CAS Speaker Series
Tsherin Sherpa, whose artwork will be on view at the CU Art Museum Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art exhibition, will visit CU on Tuesday, February 24 to give a public lecture. Born in 1968 in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tsherin Sherpa studied traditional Tibetan painting methods from the age of 12 under his father, Master Urgen Dorje, a renowned thangka artist from Ngyalam, Tibet. Sherpa moved to Taiwan in 1988 to study Mandarin and Computer Science. Three years later, he returned to Nepal working along with his father in numerous painting projects. In 1998 he moved to the USA working as a thangka artist and as instructor at several Tibetan Buddhist Centers in California. Tsherin Sherpa has, in recent years, shifted away from traditional subjects to depict more contemporary concerns. His precise and immaculate paintings of Tibetan spirits and deities are explorations of the detachment experienced by the Tibetan Diaspora in relation to their homeland. Sherpa has been included in numerous groundbreaking exhibitions around the world including The Scorching Sun of Tibet (2010) in Beijing, Tradition Transformed–Tibetan Artists Respond (2010) at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art (2013-2015) at the Dorsky Museum at SUNY, New Paltz, the Queens Museum of Art in New York, and the CU Art Museum in Boulder, Colorado. In 2012 Sherpa had his first solo show, Tibetan Spirit, at Rossi & Rossi, London. He has also completed residencies at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the Dharamsala International Artists Workshop (in collaboration with Khoj), and in 2010 was awarded the Himalayan Fellowship by the Rubin Museum of Art and completed at the Vermont Studio Center, USA. Tsherin Sherpa's artist statement:

"My works have always been an attempt to merge the gap between sacred and secular, icon and ordinary and past history and contemporary. As nomadic people, we Tibetans seem to possess the ability to adapt into many different environments. As our culture merges with others, I'm curious how we will maintain and celebrate our unique essence at the same time it is evolving. These personal experiences are explored through the use of my Protector series.

"I take the classical images of Tibetan deity and manipulate their form to create an abstract form that carry over this sense of groundlessness.

"In traditional Tibetan painting a formal grid system is used for the placement of a deity’s body in the correct posture. Without that grid tradition, the protectors almost appear to be lost in a swirling vortex, trying to find their new form. Through this process the chaos begins to subside to be transformed into somewhat abstract or an unfamiliar form."

To find out more about Anonymous, please visit http://www.contemporarytibetanart.org/.

March 6
Steampunk-ed Kung Fu: Transnational Modernity in Hong Kong Director Stephen Fung's Tai Chi Films
CAS Speaker Series
Kenneth Chan of the University of Northern Colorado will present on Hong Kong director Stephen Fun's two-part 3D martial arts extravaganza, Tai Chi Zero and Tai Chi Hero. These kung fu flicks would have been unremarkable as Hong Kong entries to the genre if not for the fact that the director has amalgamated, rather creatively, the martial arts film with a form of retro science fiction: steampunk films. While the deployment of this fin de siècle fantasy aesthetic injects new life to contemporary martial arts cinema (since Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon renewed global attention to the genre in 2000), Chan wishes to unpack its cultural logic by suggesting (1) that the film reformulates the familiar tension between Chinese cultural traditionalism and technologized modernity, and (2) that it forces a rethinking of China's and Chinese cultures' relationship to the West, especial with the rise of China as a modern economic giant and a major player in 21st century global capitalism. Does technology function as a cinematic/cultural trope to signify China's entry into the circuit of cosmopolitan engagement? And if so, what are the ideological and cultural implications of this mode of representation?

Steampunk-ed Kung Fu

April 17
"Mediating Asia": 2015 CAS Annual Symposium
CAS Speaker Series
4th Annual CAS Symposium. Please check back later for more details.
10:00 a.m., British and Irish Studies Room, Norlin Library, CU-Boulder.