Global Imaginings and Regional Connections In East and Southeast Asia

Wednesday, 14:00-16:00, 501





The goal of the panel is to investigate the dynamics of global and regional formations by focusing on transnational urban connections in East and Southeast Asia. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, the panel looks at the myriad ways in which translocal connections and imageries are being forged and played out in Shanghai college students' perceptions of foreigners (Yang); in contemporary primary school textbooks produced in the city of Shanghai (Naftali); in the consumption experiences offered by global chains in Japanese metropolitan centers (Grinshpun); and in the shared employment, education, lifestyle, and consumption choices of Southeast Asian urbanites (Otmazgin). These investigations aim to introduce an alternative way of looking at how transnational connectivities are being constructed in contemporary East and Southeast Asia by placing cities, rather than just the nation-state or the local-global dyad at the center of analysis.


Envisioning the World in Chinese Primary School Textbooks: A View from Shanghai

In the past decade or so, China has been witnessing a surge in popular nationalist sentiments, expressed in part through anti-Western and anti-Japan demonstrations in large metropolitan centers such as Beijing and Shanghai. This recent trend is often presented as a product of the Communist Party's post-1989 Patriotic Education successive campaigns waged in newspapers, films and monuments, as well as in school textbooks. However, a closer look at contemporary Chinese textbooks reveals the existence of an alternative strain of discourse which seeks to promote greater openness and increased tolerance towards the outside world among the nation's young. This study explores the contents and contours of this discourse by looking at how foreign cultures and global places are currently constructed and imagined in primary school textbooks produced and taught in the city of Shanghai. The study identifies possible tensions between patriotic and global themes in contemporary Chinese educational materials while also paying attention to the effects of Shanghai's unique standing as a national, regional, and global metropolitan center on the city's local pedagogical agenda.


Chinese College Students' Images of Foreigners in China

This study aims to investigate Chinese college students' perceptions of foreigners in Shanghai, China. Considering Chinese value changes as a result of globalization and rapid economic growth, variables such as gender, nationality, educational background, major, birth place, social status, family background, and formal overseas experience are discussed in order to explore the strongest direct influence on Chinese college students' image of foreigners. As an important factor, students' social interactions with foreigners, especially foreign students, are examined respectively. The Bogardus Social Distance Scale is introduced in the research in order to figure out Chinese students' degree of tolerance toward people from different cultural backgrounds. Suggestions for further research and for individuals working with internationals exchange and cooperation affairs are proposed.


Chain and the City: Conceptualizing Globalization and its Impact on Urban Culture in Japan

The rise of globalization and development of transnational consumption practices have generated new urban geographies and spatial structures. One of the most prominent manifestations of this process is that cities have become increasingly tied to their position in a space of global and regional flows; as such, they came to be conceptualized as nodes in multiplex transnational networks, defined by circulation of commodities, capital, labor and knowledge. Multinational corporations, 'interlocking' world cities through systems of production and distribution, function as chief agents of formation of such networks.

This presentation examines these dynamics by focusing on global chains in Japanese metropolitan centers. While the city is conceptualized as a dense spatial concentration of human activity, the chain represents a material flow of products, images and cultural representations. By analyzing the socio-cultural aspect of the consumption experience offered by the chains, an attempt is made to comprehend how new patterns of connectivity are being shaped and new forms of urban consumption space constructed in contemporary Japan.


Cities in the Making of a Region in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia of the last two decades has grown closer together. A new international maneuvering away from the American- and Soviet Union-dominated Cold War era politics, together with the ever-evolving political and economic integrating forces, have provided the right incentives for this region's markets to converge and for its governments to cooperate. Regional frameworks of cooperation have also been established with, the well-known example, ASEAN (Association of East Asian Nations). In addition, a few decades of economic growth have connected this region's cities and the people who live there more tightly to global markets, sources of capital and information, and to transnational flows of popular culture. Cities like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Manila, and Bangkok have become active participants in the global and regional economy, as well as hotbeds for cultural innovation and integration.

This study attempts to develop an alternative understanding of the regionalization process in Southeast Asia by focusing on cities as the cornerstones in the creation of the region. The study argues for the salience of the region bounded by cities, especially those that represent their countries' economic and cultural centers, as opposed to a region composed of nation-states as a whole. Accordingly, the study focuses on the way the people who live in big cities in Southeast Asia increasingly share the same employment, education, lifestyle, and consumption patterns and aspire to the same standard of living. The result of this is a special connectivity and a growing resemblance between metropolises amid a growing differentiation between the centrality of cities and that of the rural areas.