East Asian Media Ecologies

May 2017

New media technology is changing the way we think, live, and act around the globe. Its impact in East Asia has been particularly striking, transforming cultures and communities, politics and economics, built urban environments, and everyday life. Such massive shifts raise important questions about the nature of media and about its past and future in East Asia, questions yet to be adequately addressed in either media studies or area studies. This exploratory seminar will trace the interconnectivities of audiovisual and text-based media in East Asia through the keyword “media ecologies.” This term has recently re-emerged to emphasize the role of media as an environment not separate from those inhabiting it, but rather co-constitutive and intermeshed with the human. By assembling a group of scholars and artists from North America and East Asia to work through the lens of media ecology we aim for a multifaceted intervention. Whereas area studies implicitly relies on the primacy of fixed place and space, “ecology” will allow us to think in terms of connections and movements that are constantly under negotiation. At the same time, it addresses the problems of much of English-language media studies’ universalizing claims about media technologies, attending to the intersections of specific/local and general processes.

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