Yongusil 27: “Polities in Motion” Conference at the University of Toronto
As evinced by its famous East Asian Studies Department and a successful series of Graduate Student Conferences, the University of Toronto is a global site of academic production focused on the Pacific Rim. The institution has an equally enviable reputation for the development of political theory and science. Would it be surprising if there were some degree of interaction between the two?
On March 6, the University of Toronto’s Comparative Politics Student Group (CPSG) on East Asia and the Peace by Piece Initiative Student Group make this very connection through an Academic Exchange seminar at the Munk School of Global Affairs. The seminar, entitled “Polities in Motion: Power Transfers, Institutional Change and Everyday Politics in East Asia,” holds East Asia to be a “political space under constant construction, ripe with possibility and potential…” yet one replete with contradictions, fractures and lines of flight from the norm. There’s the necessity of ROK President Park Geun-hye’s navigation of past histories, echoes and ghosts of both autocracy and violence, the multifaceted problems of venality and corruption in Workers’ Party 1st Secretary Kim Jong-un’s North Korea, and, of course, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping’s attempts to reform and consolidate a rapidly changing Chinese political climate and ecology while maintaining control over Beijing’s security, control and censorship apparatus.
The seminar focuses in particular on matters North Korean, and as such features extensive representation from contributors and participants close to the heart of Sino-NK. Co-Editor Christopher Green addresses monetary and financial change in North Korea’s with the paper “Marketization and Fiscal Sovereignty in North Korea,” while Communications Editor Sherri L. Ter Molen explores the North Korean popular encounter through the vector of American media. Finally, Director of Research Robert Winstanley-Chesters introduces some new research thematics with the working paper “Landscapes of Charisma, Topographies of Glory.”
However, going far, far beyond the boundaries of Sino-NK, the seminar will also be replete with new and emerging analytic talent, all birthed and raised under the University of Toronto’s not inconsiderable institutional wing. In a second panel entitled “Contemporary East Asia: 21st Century Institutions and New Identities,” discussant Emile Dirks leads Takumi Shibaikem, Wayne Zhu, Jin Yeung and Asif Farooq in further review and analysis of issues of informal financial structures in China, regionalization in East Asia and the place of social media in government and governmentality.
Research from Toronto’s academic institutions has historically opened a multitude of doors and engaged innumerable fields. This seminar, not to mention the research group from which it stems, points to a fine continuation of the same. To boot, Ito Peng, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Faculty of Arts and Science, will lead a short dialogue before the panels begin.
For those in the Greater Toronto Area interested in attending, please register for the event (open to all and free of charge) by clicking on the link under “Register” at the conference website. Conference details are provided at the website.