Asiascape: Digital Asia

International Conference: Revisiting the Emancipatory Potential of Digital Media in Asia

24-25 January 2014, Leiden University, The Netherlands

The academic journal Asiascape:Digital Asia (DIAS), in collaboration with the Goto-Jones VICI project Beyond Utopia funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), welcomes all those interested to this international conference on digital media in Asia.
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Image (c) F. Schneider / 2013
Over the past decade, new forms of information and communication technologies have shaped the way people relate to each other, engage in social activities, conduct commerce, and participate in political processes. The inception of so-called Web 2.0 services such as Facebook in 2004, Youtube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006, has introduced a degree of interactivity to communication processes that surpasses that of previous technologies. Numerous companies from around the world have since imitated the success of these large networking, video-sharing, and micro-blogging sites. The popularity of such interactive digital media has meanwhile generated much debate regarding the emancipatory potential of these tools – a debate that has largely focuses on American and European experiences, and that in its extreme revolves on the one hand around the arguments of liberal scholars like Clay Shirky or Yochai Benkler, who emphasize the potential of such technologies to empower citizens, and on the other hand around the concerns of cultural critics like Evgeny Morozov or Sherry Turkle, who see these innovations as exploitative, domineering, and potentially damaging.

This international conference moves such debates to Asia, and confronts them with the realities of digital media usage in this vibrant region. How does citizen journalism work in countries like China, Malaysia, or Singapore, where citizens have constructed information networks through blogs and tweets that run parallel to official mainstream media, and where states and ruling parties attempt to control such processes through sophisticated information and communication technologies? What are we to make of citizen consultation in light of the Indonesian case, where politicians use social media to shore up support from online communities by prompting them to take over social responsibilities that were originally part of the state’s social service portfolio? How should we assess the contentious nature of digital media in light of Indian examples, where such media help coordinate anti-corruption movements while at the same time entrenching the middle-class interests that inform these movements? Meanwhile, in Japan how do we gauge the political and social impact of alternative forms of journalism and novel forms of protest facilitated by digital media in the wake of the March 2011 triple disaster, as well as the subsequent use of social media as a platform for revisionist politicians? In South Korea, how do youth groups come together on international social networking sites and on local alternatives like Cyworld or me2day as they develop alternatives to mainstream Korean culture, and what role do smartphones and other mobile technologies play in these processes?

By analysing such cases, this conference critically asks how we can overcome dichotomies such as emancipation vs. domination in the study of digital media, and how we can instead explain the transformative role of such media in all its complexity.
You can attend both conference days for free.
Should you wish to join the conference lunches, we will ask for a modest contribution of Euro 7,50 (per lunch). This can be paid at the conference itself

If you wish to attend, it is helpful to fill out the registration form
There is a direct train connection between Schiphol Amsterdam Airport and Leiden Central Station (Leiden CS) which takes up to twenty minutes. The Dutch train operator is called NS.
The Schiphol train station is within the airport beneath the main plaza -there should be signs directing you towards the underground train platforms.

More information about getting around by train and timetables can be found on the NS website.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Leiden, you can book a hotel or one of Leiden's many B&B's.
All hotels in the centre of Leiden are within walking distance from the conference venue.

For more information check the city of Leiden website or book a room via
Leiden University, Faculty of Humanities
Lipsius Building, room 147
Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden
The Netherlands
Do digital media change the way that politics, social interactions, economic exchanges, and cultures work in Asia? How can we study such processes? And how can we deploy digital media ourselves to communicate our research and our arguments? These are some of the questions that this international conference at Leiden University will address.

The conference will also lead up to the publication of our new peer-reviewed academic journal Asiascape: Digital Asia. To launch our discussion, we have uploaded the introduction to the inaugural issue of the journal for your convenience, with the kind permission of Brill Publishers.
Friday 24 January 2014
08.30 - 09.15

09.15 - 09.30

09.30 - 10.30

10.30 - 11.00

11.00 - 13.00


Keynote: Digital Methods
Richard ROGERS, Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam, and Director of the Foundation and the Digital Methods Initiative, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Coffee Break

Panel 1: Converging Media, Converging Cultures
Chair/Discussant: Bart BARENDREGT

1. Convergence and media freedom in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Ross TAPSELL, Lecturer at the School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University.

2. Make lulz not war: How online remix and meme culture are empowering civic engagement in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Patrick E. SHARBAUGH, Lecturer at RMIT International University Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam & Dang NGUYEN, researcher at RMIT International University Vietnam

3. Digital technology in the wild and every day: Case studies from the slums of urban India.
Nimmi RANGASWAMY, Adjunct Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad, India & Payal ARORA, Assistant Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

4. Critical analysis of the power relations between the global and the local in Korea’s smartphone wave.
Dal Yong JIN, Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University, Canada.
13.00 - 14.00

14.00 - 16.00

Panel 2: The Politics of Digital Communication
Chair/Discussant: Florian Schneider

1. Towards a typological theory of e-government in China.
Christian GÖBEL. Professor at the Department for East Asian Studies, University of Vienna.

2. Cosmopolitans all washed-up at the language barrier? Facts, potentials and challenges of digital media use in transnational migrant advocacy.
Daniel KREMERS. Filmmaker & PhD researcher, Institute of Political Science and Japan Studies, Halle-Wittenberg University, Germany.

3. Songfan (meal delivery): Developing civic consciousness through e-commerce.
Rui KUNZE. Postdoc at Erlangen-Nuremberg University, Germany.

4. Finding appropriate theories to study political communication on the Chinese Internet: using traditional dichotomies to assess differences between political speech on Facebook and Weibo.
Gillian BOLSOVER. PhD researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University, UK.

16.00 - 16.15

16.15 - 17.00

17.00 - 17.15

17.15 - 18.00

19.00 - 21.00
Coffee Break

Open Discussion - Part 1: Where is "digital Asia"?

Coffee Break

Open Discussion - Part 2: Digital Asia or Digitized Asia? The Challenge of studying digital media and communication in Asia

Conference dinner (panelists only)
Saturday 25 January 2014
10.00 - 12.00
Panel 3: Digital Media in Taiwan - A Spotlight Taiwan Event
Chair/Discussant: Jens DAMM

1. Korean Wave in Taiwan: (Digital) Cultural Identity and Cultural Economy
Ming-yeh RAWNSLEY, Research Associate at the SOAS, University of London, UK.

2. Dialogue between communication rights and news professionalism: Exploring the rise of citizen journalism both in China and Taiwan.
TSAI Shiou-Fen. Assistant Professor, Mass Communication Department, Hsuan Chuang University, Taiwan.

3. Media industries and cultural creative industries: Industrialisation of cultural policy in the digital era.
KU Shu-shiun. PhD researcher at the University of Leeds, UK.

4. The internet and Taiwan’s new civic movement in the information age: Hung Chungchiu’s case.
Bernard Chin-fu HUNG. Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science & Graduate Institute of Political Economy, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.

12.00 - 13.00

13.00 - 14.30

Panel 4: Beyond Utopia, the Emancipatory Potential of Science Fiction in Digital Japan
Chair/Discussant: Chris GOTO-JONES

1. Dialectic of Utopia: Visualizing Future Politics in the Anime Psycho-Pass.
Mari NAKAMURA. PhD researcher at Leiden University, the Netherlands.

2. Reflected Self vs. Self-Reflection: Nuclear Power, Genetic Engineering, and their Emotional Manifestations in Coppelion.
Carl LI. PhD researcher at Leiden University, the Netherlands.

3. Emancipating Research: Creating Gamic Expression as Academic Intervention.
Martin ROTH. PhD researcher at Leiden University, the Netherlands.

14.30 - 15.00

15.00 - 16.45
Coffee Break

Panel 5: The Evolution of Chinese Microblogging and Mobile Texting
Chair/Discussant: Jay (Yih-Jye) Hwang

1. The aesthetics of microblogging: How the Chinese state controls Weibo.
Jonathan BENNEY. Postdoc at Institute for US-China Issues, University of Oklahoma.

2. Becoming numb with myriad tragedies: Rights protection, tragicness competition, and Sina Weibo.
ZENG Guohua, Adjunct researcher at the Amsterdam Centre of Globalisation Studies, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

3. From Web 2.0 to SOLOMO (From Sina Weibo to Weixin).
Gianluigi NEGRO. PhD researcher at the Università della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland.
16.45 - 17.00

17.00 - 17.45

17.45 - 18.00

Coffee Break

Concluding Discussion - Who do digital media emancipate? The view from Asia.

Closing note

We thank the following sponsors for their generous support in making this conference happen:
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