The theme for the 2011 AAAS conference “Consuming Asian America” is inspired, in part, by the site of the conference itself—New Orleans, the city that measures the success of its Mardi Gras celebration by weighing the garbage collected the morning after and whose shopping and nightclub district for locals is called “Fat City.” They invite proposals to engage with all aspects of consumption, such as excess (after all, New Orlean’s tradition of Mardi Gras suggests an excess of consumption), labor material culture, technology, marketing, identity, assimilation, gender, popular culture, religion, music, or tourism.
The title “Consuming Asian America” has a double sense, referring both to the consumption performed by Asian Americans and the consumption of objects, people, and practices that are marked as Asian American. They are interested in the material practices, actions, and cultures of different versions of the consumer, such as eating, buying, viewing, as well as the larger metaphor of consumption.
For example, proposals might examine the material reality of food and its cultivation, production, labor, and marketing: agribusiness, the restaurant industry, our current fascination with television food shows or “authentic” ethnic eating. Others might examine consumption, purchasing, and power by examining chains of production, from the unseen labor of overseas and domestic Asian workers to how the advertising of various products specifically employs or ignores Asian and Asian American bodies. This topic also encompasses the widespread consumption of goods and services identified as Asian or Asian American. These might include religious iconography, such as Mehndi and the Buddha, artistic traditions such as haiku, martial arts, or manga), or language and writing, such as Chinese writing in keychains, home decor, and body art. Consumption also can be thought of as a means of absorbing, reformulating, or challenging culture through various technologies: how images of Asians, from the yellow peril to the model minority have been circulated and consumed by a multi-racial America, and how one might control or resist the consumption of Asian America.
This is the first time AAAS will meet in New Orleans. Accordingly, they are interested in the ways in which New Orleans (and the Gulf Coast more broadly) has been the object of consumption post-Katrina, as well as the relative invisibility of Asian Americans in the public attention following the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. How might this conference steer us away from being unthinking consumers of New Orleans culture and instead engage us with the possibilities of critical activism?
*All paper and panel applicants must be members of AAAS in order to submit conerence proposals. AAAS membership number or confirmation of membership from JHUP will be required with all proposals.
**AV equipment will be available on request but on a limited, first-come-first-served basis due to budget restrictions. Please make your requests when sending in your proposals.
Consuming Asian America
2011 Association for Asian American Studies Conference
New Orleans, Louisiana, May 18-21, 2011
Submissions due by Monday, November 1, 2010
go to http://www.aaastudies.org to submit on-line