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"Doing" Theory In and About East Asia: Transgression and Translation



Academics typically conceive of theory as a Western way of conceptual thinking or producing knowledge. In today's academic context, nevertheless, theory is influential in the non-Western world as well, as many scholars outside of the West adopt a theoretical stance in the production of knowledge. Therefore, as scholars of East Asia, we must rethink its relation to theory. Theory has been discussed in the literature in connection with East Asia, but the place of theory, both in the study of East Asia and in the region itself, still remains obscure if not unstable. Here, my term "East Asia" refers to both geographical and academic sites; that is to say, the term refers to both the region of East Asia and the academic field of East Asian studies, especially in Western academia. Native East Asian scholars of any subject, and scholars who study East Asia, whether they are situated in a Western or non-Western academic context, all face similar challenges when they attempt to engage in theory. The perception of theoretical scholars in East Asia, from both the West and the East, is at best ambivalent, if not antagonistic. In opposition to this perception, this paper will illuminate the positive aspects of theory in and about East Asia. To this end, I propose the following guiding question about the relation between theory and East: what does "doing" theory mean when it comes to East Asia? Since the term "East Asia" risks being quickly associated or conflated with the colonialist conception of the Orient or the Other - namely, a mythic territory - a more helpful question might be: what does using theory mean for both scholars of East Asia and scholars in East Asia?

Parallel abstracts


Parallel keywords

理論 東亞 翻譯 踰越 精神分析


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