Programme

The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2017 (ACAH2017) is an interdisciplinary conference held alongside The Asian Conference on Literature 2017 (LibrAsia2017). Keynote, Featured and Spotlight Speakers will provide a variety of perspectives from different academic and professional backgrounds. Registration for either conference will allow participants to attend sessions in both.

This page provides details of presentations and other programming. For more information about presenters, please visit the Speakers page.


  • Art and Narrative in the Public Sphere
    Art and Narrative in the Public Sphere
    Featured Panel Presentation: Yutaka Mino & Tan Tarn How
  • D.T. Suzuki: How Did Scholars Get It So Wrong?
    D.T. Suzuki: How Did Scholars Get It So Wrong?
    Featured Presentation: Dr Brian Victoria
  • Ambiguous Japan: A Study on Four Lectures of Nobel Prize Winner Kenzaburō Ōe
    Ambiguous Japan: A Study on Four Lectures of Nobel Prize Winner Kenzaburō Ōe
    Spotlight Presentation: Dr Michele Eduarda Brasil de Sá
  • History, Story, Narrative – Constructing History
    History, Story, Narrative – Constructing History
    Featured Panel Presentation: Dr Brian Victoria, Professor Georges Depeyrot & Professor Myles Chilton
  • Utilising Technology to Unlock the Past
    Utilising Technology to Unlock the Past
    Featured Workshop: Dr Ruth Farrar & Barney Heywood
  • Stories Surpass History to Influence Individual and Social Identities
    Stories Surpass History to Influence Individual and Social Identities
    IAAB Presentation: Dr Monty P. Satiadarma
  • The IAFOR Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award Ceremony
    The IAFOR Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award Ceremony
    Featured Event
  • Haiku Workshop
    Haiku Workshop
    Featured Workshop: Emiko Miyashita & Hana Fujimoto
Art and Narrative in the Public Sphere
Featured Panel Presentation: Yutaka Mino & Tan Tarn How

Drawing on the conference theme of “History, Story, Narrative”, this panel will examine art as a medium for telling stories and creating narrative, and how curation can be used to contextualise and situate works of art.

In a comparative analysis encompassing divergent cultural perspectives, the panellists will discuss the politics and role of art, drawing on examples from both Singapore and Japan, and comparing and contrasting with other countries.

The panel will focus on the importance and continued relevance of art in the public sphere, addressing questions of how public art and public spaces can create stories and narratives, and how these narratives can assist in the construction and structuring of a national identity, including the following: How can art create a public dialogue? How can this dialogue be harnessed for the good of the community? And what is the role played by curation in contributing to the development of a local, regional and national community and economy?

Image | The Tower of the Sun (located in Osaka Prefecture) by Japanese artist Tarō Okamoto

Read presenter biographies on the Speakers page.

D.T. Suzuki: How Did Scholars Get It So Wrong?
Featured Presentation: Dr Brian Victoria

D.T. Suzuki is best known for having introduced the Zen school of Buddhism to the West. His long life (1870-1966) has been praised by many scholarly and non-scholarly admirers alike as exemplifying the ideal “Zen life,” a life dedicated to peace and compassion. Yet, as early as his first book in 1896, Suzuki called on young Japanese soldiers to “regard their own lives as being as light as goose feathers.” During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, Suzuki exhorted Japanese Buddhists to “carry the banner of Dharma over the dead and dying until they gain final victory.” And as late as June 1941 Suzuki informed Imperial Army officers: “It isn’t easy to acquire the mental state in which one is prepared to die. I think the best shortcut to acquire this frame of mind is none other than Zen.” This presentation asks how was it possible for Suzuki to garner such admiration in the West ever as he encouraged the Japanese people to die in wars of conquest. More importantly, it seeks to identify “lessons to be learned” for scholars, especially historians, as they research both individuals and the events surrounding them.

Read presenter biographies on the Speakers page.

Ambiguous Japan: A Study on Four Lectures of Nobel Prize Winner Kenzaburō Ōe
Spotlight Presentation: Dr Michele Eduarda Brasil de Sá

In 1994, Kenzaburō Ōe, the second Japanese writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, entitled his Nobel Lecture “Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself”, dialoguing with his predecessor, Yasunari Kawabata, whose Nobel Lecture was entitled “Japan, the Beautiful, and Myself”. Confessing his quest for “ways to be of some use in the cure and reconciliation of mankind”, Ōe proposes a reflection on Japan’s role in the world by that time, having ascended by its technology, but not by its literature or philosophy. His Nobel Lecture aligns with three other lectures in different places and contexts: “Speaking on Japanese Culture Before a Scandinavian Audience” (1992), “On Modern and Contemporary Japanese Literature” (San Francisco, 1990) and “Japan’s Dual Identity: A Writer’s Dilemma” (1986). This paper attempts to reflect on the writer’s perspectives expressed in his lectures, focusing on the following subjects: Japanese culture and identity, Japan between past and future, and the contributions of literature in the achievement of peace.

Image | Kenzaburō Ōe (Wikipedia)

Read presenter biographies on the Speakers page.

History, Story, Narrative – Constructing History
Featured Panel Presentation: Dr Brian Victoria, Professor Georges Depeyrot & Professor Myles Chilton

This interdisciplinary history and literature panel will look at how histories are created and propagated and the difficulties involved in the inherently political act of writing of history. How does the “truth” act as heuristic and guide, and how is the concept abused to stifle dissent and impose order? This panel will draw on contemporary controversies and invite participation from delegates from around the world to address questions that include the following: How important is the construction of national history in the creation of personal and national identity? How does history shape our political decisions today? How do we go about building, revising and deconstructing history?

This panel will feature both historians and literary scholars and will explore the relations and tensions between fictional and historical narrative that are in many ways vital to definitions of literature, raising questions as to the “truth” of the history registered in literary texts as opposed to that of historical texts. The panel will also examine literature as alternative history, whether Fredric Jameson’s call to “always historicize!” is still relevant, the aliterary subversions of “official” history, the historicity of fiction, and, of course, the fiction of historicity.

Read presenter biographies on the Speakers page.

Utilising Technology to Unlock the Past
Featured Workshop: Dr Ruth Farrar & Barney Heywood

The aim of the workshop is to explore how digital technologies can be shaped to change our perceptions of the past. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and image recognition technology will be discussed to demonstrate innovative new platforms available to storytellers, historians and media makers.

The workshop is led by collaborative partners Dr Ruth Farrar, Creative Media and Enterprise Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University, and Barney Heywood and Lucy Telling from Stand + Stare, who specialise in immersive theatre and interactive design. They will collectively draw upon their portfolios illustrating successful international case studies, which fuse academic research with industry demands to help share stories from the past with new audiences.

Case studies covered in the workshop include: sharing immigrant stories for a sound art commission for the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York; an interactive storytelling app to commemorate Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary in New York; and an exhibition at the Barbican for the Royal Shakespeare Company bringing theatrical props to life in London. During a practical exercise, workshop participants will also get an opportunity to interact with image recognition technology by attaching a story to an object to create a unique oral history experience. Ultimately, workshop participants will learn how to innovatively mediate digital technologies to create new modes of understanding history.

Read presenter biographies on the Speakers page.

Stories Surpass History to Influence Individual and Social Identities
IAAB Presentation: Dr Monty P. Satiadarma

Storytelling is a way of transforming knowledge from one generation to another. While histories are based on facts and historical data, stories may not be based. Mythologies and folktales are not history, they are stories, yet people believe in them; often they believe more in stories than in histories.

People care more about stories than histories, for stories tend to give an immediate answer to curiosity without extending to research and exploration. Symbolism and metaphor tend to satisfyingly give answers to people’s curiosity, for, as Cassirer says, man is an animal symbolicum.

While facts and data are based on rational findings, symbols and metaphors may be based on emotional attachment, and some tend to be irrational; for example, the figure of angels as humans with wings. These symbols influence the identity of persons and even nations. There are countries that use the symbols of eagles or lions, although these are either rare or nonexistent in their land. However, the stories of the brave and powerful eagles and lions are introjected within the people over centuries; they are not thought of within the course of history. This presentation discusses how stories surpass history in influencing people to carry on their belief system, thus influencing then, from the individual to national identity.

Read presenter biographies on the Speakers page.

The IAFOR Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award Ceremony
Featured Event

ACAH/LibrAsia2017 is the proud host of the IAFOR Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award Ceremony, which will be held during the Plenary Session. Now in its seventh year, the Award was founded and is judged by distinguished poet and Croatian Ambassador to Brazil, His Excellency Dr Drago Štambuk. It prides itself on its indiscriminate acceptance of all forms of haiku, regardless of whether in the traditional or modern style. This international, broad and unrestricted approach attracted a record number of 680 submissions from 60 countries in 2016 and this year is set to be its most prolific yet. The Award is currently open for entries. Only unpublished haiku and one entry per person will be considered.

Find haiku inspiration in our listings of previous winners and learn more about Dr Drago Štambuk’s conception of the award here.

Haiku Workshop
Featured Workshop: Emiko Miyashita & Hana Fujimoto

This annual workshop gives a background and history to haiku, the Japanese form of poetry that has become popular the world over. It will include readings of some of the most famous examples, and will invite participants to write their own poems, under the guidance of one of Japan’s most prominent haiku poets.

The workshop is run by Councillors of the Haiku International Association, Emiko Miyashita, a prominent and widely published haiku poet, award-winning translator and secretary of the Haiku Poets Association International Department in Tokyo, and Hana Fujimoto, a member of the Japan Traditional Haiku Association and writer for the haiku magazine Tamamo.

Read presenter biographies on the Speakers page.