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24-25 April 2010

Workshop: Inter-Asian Gender and Health

Department of Japanese Studies SMLC, The University of Hong Kong With additional support from CUHK-Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, Asia-Pacific Center for Chinese Studies

This workshop is a preparatory meeting for future international conferences with a core group of scholars interested in a multidisciplinary approach to exploring questions concerning gender, health, and “Asia.” The output of the international conference will result in book publications with a major university press.

While the notion of “Asia” has been repeatedly criticized for its Eurocentric origins, there are fascinating commonalities in this imagined region as well as differences that are worth pursuing, especially in the context of gender and health. In this series of workshops and conferences, we envision “Inter-Asia” as ongoing dialogues between China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and the Middle Eastern region. Certain regions, despite commonly-shared ideologies (for example, version of Confucianism) may hold wide-ranging and diverse histories and approaches to health, which is necessarily gendered. These diversities may illuminate the historicity of gender and health to the individual nation-states and to the larger region. Furthermore, the Middle East is a broad geographical entity imagined, again by Eurocentric perspectives, and it is difficult and unproductive (as with any other “region”) to universalize the experiences. Yet it would be an important and constructive exercise to begin examining Confucian and Islamic traditions together, to allow for a humanistic and holistic approach to gender and health, especially in light of contemporary interests and rising significance of both ideological systems.

The relationship between gender and health can be understood as embodying a complicated confluence of factors, whether influenced by perceived or actual physiological “differences,” social and political policy and interests, and cultural and historical legacies, to name a few. This multi-disciplinary conference will encompass these complexities by breaking down academic disciplinary boundaries and involving a wide range of scholars with diverse expertise. The resulting discussions will range from roughly the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century, examining issues of colonial history to the pressing contemporary topics of the present.

We envision this workshop to help us prepare for possibly two events. The first event, which is currently under consideration, may be a multilingual session involving a diverse group of experts and scholars from Asia. The second event will be an international conference, held in English, which will result in an edited volume/book series with a major university press.

By the end of this weekend workshop, we hoped to have clarified the following:
• Overall vision of proposed conference
• Proposed date and venue of multilingual session and international conference
• Logistical concerns regarding multilingual session and its limitations
• Major themes and geographic coverage for the multilingual session and international conference
• Recruitment of scholars from outside Hong Kong and Taiwan whose scholarship is not yet available in English

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