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Fwd: CFP: The 2nd Biennial Conference of the Society of Sinophone Studies

Oceans and Empires: Sinophone Crossroads in Global Space and Time

The 2nd Biennial Conference of the Society of Sinophone Studies



Call for Papers

The Sinophone world that is invigorated by “multisensory protests” and “ally-ship” (the focus of the 2021 conference) also constantly reinvents its pasts as it manufactures imaginaries of futurity through interactions with – sometimes in contradistinction to – other societies and communities and the world at large. As we adhere to the ethical investment and political sensitivity inherent to Sinophone studies as an intellectual formation, we must reflect upon how our conceptual and political categories, as well as our geographies, are pre-determined historically. The histories of empire and global geopolitics necessarily have left an imprint on existing social and cultural forms, legitimizing and making legible the connectivity between some of them while ostracizing and obscuring others. Likewise, human connections and relationality have been shaped by patterns of the flows of idea and movement of people across the globe even as we explore new pathways across the Sinophone spaces. How, then, does the Sinophone afford a useful lens for the critical scrutiny of historical crossroads, hence materializing the potential of renewal? How might we conceptualize spatial crossroads across a palimpsest of temporalities? How does the Sinophone offer an interdisciplinary platform to explore its conjunctions with empire studies, borderland studies, oceanic studies, indigeneity studies, race and ethnicity studies, gender studies, postcolonial and decolonial studies? How might the Sinophone shift the conventional focus on the continent, and through a reorientation to the seas, foster alternative imaginaries of the human world? This conference invites papers that situate contemporary Sinophone discussions in historical and interdisciplinary nexus of various forms. We are interested in papers that explore these themes, including—but not limited to—the questions:

  • How do the overlapping histories of empire and nation-state, both Chinese and non-Chinese, inform the contemporary geography and geopolitics of the Sinophone world? How do the movements of different populations, as settlers, colonialists, natives, or indigenous peoples engage with questions of power and territoriality? How do they conform to or challenge these imperial or inter-imperial geographies?

  • How do cultural infrastructures –language for one, but certainly beyond language – mediate the management of center and periphery, boundary and crossing? How does intermediality afford a lens to engage with intertwined environmental and geopolitical concerns beyond conventional conceptualizations of the nation and the region?

  • How do empires’ expansions foster historical formations of dissent, localism, trans-local and transnational alliances?

  • How do interdisciplinary forms of inquiry from literary and cultural studies, historical sociology or anthropology, linguistics, and other fields intersect in the studies of the Sinophone?

  • How does the Sinophone, an intellectual formation inspired by notions of the archipelagic and the relational, reconfigure landed or land-based understandings of power, culture, and history?

  • How does the Sinophone intersect with the “blue humanities,” and what critical potential arises from such a critical confluence?

  • How can the ocean figure as a source of epistemological innovation, to interrogate our own critical toolkit and vocabularies, and hence build new alliances for the Sinophone—such as with Indigenous Studies and Ethnic Studies?

  • How does the oceanic foreground the ecocritical impulses of the Sinophone?

The conference will be held in person at Penn State, University Park, on May 12-14, 2023, with a remote component to accommodate attendees who are unable to physically travel to the conference. Please submit an abstract (no more than 300 words) and short bio (no more than 100 words) via this Google Form by August 31, 2022. If you are unable to access the Google Form, please submit your abstract and bio by emailing

This conference will be hosted by the Department of Asian Studies of Penn State University (University Park, Pennsylvania), with additional support from the Department of Comparative Literature, PSU. The Asian Studies Department of Penn State is profoundly interdisciplinary, ranging across the humanities and social sciences. The Department of Asian Studies at Penn State is home to the Global Asias Initiative and the journal Verge: Studies in Global Asias.

The Society of Sinophone Studies (3S) is an international, nonprofit scholarly society founded on May 4, 2019. Our main goal is to promote the study of Sinitic-language communities and cultures around the world. Through fostering communication across the humanities and social sciences, we encourage the development of new conceptual frameworks and methods that enable, on the one hand, the visibility of marginalized subjects and, on the other, the synergy with fields as diverse as (but not limited to) postcolonial studies, migration studies, ethnic studies, media studies, gender & queer studies, science studies, indigenous studies, and area studies. Membership in 3S is open to anyone with an interest in Sinophone studies and any regional, disciplinary, and topical expertise.

Members of the conference committee:

Shuang Shen (Penn State University)

Nicolai Volland (Penn State University)

Clara Iwasaki (University of Alberta)

Brian Bernards (University of Southern California)


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