Intimate Connections: Everyday Experiences of Inter-Asia Ties

A workshop organized and sponsored by the College of Asia and the Pacific, the Japan Institute, and the Gender Institute, Australian National University

Dates: 11 August – 12 August 2016

Location: The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia


Keynote speakers

  • Professor Koichi Iwabuchi, Monash University
  • Associate Professor Thang Leng Leng, National University of Singapore
  • Dr Chika Watanabe, University of Manchester
  • Dr Dredge Byung'chu Kang, University of California San Diego


In recent years Asia has experienced an unprecedented flow of people, media representations, and capital as many countries have undergone vast economic and political transformations. In considering these tectonic shifts, analysts have often focused on macroeconomic and political questions, studying shifting market forces or politics at a national level. Such questions have tended to promote top-down research focusing on one nation or one sub-region at a time. In contrast, there is an emerging field of research on inter-Asian connections which views contemporary Asian nations as interlinked and interrelated at the most intimate of levels. Building on this approach, this workshop offers a space for rigorous discussion on how shifting political-economic realities are fostering new intimate connections among people throughout the region.

Specifically, the workshop will examine the effects of inter-Asian connections in the realm of the intimate. It will highlight how the intimate lives of those moving within Asia — for marriage, work, care, development, activism, education and so on — are shaped by and in turn influence these broader changes. We thus invite scholars interested in asking how people’s intimate lives are transformed in the context of economic and political shifts throughout Asia. How do economies of desire travel from one nation to another? How are people’s relationships with others created and transformed in such journeys? And what do people’s affective attachments, in turn, reveal about emergent transformations underway within the Asian region?

By linking economic and political transformations to the everyday concerns of intimacy on the ground, this workshop will offer innovative approaches to comprehending the dynamics driving the region. The workshop is comprised of keynote addresses, panels and master classes. It will bring together distinguished international scholars, early career academics and postgraduate students to develop innovative methodological approaches and new theoretical/conceptual possibilities which transcend nation-states and cultural boundaries. The workshop will also be a networking opportunity for scholars employing empirical approaches to the study of intimacy in inter-Asia contexts. The organizers will aim to publish select papers from the workshop in a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal.


11 August 2016

9:00 – Opening Welcome Speech by Simon Avenell

9:15-10:15 – Keynote 1: Professor Koichi Iwabuchi, “Intimacy's Enemies Revisiting Radical Potentials of Trans-Asian Mediated Connections”

10:15-10:45 - Morning tea

10:45-12:45 – Panel 1 Globalisation and the Media Flow

3 x (20 mins presentation + 10 mins discussion) and 30 mins wrap up session (10 mins feedback by keynote, followed by general wrap up theoretical discussion)

  • Gietty Tambunan, “Seeking Pleasures of Consumption in the ‘New’ Global Flows: Appropriating East Asian Popular Culture Products in Indonesia”
  • Kania Arini Sukotjo, “Comparative Studies of Yaoi Culture in Japan and Indonesia”
  • Anoosh Soltani, “Instagramming Identities: the Use of Social Media Space by Migrant Asian Muslim Women in Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand”

12:45-13:45 – Lunch

13:45-14:45 – Keynote 2: Dr Dredge Kang, “The Interracial Optics of Asian Intimacies in Cosmopolitan Thailand”

14:45-15:15 – Afternoon tea

15:15-17:15 – Panel 2 Race, Sexualities and the Body

3 x (20 mins presentation + 10 mins discussion) and 30 mins wrap up session (10 mins feedback by keynote, followed by general wrap up theoretical discussion)

  • Benjamin Hegarty, “Inter-Asian Approaches to the Erotics of Development: Indonesian Transgender Imaginaries and the Afterlife of Authoritarianism
  • Thomas Baudinette, “An Exploration of Racialized Desire in Japan’s Gay Sub-Culture: The Case of Chinese Men”
  • Carl Gabrielson, “Japanese Women and American Military Men: Perpetuating and Resisting Stereotypes in U.S. – Japan Intimate Relations.”

12 August 2016

9:30-10:30 – Keynote 3: Associate Professor Thang Leng Leng, “Inter-Asia Intimacies on the Ground: Journeying with the Women from Japan”

10:30-11:00 – Morning tea

11:00-13:00 – Panel 3 Remaking Intimacy

3 x (20 mins presentation + 10 mins discussion) and 30 mins wrap up session (10 mins feedback by keynote, followed by general wrap up theoretical discussion)

  • Ching-Ying Tien, “The Reformulated Meaning of Family and Home for Taiwanese Expatriates in Vietnam”
  • Sherman Tan, “The Sympathetic Imagination: Singaporeans and their Migrant Others”
  • Wen-Ching Ting, “(Re) making Intimate Connections: the Role of Religious and Ritual Practices in the Displaced Shan Communities along the Both Sides of Thai-Burma Border”

13:00-14:00 – Lunch

14:00-15:00 – Keynote 4: Dr Chika Watanabe, “Intimacy Beyond Love: a Case for Ethnography and History in Inter-Asian Encounters”

15:00-15:30 – Afternoon tea

15:30-17:30 – Panel 4 Gender, Money and Productivity

3 x (20 mins presentation + 10 mins discussion) and 30 mins wrap up session (10 mins feedback by keynote, followed by general wrap up theoretical discussion)

  • Shiori Shakuto, “After Productivity: Shifting Intimate Relations among the Japanese Retirement Migrants in Malaysia”
  • Andy Scott Chang, “When Men are Left Behind: Gender Relations in Indonesian Migration”
  • Tingting Liu, “Romance is good only when it comes with money: Chinese rural migrant labourer’s encounter with a precarious era”

17:30-18:00 – Workshop Wrap-up Discussion

13 August 2016

10:30-12.00 – Masterclass 1 “Economics, Development, Activism” facilitated by Dr Chika Watanabe

12:00-13:00 – Lunch Break

13:00-14:30 – Masterclass 2 “The New Anthropology of Love” facilitated by Dr Dredge Kang



A masterclass facilitated by two of the keynote speakers will be held on Saturday 13 August, 2016. Those interested in participating please visit the following link: MASTERCLASS


The ANU Japan Institute is Australia’s largest network of distinguished and emerging scholars with professional expertise on Japan. We research and teach in disciplines spanning art, economics, environment, health, history, international relations, language, law, linguistics, politics, regulation and Japanese Studies. Our mission, as part of Australia’s national university, is to strengthen knowledge of Japan among schools, universities, public institutions, government, and the private sector, and to promote the centrality of Australia-Japan relations in Australia’s Asian Century.

The ANU College of Asia and the Pacific is one of the world's leading centers for teaching, research and outreach on the region. Since the founding of the Australian National University in 1946, the College has driven Australia's engagement and understanding of its neighborhood. The work conducted here has established the University as a global center of excellence in research, teaching and influence on Asia and the Pacific. Today, the College hosts the largest number of regional experts and specialist academic programs in the English-speaking world, and plays a vital role in informing public policy and Australia's intellectual engagement with the societies, cultures and economies of Asia and the Pacific.

The Gender Institute is an exciting initiative at ANU. A cross-campus virtual Institute, it provides a focus for existing activity on issues of gender and sexuality and a catalyst to develop and deepen them. The Gender Institute has two distinct but related tasks. One is to support and deepen research, education and outreach on gender and sexuality across the University, in particular promoting collaboration and linkages in this area across the seven Colleges. The second is to support the employment and retention of women and gender diverse people at all levels, in all disciplines, across the University. To do this it will also work closely with ANU Diversity and Inclusion Unit on programs to support the attraction and retention of women staff.

Updated:  27 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute