Academics Online: Digital Harassment Across Asias

The full transcript is available on Vimeo

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

3:00-5:00pm Eastern Time

This webinar, the first in the three-part series of Academics Online events, will offer lightning talks by scholars of China, Japan, India, and Hong Kong, with the aim of building knowledge and awareness of critical issues surrounding public-facing scholarship, activism, and online harassment in Asian Studies. Over the last several years, virtual spaces have become a significant site of misinformation, disinformation, and mobilization among extremist communities. Internet-based activism and political mobilization are not a new phenomenon; yet, alarmingly, in much of the world, right wing populists, conspiracy theorists, history deniers and the like have been invigorated by the possibilities of connecting online and have grown in size and strength. Many such actors have turned the internet into a battle ground, engaging not only in recruiting and radicalizing supporters but also in campaigns of harassment of their opponents. Asia has been a particularly important venue for the growth of this phenomenon, and online harassment has been a growing problem that regularly impacts researchers and activists who become targets of those who oppose their political and scholarly stances. Despite the imminent personal and professional threats such campaigns pose not only to academic freedom at large but also to the safety of our colleagues and allies, conversations about how, where, and why these movements are occurring across the globe, and across Asias in particular, have been slow to begin. This event will be one starting point for these discussions.

Session Participants

Michael Berry is the author and editor of several books on Chinese film and culture, including Speaking in Images, A History of Pain, and most recently Jia Zhangke on Jia Zhangke. He has served as a film consultant and a juror for numerous film festivals, including the Golden Horse (Taiwan) and the Fresh Wave (Hong Kong) and is also the translator of several books, including To Live, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow, Remains of Life, and Wuhan Diary.

Paula R. Curtis is a historian of medieval Japan and presently a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in History with the Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies at University of California, Los Angeles. She is also engaged in the digital humanities, in promoting public-facing scholarship on Japan and academia at large, and in creating online, open-access resources for the East Asian Studies and Japan Studies fields.

Mary Gallagher is the Lowenstein Professor of Democracy, Democratization and Human Rights at the University of Michigan where she also directs the International Institute.

Jeffrey J. Hall is a lecturer at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan. His research topics include Japan’s nationalist activism, historical disputes, and the politics of popular culture. Dr. Hall recently published a new book, Japan’s Nationalist Right in the Internet Age: Online Media and Grassroots Conservatism (Routledge 2021).

Nitasha Kaul (Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster) is a multidisciplinary academic, novelist, poet, artist and economist who has researched and published extensively on themes relating to democracy, political economy, identity, rise of right-wing nationalism, feminist and postcolonial critiques, Bhutan, India and Kashmir over the last two decades. Frequently targeted by the right wing for speaking a public intellectual, she has confronted head of India’s Hindutva organisation on Al Jazeera Head to Head and provided expert testimony on Kashmir at the US Congress.

Lillian Ngan is a Ph.D. student in East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on the representations of Vietnam/Vietnamese in Sinophone cultural production to interrogate multiple colonialisms, imperialisms, and intersections. She aims to further examine the ethics and aesthetics of decolonization in Sinophone communities across the Transpacific.

Audrey Truschke is Associate Professor of South Asian History at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. She works on Hindu-Muslim interactions in premodern South Asia as well as the politics of history and Hindutva in the present-day.

Helena Wu is Assistant Professor of Hong Kong Studies at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests are Hong Kong literature, cinema, and culture.

Tomomi Yamaguchi is Associate Professor of Anthropology and the director of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Minor at Montana State University, specializing in feminism, popular culture, nationalism, and social movements in contemporary Japan. Her ethnographic and historical research on the feminist movement in Japan is longstanding, and she has been working on her ethnographic studies of grassroots right-wing movements in contemporary Japan, including the conservative backlash against feminism, as well as the debate on wartime “comfort women.”

Sponsoring Institutions

Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA

Association for Asian Studies

Center for Chinese Studies, UCLA

Center for Korean Studies, UCLA

Comfort Women Action for Redress and Education (CARE)

The Haruhisa Handa Professorship of Shinto Studies, UCLA

Japanese Arts & Globalizations Group, UCLA

Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities

Terasaki Center for Japanese Language Studies, UCLA

Verge: Studies in Global Asias and the Global Asias Initiative (GAI), The Pennsylvania State University