Programme

The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies (ACCS) is an interdisciplinary conference held alongside The Asian Conference on Asian Studies (ACAS). Keynote, Featured and Spotlight Speakers will provide a variety of perspectives from different academic and professional backgrounds. Registration for either conference will allow delegates to attend sessions in the other.

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


  • Resisting the Cynical Turn: Projections of a Desirably Queer Future
    Resisting the Cynical Turn: Projections of a Desirably Queer Future
    Keynote Presentation: Donald E. Hall
  • Love as an Algorithm
    Love as an Algorithm
    Keynote Presentation: Gloria Montero
  • Inhabiting the Open
    Inhabiting the Open
    Keynote Presentation: John Nguyet Erni

Previous Programming

View details of programming for past ACCS conferences via the links below.

Resisting the Cynical Turn: Projections of a Desirably Queer Future
Keynote Presentation: Donald E. Hall

While the current political moment certainly invites a sense of defeatism among those of us in arts, humanities, and cultural studies—and makes a retreat into cynicism and political apathy an attractive option—the times call for a renewed sense of commitment and a much more assertive response. We on the cultural left—especially in higher education—have a base level responsibility to lead the way out of our climate of reactionary nationalism and anti-intellectualism. We are the ones best able to imagine a different future and articulate its desirability. Practitioners in the arts, humanities, and cultural studies are best positioned to provide the utopic thinking that has the power to motivate. In returning to some of the core tenets of activist-based queer theory, and melding those with the tentative and probing dialogics offered by the philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, we have tools to rally those who feel oppressed and defeated by current political rhetoric. A calculated, cautious, but deliberately vocal optimism serves the interests of our students, our profession, and our fellow citizens. The cultural right asks us to withdraw, to be silent, to give up hope—our best response is to do the opposite. By imagining and articulating a more egalitarian, cosmopolitan, and desirably queer future, we can direct attention to the true cynics—those who believe that top-down power will be accepted without question and that sexism/racism/homophobia can be normalized in order to divide, scare, and manipulate the masses. We—artists, writers, philosophers, and theorists—have the creativity and mental nimbleness to challenge and change the world, if we accept our responsibility as educators and re-commit ourselves to doing so.

Read presenter biographies.

Love as an Algorithm
Keynote Presentation: Gloria Montero

While cognitive scientist Steven Pinker keeps assuring us that prosperity, safety, peace and even happiness are on the rise worldwide, other scientists and philosophers as diverse as Stephen Hawking, Timothy Morton and Yuval Noah Harari warn us that the world as we have known it, and even ourselves, are on the verge of a devastating change. Climate catastrophe might well lead to global destruction, while artificial intelligence and biological engineering threaten to make human beings redundant. Extinction, we are told, is the norm, survival the exception. Living amidst the devastating possibilities which in this age of acceleration could prove remarkably close, have we humans already been subject to a mutation: a growing fear translated into a generalized disregard for the other, a refusal to pay attention and accept responsibility if it threatens our own comfort, even a developing propensity for hate? As conscious beings with the ability to distinguish between cause and effect, means and ends, we are witnesses to what goes on in our world. While many of the practical and ethical decisions vis a vis the immediate future need to be made with knowledge and power beyond that of the ordinary citizen, my personal conviction is that Love presents each and every one of us with a clear and vital algorithm for our endurance. Love in its most comprehensive connotation as a recognition of our profound interrelatedness – humans, animals, plants, the earth itself, the stars – every single element in the universe. True awareness of this extraordinary interconnection demands an attentiveness to what is going on, exacts not only an active concern for the other but an outright respect for our differences, along with the ineluctable conviction that only by sharing responsibility can we hope to survive. As we are thrust headlong into the pending Anthropocene, Love might well be our one viable path to a future.

Read presenter biographies.

Inhabiting the Open
Keynote Presentation: John Nguyet Erni

In its engagement with community life, especially through educational spaces, cultural studies plays a special role in instilling a determination for struggle for freedom and a strong sense of creativity, both of which are much needed in times of increasing global complexity. For many of us who work with young people in educational settings, we have learned that one of the keys to unlock their critical imagination for a liveable future – one underscored by freedom and creativity – is about “being open.” Yet how many times have we encountered the saying “to be open”? Especially in an education environment, we craft our visions around the need to train our students to be open-minded individuals who are, ideally, cross-culturally exposed, multiply linguistically competent, and globally actionable. In modern education, to meet the challenges of this increasingly complex world, we liberal thinkers form our curricula around “the open,” through theoretical variants like comparative culturalism and moral variants like diversity training. Yet once we try to pin down “the open” within established categories and conventions of thought, no experience could be more elusive. What is the open? Based on my cultural research on minorities, I shall share my thinking on how not to “exhabit” the social and cultural horizon so as to be poised to reclaim the future.

Read presenter biographies.