Course Overview

Course Overview

Growing up with fb, cinema, youtube, and more, you may have felt that you had the globe at your fingertips. Yet have you interrogated effects of this feeling on your ability to act as an independent, adaptable thinker and doer? Is it possible that media have taught you to act as a spectator, only, rather than as a curious, possibly courageous, world citizen when you study abroad, travel, consider migrant issues, or seek employment? This module explores integrity, openness and maybe expressivity, through one strand of identity, Asian-Pacificness. However, certain lessons may transfer to strands such as gender/sex, age, faith, and able-ism. A thought-provocation is sociologist Paul Gilroy’s insight that in a diasporic world, roots may matter less than commerce-impelled routes of transmission.

Philosopher Anthony Appiah argues that ‘we make ourselves up’ within discernible limits: each of us uses a ‘tool kit made available by our culture and society’. Tool kits in the Asia-Pacific area have been so deeply globalized, for so long, that we often hear concern about heritage and loss. Are we as alert, though, to visualization? The question arises with a phenotypical dimension when art historian Kobena Mercer remarks the intersection of traffic in human beings -- slavery -- and primacy in Western thought, since the Renaissance, of evidence that humans access optically.

To weave these inputs into a start-point, consider a cinema scholar’s advice about human beings’ sight. `Although we cannot control what happens to a perception before we become aware of it’, Kaja Silverman counsels, ‘we can retroactively revise the value which it assumes for us at a conscious level. We can look at an object’ (or, in USE2209, a person or people) ‘a second time, through different representational parameters, and painstakingly reverse the processes through which we have arrogated to ourselves what does not belong to us, or displaced onto another what we do not want to recognize in ourselves’. Silverman does not speak of integrity or openness. But she does consider re-looking ‘a necessary step in the coming of a subject to an ethical or a non-violent relation to the other’. You may like to look or re-look at the Georgette Chen image on this page, therefore, to ask, is this visual depiction local or globalised?

Citations for quoted passages can be found in the ‘Syllabus’ tab.