Performative Cultures in the Far East:

China, Korea, Japan
Trier, June 19-22, 2003
organized by Prof. Dr. Stanca Scholz-Cionca and Dr. Thomas Hackner

For some time now, the humanities East and West have been proclaiming a ´scientific turn´ around a key word of wide impact: performance. The term already came to the fore in the late 1950s in linguistics and cultural anthropology and was increasingly used in other research fields as well.
Using performance as a cultural model implies a basic shift of perspective: from the idea of culture as a reified, static collection of artefacts (monuments, texts, stable semiotic structures) to its perception as a dynamic interrelation of acts, of intertwined semiotic sequences, multilayered processes which deny and relativize every fixed form, value or meaning. Instability and mediality are its outstanding features. The performative approach describes social phenomena as constituted, shaped and defined within a continuous process, by reiterated symbolic acts performed by ´social actors´.
While interdisciplinary studies focusing on cultural practice as well as on theories of the performative ­ are a booming field worldwide, East Asian studies all but neglected the subject, all the more as the high performativity of the cultures they are concerned with is a long acknowledged fact, well documented by their reception in Western countries.
To fill this gap at least partially was the aim of this symposium. The assumption of a certain degree of cultural homogeneity, notwithstanding differences in the performative practices within the three countries concerned was one of the starting points. The symposium was intended as a discussion forum for researchers in the fields of Sinology, Japanology and Korean Studies. Comparatist stances have received high priority in the program.
The central goal was to verify the operability of the performative approach within the considered area, by encompassing in the discussion a wide range of disciplines ­ from traditional humanities to social and political studies. The encounter yielded new impulses for the description and analysis of complex historical processes within the cultural systems envisaged.

Results have been published:

Stanca Scholz-Cionca and Robert Borgen (eds.): Performing Cultures in East Asia: China, Korea, Japan (=Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, LVIII - 3/2004). Bern: Peter Lang, 2005.


Thursday, June 19th
Stanca SCHOLZ-CIONCA (Trier): Opening Address

Wolfgang KUBIN (Bonn): Floating Signs: Life as Art, Art as Life in Contemporary Hong Kong

Werner SASSE (Hamburg): Direct Address of the Hearer as a Means to Structure a Narrative Poem - A Biography of the Buddha from 15th Century Korea

Robert BORGEN (Davis, CA): Stone Bridge: A pilgrimage performed


Friday, June 20th
Morning Session
Chair: Jean-Jacques TSCHUDIN (Paris)

Roald MALIANGKAY(Amsterdam): Stand-by Comedians: Chaedam Artists and the narrators of Silent Films in Korea

Steffi RICHTER (Leipzig): Staging 'good taste', staging 'Japaneseness'. The department store Mitsukoshi and modern identities in Japan

Evelyn SCHULZ (Munich): Performing urban memory: The role of the Sumidagawa as mnemonic site in Kimura Shôhachi's "Tôkyô hanjô ki"

Karl-Heinz POHL (Trier): Performing craftsmanship: the practice of painting and calligraphy in pre-modern China

Afternoon Session
Chair: Halvor EIFRING (Oslo)
Rui MAGONE (Berlin): Who wants to be a bureaucrat? The performative dimension of Qing civil service examinations

Erling VON MENDE (Berlin): Performed spontaneity: The bureaucratization of shamanic ways

Jörg PLASSEN (Bochum): Performative traditions in Chinese and Korean Buddhist commentarial literature

Klaus VOLLMER (Munich): Performing the Craft: Medieval Japanese Craftsmen (shokunin). Reality, Images and Literary Topoi


Saturday, June 21st
Morning Session
Chair: SAKAI Noriyuki (Tokyo)

Wolfram MANZENREITER (Vienna): Performing the nation. Discourses and displays of sporting bodies in late-modern Japan

Peter ACKERMANN (Erlangen): Performing to increase turnover. A study of Japanese manuals for shop vendors

Thomas HACKNER (Trier): Performing the avant-garde: the adaptation of dadaism in Japan

TANAKA Yuko (Tokyo): Kimono and textiles in everyday life during the Edo period

Afternoon Session
Chair: Robert BORGEN (Davis, CA)

Marion EGGERT (Bochum): Dramatic Art and Performativity in Pak Chiwon's Travel Narrative

Michael FRIEDRICH (Hamburg): Remarks on the mediality of Literary Chinese