From July 9 to 11, 2015, American Studies Leipzig with support of American Space Leipzig, hosted the international conference “Democracy and Difference in the ‘Pacific Century’” at the Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig.
The conference brought together ten scholars from Germany and the United States who explored the implications of the recent interest in the Pacific region from national, transnational, and global perspectives.
The overarching themes of democracy and difference, and their respective representations in the media, the arts, historiography, and politics, were examined from a diversity of disciplines, ranging from cultural studies to political science.
The presentations shared an emphasis on the increasing relevance of the crosscultural dynamics that permeate the Pacific hemisphere. The academic interest in East and Southeast Asia as well as Oceanic states reflects a much more multidirectional and complex interchange than one-sided notions of Americanization have implied. At the same time, the concurrent notion of “America’s Pacific Century” calls for a constant awareness of different interpretations and demands related to the ongoing processes in the region.
All talks were followed by lively discussions among presenters and guests, which demonstrated the importance of interdisciplinary and multifocal approaches to this geographically, politically, and culturally diverse area.
A public reading by the distinguished American writers Lauren K. Alleyne, Catherine Chung, and Tracy K. Smith complemented the conference program.