Now Published · ‘Asian Futures’ · A Special Issue of IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies

IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies: Volume 9 – Special Issue
Guest Editor: Marcus T. Anthony, Beijing Institute of Technology (Zhuhai), China
Editor-in-Chief: Holger Briel, Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College (UIC), China
Published: June 7, 2024
ISSN: 2187-4905

'Asian Futures'

Dear Readers,

In May 2022, the “Asian Futurisms, Linking Asia’s Digital Imagination to the World” conference was held in Zhuhai, south China. The conference was hosted by Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University-United International College (Zhuhai) and Xian Jiaotong Liverpool University, Suzhou, with assistance from the Beijing Institute of Technology (Zhuhai). The timing meant that the event was temporally situated during the Covid-19 era in China, and so there were various restrictions on travel and mobility. It was therefore conducted as a hybrid event, with a smaller offline gathering of academics and futures-focused individuals at the Golden Jazz Art Club in Zhuhai’s Beishan cultural district, and with a greater number of online participants presenting and watching online. A number of the presentations given were then reworked into articles for this issue and with additional papers solicited via a call for papers. Thus, contributors hail from mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Germany, the USA, and Norway. Given the broad scope of the concept of “Asian Futurisms”, there was diversity also in the representations of fields and disciplines, including critical futures studies, various social sciences, design and technologies, science fiction, and even finance.

Despite the diversity of presentations, there are common themes that are notable in the papers included in this volume.

In particular, the individual papers argued the following issues:

Article 1

The introductory paper is by Marcus T. Anthony of the Beijing Institute of Technology, Zhuhai, and is entitled “Cultivating digital wisdom in a Deep Future.” Anthony discusses the concept of Digital Wisdom, offering a framework for cultivating it and exploring the interplay between mindfulness, technology, and AI-led advancements in human cognition and mental well-being.

Article 2

Luciano Zubillaga’s “Critical Thinking in the Age of Expanded Telepathy and Brain-Computer Interfaces” examines the convergence of cosmological awareness and brain-computer interface technologies, speculating on the potential disappearance of individual critical thinking in a post-human era through the direct sharing of mental states via telepathy.

Article 3

“The Japanese Film AI Amok (2020) and the Collapse of Realist AI Vision” is the title of the paper by Dr. Vincenzo De Masi and Siyi Li of Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University-United International College and Hong Kong Baptist University, respectively. It analyzes the Yu Irie movie AI Amok (2020), which explores potential hazards of artificial intelligence in a near-future Japanese society. The authors’ analysis reveals a vision of a possible future that seems to mirror current technological trajectories.

Article 4

Iram Ghufran's paper “Immanent Futures, Quotidian Spaces: A View from Yiwu” features a deconstruction of Yiwu, a trading city in China. Ghufran opens a space for imagining the future, including thinking about creating livable spaces future humans, emphasizing the importance of developing sustainable relationships with the environment.

Article 5

The next paper was written by Holger Briel from Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University-United International College. In “SinoAsian Futures between Economic Forecasting, Science Fiction, Sinofuturism and Creativity,” Briel discusses the need for a corrective to traditional, forecast-oriented futures thinking. The author explores the importance of self-reflective science fiction in understanding possible futures, with a focus on the rise of Sinofuturism as a socio-political phenomenon, one which helps shed light on some of the limitations of western-centric futures thinking.

Article 6

The sixth paper in this volume is entitled “The Representation of the Anthropocene in Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction.” Author Yue ZHOU of Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University examines the representation of the Anthropocene in contemporary Chinese science fiction, focusing on how Chinese science fiction challenges long-standing anthropocentric thinking and practices, especially in regard to catastrophic narrations of human-induced environmental issues.

A deeper understanding of a complex relationship

In conclusion, the papers presented in this special volume present a diverse range of themes, covering cutting-edge technological convergence, societal implications, futures thinking, global perspectives, environmental consciousness, and ethical considerations, and these represent a multifaceted re-imagination of the possible futures of Asia and its interconnectedness with the world of people and nature. The issue thus represents an important further step towards a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between technology, society, and the future, and all this in an Asian context.

Marcus T. Anthony
Guest Editor
Zhuhai, China. April 2024

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