Boston University in Belgium: A Workshop on Chinese-Western Cultural Relations in the Early Modern Era
Participants and guests at the Leuven Workshop A workshop jointly organized by Boston...
In 2014-15, BUCSA’s theme is “Asia in Love.”
Love in Asia takes many forms: marital and filial love; same-sex love and inter-generational love; religious love for all sentient beings; charitable love for other humans; physical love in Tantric rituals…
Asian literary masterpieces since time immemorial, from the Ramayana, to the Tale of Genji, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, have often focused on, or included, love stories: between humans, between gods, and between humans and gods (the latter often with magic or dangerous outcomes).
Today, Asian popular culture is very much focused on love. Korean soap operas, Bollywood films, cartoons, pop music, all celebrate love, its joys and heartbreaks, but also center on jealousy, lust, adulterous treachery, even violence. In Asia, adultery is often at the core of past and current political scandals, no less than elsewhere.
Love is also at the base of the family, the building block of Asian societies. Old ways of conceiving marital relations and romance coexist with new conceptions of love fueled by contemporary films, songs, and fashion. These ever evolving familial experiences and ideas in modern Asian societies are slowly changing the way gender relations are conceived and lived, at times for the better, other times with deleterious results, especially for women and children. Demographic shifts and government policy decisions are in part dictated by these new ‘modes of love’.
Parental love is changing too: generations of “little emperors and empresses” in China are growing in a rather different social environment than in the recent past, when families were larger; Korean parents are enrolling their children in harsh prep schools to give them an advantage over their peers. Filial duty towards previous generations is also eroding: the elderly are increasingly abandoned, within fast-paced societies that have fewer resources to devote to those no longer in the work force.
In fact, another side of “love” (can we call it by that name any longer, though?) cannot be ignored. Human trafficking within Asia and across continents is propelled by gender ratio imbalances, poverty, and sexual exploitation. Sexual tourism, the exoticisation and erotization of ethnic minorities, mail order brides, cross-border marriages, illegal adoptions, are all facets of this sinister side.
Presentations by scholars, writers, and artists, documentary and film screenings, collaborations with other BU and Boston-area centers, musical and cultural events, and more, form our year-long thread, illuminating the multifaceted aspects of this important topic. Please check our Upcoming Events section to follow our “ASIA IN LOVE” activities, as well as many other events on Asia!