NEWS: LEISURE PROJECT’s BU-Heidelberg Final Conference, January 2014

A contingent of six Boston University faculty travelled on January 10-11, 2014 to Heidelberg (Germany) to participate in the third and final conference of the Leisure Project , a multi-year research collaborative between Asian Studies faculty at BU and the University of Heidelberg.  Professors Sarah Frederick and Catherine Yeh (BU Modern Languages and Comparative Literatures), Christopher Lehrich (BU Religion), Eugenio Menegon (BU History), Nancy Smith-Hefner and Robert Weller (BU Anthropology) presented on various facets of leisure and social change in China, Indonesia, and Japan between the early modern and contemporary periods. Above is a group portrait of the conference presenters in front of the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, seat of the proceedings.

Previous conferences, held at Boston University in 2010 and 2012, were supported by the BU Center for the Humanities and BUCSA. This conclusive  gathering in Germany was coordinated and logistically supported by Professor Rudolf Wagner and his team at the Institute of Chinese Studies and Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” in Heidelberg, and generously funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.

Entitled “Leisure and Social Change: The Dynamics of the Transcultural Flow of Concepts, Institutions and Practices of Leisure across Asia,” this meeting brought together some of the participants to earlier conferences and new speakers. The program included the following presentations (for detailed schedule and paper abstracts, click here):


Session 1: Leisure and Money

  • Eugenio Menegon (BU): “Who was using whom? Europeans, Leisurely Pursuits, and the Politics of Gift-Giving in Qing Beijing”
  • Rudolf Wagner (Heidelberg): “Advocacy, Commodification and Agency in Leisure Products: The Shenbaoguan, 1872-1890”
  • Yu-Chih Lai (Academia Sinica, Taiwan): “Traditional Leisure in a Globalized Age: Selling and Consuming Japanese Illustrated Books in Shanghai, 1880-1911”
  • Nancy Smith-Hefner (BU): “Leisure and Subjectivity in Java’s New Middle Class”
  • Robert Weller (BU): “Leisure, Ritual and Choice in Modern Chinese Societies”
  • Christopher Lehrich (BU): “Voyeurism in Tōru Takemitsu’s Film Music: Leisure Subverting Leisure”

Session 2: Leisure and Gender

  • Barbara Mittler (Heidelberg): “Feeling Matters: The Pleasures (and Leisures) of Touch, 1890s-1990s”
  • Sarah Frederick (BU):  “Shôjo as Leisure?”
  • Christian Henriot (Université Lumière-Lyon 2): “Spaces of Leisure: Shanghai”

Session 3: Leisure and the State

  • Catherine Yeh (BU): “Political Reform as National Past Time: Staging Peking Opera’s New Tragic Heroines”
  • Timothy Oakes (University of Colorado at Boulder):Leisure as Governable Space: Consumption, Citizenship, and Governmentality in China’s Leisure Developments”
  • Eileen Cheng-Yin Chow (Duke University): “Chiang Kai Shek Tourism for Mainlanders: ‘1,2,3 To Taiwan’”