Bilateral research in the field of Australia and China arts and culture has a history dating back to the years immediately after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Today, the field not only continues to have a big following but has among the younger generations some of the best minds and nimblest hands working all around the world.
On 22-23 June, 2019, the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture (ACIAC) hosted its first International Emerging Scholars’ Forum at Western Sydney University. The Forum was convened by ACIAC research fellow Dr Kiu-Wai Chu. And the two-day event featured two keynote speeches by two senior scholars in Sydney -- Professor Paul Gladston (inaugural Judith Neilson Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of New South Wales) and Professor Wanning Sun (Professor of Media and Communication Studies at University of Technology, Sydney, FAHA), 28 presentations, a book launch and a Postgraduate Students’ Panel.
The 2019 ACIAC Emerging Scholars’ Forum was hosted to mark the 100th anniversary of the Chinese New Culture Movement (aka the May Fourth Movement). More importantly, it was also held to support and encourage Australia-China arts and culture research and build connections with scholars working in the field both domestically and internationally. The Forum’s international presenting scholars came from University of Oxford, University of California (Santa Barbara), Chinese University of Hong Kong, National Taiwan University, Utrecht University, Hainan University, and Soochow University. Our domestic participants came from University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Macquarie University, Australian National University, University of Wollongong, University of New South Wales, and of course Western Sydney University. Also presenting at the Forum were some Australian independent scholars.
Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Yi-Chen Lan spoke at the opening ceremony and welcomed our participants. Adjunct Professor Jocelyn Chey chaired the first panel on “Multicultural Arts: Visual, Theatrical, Culinary” and launched Dr Cecilia Leong-Salobir’s book Urban Food Culture: Sydney, Shanghai and Singapore in the Twentieth Century (2019) on the first day. ACIAC research fellow Dr Xiang Ren chaired a special panel for the Institute’s Master of Chinese Cultural Relations students on the second.
In their keynote speeches, Professor Paul Gladston spoke about contemporaneity and its implications for cultural studies today; Professor Wanning Sun spoke about the importance of cosmopolitanism. The emerging scholars’ presentations ranged from Australia-China visual, literary, theatrical and culinary arts, gender relations, film collaborations, to contemporary Australia-China digital media and online culture. Most of the presentations were a result of solid PhD research. And the full program was warmly received by a most enthusiastic and energetic audience, among whome were Dr Bruce Crossman, Ms Cao Yin of AGNSW, Dr Tianli Zu and White Rabbit research manager Luise Guest. And some of the presentations drew people from local city councils, museums, galleries and the general community.
This ACIAC Forum is the first of its kind for the Institute since its founding. In many ways, it is also the first of its kind in the field of Australia-China arts and culture exchange. Its great success testifies to the enormous interest among young Australian and Chinese scholars in reading each other, studying each other and understanding each other. Their great work showcased throughout the Forum very well indicates how much has already been achieved and what still needs to be done to support these scholars of the future. ACIAC is prepared to work with all stakeholders and continue to facilitate such interesting communication and exchange.