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Energy in Asia

Energy in Asia

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Thursday, February 23, 2023
9:30 AM (Pacific Time)

Main Conference Room (11360), Young Research Library (YRL)

Energy has been commonly viewed as a source of power for performing work. Through its many forms, such as chemical, thermal, electrical, and nuclear, energy has been a crucial component for various types of production. In this capacity, energy has been an integral, material-based resource for economic purposes and security. Beyond its value as a resource for material production, energy, from the premodern to the modern era, has assumed other meanings and been valued in different ways. In religious and spiritual traditions, for example, energy has been defined as a source of creation, living, and healing. As an abstract force, energy has been seen as a spiritual element that influences, determines, and powers location, place, space, relationships, the workings of the human body, and the make-up of nature. In terms of language, energy has been used as a metaphor or a colorful term to describe human actions, emotions, and behavior. In these different forms, energy has been long framed and defined through a variety of angles.

This two-day conference, Thursday, February 23rd and Friday, 24th, 2023 specifically examines the different meanings, values and uses of energy in Asia from the premodern to the modern era and the intersection between energy and context. It provides discussion on energy from different periods of time, disciplines, including the sciences, and fields of study, and specifically explores the deep linkages between energy and social formations and how those relationships have been mediated and influenced by processes and entities in political economy, medicine, science and technology, religion, philosophy, culture, or design. By studying energy in Asia from different angles, the conference expects to interrogate the material and discursive aspects of energy, how those aspects have overlapped from the premodern to modern period to structure human and non-human life, and the relationship between energy, authority, and continuity/transformations in society.

This symposium is co-organized by the Center for Korean Studies, UCLA, EnviroLab at Claremont McKenna (The Claremont Colleges),, and co-sponsored by the Korea Foundation.


Please RSVP here for in-person session:

For online attendees, please click here


Day One (Thursday, February 23rd)


Opening Remarks

9:30 AM -10:00 AM

Albert L. Park (Claremont McKenna College)

Namhee Lee (University of California, Los Angeles) 


Panel I: Making, Remaking and Renewal:

Social Movements, Agency and Discipline through Practices and Systems of Energy

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

I-Lun Shih (University of Michigan)

     The Power of Ideas: Searching for Alternative Energy in Post-developmental Asia 

Su Young Choi (Stetson University) 

     Understanding Energy and the Creation of Complicit Energy Consumers in South Korea 

Love Kindstrand (University of Chicago) 

     Crowd Energetics as Legitimacy and Liability in Japan's Postdisaster Populism  

Moderated by Hannah Appel (University of California, Los Angeles) 



12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


Panel II: Politics, Power and the Environment: 

Brokering and Creating Energy through Political Systems and Exchanges 

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Bérénice Girard (University of Stavanger, Norway)

     The Meaning of the Sun: Solar Energy in Contemporary Indian Politics 

William Ascher (Claremont McKenna College) 

     Can Hydroelectric Dams Address Global Climate Change Without Destroying the Livelihoods of river-Dependent Southeast Asians? 

Taedong Lee (Yonsei University, South Korea) 

     Nuclear Energy Swing: Expansion and Contraction in South Korea  

Moderated by Shiran Victoria Shen (Stanford and University of Virginia) 



3:00 PM - 3:15 PM


Panel III: Representing, Expressing and Materializing:

Energy and Transformation in the Everyday through Creative Works

3:15 PM - 5:15 PM 

Ichigo Mina Kaneko (University of Southern California)

     Fukushima's Energetic Mushrooms: What We Learn from Homma Takashi's Symphony 

Sunmin Yoon (University of Delaware) 

     Sensorial Singing and Listening Bodies in the Energetic Environment of Mongolia 

Meiqin Wang (California State University-Northridge) 

     Art, Energy, and the Recent Development of Ecological Art in East Asia

Minsuk Cho (Mass Studies, Seoul, South Korea) 

     Architecture and Energy 

Moderated by Charlene Villaseñor Black (University of California, Los Angeles


Closing Remarks

5:15 PM - 5:30 PM


Day Two (Friday, February 24th)

Panel IV: Flows, Continuity and Ruptures:

historical Processes of Energy from the Premodern to Modern

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Aaron Molnar (University of British Columbia, Canada)

     Energy and Empire on the Steppe: Examining the Relationship Between Changes in Climate, Ecology and Imperial Practice in the Mongol Steppe during the 13th-14th Centuries 

Ajmal Khan A.T. (Harvard University) 

     Nuclear Culture in South Asia: Protest Movements Against Nuclear Power Project in India 

Derek Kramer (Korea University and University of Cambridge, UK) 

     Blackout Histories: Network Failures and Atomic Futures in North and South Korea

Moderated by David Fedman (University of California, Irvine) 



12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


Panel V: Discourses, representation and Power: 

Energy as Language and Structure 

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Christopher K. Tong (University of Maryland-Baltimore)

     Powering China's 'Ecological Civilization': Energy and Ideology in PRC Discourses

 Jonghwan Yoon (Yonsei University)

     Modern Poems of Korea and the Kinetic Energy of Their Words 

Nishant K. Narayanan (English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India)

     The Clash of Energies: Between Belief and Authority 

Xingming Wang (Rutgers University)

     Fueling the Revolutionary Machine: Energy Politics in the Socialist Representation of Coal Mines

Moderated by Sunyoung Park (University of Southern California) 



3:00 PM - 3:30 PM


Roundtable Discussion: Reflection and Next Steps

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM 

Moderated by Victor Seow (Harvard University) and Marc Los Huertos (Pomona College) 

Sponsor(s): Center for Korean Studies, EnviroLab at Claremont McKenna College (The Claremont Colleges),, Korea Foundation

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