Princeton University Conference Explores 'Asian Cuteness' As the New 'Asian Cool'

toocuteposter_final2_smallFor those of you in New Jersey, there’s an interesting conference for you to check out at Princeton University if you’re in the area. From today, March 3 to Thursday, March 4, the East Asian studies department will be hosting a conference open to the public titled "Too Cute: American Style and the New Asian Cool," devoted to exploring the new wave of “Asian cool” that has taken the whole world, including Western civilization, by storm. Scholars hailing from a variety of fields, including American studies, anthropology, gender studies, and art history will convene at these conference sessions to explore exactly what it means to be “Asian cute” and why, now more than ever before in history, the culture, products, ideas, and creations of Asian countries are being integrated successfully in Western culture.

Anna A. Cheng, the conference organizer and associate chair of Princeton’s English department, said that even though ideas from Asian society have long existed in many forms of Western literature, architecture and art, these “Asian bodies…have traditionally been passionately rejected by American nationhood.”

By hosting such a conference, the East Asian studies department hopes to broaden the field of Asian American studies as we know it today. But one has to wonder whether the conference is looking in the right direction. Is studying Asian history and integration into Western culture through a lens of “Asian cuteness” appropriate or demeaning? Are Asians being stereotyped and possibly even constrained to a limited set of ideals by belonging to this “phenomenon of Asian cuteness”?

The event includes a keynote address by Eric Nakamura, editor and publisher of Giant Robot Magazine, and an appearance by Yoshitomo Nara, an internationally well-known Japanese pop artist. Both the keynote address and artist’s presentation will take place at McCormick 101. The conference sessions will be held at Prospect House from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Make sure to check out this intriguing event if you have the chance!

For more info about the conference schedule and speakers, click here.

Photo via Princeton University; image courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York