What is a Cultural Typhoon?

The Cultural Typhoon is an academic and cultural event that involves presentations and interactions based on an equal relationship among individuals of various positions, having its origins in Japan. Unrestricted by the existent form of academic conferences and symposiums, this event aims to facilitate a space for free and vigorous exchange of opinions as well as intellectual discussion between scholars within the academia as well as amongst social activists and artists who express themselves through myriad types of media.

At the time of a preparatory meeting for the first Cultural Typhoon in Japan in 2003 an actual typhoon was approaching, almost obfuscating the inaugurative event. Based on this occurrence, the organizers decided to call the event “Cultural Typhoon”, because, similarly to the scope and idea of this event, a typhoon moves forward while sucking in everything in its vicinity, then spitting out energy while moving away in an unpredictable direction. A trail is left in its wake, and sometimes, an unexpected meeting of heart and mind will have occurred. It is precisely this image of the ‘typhoon’ that we envisage as we engage in the work of ‘cultural typhoon’. Since its inception, cultural typhoon has managed to carve out a unique space which supersedes conventional academic boundaries in Japan.

More specifically, the Japanese version of the Cultural Typhoon:

– has occasioned people of different background and positions to engage in dialogue over a specific issue in Japan, thus suggesting new possibilities for working together;

– has seen the participation of not only researchers engaging in cultural and political issues, but also artists, activists and performers;

– has seen large-scale participation of between 500~1000 people;

– has seen overseas participation, particularly from Asian regions, and has provided an important exchange platform for domestic and overseas researchers and cultural practitioners;

– has organized film festivals, workshops, booth exhibitions, performances, free radio and free television, cafes and club parties in parallel with research presentations and symposia;

– has focused on a different issue or raised a slogan in each conference, in order to critically engage with the question of cultural politics in a specific way;

– in order to break the hierarchically-ordered divisions between lecturers, postgraduate students and undergraduate students, has striven to create a space where young researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate students can more easily give voice to themselves.

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