Digital Asia: Social Change, Engagement, and Communication Beyond Boundaries
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When: 05/24/2019
9:00 AM
Where: Washington Hilton Hotel
Washington, District of Columbia 
United States
Contact: Evan Vowell

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OrganizersNojin Kwak (U of Michigan); Marko Skoric (City U of Hong Kong); Natalie Pang (National U of Singapore); Baohua Zhou (Fudan U); Tetsuro Kobayashi (City U of Hong Kong); Muneo Kaigo (U of Tsukuba); Scott Campbell (U of Michigan); Junho Choi (Yonsei U)

DescriptionIn 2014, Fudan U, China, and National Institute of Informatics, Japan, joined the U of Michigan and Nanyang Technological University as institutional sponsors of the ICA preconference series. Sponsoring institutions have committed to providing necessary funding for the preconference series, which helps establish the preconference as an important venue for scholarly exchange on media and public life in Asia. The preconference series will center on the general theme of Digital Asia, but each year there will be specific foci. In 2019, we are planning to focus on the interplay among new communication technologies, recent elections in Asia, public health, and citizen mobilization and other areas of civic engagement in Asia. In particular, we will welcome papers that fit the theme of the ICA main conference. The inaugural Digital Asia ICA pre-conference (from 2012 to 2016, the pre-conference was titled ‚ "New Media and Citizenship in Asia") was held in Phoenix at the 62nd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA). At the 2012 pre-conference, 34 scholars gathered to hear 14 paper presentations (30% acceptance rate) and to participate in a methodology workshop. The second in the ICA pre-conference series was held in London, UK, as part of the 63nd Annual Conference of the ICA. At the second annual preconference, 33 scholars attended to hear 18 paper presentations (47% acceptance rate). The 2014 pre-conference was held in Seattle at the 64th ICA Annual Conference, which featured 20 presentations with 41 scholars in attendance (43% acceptance rate). The 2015 pre-conference was held in San Juan at the 65th ICA Annual Conference, featuring 20 presentations with 30 scholars in attendance (50% acceptance rate). The 2016 preconference took place in Fukuoka, Japan, with 16 papers presented. The acceptance rate was 50%, and 26 people attended. Speakers at this conference series have represented countries including Canada, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, and Vietnam. In 2017, the preconference was held in San Diego, USA, with 15 papers presented (acceptance rate: 31.3%; 31 people attended). Speakers at this conference series have represented countries including Canada, China, Denmark, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, and Vietnam.

The role of new communication technologies—such as the internet, social media, and mobile phones—in political and civic engagement has generated significant interest not only from scholars, but also organizations, politicians, and ordinary citizens. While recent events in parts of the world, such as the Umbrella movement in Hong Kong and prominent roles of social media in elections, help recognize the potential of new communication media as an agent contributing to macro-level political changes, these new communication tools are also actively utilized in more traditional political processes, such as electoral campaigns. Also important is everyday use of new communication technologies, which provides individuals with an opportunity to encounter public affairs news and discourse, enhance understanding of issues, and get involved in civic and political opportunities. One of critical elements that we should pay attention to when appreciating the role of new media—perhaps underlying all of these processes and practices—would be values, traditions, and history that define each Asian country and the region.

This preconference aims to showcase innovative scholarly work examining various subjects concerning the role of social media, mobile phones, and other new communication technologies in the formation of democratic citizenship writ large—in Asia. The preference seeks studies that address relevant topics in a particular Asian county, and comparative research on Asian countries or Asian and non-Asian countries is also welcome. In particular, the preconference encourages a theory-driven analysis of the role of new media in real-world, offline civic and political action, including recent elections and civic mobilization for sustainable development in environmental, economic, and social well-being. In addition, scholars whose research concerns the overall ICA conference theme, Communication Beyond Boundaries, in an Asian-context are encouraged to submit a paper.