Spaces of Creative Resistance

Workshop on Public Spaces, Creative Action, Democratic Practices in East Asia

May 7th-9th, 2021

For this three-day international conference, UW community members and special invitees join special guests from the U.S. and East Asia to explore and share knowledge on current social movements across East Asia.


This three-day workshop is part of a larger project that began in 2019 and followed several other related collaborative efforts: Global Futures in East Asia (Anagnost and Arai 2014), Spaces of Possibility: Korea and Japan (Sorensen and Arai 2016), Messy Urbanism: Understanding the “Other” Asian Cities (Hou, Chalana, Abramson, Oshima, Prakash 2016)

The current project, ‘Spaces of Creative Resistance,’ is an interdisciplinary collaboration exploring contemporary social movements across East Asia. Specifically, it examines how younger generations are contesting policies, reforms, and the ethos of neoliberal capitalism. From social startups and new communal spaces, to participation in alternative economic pursuits and projects, these self-organized ‘grassroots’ initiatives reflect a desire for alternatives to the current socio-economic and socio-cultural structures. They also provide a window into the ways in which members of younger generations are mobilizing against barriers toward a more just and equitable society, as well as practical survival.

Participant research is based in on-the-ground fieldwork interviews and observation with youth at the locations of their engagement in creative action and democratic practices in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The research explores the significance of the rebuilding and/or repurposing of public and/or vacant space to recreate publics, stage socio-political movements, and create new relationships with peripheral communities in both local and urban areas. Additionally, conference participants examine the socio-cultural, historical and professional relearning processes involved in these actions and practices, and how the individuals involved define success.

Project leads:

The project encompasses three components: 1) A collaborative fieldwork trip to one or more of the following areas of each participant’s individual research: Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Shanghai in 2019-20; 2) An international conference at the University of Washington in Spring 2021; and 3) Publication of the conference papers in an edited volume to be co-edited by UW Professors Jeff Hou and Andrea Gevurtz Arai, project leads.

Please note: This is an attendance-by-invitation only event. Faculty who wish to observe sessions may contact Drs. Hou and Arai.

We invite you to explore the conference agenda below, as well as the related Spring 2021 UW course taught by Andrea Arai:

Agenda and Presenter Lists | Spring 2021 Affiliated UW Course

Event Sponsors

Global Innovation Fund, UW Office of Global Affairs
UW Japan Studies Program
UW East Asia Center
Department of Landscape Architecture, UW College of Built Environments
UW China Studies Program
UW Center for Korea Studies
UW Taiwan Studies Program
UW Center for Global Studies