CFP: The Future of the “Public” in East Asia


The Society for East Asian Anthropology’s (SEAA) column in Anthropology News is excited to invite submissions for a new curated series: “The Future of the ‘Public’ in East Asia.” Submissions, targeted toward a general audience, can take the form of a short essay (up to 1600 words and 3 images) or a photo essay (up to 600 words and 8 images). We invite contributions from scholars who are involved with a broad range of ethnographic methods, from archival to digital, in-person, and remote fieldwork.

What makes a people, issue, space, idea, or object “public?” While the “public” at once evokes citizen-centered and democratic notions of speech and action, ethnographic scrutiny of East Asia reveals a wide range of collectivities borne out of non-liberal, religious, or other cosmological traditions. Who or what constitutes the public (or publics), and on what terms, is a matter of empirical investigation and political imagination. In this series, we intend to explore the analytic potential of “public” through its problematics, reimaginings, and assemblages in East Asia. We particularly welcome provocative engagements with the “public” to unsettle the taken-for-granted boundaries between the public/private, in/formal, living/dead, and human/nonhuman for considering how new understandings of “public” may contribute to discussions of livability, sustainability, and futurity.

Contributors may address a variety of topics including political economies, infrastructures, digital platforms, transborder migration, popular culture, humanitarianism, global finance, religious practices, and the Anthropocene. We invite you to explore the following and other related questions:

  • Who or what constitutes the “public” in public-facing interventions such as public art, public policy, public relations, and public health?
  • How are nonhumans and material environments summoned to be part of “publics?”
  • How do new modes of communication open up a space for new publics or counterpublics?
  • How do understandings of “public” promote inclusion or produce new practices of exclusion?
  • How do anthropologists harness their ethnographic knowledge to engage the public on specific issues in East Asia?

Please send your 150-250 word abstract to co-Editors Jieun Cho ( and Aaron Su ( by December 10. For a photo essay, please also include 2-3 sample images. Submissions are reviewed on a rolling basis, and articles in this series will be published in 2023. We look forward to receiving your ideas!

Anthropology News aims to provide a vibrant venue for creative, original, and accessible anthropological scholarship. We publish articles from members that address contemporary issues with original ethnographic research. Scholars of all stages currently possessing or anticipating SEAA membership are encouraged to participate. To learn more about what we publish, please check out previous articles here.