Workshop: Networking Pacific-Rim Literatures

Join us as we kickstart a new global research network
How have literatures responded to our shared cultural legacies, our complex history and politics, and our common ecological destiny? How can we envision a network of literary studies without falling into reductionism, appropriation and assimilation?

Join the School of English and the Centre for the Global Study of Empire for this special online workshop to consider the establishment of a new global research network focused on Pacific-Rim literatures. The workshop, organised by Professor Asako Nakai (Hitotsubashi University, Japan), Dr Dougal McNeill (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ) and Dr Kaori Nagai (University of Kent, UK), will have a series of short papers, representing different regions and approaches, followed by a roundtable discussion. This is a wonderful opportunity to be part of the starting phases of an exciting new project and to kickstart the development of a new literary network.

The workshop aims to provide a start-up forum for the Pacific-Rim Literary Network project, where we will consider key questions around shared legacies, complex histories and common ecological densities.


  • Patricia Novillo-Corvalan (University of Kent): Gabriela Mistral's Poema de Chile: From the Pacific to the World
  • Dougal McNeill (Victoria University of Wellington): Settlers, Stones, and Bones: Some Problems in New Zealand Literature
  • Michael Falk (The University of Sydney): Australia’s Pacific Empire
  • Asako Nakai (Hitotsubashi University): Trafficking, Colonialism, War: Shanghai and Nagasaki in Hayashi Kyoko's Stories
  • Ryota Nishi (Chuo University): Eishin Ueno and Ryukyuan Diaspora
  • Kaori Nagai (University of Kent): Pacific Waves

The Pacific-Rim Literary Network

Whereas literary studies have become increasingly globalized, the dominant worldview is based on the assumption made by Fredric Jameson (1995) and Pascale Casanova (1999/2004) that national literatures, which remain as distinct categories, are now integrated into the single world system. Our project, tentatively called a “Pacific-Rim Literary Network,” is an attempt to resist such a worldview. Rather than narrowing down the potentiality of literature within the centre-periphery framework of world-systems theory, we try to imagine a cultural space for multi-centred, multi-lateral movements and communications, where local literatures could connect directly with each other, setting aesthetic standards without referring to the metropolitan centre. The project is also based upon our belief that literature is about a creation of common culture, not a mere commodity in the global literary market.

The “Pacific-Rim” region covers the vast geographical area of East and Southeast Asia, Oceania, Pacific islands, and the west coasts of the American Continents. Despite its vastness, the region shares the natural environment and disasters brought about by the same ocean: earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and more recently, the tragic outcomes of global warming and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Since prehistoric times, the ocean has facilitated human migration between continents and islands, and also between islands themselves, through which similar cultural traditions and practices have been shared by people across the present national borders.

Certainly, the region has its internal unevenness, power-relations, and antagonisms, currently and historically. We can never forget the catastrophic effects of the recent history of Japanese imperialism and military aggression. There were devastating wars in the past and there are ongoing political oppressions and military threats today. And the “Confucian” form of patriarchy in East and Southeast Asia has a long history of legitimizing the oppression of women and sexual minorities, which also explains why there remain serious gender inequalities in those areas till today. These historical, political, and economic conditions affect the region’s cultures in complex and ironical ways. Colonial history connects different areas with similar experiences and cultural heritages, whereas political oppression and economic inequalities urge people to migrate for a “better” life. Awareness of gender inequalities unites women and sexual minorities in transnational liberation movements. For good or bad, the English language, through the British colonial rule of the past and the economic domination by the US since the post-WWII era, has established its status as the lingua franca of the region, shaping, and giving rise to, new opportunities of intercultural communications and collaborations.

How have literatures responded to our shared and at the same time multiple cultural legacies, our complex history and politics, and our common ecological destiny? How can we envision a network of literary studies without falling into reductionism, appropriation and assimilation? What theoretical models can we adopt to formulate this new way of seeing our interconnectedness? The workshop aims to provide a start-up forum for the “Pacific-Rim Literary Network” project, where these and more questions are to be raised and considered to test its feasibility and potentiality.


Professor Asako Nakai is a Professor at the Graduate School of Language and Society, Hitotsubashi University. Her research interests include modernist literature, feminism, and postcolonial studies, and she has published widely in journals such as the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Postcolonial Text, and Feminist Theory. She is the author of three monographs: The English Book and Its Marginalia: Colonial/Postcolonial Literatures after Heart of Darkness (Rodopi, 2000), Tasha no Jiden: Postcolonial Bungaku wo Yomu [Autobiography of the Other: Reading Postcolonial Literature] (Kenkyusha, 2007), and her latest book, “Watashitachi” no torai [The Coming of “We” the People] (Getsuyosha, 2020), which features discussions of Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, and C. L. R. James. The University of Kent is delighted to welcome Professor Nakai as Visiting Professor in Autumn term of 2022.

Dr Dougal McNeill teaches in the English Literatures & Creative Communication Programme at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. He is completing a book titled Forms of Freedom: Marxist Essays on New Zealand and Australian Literature, under contract with Otago University Press.

Dr Kaori Nagai is a Lecturer in Victorian Literature, University of Kent. Her latest monograph is Imperial Beast Fables: Animals, Cosmopolitanism, and the British Empire (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

Booking details

If you would like to attend this workshop please use the following Zoom link and joining details:

Meeting ID: 820 6057 0628  / Passcode: 460112