Symbol and Society
Simbolo at Lipunan
The SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2023 theme “Symbol and Society” describes the need for symbolic representation in a rapidly changing Asia. As has been the case throughout a larger global society, Asian societies have sought increasingly rapid change, seeking none less than online spaces to contextualize and to legitimize the effects of this rapid change. Here, recent events have patently mediated the shift to online interaction, a shift which has thus intensified the development, and possibly, the invention, of a range of new symbolisms and symbolic clusters that now have limited use in offline spaces.
Throughout the past decade, and more particularly over the past one year, global changes have elicited these new symbolisms of communication, symbolisms which have quickly been exposed to contestation and (re)interpretation, owing to the need to deploy online technologies on such a large scale, and which are now presenting themselves as highly beneficial to anthropological study. Asian language symbolisms have always exposed their potency as representational of their communities and in legitimizing the worth of these communities in a global society, but never have they shown more significance than in the current era, where their intensified usage online, and their qualities for legitimizing Asian identities, seek investigation.
The Asian symbolism pervades the whole semiotic spectrum of that which is performatively Asian, and which is distinct from the Non-Asian, yet a symbolism which can interlink the colonized with the decolonized, through a multitude of human ideologies. This again becomes more the case now as the boundaries of Asian symbolisms have become blurred through online textual modes, Linguistically and Anthropologically, and beyond.
The SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2023 thus calls for renewed awareness and interpretations of Asian symbolisms in this new era, and asks that we seek new perspectives of these Asian complex symbolisms, in their global contexts. These interpretations increase in significance as the use of online virtual world texts and textual modes have now assumed an authoritative stance over the real world, possibly creating new realities and new real worlds that subvert our ideologies of those old real worlds. This shift to symbolisms required to reconceptualize new virtual and old real worlds in this current era, will surely motivate dialogue.