Making and Unmaking Sustainability: Storying Asia’s Eco-modernities and Environmental Futures

Dr. Kiu-wai Chu1, Dr. Shubhda Arora2, Ms. Kelly Yin Nga Tse3, Ms. Jamie Wang4

1Nanyang Technological University, Jurong, Singapore, 2Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, Lucknow, India, 3University of Oxford, Oxford, England, 4University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Chair: Dr Kiu-wai Chu


How do we define or construct narratives of (un)sustainability in Asia, in this epoch of the Anthropocene? How do speculative fictions, transnational documentaries, and state official narratives differ in portraying Asia’s eco-modernities? In what ways do narratives of alternative futures emerge?

In addressing these questions, this panel consists of ecocritical readings of a range of visual, textual and social texts in Asian contexts. From the eco-dystopian imagination of India’s technocratic, totalitarian future (Arora); the transnational effort in building a multispecies future with genetically engineered animals (Chu); the speculative literary imaginations of Hong Kong as a postcolonial city characterized by invisible ecological crisis (Tse); to urban planning rhetoric that seeks to reinvent Singapore as a “sustainable” city-in-a-garden (Wang), this panel examines the various narratives of (un)sustainability that increasingly shape our perceptions of Asia’s environmental futures.

Encompassing a range of disciplines such as environmental humanities; inter-Asia studies; postcolonial critique, and urban studies; this panel critically assesses and challenges dominant ideologies that are celebratory of global capitalist expansion and techno-centric developments in the rising Asia. It explores the complex connections, conflicts and dynamics among humans, nonhumans and the environment, under the rapidly changing environmental, social, cultural and economic conditions of Global Asia today.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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