Tales of the unexpected, or the art of border-raiding in a time of uncertainty
Caroline S. HAU
Although people live with uncertainty all their lives, only in recent years has critical, sustained attention been paid by the social sciences to how uncertainty figures in — and is arguably central to — attempts to make sense of the world and to act within it. Region-thinking and region-making efforts under the rubric of “Southeast Asia,” “Asia-Pacific,” “East Asia,” “Trans-Pacific,” and “Indo-Pacific” can be seen as attempts to manage the risks and uncertainties that attend the actions of major powers and the responses provoked by unfolding economic and political events. Regional perspectives have been important for understanding the contingency, historicity, and connectivity of Asian developments in politics, culture, and economy. These perspectives can be enriched by incorporating contributions from the humanities that have long been attentive to the workings and implications — aesthetic, ethical and political — of uncertainty. Social scientists have been inspired by literary studies to pay closer attention to the storytelling devices that shape the narratives that social sciences as well as political and economic actors create about politics and the economy. The art of border-raiding entails ranging freely across disciplines, regardless of the intellectual tariff barriers put up by various disciplines.
KEYWORDS: Uncertainty; Asian history; Asian region; Indo-Pacific; Trans-Pacific; Narrative
Notes on contributor
Caroline S. Hau is Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University. Her books include Necessary Fictions: Philippine Literature and the Nation, 1946-1980, The Chinese Question: Ethnicity, Nation, and Region in and beyond the Philippines, and Elites and Ilustrados in Philippine Culture, all published in the Philippines. She has also published a novel, Tiempo Muerto, and two volumes of short stories in English.