The Aesthetics of the Tropics


The conference “The Aesthetics of the Tropics” invites multidisciplinary papers that focus on the tropics as a location of cultural encounter and innovation, a trope of imagination, desire, and memory, or a site of knowledge production and social engineering. If the tropics loom large in the foundational writings of anthropology as an academic discipline, the melancholy embedded in Levi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques speaks unmistakably to the impossibility of authentic cultural encounters and the catastrophic result such encounters may cost the indigenous societies. In academic fields ranging from anthropology, history, to postcolonial studies, the tropics not only continue to function as a key site for the self-understanding of human culture and history, but are also inextricably entangled in a cultural logic that reinforces the north-south, self-other, colonizer-colonized demarcation and the struggle against it. While “the south” evokes in Chinese culture rich connotations such as the barbaric, the exotic, or the radical revolutionary, the boundary and the hierarchy between the center and the periphery is no less prominent. From the perspective of the outsiders to that of the indigenous, this conference seeks to revisit and reformulate, through the lens of the tropics, the cultural, historical, gender, linguistic, geographical, environmental, medical, and /or technological discourses regarding the region.


  • Professor David Damrosch (Director of World Literature Institute, and Ernest Bernbaum Professor and Chair, Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University)

    Click HERE to register for a tie-in Public Lecture " The Politics of English" to be held at The Arts House on 22 June by Professor Damrosch.

  • Professor Chen Sihe 陳思和教授 (Fudan University, China; Changjiang Scholar, China; International Advisory Panel member to Chinese program at NTU)

Conference Programme

Language: English or Chinese
Venue: NTU Singapore
Date: June 23-24 2017

Literary and Cultural Studies Cluster and Chinese Programme of the School of Humanities

Center of the Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (HASS);
Centre for Chinese Language and Culture (CCLC, NTU)

Organizing Committee:
Uganda Kwan (Cluster Co-ordinator);
Yow Cheun Hoe (Chinese Programme Coordinator);
Sim Wai Chew (English Programme);
Ting Chun Chun (Chinese Programme)

Abstract Submission Deadline: 10th April
Selection Result Announcement: 30th April
Abstract Submission:

For enquiries, please contact conference secretary, Dr Woo Hyo Kyung (