Can there be a common East Asian anthropology? Or are the different societies in East Asia — China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong — destined to continually remain apart in their anthropological concerns and approaches? Can an East Asian anthropology ever transcend East Asian politics?
Different societies in East Asia have vastly different recent historical trajectories, against a backdrop of cultural similarity, and very different political, social and economic outlooks. How does this similarity/difference play out within contemporary anthropologies? What are the different anthropological currents apparent within Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong today? Will these different currents ever come together to form a common "East Asian Anthropology," an anthropology that can counter dominant Anglo-American anthropology, as the world's center of economic gravity is shifting from America to East Asia? Or is this impossible, given national and anthropological differences that appear irreconcilable? In this panel, different paper presenters based in five East Asian societies present a portrait of the main contemporary currents of anthropology within their home societies, and offer informed speculation as to whether a unified "East Asian Anthropology" might ever become a reality, or rather will always remain a chimera. Paper presenters and discussants include Liu Shao-hua (Taiwan), Naran Bilik (China), Yi Jeongduk (Korea), Gergely Mohacsi (Japan), Fan Ke (China), Chen Ju-chen (Taiwan), Zhou Lei (China), Gordon Mathews (Hong Kong), and Yamashita Shinji (Japan). This is a panel representing the East Asian Anthropological Association.