By Tara Schmidt
Class of 2012
SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University will be at the center of the world’s apocalyptic imagination in June when some 250 scholars worldwide will examine, “Asia at the End of History: Beginnings, Ends, and Transformations.”
From June 15-17 (2012), Gonzaga will host the Association for Asian Studies, Pacific Conference (ASPAC) as scholars and graduate students from the top universities with Asian Studies programs in the West descend upon campus. Among those schools are University of Hawaii, Stanford University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Washington, University of California at Berkeley, along with schools in China and Japan.
Eric Cunningham, associate professor of history at Gonzaga and vice president of ASPAC, was more than happy to arrange for Gonzaga to host the prestigious academic event.
The topic incorporates the profusion of cultural, political, historical, and environmental heralds of change associated with 2012. Conference presenters will examine how apocalyptic visions — including the Mayan calendar forecast of the world ending in 2012 — recurs in Asian literature, history, religion and pop culture.
Frederick L. Schodt, author of “Inside the Robot Kingdom: Japan, Mechatronics, and the Coming Robotopia,” will deliver the keynote address.
Cunningham, a postmodernist, sees 2012 not as the end of days in a literal sense, but as the end of the “modern” era.
For Cunningham, “modernity” is a historical idea in which the traditional and medieval ages come to an end; feudalism gives way to capitalism, industrialization, secularization, and nation-states worldwide begin to appear. Cunningham will discuss indicators of the epoch’s end in his plenary address, and will speculate on what’s next.