In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Discovering Distinctive East Asian STS: An Introduction
  • Ruey-Lin Chen

When this journal was founded in 2007, Daiwie Fu’s position paper in the inaugural issue initiated a series of inquiries into the meaning of East Asian STS studies. Four comments on Fu’s paper, by Sungwook Hung, Hideto Nakajima, Fa-ti Fan, and Warwick Anderson, appeared in issue 2 that same year. In 2008, a panel discussion in volume 2, issue 3, deepened the journal’s explorations of the relation between East Asian STS and area studies. That panel stimulated Anderson to rethink East Asian STS studies as a form of area studies in his introduction to the 2009 special issue on Southeast Asian STS (vol. 3, combined issue 2–3). In 2009, Togo Tsukahara reflected on the situation of East Asian STS, and especially Japanese STS, in his introduction to the panel discussion on STS in Japan and East Asia (vol. 3, issue 4). Yung-Sik Kim also expressed his view on the role of East Asian traditions in his introduction to the special issue “Specialized Knowledge in Traditional East Asian Contexts” in 2010 (vol. 4, issue 2). Yet despite all these discussions in the previous issues, Fu’s inquiry in his position paper has not yet been answered in a complete form. No formal articles on the subject have appeared in EASTS to date. The present special issue compensates for this.

From a synthetic point of view, this series of inquiries can be formulated into the central question that this special issue addresses: Can there be East Asian STS studies distinct from those that have been practiced in the West? All the authors in this special issue reply affirmatively yet draw quite different pictures in addressing what a distinctive East Asia STS would look like. They also provide different solutions to the methodological problem of what we should do to construct a distinctive East Asian [End Page 441] STS, in the course of focusing on factors such as East Asian character and theoretical independence that Fan skillfully summarized in his reformulations of Fu’s original questions: (1) Is East Asia a useful category for science and technology studies? (2) Are East Asia STS studies simply the application of existing theories from the United States or Europe to East Asia?

Warwick Anderson tries to extend the idea of “Asia as method” in East Asian cultural studies to STS in his article “Asia as Method in Science and Technology Studies.” This method suggests that those of us who are East Asian STS scholars should use Asia as the reference point at which we engage with STS studies, rather than treating Asia as an object or a geographic region examined through Western theoretical glasses. The idea of Asia as method originated with Japanese cultural critic Takeuchi Yoshimi, and Anderson follows its recent development in the writing of Taiwanese cultural studies scholar Kuan-hsin Chen. However, Anderson is concerned that Chen’s Asia remains restricted to Chinese Northeast Asia. He advises us to enlarge our methodological vision of Asia to include Southeast Asia, New Guinea, the Middle East, Australia, and the Pacific, noting that “it is perhaps heuristically useful to imagine a ‘global Asia.’ ... Asia as method therefore requires no negation or denial of Euro-American STS, but rather it allows us to treat the Western body of knowledge and practices as ‘one cultural resource among many others.’” Anderson thus reemphasizes area studies viewed through a postcolonial lens as a suitable form of STS study, in which he sees the foundations of East Asian STS theory.

Although Asia as method may create a special character, Anderson does not tell us what an East Asian STS theory would look like. He does not suggest the ways by which such a theory can be constructed. It is not fully clear whether a method from cultural studies is suitable for STS studies, since Western science and technology have penetrated East Asian societies more fully than have other forms of Western culture. Moreover, Anderson’s use of the singular theory (rather than theories) raises the question of whether we should have a single East Asian STS theory or more than one. In the second article...