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an Open Letter to all Possible participants in Nanjing Semio

Date:2012-05-10 22:25Author:youzhengli
A letter to the participants of 2012 Nanjing IASS-Congress ( 致 2012 南京国际符号学大会参加者的信 ) May 10, 2012 Dear Semiotic and Human-scientific Scholars, The Nanjing 11 th IASS Congress is approaching now. The Nanjing Con



A letter to the participants of 2012 Nanjing IASS-Congress



May 10, 2012


Dear Semiotic and Human-scientific Scholars,


The Nanjing 11th IASS Congress is approaching now. The Nanjing Congress Committee reminds all interested participants to register as early as possible at the congress website .The following requirements please pay attention to:


1.     By registration please remember also attach the abstracts of papers so as for the Committee to have enough time to edit them into the printed program;

2.     Especially all plenary speakers, please send your speech abstracts (ca. 500-1000 words) to the Committee soon, you could of course continue revising your speech contents after sending your abstracts. At the moment we only need the abstracts.

3.     All submitted papers will be firstly posed in the congress website immediately after the congress in order to exhibit a whole picture of semiotic and human-scientific presentations given at the congress. The committee will also arrange for the printed publications of them afterwards.


The Nanjing IASS Congress will be an open and fair international forum for presenting different scientific outlooks with respect to semiotic and human-scientific practices in the world. This coming-up IASS event reminds us of the first cooperative efforts of IASS in China in 2004. For that international conference held in Beijing with the title “Relationship between semiotics and the humanities” a IASS delegation headed by Prof. Roland Posner, the president of the last IASS Bureau, appeared in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Many of IASS members(such as Deely, Lanigan, Fujimoto and many others) were there as well; Prof. Zhang Jie, the Chairman of the Nanjing 11th IASS Congress was there too. The organ China Social Sciences (English edition) of CASS recently also published the announcement of the Nanjing 11th IASS Congress. Let’s see it as another sign of the continuity of the IASS’ long international contacts efforts in China. While this time in Nanjing, the old Capital, the IASS activity will become a genuinely international one at a higher scientific level that can be seen clearly from our published program online.


This Chinese site of the 11th IASS congress has been not chosen occasionally. It is definitely owing to the cross-cultural turn of IASS movement itself. China as another kind of historical civilizations has attracted the scientific interest of international semiotic agents since as early as late 1970’s. Among the initial scholars contacting the Chinese humanities soon after the end of the Cultural Revolution we may just mentioned a few distinguished names like Levi-Strauss, Paul Ricouer, Christian Metz and M.Yamaguchi. It was at the 1982 Toronto Summer School Chinese scholars (including the Taiwanese) firstly contacted their European-American colleagues such as Eco, Sebeok, Posner, Searle, Buissac, Pelz, and even Foucault. The determinative chance for Chinese scholars to able to join IASS organization should be the 1988 Imatra conference where ISI was firstly established. It were Professors Tarasti, Withalm, Posner, Voigt and others who energetically suggested that Chinese scholars should join IASS. And then at 1989 Congress Xiankun Li and Youzheng Li formally became the EC members. Both Posner and Tarasti, the two IASS presidents, constantly kept their strong personal interest in promoting the international-Chinese semiotic exchanges through different cooperative projects mainly created by them. And then Bochum became another site for continuing to promot the bilateral semiotic-hermeneutic-phenomenological contacts which involved western scholars like Holenstein, Waldenfels, Koch, Lackner and others. It was at the Mexico Congress 1996 where a “Chinese semiotics roundtable” was firstly given (unfortunately a ten-member Taiwanese delegation failed to have arrived because of a visa trouble). The two IASS presidents Posner and Pelz joined us at Chinese RT with many others. Several other international semiotic-cooperative activities had been held within China during 1990’s too involving Lanigan, Xiankun Li, Bernard, Whitalm, Pelz, Deledalle, Sakamoto and many other Japanese scholars. It was John Deely who firstly realized the appearance of a Chinese issue of The American Journal of Semiotics (originally proposed by Lanigan) in cooperation with Hsiu-chih Tsai, Taiwan university. By the way there has existed a lasting efforts in Taiwan for promoting international semiotic contacts for the past 3 decades. The leading scholars includes Chang Han-liang (in western semiotic theory), kwung Peng-cheng (in Chinese classic humanities and Buddhist theory) and many others working in the fields of comparative literature and Foreign Language/Literature (like Liu Chih-hui and Chen Jieh-hua). It was obviously because of the successful 2008 NNU international conference about cultural semiotics that the thrust of the Chinese-International semiotic exchanges has become steadily developed until the finaloutcome: our Nanjing 11th IASS congress will be held in Nanjing again. Regarding the current Chinese semiotic activists too many should be introduced here who are so passionately engaged in promoting semiotic knowledge in China. Let’s just mention two remarkable names among them: Zhang Jie (director of NNU International Semiotic Institute, the editor in chief of Chinese Semiotic Studies, n English) and Zhao Yiheng (director of Sichuan uni Semiotic Center,  editor in chief of several serieses of semiotic publications). Until now there are many leading scholars from over 40 units (including many scholars as academic leaders of universities ,colleges and departments ) who have spontaneously formed the “China Semiotics Forum” as the standing organizer for promoting domestic and international semiotic activities. Its first gathering will be also held at NNU in this early October.


The above brief review of the Chinese-International semiotic exchanges over the past 3 decades intends to point out two facts that so many current leading international semiotic and human-scientific scholars have been deeply interested in and seriously concerned with the development of international-Chinese exchanges about semiotics and the humanities, and in turn so many Chinese human-scientific scholars have also been actively engaged in joining various international academic activities regarding social and human sciences. The two facts will allow us to predict a promising and meaningful result of our Nanjing Congress.


The last but not less important facor here is that there exists an ever more energetic tendency in Chinese humanities fields that intensive investigations of and profound interest in contemporary international human-scientific theories prevail in Chinese academia today. So the so-called “China semiotics” tends to be widely rooted in its both theoretical and historical reflections on the current conditions of the natural, social and human sciences as a whole. In terms of the same viewpoints the Nanjing Congress intends to put the global semiotic studies into such an intellectually expanded perspective. Accordingly, every scientific achievements attained in different geographic areas should become the common topics and public treasury of all global scholars. No doubt different intellectual and theoretical points of view, under our present-day highly complicated social, technical and academic circumstances, should be allowed to express themselves freely in our international scientific forum. The Nanjing Congress Committee will do its best to be helpful for realizing this scientific ideal: be tolerant to the free expressions of different scientific points of view. For any factional and partisan attitudes in organizing scientific discussions must be contrary to the very essence of semiotics.


In consideration of China’s vast size and her cultural tradition focusing on the humanities China Semiotics could become another international center of global semiotics in future. So the international colleagues are welcome to come to Nanjing to have a personal experience in her potential to become another international semiotics center in future. This coming-up congress will be the first one in IASS history that involves the global cross-cultural topics and the more comprehensive theoretical considerations. As the “logic of culture”, semiotics must be related to all kinds of cultural traditions by its nature. In this sense this IASS congress will provide an opportunity for all of us to be faced with different cultural manifestations from what we have been familiar with during the past IASS activities. Besides, considering the technological-commercialized globalization and the general tendency of weakening of the humanities all over the world, the IASS congress should adopt a more serious attitude to reflect on the present-day situations and conditions regarding the semiotic as well as the human-scientific theoretical scholarship. Then the Nanjing Congress will also provide a wider intellectual horizon shaped from different theoretical and historical angles for us to enrich our scientific experiences. As a result  we global semioticians could be more capable of assessing our current epistemology and anticipating our future desirable orientations.


See Everybody in Nanjing,


With Our Best Wishes for the Success of the Nanjing Congress,


Youzheng Li

Vice-President of IASS

Advisor of the Nanjing IASS-Congress Committee