Why focus on East Asia?

Daily life in many parts of East Asia is notable for its high number of activities conducted in organized groups.


For example, in Japan many social groups are dedicated to the arts, yet scholarship on clubs (kurabu) and circles (sãkuru) tends to focus on those with an obvious developmental effect on the individual, such as sports clubs or language learning groups. At the same time, clubs and circles are a space of relatively egalitarian or 'horizontal' social engagement, in a social context that has often been described as predominantly a 'vertical' society. While the groups included in the network activities vary in the nature of their organization and the degree of hierarchy, they offer alternative spaces for social engagement with notable consequences for hospitality and wellbeing.

Too often we assume that group-based practice is motivated by the desire to build community or improve the self, and so we lack a nuanced understanding of the many uses that citizens have found for group-based creative practice. How do we account for the experiences of people who practice an art with no intention of improving their skill? Or those who engage in group activity without developing significant relationships with other group members? Exploring such cases, which do not fit easily into a simple understanding of informal group-based creative practice, will improve understanding of the roles of creativity and relationality in everyday life.

This network will focus on informal creativity conducted in groups to develop models for understanding how relational creativity can be deployed to solve or alleviate everyday challenges, or for living a good and satisfying life. We are particularly interested in the role (and limitations) of the group structure and the implications for how we think about building life-worlds, socialization, and resilience across the life course.

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