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Abstracts and Speakers information

Keynote I:

“Globalizing from the periphery: A Historian’s View of Chinese Consumer Culture”

Sherman Cochran (Cornell University)

Abstract: Why has consumer culture spread throughout the world? Some say that big Western corporations like McDonald’s fast food restaurants and Walt Disney’s entertainment industries are the primary or even sole agents of consumer culture, diffusing it from the Western “core” to the non-Western “periphery.” Others reply that individual consumers in local cultures are the ultimate agents, transforming one consumer culture into many consumer cultures through a process of localization. The aim of this lecture is to address this debate by focusing on Chinese cultural brokers who created their own versions of consumer culture in China and globalized from the periphery.

photo of Sherman Cochran
Sherman Cochran

Sherman Cochran is the Hu Shih Professor of Chinese History Emeritus at Cornell University.  He was educated at Yale University, where he received his BA, MA, and Ph.D. In 1973 he took his first academic job in the History Department at Cornell, and he has been a professor there ever since. During the past forty years, he has traveled to China or elsewhere in East Asia regularly to do research. Based on this research, he has published nine books and more than forty articles. Three of his books and several of his articles have been translated into Chinese and Japanese. For his teaching and his writing, he has won several prizes. Cornell has given him the Clark Award for outstanding teaching and the Carpenter Award for excellence as an advisor of students. In 2008 one of his books, Chinese Medicine Men: Consumer Culture in China and Southeast Asia, was awarded the Joseph Levenson Prize, which is given by the Association for Asian Studies to the author of the best book published on China in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His most recent book, co-authored with Andrew Hsieh, is The Lius of Shanghai. It was published by Harvard University Press in 2013. Besides serving as a teacher and scholar at Cornell, he has held several administrative positions, including Director of the East Asia Program, Chair of the History Department, and Director of the China and Asia-Pacific Studies Program.



Panel  1: Production Networks

“Growing with/out dependence? Western buyers and their  suppliers in Asia”

Tsai-man  C. Ho (Chung Yuan Christian University)

Abstract: Fung Group, representing a successful story of Hong Kong, orchestrates the manufacture goods through a network of 15000 suppliers across more than forty countries whereas Pou Chen Group, the largest sportswear manufacture, symbolizing the growing pattern of Taiwan, supply athletic and casual footwear for its clients like Adidas and Nike. Telling the growing paths of “Asian tigers”, they both encounter the profit alert announced in year 2013. Their challenge reveals the changing order of global division of labor, in which the competition structure still largely defined by their Western buyers. This talk with examine first the causes of announced profit alerts, power relations, competition structure, opportunities and limitations these two firms have faced. 

Photo of Tsai-man C. Ho
Tsai-man C. Ho

Tsai-man C. HO is Assistant Professor in the Center for General Education, Chung Yuan Christian University, Taiwan.  From year 2006 to 2011, she worked as Post-doctoral Fellow in the Hong Kong institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (incorporating the Centre of Asian Studies), the University of Hong Kong. She obtained her PhD in Sociology at the Tunghai University, Taiwan. Her research interest includes entrepreneurship and culture, family business, and economic sociology. She is the author of a forthcoming chapter on “Deciding Whether to Return to Taiwan: Koo Chen-fu, 1945-1952” (published in the Cornell East Asia Series).



 “The electronics industry global production network: implications for labour conditions and labour governance”

Gale Raj-Reichert (University of Manchester)

Abstract: The electronics industry global production network is comprised of a complex web of customer-supplier firm linkages through outsourcing and subcontracting relationships. Much of the production of electronics goods are outsourced by brand firms in developed countries and produced in factories in developing countries. Violations of labour standards and poor working conditions are widespread in many factories in Asia. How production relationships between brand firms and suppliers contribute to labour violations and what opportunities and challenges exists in the electronics industry global production network for governing labour conditions will be the focus of this presentation.

Photo of Gale Raj-Reichert
Gale Raj-Reichert

Dr Gale Raj-Reichert is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Fellow at the Institute for Development Policy and Management at the University of Manchester. Her current research project is focused on understanding power relations in the global production network of the computer industry and its implications on labour governance with case studies in Malaysia and China. Prior to this, Dr Raj-Reichert completed her PhD also at the Institute for Development Policy and Management at the University of Manchester on Governance in Global Production Networks: Managing environmental health risks in the personal computer production chain. She has published her work in Regulation & Governance, Geoforum, and Competition and Change and contributed to publications for the World Bank and the International Labor Organization. She has and continues to be a lecturer on globalisation and development and the political economy of development at the University of Manchester.



Panel 2: Retail Development

“Temples of Consumption: Shopping Malls in Japanese Marketing and Consumer Culture”

Hendrik Meyer-Ohle (National University of Singapore)

Abstract: The shopping mall, while a relatively recent addition to Japan’s consumption landscape, has quickly gained popularity with retailers and consumers, challenging existing traditional department stores and shopping districts. While shopping malls can be seen as the symbols of homogenizing global consumer markets, developers in Japan have made efforts to adjust their malls to the local, adapting to but also aiming to shape consumers’ needs and behavior and often integrating their projects within ambitious projects of urban redevelopment. In this presentation I will present several cases of mall development in Japan with the aim to comment on recent trends in marketing and consumer culture and ultimately to locate the Japanese shopping mall between the global and the local.

Hendrik Meyer-Ohle has been teaching and researching Japanese business and management in the Department of Japanese Studies of the National University of Singapore since 2000. Before that he worked for five years as a research fellow at the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo.  His research has focused on the retail and service industries in Japan and his main publications include Innovation and Dynamics in Japanese Retailing and Japanese Workplaces in Transition (Palgrave Macmillan 2003 and 2009). Currently his research focuses on the retail aspects of urban change in Japan’s metropolitan areas and its shrinking and aging provincial cities. He is also interested in Japanese businesses in Southeast Asia and has recently begun a new project on the internationalization of HR practices of Japanese companies through the recruitment of young foreign employees for their operations in Japan.



“Asian Retail Revolution and Organization of Korean and Taiwanese Economies”

Solee Shin (Lund University)

Abstract: Over the last half-century, retailers have risen as crucial organizational actors that structure consumer and production market dynamics around the world. While the role of global retailers in influencing the early industrialization of East Asian economies of Korea and Taiwan is increasingly acknowledged, there has not been a systematic examination of their varied internationalization experience in relation to the divergent national business systems of the two economies. My talk will thus highlight the divergent processes of retail market organization in Korea and Taiwan in relation to the prior business system that has been in place. Building on studies of East Asian business groups and business systems theory, I argue that the divergent business systems and logics of market competition and coordination has patterned the interaction between local firms and multinational retailers differently in the two economies and led to systematic differences in the dynamics of retail market making of the two economies.

Photo of Solee Shin
Solee Shin

Solee Shin is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University. She an economic sociologist with interests in market development, Asian business groups, complex organizations, and macrosociology. Her current project examines the rise of organized retailing and institutional consumption in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, especially focusing on how the history of Asia’s industrialization and divergent industrial organization has patterned the process of retail development across Asia. Her other projects examine changing landscapes of the labor market structures and commodity goods production, especially apparel and fashion, in relation to the growing retail systematization of Asia.



Panel 3: Retail Labor

“Worlds of Work in Wal-Mart China”

Eileen Otis (University of Oregon)

Abstract: China is the new frontier for the largest firm in the world. There are 400 Wal-Mart retail outlets across China today, employing 100,000 workers directly and at least half as many indirectly. Wal-Mart has been part of China’s retail revolution that has fundamentally reshaped how people buy and consume goods, yet little is known about working conditions in its stores. Rectifying this, I examine labor processes bound up with two moments in the process of consumption and find two distinctive and discreet worlds of work, one tightly regulated, the other quite unregulated. I trace the divergent modes of labor to different assemblages of local and imported practices. While one might expect the firm to import organizational practices from the U.S., I found that the firm in China was profoundly impacted by local practices.

Photo of Eileen Otis
Eileen Otis

Prof. Eileen Otis teaches sociology at the University of Oregon. Her scholarship examines the gender, class and ethnic politics of new labor practices within China's emergent urban service sector. Her book, titled  Markets and Bodies: Women, Service Work and the Making of Inequality in China (Stanford University Press 2011) examines the organizational processes that transform resource inequalities into interactive hierarchies – unequal flows of attention, deference, kindness, and assistance between customers and female workers – in different service workplaces. Based on comparative ethnographies in the formal and informal consumer service sectors of two cities, the book illuminates the linkage between diverse regional markets for consumer services to new labor practices that focus on cultivating women workers' bodies. Professor Otis has also published in the American Sociological Review,  American Behavioral Scientist, Qualitative Sociology, Politics and Society, and Contemporary Sociology. Her research has been recognized with awards from the Asia/Asian-American and the Sex and Gender sections of the American Sociological Association and from Sociologists for Women in Society.



Panel 4: Producing and Consuming Fashion

“Slow Road to Fast Fashion”

Christina  H. Moon (Parsons The New School for Design)

Abstract: coming soon

Dr. Christina H. Moon is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design History and Theory and Director of the MA Fashion Studies at Parsons The New School in New York. She received her doctoral degree from Yale University in the department of Anthropology. Her research looks at the social ties and cultural encounters between fashion design worlds and manufacturing landscapes in Asia and the Americas, specifically exploring the memory, migration, and labor of its cultural workers. Her most recent project is on the fast-fashion industry within the U.S. Dr. Moon writes on material culture, the ephemeral and every day, and ways of knowing and representing in ethnographic practice. She is the recipient of research grants from Fulbright, Wenner-Gren, Kauffman, and Korea Foundations. She is a Fellow of the Graduate Institute of Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought (GIDEST), an active working group member of the India China Institute (ICI) Economies and Societies initiative, Fashion Praxis working group, and on the Advisory Board of the Zolberg Institute of Migration and Mobility (ZIMM), at The New School.



“Making Chinese Fashion in the Transglobal Landscape”

Wessie Ling (Northumbria University)

Abstract: The limelight of Chinese fashion has largely been captured by the recent powerhouse of PRC China. China’s rising importance in the global stage plays a key role in the promotion of its designer fashion. Yet its growing economic status cannot be the sole factor for its rise. Mainland designer fashion is seen surfing the wave paid by Hong Kong fashion system and the development of its fashion industry. This paper discusses Hong Kong and Mainland designer fashion from its export-oriented market to the creation of own designer labels. Highlights are made to the dual development of their fashion system and the characteristics of transnational style in the creation of Chinese fashion.


Wessie Ling is a trained cultural historian and artist. The cultural production and properties of fashion are common themes in Ling’s work. Author of Fusionable Cheongsam (2007), she has written widely on the socio-cultural revolution of the Chinese dress through which dissected the material culture in China. Such a geographic focus has led her to develop study in the 20thC Chinese fashion in which inter-East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) cultural dynamics in the making of fashion is examined in an AHRC awarded project on Translating and Writing Modern Design Histories for the Global World (2012-4). Subsequently in progress is an edited volume on The Making of Fashion in Multiple Chinas (I.B. Tauris) which studies contemporary façade of China through post-1980s Chinese fashion taking into account not only the fast-developing country itself but also its diaspora and cultural interaction with Europe. She is Reader in Fashion at Northumbria University. Her practice-based research runs along the vein of the cultural property of fashion and the aestheticisation of the every day. Work can be viewed at




Panel 5: Migrant Entrepreneurs

“A Transnational Fast Fashion District: An Analysis of Chinese Entrepreneurs in an Italian Industrial District”

Gabi Dei Ottati (University of Florence)

Abstract: After World War II, Prato textile industry developed very fast by multiplication of small specialized firms and became an exemplary case of development in the Italy of the industrial districts (Becattini 2001). However, in recent decades Prato has become increasingly known for the rise of the largest agglomeration in Europe of Chinese immigrants’ enterprises specialized in fast fashion.  In the presentation, first the influx of Chinese into Prato and their insertion as subcontractors (like in other Italian districts)  in the local economy during the 90s and their subsequent transformation into final producers (unlike in other districts) of fast fashion garments in the new century which led to an extraordinary growth is considered. Then the presentation focuses on the analysis of the causes that can explain the Chinese immigrants’ exceptional development (Dei Ottati 2014). The final part of the presentation is aimed at exploring the present evolution of the Chinese immigrants’ businesses and the possible consequences of that evolution for the future of Prato district in the new global economy.  

Photo of Gabi Dei Ottati
Gabi Dei Ottati

Gabi Dei Ottati is Professor of Applied Economics in the Department of Economics and Management at the University of Florence (Italy) and Professor of Local Development in the Doctorate in Economics at the University of Florence. Her main research interests focus on industrial organization and especially on industrial district model of organization and the role of industrial districts in the Italian economy. On these topics Gabi Dei Ottati has published several books and more than 50 refereed articles, many of which in international journals such as Cambridge Journal of Economics and European Planning Studies. In more recent years her research activity extended to immigrant businesses in Italian industrial districts and in particular  to Chinese entrepreneurs in Prato.



Panel 6: Asia and Sweden

“Consuming IKEA in Shangai and Seoul”

Lydia Jungmin Choi-Johansson (Linneas University) & Cecilia Cassinger (Lund University)

Abstract: The notion of taste and aesthetics is central when it comes to home furnishing culture.  A taste regime is defined as a discursively constructed normative system that orchestrates practice in an aesthetically oriented culture of consumption (Arsel and Bean, 2013). This presentation offers insights into taste making processes in the everyday lives of consumers in Korea and China. We discuss how home furnishing cultures in the two markets are structured by certain taste regimes revolving around Scandinavian aesthetics and market practices tied to the global home furnishing company IKEA. By way of comparing consumer stories from each country during 2007-2014, we show how taste is created and recreated, and how it affects the consumer market.

Photo of Lydia Jungmin Choi-Johansson
Lydia Jungmin Choi-Johansson

Lydia Jungmin Choi-Johansson is a PhD student at the School of Business and Economics, at Linnaeus University. She is part of The Bridge - unique research collaboration between IKEA and Linnaeus University. Her ongoing doctoral thesis research is about exploring the cultural meanings and practices when multinational firms enter new markets. She is following the process of home furnishing company, IKEA’s market entry into the Korean market. Her research interests are consumer culture, critical marketing and social media.

Cecilia Cassinger lectures at the Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University. Her research interests are in the area of place branding, culture and politics. She has written on research methodology, consumption practices, and the relationship between narrative and image in a business context.

Lydia Jungmin Choi-Johansson
Cecilia Cassinger


Panel 7: Asia and Sweden (II)

Screening of film “A Sofa for a Samurai”

Director Jon Thunqvist and Editor Kristoffer Hamilton

Abstract: 'A Sofa for a Samurai', depicts the many problems that foreign firms confront to establish themselves in Japan and delves into the inflexibility of Japanese suppliers.

Jon Thunqvist, Swedish filmmaker, has spent four years following the birth of Ikea, one of the world's most popular furniture and home accessories store, from the start of its negotiations and construction until the inauguration of its Japan branch in Chiba. The above Swedish retailer is well liked by its Japanese and foreign staffers because of its stress-free environment, casual dress and pleasant relationship between managers and employees. Interviews with Ikea's executives and workers offer an interesting insight into a modus operandi that Japanese could well adopt.

Kristoffer Hamilton is an independent filmmaker with a background as a journalist. After living ten years in Japan he now resides in Göteborg, Sweden. During his time in Japan Kristoffer worked as a freelancer with various documentary projects. Among other things he visited the earthquake struck areas in the Tohoku region.


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About the event


April 14-15, 2015
9:30am- 5:30pm


April 14: Grand Hotel (Sten Broman Salen), Bantorget 1, 222 29 Lund

April 15: AF Borgen (Nya Festsalen), Sandgatan 2, 223 50 Lund


Solee [dot] shin [at] ace [dot] lu [dot] se

Download Programme (PDF)

Focus Asia poster april 2015

Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies
Lund University
Sölvegatan 18 B, 223 62 Lund

Phone: +46 46 222 38 61
E-mail: info [at] ace [dot] lu [dot] se