Protecting the Weak Conference 2012

International Conference "Protecting the Weak. Concepts, Discourses, and Institutions in East Asia"


Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, March 1-3, 2012

Concept: Prof. Dr. Iwo Amelung, Prof. Dr. Moritz Bälz, Prof. Dr. Heike Holbig u. Prof. Dr. Cornelia Storz

Download the official conference poster pdf / png (coloured).

Processes of protecting weak groups or interests have become an important aspect of East Asian political, economical, social, and cultural life. The proposed workshop will for the first time systematically take up this issue, adopting an interdisciplinary approach, which is indispensable for understanding the complexities of the issues involved. Informed by theoretical ideas developed from the analysis of global cultural flows on one side, and concepts related to the emergence of a „second modernity“ on the other side, the workshop will explore the question of how „the Weak“ and measures to protect them are framed, and how their protection is institutionalized. While the logic of modernization and development in East Asia for a long time has been dominated by social-darwinist and neo-liberal ideas, dramatic new approaches to protecting the weak, which can be especially observed in China, hint at a departure from them and make East Asia a particular interesting region for exploring such processes.


While modern discourses and practices of protection are related to processes of globalization, their national and local manifestations as well as processes of legitimation are more often than not highly influenced by historical experience and practices and draw on indigenous intellectual and religious resources.  Also, patterns of implementing protection for weak interests especially when they assume the form of individual, legally enforceable rights are often based on originally Western but by now globally diffused practices.

Yet, how the state in countries such as China, Japan or Korea acquiesces, monopolizes, empowers or legally recognizes weak interests seems to show characteristics specific to East Asian societies.

Bringing together scholars from different countries, the conference at the same time will provide a forum to enable young academics to present their views of on the issue.



Download the official final schedule of the conference here.

March 1, 2012

8.00 p.m.
Welcome dinner: La Divina, Feldbergstraße 30, 60323 Frankfurt a.M., Tel: 069 – 71588805

March 2, 2012: Campus Westend, CAS 1.811   

9:00 a.m.
Welcome Adresses by Prof. Dr. Dr. Lutz-Bachmann (Vice President, Goethe University) and Prof. Dr. Iwo Amelung  (Vice Director, Interdisciplinary Centre for East Asian Studies)

9.30 a.m.
Introductory remarks by Cornelia Storz (Goethe University)

Part I: Protecting the Weak: Concepts and normative foundations (Chair: Iwo Amelung)

9:45 a.m.
Prof. Dr. Bruno Amable (Sorbonne, Paris): "Neoliberalism vs. ‘protecting the weak’ – a new ideology?"

10:45 a.m. 
Prof. Dr. Raji C. Steineck (University of Zurich): "Beggars as Bodhisattvas: Reasons for protecting the weak in the ethical traditions of Japan"

Part II:  Protecting the Weak: Concepts, framing and processes of legitimation in East Asia (Chair: Moritz Bälz)

2:00 p.m. 
Prof. Dr. Orna Naftali (Hebrew University, Jerusalem): "Protecting children from violence: Corporal punishment and the rights discourse in contemporary China"

2:30 p.m. 
Prof. Dr. Hyun-Back Chung (Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul): "Women and state in the South-Korean modernization (1960-2002)"

3:30 p.m. 
Dr. Ulrich Heinze (University of East Anglia, Norwich): "Withdrawal and seclusion – psychosocial, communicative, and communal aspects of Hikikomori (acute social withdrawal syndrome) in Japan"

5.00 p.m.
Young Academics Forum (Chair: Martin Rexroth) – Contributions from Thomas Boccon-Gibod (Université Paris X Nanterre), Ramona Grieb (Goethe University) and Gabriele Koziol (Goethe University)

March 3, 2012: Campus Westend, RuW 4.201 

Part III:  East Asia: Processes of implementation (Chair: Cornelia Storz)

9:00 a.m.
Prof. Dr. Sébastien Lechevalier (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris): "Rising inequalities and welfare in Japan"

9.30 a.m.  
Prof. Dr. Hualing Fu (Hong Kong University): "The politics of rights: Access to justice in China"

10.45 a.m. 
Dr. Nora Sausmikat (Asia Foundation, Essen): "Recent changes in the field of animal protection in the framework of environmental protection in China"

11.45 a.m.
Concluding remarks and perspectives