Long perceived as a clearly defined geographical continent to the east of Europe, Asia has been conceptualised in more recent scholarship as a cultural entity produced through geographical imaginations located in specific historical contexts. Meanwhile Area Studies scholarship has divided the field of Asian Studies into seemingly self-contained units of West and Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and East Asia. These regional configurations speak more about the changing geopolitical and economic interests in these areas rather than the historical or cultural roots of such demarcations. Following the lead of recent scholarly critiques of these demarcations, this conference seeks to explore Asian societies and identities as interconnected formations through trajectories/networks of circulation of people, ideas, and objects in the longue durée. Moving beyond the divides of old Area Studies scholarship and the arbitrary borders set by late colonial empires and the rise of post-colonial nation states, this conference seeks to map critically the configuration of contact zones in which mobile bodies, minds, and cultures interact to foster new images, identities, and imaginations of Asia.
We invite papers related, but not restricted, to the following questions that the conference seeks to address:
When does the idea of Asia (and regions) come into being and how far back in time can we trace these spatial imagination(s)?
What are the registers of inter-Asian connections?
What are the logistical aspects governing the routes—overland and maritime—that linked up different regions of Asia?
Who fashions themselves as Asians and in what context and location?
What roles did imperial formations (old and new, European and non-European) play in shaping Asia?
Do ideas of nationalism and post-colonial nation states fracture Asia?
Does the post-colonial state or elites privilege specific Asian identities over others for their own interests?
What are the current geopolitical forces that help maintain the neatly defined regional configurations in Asia?
Andrea Acri (NSC & Nalanda University), Kashshaf Ghani (Nalanda University), Murari Jha (Nalanda University), Sraman Mukherhee (Nalanda University).
Venue and dates:
ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore,
Deadline for abstract submission:
Please send an abstract of between 200–250 words max, along with a short biodata, to both email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org by ( . Singapore Time, +8 hours GMT).
Notification of Acceptance:
ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute will cover accommodation and full board in Singapore for the conference participants from overseas. Limited funding is available to cover international flights (fully or partially, depending on the place of departure and individual situation).
Selected conference papers will be published in an edited volume.