Dear Mr. Dudman, IIAS and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS, Singapore) organise a conference, which aims to examine the “social framing” of Asian studies. We cordially invite you to critically reflect with us on this topic, and look forward to receive your paper submission.
Framing ‘Asian Studies’: Geopolitics, Institutions and Networks
30 April 2013
18 – 19 November 2013
IIAS, Leiden, the Netherlands
“Asian studies”, whether broadly defined as the production and dissemination of scholarly knowledge about Asia, or narrowly limited to the institutionalized field of study labeled as such, has constantly been framed by changing geopolitical context. The colonial root of Oriental or Asiatic scholarship, the war-driven migration of Asian scholars and the dispersion of their expertise, and the Cold War American investment in both social sciences in East Asia and in “Asia studies” at home, were just a few examples. In recent decades, we further witnessed the rising scholarly interest on Japan, China and India following their growing political-economic significance, as well as the emergence of various “alternative discourses” and “inter-Asia dialogue” as attempts of intellectual decolonization.
This framing effect is at least partially mediated by the various institutions involved in the social process of knowledge production— foundations, professional associations, publishers, journals, research institutes, governments to multinational entities. These institutions operate in ways that reflect their role, agenda and power relations within the geopolitical context, and left their imprints, through funding and agenda-setting, on the intellectual landscape of Asian knowledge.
Those institutions constitute various inter-institutional networks through forms of collaboration, and each has its own network of associated people— for instance, grant recipients, members, authors, subscribers, staffs and alumni. Scholars at individual level also form network of interpersonal ties (educational genealogy, friendship, citation). These networks not only help distribute financial, political, intellectual and social resources for the generation of knowledge about Asia, but also mediate how such knowledge is disseminated, preserved and accessed.
Investigating the above-mentioned themes further invites critical examination on the power structure underlying the knowledge scape: Who had written about Asia— for what and for whom? Where has the Asian knowledge been disseminated and consumed? What (institutional, societal-structural, national) interest and bias were brought into the knowledge production? What topics were emphasized or excluded? Even the term “Asia” as an epistemological unit could be questioned for its historical root associated with a European perspective of gazing.
This conference aims for examination and critical reflection on the “social framing” of Asian studies by focusing on the four themes discussed above. We invite paper proposals that discuss:
- The influence of geopolitical factors on how knowledge about Asia is produced and disseminated: colonialism and its legacy, wars and regional conflicts, the Cold War structure, and the ‘knowledge economy’ competition in the new era of globalization.
- The role of various institutions in promoting and directing the Asia studies: foundations, professional associations, publishers, journals, research institutes, governments to multinational entities. We particularly welcome papers that relate the role of particular institution(s) to broader geopolitical context.
- The outlook of various knowledge networks. We welcome both (a) macroscopic investigations on the patterns and developmental trajectory of knowledge networks measured in terms of flows of scholars/ students, capital, and knowledge, and (b) case studies of a particular networks of institutions or people on (a particular branch of) Asian studies.
- Critiques on the power structure underlying the observed patterns of knowledge production and dissemination of Asian studies. We encourage reflections that revisit fundamental questions like: Knowledge for what? Knowledge for whom? Whose were represented or excluded? How relevant and biased to use ‘Asia’ as an epistemological unit?
Applications & time line
Expressions of interest are invited to send an abstract of 300 – 400 words together with a short biographical note before 30 April 2013. Young scholars are also encouraged to apply. You are kindly requested to use this web form: http://bit.ly/WSiQYK
The successful applicants will be informed by 20 May 2013.
We require submission of a full paper draft of 6000-8000 words by 1 October 2013 to allow the circulation among participants prior to the event.
We aim at providing accommodation for all selected speakers of the conference. Participants are expected to provide their own travel funding. In exceptional cases only, a request for travel expenses support may be taken into consideration. Selected papers from the conference will be published in a joint IIAS-ISEAS volume.
For further inquiries, please contact Dr. Albert Tzeng at firstname.lastname@example.org