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Published on Wednesday, January 30, 2013


To be held in Istanbul and hosted by Koç University, the conference will host seven concurrent workshops led by two or three directors and showcasing innovative research from across the social sciences and related disciplines. Workshops will focus on themes of particular relevance to Asia, reconceptualized as a dynamic and interconnected historical, geographical, and cultural formation stretching from the Middle East through Eurasia and South Asia, to East Asia. The conference structure and schedule have been designed to enable intensive "working group" interactions on a specific research theme, as well as broader interactions on topics of mutual interest and concern. Accordingly, there will be a public keynote and plenary sessions in addition to closed workshop sessions.


Conference on Inter-Asian Connections IV: Istanbul (October 2-5, 2013)


Co-organized and co-sponsored by the Social Science Research Council, Yale University, the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HKIHSS) at the University of Hong Kong, Göttingen University and Koç University – collectively the “Conference Organizing Committee.”

The Inter-Asian Connections Conference Organizing Committee is pleased to announce an open call for individual research paper submissions from researchers in any world region, to participate in a 4-day thematic workshop at an international conference, Inter-Asian Connections IV: Istanbul.

To be held in Istanbul and hosted by Koç University, the conference will host seven concurrent workshops led by two or three directors and showcasing innovative research from across the social sciences and related disciplines. Workshops will focus on themes of particular relevance to Asia, reconceptualized as a dynamic and interconnected historical, geographical, and cultural formation stretching from the Middle East through Eurasia and South Asia, to East Asia. Six workshops were chosen competitively from among 43 applications while one was organized by the host institution. We are now accepting applications for all seven workshops.

The conference structure and schedule have been designed to enable intensive ‘working group’ interactions on a specific research theme, as well as broader interactions on topics of mutual interest and concern. Accordingly, there will be a public keynote and plenary sessions in addition to closed workshop sessions. The concluding day of the conference will bring all the conference participants together for the public presentation and exchange of research agendas that have emerged over the course of the conference deliberations.

Individual paper submissions are invited from junior and senior scholars, whether graduate students or faculty, or researchers in NGOs or other research organizations, for the following six workshops. 

Application process

In order to apply, applicants must submit: (a) on-line application, (b) a 500-word abstract of research paper to be presented at the workshop, (c) a short statement (200-300 words) explaining how the paper fits the theme of the workshop, and (d) 1-2 page C.V. (academic qualifications and employment history; list of publications).

  • Participants will be selected by workshop directors in consultation with the Conference Organizing Committee.
  • Selection decisions will be announced in March 2013. Selected participants must confirm their decision to participate within 10 days of receiving the selection notification.

Access the application form : http://www.ssrc.org/pages/inter-asia-conference-iv-registration/

Deadline: Monday, February 11, 2013

Inter-Asian Connections IV Workshop -- "After Neoliberalism?" The Future of Postneoliberal State and Society in Asia

Workshop Directors:

  • Emel Akçali Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations and European Studies, Central European University, AkcaliE@ceu.hu
  • Ho-Fung Hung, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, hofung@jhu.edu
  • Lerna K. Yanik, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Kadir Has University, lerna.yanik@khas.edu.tr

Call for Workshop Papers

“Postneoliberalism” or “after neoliberalism” is a term associated with forms of governance that emerged in the mid-late 1990s with the Third Way and social investment states in the UK, Canada, and Aotearoa/New Zealand and in some of the Latin American countries – such as Brazil under and after Lula -- that started looking for alternatives beyond the neoliberal one as result of the unfulfilled promises and incompatibility of neoliberalism in non-Western settings. Neoliberalism establishes fundamental connections between economic rationality and socio-political life and despite the fact that it promotes non-intervention into market mechanisms, it is concerned with the governance of individuals from a distance. However, there has been no strict definition of what postneoliberalism is except that postneoliberal projects of governance seek to retain elements of the previous export-led growth model and combine it with social-democratic welfare policies and that post-neoliberalism is considered a “detachment” from the principles of neoliberalism, leading to the emergence of “policies and ideas linked to the left rather than to the right.” We regard this conceptual haziness in the formulation of postneoliberalism as an opportunity to rethink possible alternatives to neoliberalism.

In this workshop, our first goal is to seek papers that will exposit this amalgam of forms of postneoliberalism and the emergent postneoliberal state, which have already started to develop in Latin America and elsewhere, and to understand and to theorize what postneoliberalism entails in states and societies across Asia.

Our second objective is to elaborate on the emerging “governmentality (ies)” as a result of this transition from neoliberalism to postneoliberalism, or to the variants of postneoliberalism, to be more correct. With basic tenets of neoliberalism being in question and various attempts to move beyond neoliberalism still being debated, we are curious to find out whether these governmentalities are also being left behind, or are they morphing into some other form? What happens to welfare politics? What happens to cities, urban transformation, or to gentrification in big cities? How do the developmental states or paternalistic authoritarian states in Asia transform amidst the global shift from neoliberalism to postneoliberalism? Does the shift enlarge or reduce spaces of democratic changes? Does it strengthen or weaken the region’s link to the US hegemony? Can we talk about the reversal of the neo-liberalization of education, most specifically higher education? Or, alternatively, could it be that governmentality is an explanatory framework only applicable to Western liberal states and societies, and no such Foucaldian conception of governmenality can actually be applied to post neoliberal formations in Asia?

Third, we are interested in exploring the link between postneoliberalism and ethnic and religious pluralism in Asian societies. How do, for instance, various groups respond to this transition away from neoliberalism, especially given the fact that what is termed as postneoliberalism in Latin America has often been associated with the consequences of the push from indigenous people’s empowerment and involvement in local politics?

When tracing the life of the term in Asia, this very vague definition of postneoliberalism might be considered a challenge. But the variety of state, regime and society types combined with different economic development models across Asia, ranging from the developmental state to the very neoliberal state, presents us a better chance to define, or to redefine the term postneoliberal and the postneoliberal state, and thus to distinguish between different variants of postneoliberalism. To give several (possible) examples: can Russia with increased social spending due to resource boom on the one hand, and acceleration of statisim and renationalizations on the other, be counted as an example of a postneoliberal state? Can the Chinese government’s programs to raise workers’ wages and support agrarian development after 2005 effectively ameliorate the many social crises unleashed by unfettered neoliberalism in the 1990s, or are they no more than cosmetic improvements that will never be able to reverse the long march of neoliberalism in China? If these two countries are accepted as variants of postneoliberalism, how then does New Zealand, which has already received the postneoliberal title, stand out in comparison to the two? Asia, to sum up, might be a more fertile ground to explore the meaning of postneoliberalism and its implications. For this workshop, we define Asia to include the Middle East, Eurasia, Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia as well as Asia-Pacific and Asia’s connections that extend and flow well beyond Asia. We are, in other words, not only interested in “fixities,” but also in “flows” (political, economic and social) in and out of Asia that make and shape the postneoliberal state and society within and across Asia.

Possible Themes:

  • Demarcating the line between postneoliberalism and neoliberalism
  • The current economic crises and postneoliberalism
  • Postneoliberalism and democratic politics
  • Postneoliberalism and the US hegemony in Asia
  • Postneoliberalism and postdevelopmental states
  • Postneoliberalism and the state of various issues: poverty, poverty reduction, higher education, cities, arts, media etc.

Inter-Asian Connections IV Workshop -- Asian Early Modernities: Empires, Bureaucrats, Confessions, Borders, Merchants

Workshop Directors:

  • Kaya Sahin, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Indiana University, iksahin@indiana.edu
  • Hendrik Spruyt, Norman Dwight Harris Professor of International Relations; Director, Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, Northwestern University, h-spruyt@northwestern.edu

Call for Workshop Papers

The Inter-Asian Connections IV conference and specifically the theme of Connected Empires is a particularly rich and fruitful avenue for inter-disciplinary exploration by historians, political scientists, sociologists and related fields. We particularly welcome, therefore, proposals that explore the multitude of ways in which early modern Asian empires have interacted at the material, cultural and political level. Research that examines such connections in a comparative vein would be desirable.

This workshop proposes to discuss the dynamism of the Asian continent in the early modern period, between roughly 1450 and 1750. The scholarship on the “European expansion” often misses the fact that this period witnessed an “Asian expansion” as well. Our objective is to investigate the contours and contents of this pan-Asian early modernity. Our aim is to use Asia as a zone that produced its own brand of early modernity. Part of this Asian early modernity was created as an answer to European incursions into Asia; most of it, however, came into being as a result of internal dynamics.

Topics of particular interest might cover:

  • Mutual exchanges between empires, such as the Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal, Russian and Chinese (Ming and Qing) empires and the Tokugawa Shogunate
  • The emergence of imperial and local bureaucracies as agents of management
  • The relationship between empire and confession building
  • Merchants and merchant communities as agents of interaction and exchange
  • Empire and state building
  • The regulation of international order across empires and regions

Inter-Asian Connections IV Workshop -- Contemporary Art and the Inter-Asian Imaginary

Workshop Directors:

  • Alice Jim , Associate Professor of Contemporary Art, Concordia University, alice.jim@concordia.ca
  • Henry Tsang, Associate Professor, Faculty of Culture + Community , emily carr university of art + design, htsang@ecuad.ca

Call for Workshop Papers

This workshop examines artistic practices and presentation strategies given recent directions and complicities in Asian and inter-Asian contexts. At stake is how cultural production is influenced and informed by, and, in turn, contributes to the ongoing articulation and complication of local, regional, national and transnational identities. We invite scholars, curators, artists, activists, policymakers, and cultural producers from any discipline or interdisciplinary perspective to propose papers on artistic practices, organizations, institutions and exhibitions that explore the diverse ways the inter-Asian imaginary has manifested in contemporary art and visual culture.

Just as there is no one Asia, there are no overarching trends binding the diverse practices, histories and geographies that fall under the heading of contemporary Asian art or exhibitions produced in inter-Asian contexts. Much scholarship in contemporary art in the last decade has focused on the worldwide biennale phenomenon, i.e., the dramatic increase in international art exhibitions accompanied by a rapidly growing representation of Asian artists. However, critical inquiry into inter-Asian artistic collaborations and activities has only just begun to enter into scholarly discussions in theory and in practice. As cultural critic C.J. Wan-Ling Wee noted, in the 1980s and 1990s the idea of contemporary “New Asia” was curated into “being”’ as one that imagined “a cosmopolitan-multicultural Asia able to transcend national boundaries, even as there was the awareness that the region’s cultural diversity and history of political fractures made this endeavor difficult.” In the new millennium, the renewed emphasis on inter-Asian cooperation has led to the concomitant realization of the notion of a Global Asia and distinctions between the Global South and the Global North.

What kinds of ideas, ideologies and theoretical frameworks are at play and at stake in the evolving and layering of inter-Asian cultural constructions, social relations and dimensions? How has this manifestation of an inter-Asian imaginary in the past two decades impacted research-creation (art/cultural production), curatorial/exhibition practices and arts criticism/writing? An example is the 2013 Istanbul Biennial which coincides with the Inter-Asia conference, providing an ideal opportunity and platform to examine current categories, spaces and frameworks constructing the inter-Asian imaginary in the global exhibitionary complex and implications for identity formation and the local over the last two decades. Another approach might be to consider how an exhibition of contemporary Indian art in China (i.e., “Indian Highway” at Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in 2012) differs from an exhibition about “India in China.” Furthermore, Asian biennales are not necessarily located in Asia proper writ large: Manchester hosts the Asian Triennial in the UK, and the Asia Pacific Triennial is based in Brisbane, Australia. Meanwhile Istanbul in West Asia which hosts one of the most prestigious international art biennales alongside Venice, Sydney and Sao Paolo, is uniquely situated between Europe and Asia. For the purposes of the workshop’s research agenda then, Inter-Asia refers to not only regional networks but also transnational connections between residents in the Middle East through Eurasia, East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, and the overseas Asian diaspora as well as the Asian Pacific Rim region.

Possible ideas or topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Convergences between Inter-Asian studies and discourses of the Global Asia, New Asia or Global South: epistemologies, methodologies and comparative analyses.
  • Biennials and the Globalization of Art: the Istanbul Biennial and the place of the local.
  • Spaces of Protest: pro-democracy movements, war, and the Arab Spring.
  • Differential Mobilities: capitalizing Asian diasporas, migrant communities and overseas citizenship.
  • Resistance and Identity Politics in Contact Zones: assimilation, friction and hybridity.
  • Translation and Resisting Regimes of Identification: negotiating national imaginaries and other identity categories such as gender, class and ethnicities.
  • The Political Economy of Art Production: arts policy and infrastructure, cultural capital and institutional critique, the impact of social and participatory media in pop culture.
  • Collaboration and Collectivism: overlapping urban networks and artist-activist spaces.

Inter-Asian Connections IV Workshop -- Inequalities in Asian Societies: Bringing Back Class Analysis

Workshop Directors:

  • Deniz Yükseker, Associate Professor, Sociology Department, Koç University, DYUKSEKER@ku.edu.tr
  • Ching Kwan Lee, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, cklee@soc.ucla.edu

Call for Workshop Papers

Referring to the worldwide phenomenon of decreasing gaps between richer and poorer countries, but enduring socio-economic inequalities inside each, Göran Therborn (Global Dialogue, 2(1), 2011) has observed that “this amounts to a return of class” in the twenty-first century. At the forefront of the remarkable rates of economic growth in the Global South are Asian countries, from Turkey to India and China, despite the disruptions caused by recent financial crises. At the same time, Asia remains the continent with the largest number of poor people, signaling that the degree of within-country inequalities is nowhere close to declining. Although this no doubt points to class polarization, the patterns of social change in Asian societies do not easily avail themselves to class analysis of the type prevalent in West Europe and North America in a previous period.

This workshop calls for a renewal of class analysis in Asian countries from a theoretically and conceptually grounded perspective. The workshop directors invite papers that focus on formations of classes, the transformation of class structures and class-based collective action in ways that pay attention to national and regional particularities.

What are some of the processes that might inform class analytics in Asia that papers in this workshop can focus on? (1) From the west to the east, the continent is the stage for the ongoing process of proletarianization, understood in the classical sense of dispossession from the means of production. What are the roles of the state, the rural economy and migration in shaping the various paths and forms of proletarianization in Asia? (2) Asia dominates global industrial production, thanks to China but also to South Korea, India and Indonesia. Countries ranging from Turkey to Egypt, Bangladesh and Malaysia also participate in the global competition for industrial exports. This has brought along a rise of the industrial labor force at intensified levels of labor control and surplus extraction. The organization and politics at the point of production may be entirely different from previous and Western modes of industrialization. How have labor conditions in the factory been transformed, with what consequences for labor politics or cross-class mobilization in Asia? (3) A faster growing segment of laborers in Asia works in service sectors, partly boosted by the growth in tourism and hospitality, and partly by the growing demand for domestic labor. Intensified labor control is also a feature of the formal and informal service sectors. (4) But more palpable has been the rise in the ranks of informal workers (also called the precariat, the subproletariat) across Asia, who earn less, work irregularly and have fewer or no social rights compared to formal workers. (5) On the one hand, as a result of dispossession, labor protests have erupted and taken on different characteristics in different countries, but such protests have been absent in others. On the other hand, social movements for democratization and the political rifts within them are arguably based on class alliances and class cleavages, as witnessed during the ongoing revolution in Egypt. (6) An analytical axis that cuts across all of these processes is gender, in terms of labor force participation, workplace subjectivities and activism. (7) The polarization between popular classes on the one hand and the industrialists and financiers who vie for spots in the global capitalist class on the other is politically and economically mitigated by the growth of thin layers of middle classes everywhere in Asia, who albeit are the major consumers in their respective countries.

Although there are rich scholarly literatures that focus on some aspect of the above-described processes, works that scrutinize them in terms of class analytics are only recently emerging, and then only for single counties. The goal of this workshop is precisely to focus attention on class dynamics in Asian societies in terms of both convergences and comparisons with respect to the seven processes outlined above. Papers may, using case studies or comparative quantitative and qualitative data, address one or more of the following issues, and adopt various theoretical perspectives of class drawing from Marx, Polanyi, Bourdieu, feminism, etc.: the debate on class-in-itself and class-for-itself; classed and gendered subjectivities in the labor process; the effects of semi- or full proletarianization on labor protest; resistance to dispossession; the overlaps or contradictions between ethnic, national and class identities; waves of labor protest; the falling and rising impact of labor unionism; class bases of democratization movements; class compromises in neoliberal contexts, and so on.

Theoretically, this workshop calls for a renewal of class analysis. Although there is a large body of scholarship on labor in various Asian countries, the concept of class is often not used. The theoretical benefit of class analysis might be at least two-fold. First of all, labor relations can be viewed relationally, as emerging within processes of dispossession, exploitation and production. Secondly, the long-standing debate about the relation between the objective axes of inequality and the subjective (im)possibilities for collective class action can be revived in theoretically fruitful ways. Papers that address these issues would also provide empirical material for comparatives studies on class in Asia.

Ethnographies and qualitative case studies as well as works that use quantitative data for comparisons would be welcome. Workplace ethnographies, ethnographic studies of labor activism, comparative analyses of labor movements in different countries or between different periods in a single country, archival research on labor movements in the past, comparative historical studies of the class base of social movements are some of the possible methodologies that may be used in the papers.

Inter-Asian Connections IV Workshop -- Porous Enclaves: Inter-Asian Residential Projects and the Popular Classes from Istanbul to Seoul

Workshop Directors:

  • John Friedmann, Honorary Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, Professor Emeritus, School of Public Policy and Social Research, University of California Los Angeles, jrpf@exchange.ubc.ca
  • Erik Harms, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International & Area Studies, Yale University, erik.harms@yale.edu

Call for Workshop Papers

Over the past two decades, strikingly similar master-planned, mixed-used residential projects have emerged across Asia—from South Korea and China to the Middle East and Turkey. These projects, built to serve a rising middle class of consumers, are often advertised as exclusive, self-contained bubbles. Yet their seemingly rigid boundaries are in fact porous and can be seen as key nodes of horizontal and vertical integration across Asia. Horizontally, they are financed through familiar and well-studied circuits of global capital that criss-cross and connect Asian economies. Visually similar in conceptions of space and style, their master plans tend to bear the familiar logos of a handful of global firms that often come from within Asia itself. These projects also facilitate horizontal Inter-Asian connections in more intimate ways: for instance, Asian business elites or members of the new middle class increasingly establish their home away from home in these spaces, while Southeast Asian domestic workers live in them as well (albeit with severely restricted rights). A new kind of urban landscape is thus taking shape in and among these spaces, the habitat of an identifiable social life of Inter-Asian capital.

This emerging horizontal Inter-Asian fellowship of elite and middle class urban living is founded on a familiar and oft-repeated set of vertical connections and disjunctures. We seek to compare and contrast the conflicts and class tensions between residential communities that depend upon yet actively endeavor to remove from their sight the popular classes who continue to live beyond their walls and whose work is essential to support their way of life. The social life of Inter-Asian capital is not only about lifestyles that often mimic an imagined West but also about the relations of production, new service economies, class conflicts, and accompanying policing and control of the city that surrounds them. Zones of “majority” urbanism typically emerge alongside and in interaction with the very processes that produce the master-planned residential projects for the new middle class and political elites.

For a rounded view of urban social life, Inter-Asian connections must thus be studied along both the globalizing circuits of capital & labor, commodities & ideas, and their grounded intersections with specific places. We seek contributions that make both horizontal and vertical connections, showing how different levels of capital and life intersect within and across major Asian cities, how high-level capital connects with micro-capital, and how back-alley production links with elite housing and global markets.

We seek papers from scholars in the social-sciences and humanities at different stages in their careers and with in-depth experience in at least one Asian city between Seoul and Istanbul. Contributions should take master-planned residential projects as their point of reference without being confined to them. The range of papers might include, but should not be limited to, the following topics:

  • Social life within, among, and around middle class and elite residential complexes in Asia
  • “Global Householding” and Inter-Asian household formation
  • Connections between back-alley production, local housing enclaves, and Inter-Asian trade
  • Inter-Asian circulations of capital and ideas (e.g. remittances; real estate capital, finance, and land speculation; expertise, architecture, & design)
  • Vertical and horizontal mobilities in and among Asian residential communities (e.g., movements between and among these places, social life and livelihood of Inter-Asian migrant workers)
  • Vertical connections and conflicts between urban elites, middle classes, and popular classes

Inter-Asian Connections IV Workshop -- Rescuing Taste from the Nation: Oceans, Borders and Culinary Flows

Workshop Directors:

  • Krishnendu Ray, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health, New York University, krishnendu.ray@nyu.edu
  • Cecilia Leong-Salobir, Research Coordinator, The Centre for Western Australian History, School of Humanities, University of Western Australia, leongsalobircecilia@gmail.com

Call for Workshop Papers

The world of taste and trade in comestibles opens a window into the space between nations. National cuisines have been amply theorized. Indeed, the basic tools of modern cultural history and demographics have become so nationalized that they have repressed the centrality of other connections and imaginings, for instance, between neighboring territorial regions of Asia or among port cities of the Indian Ocean (Mombasa, Hormuz, Mumbai, Malacca), linked through flows of knowledge, resources and material culture. When we examine the edges and intersections of continents and territories, however, we begin to see how narratives of cultural difference rub up against the reality of shared tastes, culinary ingredients and technologies.

Within and across Asia, a new history of oceans and renewed visibility of transnational circulation is reinvigorating discussions of cultural domains that exceed the nation-state. Instead of heartlands and national wholes we propose a productive mapping of taste and place that is encapsulated in the Hindustani saying, Kosa kosa per pani badle, chara kosa per vani, every two miles the water changes – where water is a metonym for taste – and every four miles the language. This locates taste at the center of the ethnoscape that extends beyond the edges, borders and boundaries of the four-colored maps of modernity. The workshop seeks to question the centrality of the modern nation-state as a vehicle for collective gustemic identity and to propose alternative ways of classifying and mapping taste across inter-Asian foodways.

What are the conditions that produce (or preclude) the possibility of culinary flows between nations? How do territorial proximity, agro-ecology, history, language, conflict, colonization and mobility (migration, media, technology) enable or constrain the imagination of trans-national configurations of culinary identity across Asia? We invite papers that interrogate the connections, convergences and conflicts around foodways between and within nations across Asia, from contemporary or historical perspectives. Papers should attend to culinary cultures, products, tools, collective tastes, systems of preparation or forms of knowledge (culinary texts, oral histories) that escape or stretch beyond national circumscription. Possible themes and topics include:

  • extra-colonial comestibles that pre-date Western imperial interventions and the transnational pathways of dispersal (e.g. historical analysis of palm toddy, betel nut or halvah); colonial foodways (e.g. curries that have proliferated); fusions old and new patterns of fish migration and cookery techniques (e.g. political-ecology of fish stocks and processes of preparation at diverse coastal cities); shared and distinct uses of tamarind, curry leaf, coconut, etc.
  • contemporary migrant labor practices and mobility of culinary knowledge (e.g. multi-sited ethnographies of plantation workers, street peddlers, cooks, and chefs); gender and scripts of professionalization; embourgeoisment of taste and talk
  • trans-national politics of taste and Geographical Indications across borders or in disputed territories (e.g. the cultural politics of saffron in Kashmir)
  • microcosmic sites (e.g. hawker stall, café, domestic kitchen, blog) as spaces of class- and gender-based collective remembering and reworked meanings of belonging.

We encourage submissions from junior and senior scholars (in the fields of History, Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, Cultural Studies, Communication, Material Culture and Food Studies), as well as policymakers and cultural producers so as to generate a shared language for multidisciplinary research. All participants will be invited to deliver a brief commentary on two other papers during the workshop. Participants will be invited to submit their work for possible inclusion in an edited volume, to be compiled after the workshop.

Inter-Asian Connections IV Workshop - The Sounds and Scripts of Languages in Motion

Workshop Directors:

  • Jing Tsu, Professor of Modern Chinese Literature & Culture, Yale University, jing.tsu@yale.edu
  • Ronit Ricci, Senior Lecturer, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia-Pacific, The Australian National University, ronit.ricci@anu.edu.au

Call for Workshop Papers

In recent years, the burgeoning of interest in interconnectivity and assembled spaces across Asia has opened up new areas of inquiry. Historically fluid and contested boundaries continue to turn Asia inside out, forcing to the surface old and new networks that are now colliding with one another in innovative ways. Amidst the different ongoing conversations, however, the question of language has been remarkably absent. To be sure, the movement of ideas, things, and people forge important material nexes of transculturation and influence. Our emphasis on language, however, proposes a crucial interface that tracks connectivity through the changes in the sounds and scripts of language. These include the institutional governance as well as everyday innovations of multilingualism and multiculturalism, such as language policies, oral transmission, dialects, mother tongues, pidgin creolization, literature and literacy, and national languages.

Our proposal is prompted by the recognition that language has been, and is, at the heart of most inter-Asian connections. Whether one considers the 8th century translation of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Tibetan, the rendering of the Quran from Arabic into Javanese or Urdu in periods of religious and cultural expansion, the lasting impact of British and Dutch colonial language policies on post-colonial India and Indonesia, or the long-standing use of Malay as a language of trade, travel and Islamization, language provides a pivotal lens through which to explore the histories, textures and meanings of inter-Asian connections. From East Asia to Southeast Asia, Chinese, once the common script of Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, and later a minor ethnic marker in hybrid languages like Baba Malay in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, compels one to rethink the standards of language. As the formal and informal rules of dialects and national languages adapt to new formations of intraregional and local-global influence, even purported global languages--such as English--are becoming locally inflected variants.

Straddling questions of cultural translation, the media of written and oral cultures, inter-area dynamics, and identities in motion, this workshop invites participants to join in a collective examination of how different usages of "language" exemplify interconnectivity across literature, cultural studies, anthropology, linguistics, sociology, history, political science, art history, and religious studies.

Paper proposals should address an inter-Asian topic, question, process or event through the prism of language. Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Histories of particular languages across time and/or space
  • Legacies of colonial language policies in post-colonial Asia
  • The politics of national languages
  • Language and power in Asian contexts
  • Script continuity and change
  • Inter-Asian translation
  • Languages of contemporary popular cultures
  • Languages within and across national boundaries



  • Istanbul, Republic of Turkey


  • Monday, February 11, 2013


  • Asia, Nations, Taste, foodways

Information source

  • Anne Lhuissier
    courriel : anne [dot] lhuissier [at] inra [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Inter-Asian Connections (2013) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, https://doi.org/10.58079/msa

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