International Convention of Asia Scholars
Chiang Mai, Thailand – July 20-23, 2017
Rethinking Asian Studies through the Global South
Latin America – Asia – Africa
Professor, Institute of History, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and
Chairman, Sephis Programme for Research and Cooperation on the Global South
The institutionalization of Asian Studies as a field in the Humanities and Social Sciences is greatly indebted to Western, especially North-Atlantic, traditions of thought, organized by the curiosity over regions and people historically connecting Europe and Asia.
This ultimately led to distinct forms of compartmentalization of Western perception of alterity which was framed by patterns of Imperial curiosity and priorities of colonialism – especially until mid-20th century, when European colonialism dwindled in most of Asia and Africa. The end of Second World War and the ensuing re-structuration of the world also affected models of knowledge production concerning different cultures, regions and populations. This is when imperial approaches gave way to “cultural” areas, a conceptualization boosted by the North-American area studies framework, which helped to reorganize international geopolitics in many aspects, including knowledge production.
Area studies have both helped to develop capacities of scholars dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of specific spaces, whilst simultaneously isolated academics in compartmentalized frameworks, or “conceptual empires” – academic communities insulated into self-contained realities that, likewise, consecrated defined spaces to specific themes, methodological approaches, intellectual jargons, etc (van Schendel, 2002: 647-668).
Another undesired effect of the area studies approach to international scholarship has been the concentration of expertise in regions of the Global South in Northern academies. The consequence is that postcolonial peripheries still suffer from the same and mutual isolation, blindness and ignorance that once affected them under colonialism. Asian, African and Latin American academies had very limited direct contact and are largely ignorant of one another´s intellectual agendas. It has even affected the geographical perception of these regions, sometimes reinforcing imperial boundaries drawn by colonialism. Correspondingly, international mainstream of Asian Studies is still deeply marked by the priorities (in terms of agenda, teaching and funding, for example) derived from North-Atlantic intellectual traditions largely overshadowing academic interests of Asia developed elsewhere in the world.
How about the intellectual interest on Asia developed outside the North-Atlantic outline where area studies approach and confinement was not obligatorily resourced as a framework on Human Sciences?
Rethinking Asian Studies through the Global South proposed for ICAS 10 is a continuation and development of initiatives as the Latin American Knowledge Platform on Asia and the Africa-Asia Network (fostered by IIAS and Sephis and later embraced a consortium of institutions, scholars and foundations), and the East Asian Network of Latin American Studies (developed in collaboration between Chinese, Korean and Japanese institutions and associations).
The initiative consists of two activities: one Panel and one Roundtable, approaching Asia through two complementary axes: How Asia has been sought by and How Asia has been seeing the Global South. We foresee incorporating initiatives and investigations on Asian Studies in Latin America (and Africa) as well as on Latin American Studies in Asia (and Africa) to revisit the boundaries and confinements of knowledge production concerning the Global South, taking Asia as our point of departure and arrival. In doing so, we propose a more pluralistic and multi-centred Global Asian Studies.
Addressed questions & Broader objectives by the initiative
• How Asia has been framed by intellectual traditions where area studies framework did not have an encompassing resonance?
• What is the trajectory of Asian Studies in the Global South, on teaching, research and publication agendas, academic profiles and funding?
• Which are the heuristic relevance and methodological challenges of seeing Asia through the Global South?
• How an Asia-Latin America (and Africa) approach can help readdressing epistemological and ontological discussions that affect societies of the Global South and how can it review central questions of the international Social Theory?
Call for Papers
We invite scholars with monographic researches or survey studies within the broader theme of Asia in Latin America and Africa and vice-versa, with innovative theoretical and methodological approaches that help problematizing traditional compartmentalization of Asian Studies. We particularly welcome young scholars with original investigations (concluded or ongoing) which foresee readings of Asia comparative and connected to Africa and Latin America.
This initiative is not restricted to specialists on Asia in Latin America and Africa, but invites scholars from outside the traditional area studies framework, interested on the analysis of social and historical problems that affect both regions without being Asianists, Africanists or Latino-Americanists.
Proposals (in English or Spanish) should include a small abstract (up to 500 words), identifying the speaker(s) and his or her academic enrolment. Though working language of ICAS is English, we will be receptive to presentations in Spanish.
Deadline for proposals - January 10th 2017, sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories: Global Asia & Interregional – Theme: Global Asia