Shaping Asia/s. Connectivities, Comparisons, Collaborations
Date: 6 - 7 February 2018
Convenors: Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka (Bielefeld, GER), Christiane Brosius (Heidelberg, GER)
This workshop brings together scholars from the Humanities and Social Sciences working in and on different regions of Asia in order to reflect upon and conceive of novel research methodologies that are necessary for grasping the past and present dynamics in Asian societies and cultures - beyond national boundaries and cultural containers. Above all, the invited researchers will engage in designing research strategies that allow for a synergetic and transboundary approach towards various ways in and through which regions of Asia have been imagined, politicised and legitimised: through comparison, by tracing connectivities as well as by enhancing collaborations driven by multi-perspectival interdisciplinary ventures. In this vein, the salient socio-spatial units of analysis -that are often oriented by methodological nationalism and regionalism as well as local particularism - will be assessed critically while exploring scholarly tools responding to this critique.
By engaging in a de-centered, multiperspectival and transregional research framework this workshop will be particularly attentive to the connectivities and dissonances configuring Asia and its position in the world. Challenging centre-periphery models of knowledge hierarchies, participants will explore and discuss new spatial-political-cultural configurations of shaping contemporary Asia (in its plural and pluralist qualities) while remaining equally reflexive on how these arrangements unfolding on a global scale with varied regional, local and national ramifications alter the scholarly practice of creating academic knowledge. Therefore, the main challenge of this workshop will be to simultaneously engage in three distinct but interconnected fields: first, reflecting on tools for grasping the dynamic spatial-political-cultural configurations in Asia; second, seeking to overcome the far-reaching compartmentalisation of research fields and of academic communities in the process of ever accelerating knowledge production and third, exploring novel research fields and calling for methodological innovation through collaboration - to strengthen academic exchange between partners from different Asian regions and their colleagues.
In promoting connective concepts and methods and research on connectivity, this initiative will produce synergies between scholars working in Germany and Asia and promote new approaches that will shape future projects and teaching, thus also paving the ground for a new
connected generation of scholars.