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(Re)Constructions: Researching and Rethinking Asia
YCAR International Graduate Student Conference
Glendon Hall, Glendon campus of York University, Toronto, Canada
26-27 April 2013

Thank you to everyone who participated!

The programme is available here:

A video of the keynote lecture by Dr. Tania Murray Li is available here: http://youtu.be/gPCqlyEhH4Q

For more information || ycarreconstructions2013@gmail.com

The question of reconstructing the conceptual frameworks for research in Asia and Asian Diaspora has been actively debated in the last few decades, reflecting dynamic changes in both scholars’ and broader society’s notions of ‘Asia’. These discussions pay critical attention to the modern politics of constructing Asian spaces and identities, and of disseminating knowledge of the area throughout the world. The disciplinary divides traditionally associated with Area Studies are also being contested, and more interdisciplinary approaches are being demanded for researching Asia.

Taking up this challenge, the conference will present graduate student research that speaks to ways of rethinking the epistemologies and methodologies of researching Asia, and reconstructing conventional categories andframeworks from a broad range of disciplines. 

Conference Keynote | Asian Futures, Old and New
Asia has moved place. Once coded for culture and antiquity, and situated on the global periphery, it is now imagined as central to global capitalist futures, its "Asian values" conveniently recast in functionalist terms.  The "old" Asian future envisaged that Asia would eventually catch up with Euro-American standards of modernity. A "new" triumphalist discourse imagines that Asia is now leading the way. But in this new discourse, two old narratives remain firmly in place. One is orientalist, in that it rests on thin knowledge and caricature. The other is anachronistic. Its foundation is the replication of unfolding transitions, from rural to urban, farm to factory, as if we know from experience the modern form that Asia will take.  Critical scholars need to be aware of these traps and tropes, and carve out new lines of inquiry alert to the range of futures being made across Asia today.  The lecture explores these themes with special attention to spatial and temporal unevenness, increasing inequality and abandonment, which is too often legitimated in orientalist terms.  

Tania Murray Li teaches at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, where she holds the Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy and Culture of Asia. Her publications include Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia (with Derek Hall and Philip Hirsch, NUS Press,  2011),  The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics (Duke University Press, 2007) and Transforming the Indonesian Uplands: Marginality, Power and Production (Routledge 1999), and many articles on land, resources, community, class, and indigeneity with a particular focus on Indonesia.

The conference is generously supported by the Royal Thai Consulate General Toronto, the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia and the Vietnamese Culture and Science Association of Toronto along with the following York University units: York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR), The Centre for Global Challenges , the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, Principal's Office of Glendon College, the Graduate Students Association, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Department of Geography, Graduate Association of Geography Students, and the Department of Visual Arts.  

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