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AAS-SSRC Dissertation Workshop Series

2015: Religion and the State in Asia

Open for applications, next deadline is January 5th 2015. Apply Now

Chicago, March 23-26, 2015

The Association for Asian Studies and the Social Science Research Council, with support from the Henry M. Luce Foundation, are pleased to announce the fourth jointly organized AAS/SSRC Dissertation Workshop. The workshop will be held in conjunction with the AAS annual conference in Chicago in 2015.

Everywhere in Asia (and elsewhere), we see a rapid growth of religious communities and an intensification of religious commitments, often with a strong moralizing or political character. Neoliberal regimes, urbanization, and secularization notwithstanding, both traditional and more fundamentalist Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian communities as well as numerous cults are expanding almost everywhere. Some appear to be quietistic, seemingly withdrawing from the state in response to its perceived moral, social, and political inadequacies. Others are in direct conflict with the state, or else are aggressively moralistic, target non-believers, and are readily mobilized to support inter-religious domestic and international conflicts. In many cases their commitments and institutions are directed towards a return to older moral values, social orders, or communities, a re-emphasis personal spirituality, more immediate links to the transcendent, but also implicitly or explicitly, some form of major social and political change. There is of a long history of significant politically inspired religious intensifications and mobilizations in Asia and many theories and debates about their sources. Yet much can still be learned about contemporary and historical Asian society and politics by comparing the recent expansions of religious or spiritual commitments with their earlier precedents.

This workshop is intended to bring together doctoral students, regardless of citizenship, in the humanities and social sciences who are (1) developing dissertation proposals or are in early phases of research or dissertation writing; and who are (2) planning, conducting, or are in the early phases of writing up dissertation research the dynamics of religion, community, and the state in Asia and who sense the substantive and theoretical value of locating their project in a comparative geographical and historical context.

The workshop will be limited to 12 students, ideally from a broad array of disciplines and working on a wide variety of materials in a variety of time periods, and in various regions of Asia. It also will include a small multidisciplinary and multi-area faculty with similar concerns.

The workshop will be scheduled for the days immediately prior to the 2015 AAS annual conference in Chicago. It will cover two and one-half days of intense discussion beginning the evening of March 23, and running through Thursday, March 26.

The organizers will be able to provide financial support for participants including three night’s accommodations as well as stipends for meals and travel. It is hoped that participants will attend the AAS annual meeting following the workshop.

Eligibility and Application

Applicants need not have advanced to candidacy but must have at least drafted a dissertation research proposal. Applications are also welcome from doctoral students in the early phases of writing their dissertations. A narrative description of the dissertation topic (ten double-spaced typed pages), short application form, and curriculum vitae will be required for submission. Applications must be submitted by January 5, 2015.

Workshop participants will be selected on the basis of the submitted projects, the potential for useful exchanges among them, and a concern to include a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, intellectual traditions, and regions of Asia. Applicants will be informed whether or not they have been selected for the workshop by late January.

For further information about the workshop structure or eligibility, please contact David Szanton szanton@berkeley.edu. Questions concerning administrative matters or the application process should be directed to Nicole Restrick Levit levit@ssrc.org.