Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

Workshop Directors

Itty Abraham
University of Texas at Austin

See Seng Tan
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University

Workshop Participants

Carolyn Cartier, Professor of Human Geography and China Studies, China Research Centre, University of Technology, Sydney
“Regional Governmentalities or Territorializaton with/out Boundaries”

Michele Ford, Chair, Department of Indonesian Studies, University of Sydney and Lenore Lyons (in absentia), Research Professor in Asian Studies at the University of Western Australia
“Sovereignty, territory and citizenship: The production of subaltern cosmopolitans in Indonesia’s maritime borderlands”

Siba N. Grovogui, Professor Department of Political Science, The Johns Hopkins University and Hitomi Koyama, Ph.D. candidate, The John Hopkins University
“Continental Drifts: Imperial Cartography, Sovereignty, and Postcolonial Conflicts”

Turan Kayoaglu, Professor, Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Tacoma
“How Asia Ended Extraterritoriality”

L. H. M. Ling, Associate Professor, Graduate Program in International Affairs, The New School
“‘ASIA IS A WOMAN’: Episteme and Territorialization”

David Ludden, Professor of Political Economy and Globalization in the History Department, New York University
“Uneven Development, Spatial Inequity, and Territorial Politics: Remapping 1905 in Bengal and Assam”

Ken MacLean, Assistant Professor of International Development and Social Change (IDSC), Clark University
“The Cultural Politics of Lines: Performing Sovereignty in the Greater South China/ Eastern Sea”

Torsten Weber, Research Associate, History Department, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Jacobs University Bremen
“Utopias of ‘One Asia’: Visual Portrayals of ‘Asia’ in the Age of Nationalism”

Call for Workshop Papers

Asia today has more inter-state disputes over territory than any other continent in the world. The majority of its states—Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, etc.—find themselves embroiled in deeply contentious and long-standing disputes with neighbors and others over bits of land and/or in the maritime domain. What is most alarming is that these disputes are not merely historical legacies of imperial cartography that can be resolved in the well-tempered meeting rooms of international diplomacy. Struggles over disputed lands repeatedly generate the nationalist ire of domestic Asian populations, fuelled further by nostalgia for some idealized past, frustrated economic and political aspirations, and tensions between the competing yet symbiotic dynamics of globalization and nationalism. Subaltern histories and armed insurgencies seeking self-determination may complicate further the fray of disputed official histories. The net effect is to create a situation where the most likely cause of inter-state conflict in Asia today is a situation emanating from a territorial dispute. However, we believe that these very practical concerns cannot be fully understood unless scholars look beyond territorial disputes per se.

Territorial disputes raise questions of history, historiography, conquest, colonization, legitimacy, legality, nations, nationalism, boundaries and borders—issues that invite interrogation by critically minded political scientists, geographers, international legal scholars, historians, and anthropologists. Disputes, however, are not our primary interest. Rather, this workshop proposes to examine critically the foundational relation underlying disputes, namely, the self-reinforcing equivalence between “state” and “territory” that is the unquestioned condition of modern sovereignty.

Among the questions we would like to see raised are historical concerns—when and how did the state-territory equivalence emerge in Asia; How are “geo-bodies” (Winichakul 1994) constructed in different Asian countries—as well as theoretical, spatial, cultural, and political issues: How are multiple territorial sovereignties understood, represented, contested, and resolved; How did/do ideas of territory travel within and beyond Asia; What were/are the technologies of territorial sovereignty; how and where do “zomias” (van Schendel 2005), SEZ’s, and utopias emerge; What does state-and-territory do to borderlanders; How can we conceptualize the many relations between territory and citizenship, involving diasporas, foreigners, sojourners, strangers, exiles, minorities, fifth columnists, and aliens; How are “real” and “virtual” maps imagined, produced, and deconstructed through popular culture and everyday life?

The objective of this proposed workshop is an inter-disciplinary discussion that leads to the untangling of the dense historical, ideological, and political relations that made Asia territorial.