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Workshop Directors

Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied
National University of Singapore

Morgan Y. Liu
The Ohio State University

Workshop Participants

Rachana Bhangaokar, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and Dulari Mehta (in absentia), project fellow at the UGC – Center for Advanced Study (CAS) program (Phase II) at Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
“Journeys of Civically Engaged Indian Youth: Shifts in Moral Perspectives From Self to Just Society”

Jenny Chao, Associate Research Scholar, Law Department, Columbia University (Vale Columbia Center for Sustainable International Investment)
“Achieving Sustainable Infrastructure Development on the Mekong River”

Chen Chao-ju, Associate Professor of Law, National Taiwan University, College of Law
“Constituting and Contesting Equality: Feminist Constitutional Activism in Taiwan”

Lynette J. Chua, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore
“Covert Resistance and Social Movements: The Case of Pragmatic Resistance in Singapore’s Gay and Lesbian Movement”

John Heathershaw, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Exeter
“Non-electoral protest groups in an electoral environment: the ‘new settlements’ of Bishkek and the 2011 presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan”

Setrag Manoukian, Associate Professor, Institute of Islamic Studies and Department of Anthropology, McGill University
“Temporality and Disillusionment in Contemporary Iran”

Daromir Rudnyckyj, Assistant Professor, Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Victoria
“Justice, Equality and Calculative Reason in Islamic Economic Action”

Sanjay Ruparelia, Assistant Professor of Politics and Fellow of the India China Institute, New School for Social Research
“The evolving right-to-development in India: origins, promises, risks”

Timothy Shea, Ph.D. Candidate, Visual Arts Department (Art History, Theory, and Criticism), University of California, San Diego
“Renewing Revolution, Renewing Art: Ideals and Realities of The Long March Project in China and Mainland Southeast Asia”

Call for Workshop Papers

What can address structural inequality in societies? How do various actors in Asia imagine solutions to poverty, injustice, or patronage? These are perhaps the most intractable problems, because they are deeply embedded in the workings of societies, where the majority perpetuates the deleterious states of affairs through perpetration, complicity, or acquiescence, so that responsibility may not be assignable solely to state leadership or elites. A “culture of corruption” pervades everyday economic and institutional activity that punishes non-compliance and resists efforts at reform.

In response to the long history of elite power abuse throughout Asia, various visions and movements have sought to enact notions of social justice. Some are religious: Islamic revivalisms, Christian millenarianisms, Hindu activisms, Buddhist reformisms, and other religious-oriented projects across Asia envision transcendental orders for societal problems. Other non-religious conceptions work from varieties of moral reasoning about the common good in opposition to elite exploitation. Environmental movements in Indonesia or Russia, citizen activisms in China or Iran, the growing support for socialist parties in South Asia, the “Color Revolutions” of the 2000s, and most recently, the popular uprisings of 2011 in West Asia (the Middle East) are some examples of this. The question is, can these ideals and projects actually ameliorate systemic injustice and inequalities of wealth or power when other approaches have fallen short? More often than not, these various efforts appropriate and critique liberal discourses of freedoms and rights, and Marxian discourses of class and power, offering compelling alternatives to neoliberal and state socialist conceptions of just society.

This workshop convenes scholars and experts that would take stock of ideas and action templates regarding just society across the Asia. We seek studies that examine conceptions about good society or good government, or movements that attempt to implement them. The workshop invites submissions that attend to how the utopian aspirations and models “catch on,” as well as in-depth cases of movements from across Asia that localize universal narratives. We welcome research from any time period (with emphasis on the 20th century-present), from any part of the Asian space (which we take to include the Middle East and Russia), and from diverse disciplinary approaches. Activists and professionals with sufficient conceptual grounding in their paper proposals are encouraged to apply.

Possible paper topics include:

  • How socio-political critiques about inequality and elite excesses are articulated within moral narratives and with respect to class, ethnic, sectarian, and regional interests.
  • The media or venues where such discourses are disseminated and the mobilization of people via internet, social media, TV, pamphlet, cassette, gatherings, etc.
  • The activities or impact of such movements in societies, in areas such as education, welfare services, laws, politics, the economy, the environment, etc.

We are keen on proposals that look at actors engaging the specifically structural nature of these problems, who seek systemic rather than palliative remedies. Together as a workshop, our goal is to provide historical depth, geographical synopticism, and multi-methodological perspectives on novel ways of interpreting and responding to structural inequality and social injustice.