Collaborating Institutions

Program Themes

The “Inter-Asian Connections” program seeks to re-conceptualize Asia as an inter-connected geographical and cultural formation stretching through East Asia, Russia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia all the way to the Middle East. Through a series of conferences, curriculum workshops and other academic activities, we aim to showcase multi-disciplinary research on themes relevant to this “Inter-connected Asia“, with an emphasis on the changing roles played by Hong Kong and China.

Major Activities

The Institute was first involved in 2008 in the SSRC Inter-Asian Connections: Dubai Conference. Discussion went on with the Council after the conference, and in November 2009, representatives from the three institutions met at Yale University to set themes and schedules for the three-year program on “Inter-Asian Connections”.

Conference on Inter-Asian Connections II: Singapore (Dec 2010)

The first conference (second in the series after the 2008 Dubai conference) was held at the National University of Singapore from December 8 to 10, 2010 with five panels based on themes that were intellectually innovative and locally relevant. They were:

  1. Transnational Knowledge Economies
  2. Translocal Trust Networks and Law
  3. Security and Insecurity
  4. Migration, Mobilities and Displacement
  5. Old Histories, New Geographies.

The program comprised intensive workshops on the five selected themes, and public keynote lectures by Professors Philip A. Kuhn (Harvard University) and Ackbar Abbas (University of California, Irvine). The lecture by Kuhn, entitled “China and Chineseness: Civilization as Historical Storehouse”, was delivered in celebration of the 80th birthday of Professor Wang Gungwu, world renowned historian and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. (More details)

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Conference on Inter-Asian Connections III: Hong Kong (Jun 2012)

Following the success of IACII: Singapore, the three collaborating institutions organized a second conference in Hong Kong. It hosted concurrent workshops on the latest research from across the social sciences and related disciplines. Six workshop themes and workshop directors were selected after a competitive exercise:

  1. Asian Crossings, 1789-1914
  2. Just Society at Last? Ideals and Projects of the Common Good across Asia
  3. Networks of Religious Learning and the Dissemination of Religious knowledge across Asia
  4. Shifting Geopolitical Ecologies and New Spatial Imaginaries
  5. Anatomies of Knowledge: Medicine, Science, and Health in Asia
  6. Sustainability and Citizenship in Asian Cities

The conference structure and schedule have been designed to enable intensive ‘working group’ interactions on a specific research theme, as well as broader interactions on topics of mutual interest and concern. There were plenary sessions in addition to closed workshop sessions. On June 8, workshop directors and participants reported on research agendas that have emerged over the course of the conference deliberations. As an integral part of the conference, there was a curriculum workshop on June 9 to bring together conferees and local academics to make presentations and comparisons of the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculums on subjects relevant to the six workshop panels. (More details)

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Conference on Inter-Asian Connections IV: Istanbul (Oct 2013)

Following the success of conferences held in Dubai (February 2008), Singapore (December 2010) and Hong Kong (June 2012), Inter-Asian Connections IV was held in Istanbul in October 2013. Koç University hosted the four-day international conference which involved seven concurrent workshops focusing on themes of particular relevance to Asia, reconceptualized as a dynamic and interconnected historical, geographical and cultural formation stretching from the Middle East through Eurasia and South Asia, to East Asia. They were:

  1. "After Neoliberalism?" The Future of Postneoliberal State and Society in Asia
  2. Asian Early Modernities: Empires, Bureaucrats, Confessions, Borders, Merchants
  3. Contemporary Art and the Inter-Asian Imaginary
  4. Inequalities in Asian Societies: Bringing Back Class Analysis
  5. Porous Enclaves: Inter-Asian Residential Projects and the Popular Classes from Istanbul to Seoul
  6. Rescuing Taste from the Nation: Oceans, Borders and Culinary Flows
  7. The Sounds and Scripts of Languages in Motion
The event was rounded off with 2 plenary sessions chaired by Michael Feener (NUS) and Helen Siu (Yale) during which members shared their findings and conclusions from the various workshops. (More details)

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Conference on Inter-Asian Connections V: Seoul (Apr 2016)

InterAsian Connections V: Seoul is the fifth in this international conference series. This series showcases innovative research from across the social sciences and related disciplines and explores themes that transform conventional understandings of Asia. Crossing traditional area studies boundaries and creating international and interdisciplinary networks of scholars working to theorize the intersection of the “global” and the “regional” in a variety of contexts, the conference reconceptualizes Asia as a dynamic and interconnected historical, geographical, and cultural formation stretching from West Asia through Eurasia, South Asia and Southeast Asia to East Asia. (More details)

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