May Hall, The University of Hong Kong

Research Cluster

      Core Co-investigators

      Peter Perdue, Yale University

      Program Themes

      The Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea have been linked by intercultural trade and regional ports for centuries. Rejuvenated cross-border businesses in Guangxi, Yunnan, Burma and Vietnam in recent decades have intensified cultural exchange and political volatility. These historically global processes in the region need comprehensive analytical frameworks. The team will explore cultural change associated with trade and imperial empires, diasporic communities, religious traditions and colonial encounters over the last 15 centuries.

      Major Activities

      Workshop on “Asia Inside-out: Mobile people” cum fieldtrip to Hanoi, Vietnam (January 2017)
      The institute organized the third “Asia Inside Out” workshop in Hanoi, from January 9-13, 2017, a city with many layers of history of inter-Asian trade over land and sea. The workshop focused on “People and Process”, individuals and groups become the most important avenue of understanding institutions and their dynamic transformations. Scholars from different parts of the world (China, Hong Kong, France, India and the United States) came together in Hanoi, Vietnam and discussed how people have fabricated an “Asia” through their mobility and rootedness.

      Two days of presentations were followed by a local tour to Lan Ha Bay, Cai Beo Fishing Village and Thai Nguyen Tea Planation in Hanoi. Cai Beo Fishing Village is one of the most famous ancient floating fishing village in Vietnam. Participants got the chance to explore indigenous culture and daily life of fishermen, and to interview some local people in the village. Moreover, Thai Nuguyen province is the most famous destination for Green Tea in Vietnem. In the green tea garden, participants strolled through the tea fields and explored the surrounding of the hill station. They have also interacted with local tea growers.

      Prof. Helen Siu (Anthropology, Yale), Prof. Eric Tagliacozzo (History, Cornell) and Prof. Peter Perdue (History, Yale) jointly convened the meeting. With contribution of the scholars, a volume from this workshop “Asia Inside Out: Mobile Peoples” is contracted for publication with Harvard University Press.

      Workshop on “Asia Inside-Out: Period” cum fieldtrip to South India (December 2010)

      The program team met at Yale University in December 2009 to present summary ideas on distinctive historical moments, sites, social groups and institutions. The theme of maritime connections challenged land-based, state-centered paradigms that have dominated scholarly thinking for an entire century. The theme was expanded in the second workshop in Hong Kong held from December 20-21, 2010. The workshop, entitled “Asia Inside-Out: Period”, aimed to stimulate unconventional research on rethinking the concept of “Asia” and to refine theory and methods in regional studies. Two days of presentations were followed by a focused visit to the ancient and contemporary trading ports / cities in South India. Participants examined the region’s multi-ethnicity, and the evolution of historical trading communities spanning from East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean to the Middle East.

      The meeting was convened by Helen Siu (Anthropology, Yale) and Eric Tagliacozzo (History, Cornell), with speakers from Cambridge University, University of London, University of Washington, Rice University, Wake Forest University, and Kagawa University. The book entitled Asia Inside Out: Changing Times by Harvard University Press was the first of three edited volumes published in 2015.