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04.09.2021 09:42 Alter: 22 days

Multiple Decolonialities and the Making of Asian Commons

Call for Papers

Theme: Multiple Decolonialities and the Making of Asian Commons
Type: Online Conference
Institution: Hong Kong Research Hub, Nanyang Technological University
  Department of English and Cultural Studies, Christ University
Location: Online
Date: 11./18.2.2022
Deadline: 15.10.2021

The twenty-first century was once heralded as an Asian Century
(Auslin 2017). The aspiration was that, after two long centuries of
Western dominance, Asia would take the lead in ushering in an era of
equitable distribution of wealth and resources, a respect for the
environment, and more robustly democratic political communities. With
a long tradition of decolonial thought and practice such as
Pan-Asianism, Afro-Asian solidarity, and Non-Alignment, it was
fervently hoped that a postcolonial consciousness borne out of such
common history would guide Asia to put behind oppressive borders,
aggressive geopolitical and geoeconomic ambitions, and contain the
most vicious impulses of nationalism. Almost a quarter into the new
century and the reverse seems to have been proven true. The pandemic,
climate challenges, economic stagnation, and demographic crisis have
revitalized conservative policies that have solidified or fortified
borders, weakened democracy, and spurred economic protectionism. The
task of decolonial thinking and decolonization as a critique of past,
present, and emerging forms of colonization and imperialism is much
more complex today, given that both the terrain of the national and
the global have come under great strain as sites of critique and the
entrenchment or dismantling of power. It is thus an urgent task to
revisit the desire fuelling the imagination of the Asian Century, to
re-examine the current state of decoloniality, and discuss
alternative visions of Asian Commons.

This online conference highlights the notion of Asian Commons as a
way to engage Asia both in its incredible heterogeneity and its
important historical resonance.The intellectual and political desire
to create an Asian Commons comes from a collective history of
anti-colonial struggles and shared vision for social and economic
justice. First articulated in the idiom of national independence and
socialism, the struggle for decolonization, justice, and equality
continues to resonate in contemporary movements based on identities
and autonomy. As a working concept, Asian Commons is informed by the
historical resources accumulated through Asia’s varied but connected
experience with decolonization, as well as the intellectual project
to study such lived experiences on their own terms. Mindful of the
trap of exclusionary nationalism and false internationalism which
flattens the differences between/within nations and peoples, Asian
Commons would allow intellectual and political innovation that
embraces both the heterogeneities and commonalities of Asia.

The conference aims to rethink Asia in an inclusive and collective
manner without privileging any particular region/state on the basis
of economic and political power. The Asia that emerges from the world
of policy-making and academic discourse is composed of regional
blocks in different economic, political, and cultural formations.
South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia are
identified more for expediency than necessarily as extended imagined
communities. The intellectual project of “Asia as Method”, while
calling for decolonization and deimperialization (Chen 2010), leaves
intact the nation-state and regional formation as “natural” units of
imagining Asia. We find it important to look at Asia beyond these
existing units, to examine the new and forgotten networks and
connections that have been traced and created through different
projects of survival, freedom, and living together. Foregrounding the
lived experience and specific histories of refugees, revolutionaries,
thinkers, laborers, businessmen, infrastructure planners, as well as
other state or non-state actors, we hope that this conference would
help make visible the alternative pathways, constellations, and
echoes that nurture the notion of Asian Commons and enable various
peoples’ struggles to transgress borders and imagine Asia, homeland,
and our collective future otherwise.

We invite papers including but not limited to the following themes:

- Borders- National, Regional, Global
- Refugeehood, Statelessness, and Contentions of Citizenship
- Labour, Work, Migration
- Mobilities, Tourism, Heritage
- Colonial Histories, Decolonization, and the Postcolonial
- Governance, Sovereignty, and Formal and Informal Apparatuses of the
- Asian Cities and Urban Futures
- Infrastructural Visions and Digital Utopias
- Forms of Cultural Production and Consumption
- Populism, Popular Politics, and Political and Social Movements
- Gender, Sexuality, and Assertion of Identities
- Thinking Asia Conceptually

We sincerely wish for paper presenters to engage with the concept of
Asian Commons in the specific contexts and problematics discussed in
their papers. Please submit an abstract (300 words) and a bio-note
(50-100 words) to Mithilesh Kumar and Chun Chun Ting. The deadline
for submission of abstracts is October 15, 2021. We will notify the
authors of selected abstracts on November 1, 2021.


Mithilesh Kumar

Chun Chun Ting