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Session Submission Type: Roundtable Session
Partly due to its vastness, much scholarship on Asia is framed by organizational schemes that engage in spacial relationships and contrasts, be it cores and peripheries, uplands and lowlands, mainland and islands. Cutting through and transforming these schemes is the structure of the nation as a bordered entity. This panel of scholars representing diverse disciplinary perspectives will interrogate these borders to rethink these schemes, addressing broad questions such as: What are the distortions imposed by the nation-state looming over frameworks of analysis—what happens when we de-center the state? What concepts of society capture external relations and engagements? What concepts apart from class, status, race, and gender, will help us get a better understanding of trans-regional phenomena? Our hope is to forge new understandings about nations, regions, and Asia.
To organize our discussion, we will begin with a short presentation by anthropology professor Engseng Ho, who researches mobility and diaspora around the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, and the "new silk road." His presentation will be based on his longer paper, written for this project and circulated in advance to the rest of the panel, with excerpts online in advance for conference attendees. After Ho's introductory presentation, the other roundtable members, deliberately selected for their diverse expertise and geographic focus, will comment on the paper through the lens of their own work and specific research interests. After each has made a brief presentation, we will open the floor to general discussion. Results of this roundtable will be published in the November issue of the JAS.
Our participants include Assistant Professor of history Rian Thum, whose work is on pilgrimage and manuscript culture in China, Central Asia, and India; Sunil Amrith, Professor of South Asian Studies, who examines the trans-regional movement of people, ideas, and institutions in the Bay of Bengal; Jaeeun Kim, Assistant Professor of Sociology, who studies the politics of membership and belonging through comparative-historical and ethnographic methods, focusing on Korean diasporas in and beyond northeast Asia; and Professor Emma Teng, a gender studies scholar who engages gender and mixed-race identities in transpacific diasporas.