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Conflicted Asias

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Organizer: Bhagya Casaba Somashekar

Co-Organizer: Kelly Yin Nga Tse

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The economic rise of Asia in the last few decades has renewed the presence of the continent in the global imagination in various spheres. As tenacious and nuanced means of documentation, cultural forms such as literature, performance and theatre have played a foundational role in reflecting and refracting the region across time and space.
For this seminar, we call for papers that enhance research into the relationship between history, politics, and literary and cultural expressions by focusing on conflicts in Asia. The papers may view conflicts as including, but not limited to, colonial and postcolonial conflicts, economic and ecological crises, totalitarian regimes, genocide, war, emergencies, and related refugee crises. Papers intended for the seminar should ideally aim to examine conflicts through multi-dimensional, national, regional and global perspectives. The seminar will seek to address varied interdisciplinary interests by interrogating conflicts from diverse disciplines, like law, development, politics, history, philosophy, amongst others, but primarily arbitrated through cultural and literary forms. The discussion in the seminar will seek to expand the horizons of thought around cultural works on Asia, and its global relevance at the current conjuncture (20th and 21st centuries).
Conflicts in Asia in the 20th century alone (like the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Indo-China War, the Partition, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, and the recent Rohingya crisis in Myanmar) have been paradigm-shifting, causing tremendous regional impacts with global reverberations. Recognising, therefore, that it is impossible to segregate the legacy of Asian conflicts from the global contemporary, the seminar will emphasize the worldliness of Asian conflicts by facilitating a dialogue tackling Asia’s complexity. Papers that spotlight inter-Asian crossings, while framing the region as configured by global historical forces are encouraged, especially those foregrounding cultural forms on Asian conflicts that adopt a comparative frame by triangulating the study of Asia with Afro-Asian connections (e.g. Indian Ocean narratives), Asian-American and British-Asian confluences, and trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic crossings (e.g. cultural expression from the Asian diaspora). Granted the multi-dimensional possibilities of engagement with Asian conflicts, papers are also encouraged to focus on both Anglophone narratives and cultural articulations in the myriad vernaculars, facilitating a space for nuancing intersections between translation, culture and conflicts.
Please send in proposals, not exceeding 250 words in length, for 20-minute papers on related themes. Proposals must be submitted via the ACLA website before 20 September 2018. Contact Bhagya Casaba Somashekar ( and Kelly Yin Nga Tse ( regarding queries. 

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