• Forum 3 - Asian Spatialities 2

Central Eurasia - New Rulers, New Histories, New Identities

To overcome spatial limitations established by nations and empires, past and present, the Asian Spatialities Forum is concerned with flows, interactions, and community agency across seas and landmasses of Central, South, and Southeast Asia. The forum draws from a series of IIAS-University of Amsterdam - sponsored events in a number of Asian countries under the project Asian Borderlands Research Platform.  The series has contributed to a reconfiguration of theoretical and methodological approaches to geographical regions in general. It encourages exchanges among local and international scholars possessing different disciplinary and regional expertise, with a focus on three distinct sub-projects.

The second Spatialities sub-project focusses on the massive landmass of Central and Inner Asia. Over the centuries, the local populations have often played critical roles in Eurasian history, especially during the Mongol era. In more recent times, neighboring states and empires have encroached upon or occupied vital regions, and this process exercised extraordinary influences on local developments and on the religious, political, economic, and cultural diffusion from East to West and vice versa.  This ebb and flow of political and cultural developments, combined with migrations across these lands, have imposed severe strains on modern Central and Inner Asian groups trying to define and maintain their historical identity.[1] New networks linking the region to the periphery, including the heartland of China and Russia, but also Afghanistan, South Korea and Japan, are now re-orienting Central and Inner Asia and providing the means through which the various parts of this huge landmass are exposed to globalization with the attendant extra challenges to their identity.

This sub-project consists of two workshops that bring together local Asian scholars and external academics to address contemporary identity developments in Central and Inner Eurasia in the context of globalization.[2] The first workshop called The national and historical context of independent knowledge production  focusses on local and international knowledge production and knowledge transfer in the field of humanities and social sciences, versus the constraints imposed by modern state development and global political developments. It addresses in particular the problem of historiography and the need felt by many local scholars to develop an autonomous narrative beyond state configurations. The second workshop External religious and ideological influenceswill discuss the influence of transnational religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Islam) and ideologies (capitalism, democracy, socialism) on identity formation, national developments and international relations. 




[1] This was especially so when, preceding and following the demise of the Soviet Union, new states emerged that were undergoing a rapid development of new political structures, new international partners, and a re-evaluation of national and international histories. At the same time, other parts of Central and Inner Asia remained incorporated in Russia and China, creating a different set of problems.

[2] A workshop co-organized by IIAS in Ulaan Baatar in August 2012, "The Legacy of Perestroika Discourses in Knowledge Production on Central Asia", and a second meeting that took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in May 2013, led to the establishment of a transnational network of scholars working on Central and Inner Asian studies, to discuss this huge region in its own “regional” terms. A third conference planned for the second half of 2014 is currently being organized by a group of Central and Inner Asian scholars and institutions, with the assistance of IIAS.

 

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