Asia as Action: Scaling Ethnography of the Everyday

Jianghong An's picture
Call for Papers
April 1, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Asian History / Studies, Social Sciences, East Asian History / Studies, Chinese History / Studies

Asia as Action: Scaling Ethnography of the Everyday

A Graduate Student Conference

The University of Chicago Center in Beijing

June 21st-22nd, 2019

Keynote Speaker:

Viren Murthy, Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of Chicago Center in Beijing is inviting graduate students and emerging scholars to participate in a graduate student conference to consider the meaning and politics of “Asia” in everyday contexts. In 1960, Takeuchi Yoshimi, a Japanese scholar of Chinese literature, delivered a lecture on “Asia as Method” to challenge fellow Japanese intellectuals to consider their nation and region from the global historical situation of “Asia.”  If the telos of modernization is not that of imperialist conquest in the wake of decolonization, peoples of “Asia” must reckon anew with modern ideas spread from the West while pushing back against its colonial histories toward actualizing global equality. An intuitive rather than programmatic formulation, “Asia as method” refers to this ongoing project of collective subject-formation. Takeuchi saw the scholar’s object as “a nation’s people in regard to their thoughts and feelings, and through this…their everyday existence”. Following suit, we seek to estrange and embrace the notion of “Asia” as a call to scholarly action. We ask, how can methodologies in the social sciences and humanities re-center around “Asia” while being informed by the everyday practices, habits, affects and thoughts of ordinary actors? Recognizing the challenge of using ethnography to represent the complexities of regional constructs like “Asia,” we encourage innovative ways of scaling the local and the everyday to speak to inter-Asian histories, politics and cultures.

We invite abstracts from disciplines including anthropology, area studies, comparative literature, cultural studies, geography, history, linguistics, sociology, and related fields.

Encouraged topics and themes include but are not limited to:

  • Ethnographies of everyday life in “Asia”
  • Scales, scale-making, regimes of metricalization
  • Imaginaries of “Asia” in mediascapes
  • Aspirational China, entrepreneurial selves  
  • Cities in villages and villages in cities
  • Flows of persons and things
  • Translations of value, affect and embodied experience
  • Anthropocene and the “community of shared future for mankind”
  • Pan-Asianism and Afro-Asian-Latin America solidarity

Please submit a 300-word (max.) abstract by April 1st, 2019 (China Standard Time) to, together with your name, current affiliation, a short bio, as well as your travel preference (Partial to full travel expenses will be paid for participants with accepted abstracts). Due to limited budget to provide translation, we request that participants submit abstracts, and plan to present papers, in English.


Conference Timeline (China Standard Time)

April 1: Abstract Submission Deadine

April 15: Notification of Acceptance

May 1: Registration Deadline

June 1: Full Paper Submission Deadline

Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this conference should contact If you have any inquiries regarding the conference, please do so as well.

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