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Conference and PhD Course

Asian Studies at a Turning Point:
Tandem walk or boxing match between social sciences and humanities?

University of Turku, Finland, 6-7 November 2006

The Centre for East Asian Studies will host an internationalconference on Asian Studies at a Turning Point: Tandem walk or boxing match between social sciences and humanities? from 6 to 7 November, 2006 and an Intensive PhD Course for Nordic PhD students in Asian studies from 5 to 9 November, 2006 in Turku, Finland.

The conference sets out to offer a platform for academic dialogue on a wide range of methodological and paradigamatic topics across disciplinary and regional boundaries in Asian studies. Scholars from the Nordic countries and beyond are warmly welcomed to join us to make the conference an occasion of cutting-edge scholarly exchange.

In connection with the conference, an intensive doctoral course will be organized for students in Nordic graduate schools. This offers the students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in first-rate international methodological tuition concerning their own PhD projects.

The fascinating and challenging debate over the development perspectives in Asian studies continues. While the political, economic and cultural balance in the world is shifting towards Asia, debates on how to deal with this in academia lingers on. It focuses on how to legitimize and develop a field of study that often lacks a strong disciplinary basis, common theoretical frameworks, and has countries and regions as the only point of reference. Current approaches are pointing at the necessity of being anchored in a discipline; to engage in comparative studies in collaboration with Asian colleagues; and to command a reasonably deep knowledge about historical and cultural development trajectories as well as in some instances an adequate knowledge of an Asian language.

In the opinion of the organizers, Asian studies are at a critical junction where the field has to transcend its normal borders. We need to decide whether social sciences and humanities should walk in tandem or book a prime time slot on TV for a boxing match.

This one-and-a half day conference will serve as a source of inspiration and discussion forum for practitioners and PhD students within Asian studies. Through a combination of insightful presentations by a series of international speakers and ensuing discussions, the participants will be taken through the dilemmas within the field and become acquainted with some of the possible solutions. This event is organized to make up a platform to advance Asian studies in the Nordic countries.

Topics and keywords of the conference

  • Asian studies
  • China studies
  • South East Asian Studies
  • Japanese studies
  • South Asian Studies
  • Disciplinary studies in Asia
  • India studies
  • Asian studies in the Nordic countries
  • The European experience
  • The US experience
  • Asian studies in Asia
  • Development trajectories
  • Future of Asian studies

The conference is organized jointly by:

Graduate School of Contemporary Asian Studies
Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku
Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
University of Turku