Global Asias: October 23-24, 2009

Global Asias: October 23-24, 2009

In Os Lusiadas, the 16th century Portuguese national epic, Luiz Camões’s poetic hero, Vasco da Gama, dreams up a meeting with two old men who foretell the Portuguese imperial destiny in India. Personifications of the rivers Ganges and Indus, the spent senility of South Asia serves only to highlight the youthful confidence of Portugal, conqueror of the oceans. Likewise, in his lectures on the ‘Philosophy of World History’, given at the Humboldt University between 1822 and 1831, Hegel compared the stagnant civilization of China with the dynamism of European culture: moral conformity and social uniformity on one side, the individualism and critical reflection on the other. Such were the commonplaces in western confidence, formulated in centuries of European expansion and colonialism, which postulated a dichotomous essence between West and East, Europe and Asia, new and old.

With the end of western imperialism, this image of a monolithic Asia, fabricated in the West, has fractured into fragments that have yet to yield a more accurate and comprehensive picture of the Asian past. Civilizations in Asia may be ancient, but they were not enfeebled; and the massive size of the continent represents an immense diversity of cultures, economies and peoples, rather than the uniform and sluggish spirit manifested, for example, in Karl Marx’s description of “an Asiatic mode of production.” Above all, economic, cultural, and political currents connected the different regions of Asia long before the arrival of European mariners, and will continue to shape the future of the continent.

Our conference, therefore, aims to highlight both the cultural exchanges between different regions within Asia and between Asia and the world. Are there factors and themes common to Asian societies that are reflected in the spread of Buddhism and Islam? Can we think of similarities in the imperial traditions of East and South Asia, and whether the same road was taken by these societies in the painful transformation from empires to nations ? How did Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and the Mughal Empire accommodate the new European powers? How did Pan-Asian ideas develop at the height of western imperialism, and how were they abused by the rising Japanese empire? And what might be, if any, the common future of Asia in the global world?


Gretchen Casper, Political Science, Penn State (Southeast Asia)
Josephine Park, English, U of Pennsylvania (Asian America)
Naoki Sakai, Comparative Literature, Cornell University (Japan)
Haun Saussy, Comparative Literature, Yale University (China)
Shu-mei Shih, Asian Languages and Cultures & Comparative Literature, UCLA (China/Taiwan)
Vineeta Yadav, Political Science, U of Notre Dame (India/China)

Cemil Aydin, History, George Mason (Japan, Middle East)
Martha Chaiklin, History, U of Pittsburgh (Japan/West)
Madhuri Desai, Art History, Penn State (India)
Alexander Huang, Comparative Literature, Penn State (China)
Jing Tsu, Chinese Language and Culture, Yale University (China)
Anand Yang, History, U Washington (India, Southeast Asia)
Louise Young, History, UW-Madison (Japan)

Early Modern:
Kumkum Chatterjee, History, Penn State (India)
Ronnie Hisa, History, Penn State (Europe/China)
Monica Juneja, Art History, Universität Heidelberg (India)
On-cho Ng, History & Religious Studies, Penn State (China)
Greg Smits, History, Penn State (Japan)

Erica Brindley, History & Religious Studies, Penn State (China)
Richard Eaton, History, University of Arizona (India)
Charlotte Eubanks, Comparative Literature, Penn State (Japan)
Carrie Hritz, Anthropology, Penn State (Ancient Near East)
David McMahan, Religious Studies, Franklin & Marshall (South Asia)
Morris Rossabi, History, CUNY Graduate Center (China)
Eugene Wang, Art History, Harvard University (China)


Friday, October 22

8:00-8:30 Registration

8:30-8:45 Welcome (Director of Asian Studies Eric Hayot)

8:45-10:15 Classical 1 (Moderator: Susan Strauss)
Jonathan Skaff, Shippensburg University
“Tang-Tűrk Propaganda Wars: A Case Study of the Circulation
of Ideas in Medieval Eastern Eurasia”
Morris Rossabi, CUNY Graduate Center
“Mongol Influence on Asian Art”
Erica Brindley, Penn State
“The Ancient Southern Frontier: Who Were the Yue/Viet and
Why Do they Matter?”

10:15-10:30 Coffee Break

10:30-12:30 Early Modern 1 (moderator: Xiaoye You)
Kumkum Chatterjee, Penn State
“Cards and Culture: Cultural Cosmopolitanism in Mughal
Monica Juneja, University of Heidelberg
“Asian Contact Zones and a Global History of Art”
On-cho Ng, Penn State
“Reading Classics: Confucian Tradition and Western
Greg Smits, Penn State
“Mass Media and the Politicizing of Natural Hazards in
Japan, 1830-1855”

12:30-1:45 Lunch

1:45-3:15 Modern 1 (moderator: Reiko Tachibana)
Cemil Aydin, George Mason
“What Was the Silk Road Really About?
–An Art Historical Perspective.”
Madhuri Desai, Penn State
David McMahan, Franklin and Marshall
“Buddhism as Anti-colonialism: The Colonial Origins of
Buddhist Modernism”

3:15-3:30 Break

3:30-5:00 Contemporary 1 (moderator: Sumita Raghuram)
Gretchen Casper, Penn State
“Political Conflict and Cooperation in Southeast Asia”
Vineeta Yadav, Notre Dame
“Globalization and Institutional Reforms in China and India”
Jing Tsu, Yale University
“Mechanized Writing, Global Chinese”

Saturday, October 23

8:45-10:15 Contemporary 2 (moderator: Jonathan Abel)
Naoki Sakai, Cornell
“Asia and the Image of the World: Co-Figuration of the West
and the Rest”
Shu-mei Shih, UCLA
“The Sinophone as World Formation”
Josephine Park, University of Pennsylvania
“American Friends: Korean War Alliances”

10:15-10:30 Coffee Break

10:30-12:00 Modern 2 (moderator: Ronnie Hsia)
Alexander Huang, Penn State
“Ghostwriters in Search of the Utopia: Cultural
Translation in Late Qing China”
Anand Yang, University of Washington
“Empire of Convicts: Indian Convict Workers in Southeast
Asia in the 19th Century”
Louise Young, UW-Madison
“Japan’s New Colonialism: The Manchurian Incident and

12:00-1:15 Lunch

1:15-2:45 Classical/Early Modern 2 (moderator: Suchsmita Sen)
Charlotte Eubanks, Penn State
“Turning the Wheel of the Dharma: Constructing a
Buddhist Book History”
Richard Eaton, University of Arizona
“The Military Revolution in India from Chaul to Talikota:
Eugene Wang, Harvard University
“What’s to See in the Dark? Shadow Cave from Nagarahara to

2:45-3:00 Coffee Break

3:00-4:30 Final Roundtable (moderated by Eric Hayot), featuring:
Haun Saussy (Yale)
Carrie Hritz (Penn State)
Ronnie Hsia (Penn State)
and Martha Chaiklin (University of Pittsburgh)

Sunday, October 24

Registration / Location

All talks are free and open to the public, and will be held in the Nittany Lion Inn. Out-of-town guests can register at the Nittany Lion Inn, or try either the Atherton Hotel or the Days Inn State College, both of which are within walking distance of the NLI and Penn State campus.

If you’d like us to make a fancy printed badge for you, please email Rowan Cota.

For maps, directions, and other information for visitors, see the Penn State Visitors’ Guide. For other conference details, please contact Rowan Cota.