Yale InterAsia Connections Conference 2016


“Alternative Asias: Currents, Crossings, Connection”

Friday, February 26, 2016

10 Sachem St., Rm. 105
at Yale University, in New Haven, CT

Keynote speech: “Entering Asia” by Kären Wigen, Professor of History, Frances and Charles Field Professor, Stanford University (9:45am-10:30am)

Prof. Wigen

In a much-discussed editorial of 1885, a leading Tokyo journal called for Japan to “leave Asia” (datsu-A). But when did the Japanese enter Asia in the first place? One way to answer this is to trace the career of continents on their maps. Introduced to the Sinophone world by the Jesuits, the continental scheme appears to have gained little traction in the early Qing or Chosŏn contexts, but in Japan it became a standard feature of world maps and gazetteers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Even so, its contours and contents remained notably fluid. This talk will survey the various ways Japanese geographers represented continents and conceptualized their subdivisions, highlighting the imaginative syntheses created by Buddhist cosmologists and the reworking of Matteo Ricci’s categories by popular print-makers in the later Tokugawa decades.

Kären Wigen teaches courses on Japanese, East Asian, and world history at Stanford University.  A geographer by training, she earned her doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley in 1990. Her first book, The Making of a Japanese Periphery, 1750-1920 (1995), mapped the economic transformation of southern Nagano Prefecture during the heyday of the silk industry. Her second book, A Malleable Map (2010), explored the role of regionalism in the Meiji Restoration. An abiding interest in world history led her to co-author The Myth of Continents (1997) with Martin Lewis, and to co-edit Seascapes: Maritime Histories, Littoral Cultures, and Transoceanic Exchanges (2007). Her latest project is Cartographic Japan: A History in Maps (forthcoming 2016).

Sponsored by the Yale InterAsia Initiative
In collaboration with the Yale Council on East Asian Studies and the Yale South Asian Studies Council


Panel I: Making Space, Imagining Borders (11:00am-12:30pm)

Discussion Moderator: James Pickett, Post-doctoral Associate, Yale InterAsia Initiative

Tyler Conklin (Yale University)

Sailing to Mecca: Mughal Imaginations of the Islamic World

Eva Maria Mehl (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)

The Philippines in the Mexican Imagination: The Manila Galleons and the Creation of a Conflicted Image of Asia

Yuan Chen (Yale University)

Between Two Universal Empires: the Ottoman-China Connection in the 16th Century

Panel II: Spiritual and Aesthetic Geographies (1:15pm – 2:45pm )

Discussion Moderator: Kishwar Rizvi, Associate Professor, History

Kristie Flannery (University of Texas at Austin)

Holy War, Spiritual Geography, and the Making of Spain’s Asian Empire

Tuhina Ganguly (University of Canterbury)

Reconstructing ‘Spiritual India’ through Transnational Networks of Devotion and Place Enchantment

Eiren Shea (University of Pennsylvania)

Beyond Tirāz: The Transmission of Inscribed Textiles in East and West Asia, 12th-14th Centuries


Panel III: Asia as Theory, Concept, and Method (3:00pm : 4:30pm)

Discussion Moderator: Julia Stephens, Assistant Professor, History

Andrea Acri (Yusof Ishak Institute & Nalanda University)

Alternative Histories and Geographies for the Study of Intra-Asian Networks: ‘Monsoon Asia’ and ‘Maritime Asia’

Yuka Hiruma Kishida (Bridgewater College)

Exploring the Meanings of Pan-Asia at Kenkoku University in Japanese-Occupied Manchuria: Japanese Students’ Experiences

Subah Dayal (University of California, Los Angeles)

From Lar to Bijapur: The Itinerant Life of an Iranian in the 17th Century Deccan


Panel IV: Trade, Traffic, Transaction (4:30pm – 6:00pm)

Discussion Moderator: Peter Perdue, Professor, History

Ian Shin (Columbia University)

Art and Rascality are truly bed-fellows!: Chinese Art Dealers as Commercial and Cultural Brokers, 1900–1920″

Soeren Urbansky (Ludwig Maximilian University)

Smugglers and Train Conductors. The Rise and Fall of Different Careers in the Sino-Soviet Borderland

Scott Relyea (Hamline University/University of California, Berkeley)

Rupees, Tea, and Textbooks: Arresting Flows and Asserting Authority in Early Twentieth Century Eastern Tibet


The Yale InterAsia Initiative is a collaborative effort between Yale and six other institutions and think tanks around the world that aims to shift paradigms of how Asia is conceptualized by promoting research, scholarly networking and public policy connections. Pushing inquiries beyond nation-states, land-based demarcations, imperial zones, and cultural boundaries, the Initiative promotes conversations that address transregional connections. In addition to Yale University, the main members of the InterAsia Initiative include the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong (HKIHSS), Gottingen University (Germany), the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (Lebanon), Koc University (Turkey). It receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, as well as the Asia Councils and the MacMillan Center at Yale University.

For specific inquiries, please contact inter.asia@yale.edu.

For the original Conference Call for Papers, please click here.