Roundtable 1

Organizer - Jeff Wasserstrom

Forgotten Geographies: A Journal of Asian Studies Roundtable

Saturday, July 7th, 08:30-10:00                                                                                     Tamarind, New Building

The goal of this session will be to explore a range of issues associated with the imaginings of regions within Asia and the connections between them. In particular, the panelists in this conversational style roundtable, in which they will draw on their past work and bring in issues from their current projects, will think together about places or constellations of places that tend to get overlooked or forgotten in conventional discussions of the continent.

One thing that the panelists have in common is that they are the authors of past or forthcoming articles in the Journal of Asian Studies —a publication, along with carrying specialized research articles, that has often published think pieces and forums that engage with issues associated with the ways that regions within Asia are and Asia as a whole is imagined. The session will be moderated jointly by the outgoing and incoming editors of this flagship periodical of the Association for Asian Studies—with the outgoing editor (Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a specialist in modern Chinese history) doing so long distance via SKYPE and the incoming one (Vinayak Chaturvedi, a specialist in modern South Asian history) doing so in person.

The panelists are all, like the moderators, historians. They are, however, ones who vary widely when it comes to methodologies, regions and topics of focus, as well as academic generation, having begun their graduate studies as early as the 1980s and as recently as the early 2000s. Between them, they have written on issues ranging from South Asian visualizations of the globe, to the mapping of Taiwan, to the way that Muslim texts travel between South and Central Asia, to variations within and connections formed via the Chinese diaspora.


Jeffrey Wasserstrom, is Chancellor's Professor of History at UC Irvine, where he also holds courtesy appointments in Law and Literary Journalism. He is the author or co-author of six books and editor or co-editor of several others. His most recent publications include, as co-author, the third edition of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (OUP, 2018); as author, Eight Juxtapositions: China through Imperfect Analogies from Mark Twain to Manchukuo (Penguin, 2016); and, as editor, The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China(2016). He was educated at UC Santa Cruz (B.A.), Harvard (M.A.), and Berkeley (PhD), has been traveling to China for more than thirty years, and often writes for newspapers and magazines, ranging from the New York Times to the TLS and from Outlook India to The Caravan (forthcoming). He was editor of the JAS from July 1, 2008, until June 30, 2018.

Vinayak Chaturvedi, is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine; and the editor of The Journal of Asian Studies. He is the author of Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India (2007) and the editor of Mapping Subaltern Studies and the Postcolonial (2013). His book on the intellectual history of Hindu nationalism is forthcoming.

Emma Teng, the T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations at M.I.T., who is the author of Taiwan’s Imagined Geography (Harvard 2006) and Eurasian: Mixed Identities in the United States, China, and Hong Kong (California, 2013).

Rachel Leow, University Lecturer in East Asian History at Cambridge University, who is the author of Taming Babel: Language in the Making of Malaya (Cambridge 2016), and is currently working on issues related to the Chinese diaspora.

Rian Thum, Associate Professor of History at Loyola College of New Orleans, who is the author of The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History (Harvard 2014, winner of the AHA’s Fairbank Prize) and is currently working on the Islamic networks that have connected China and India over the last five centuries.

Sumathi Ramaswamy, a Professor of History at Duke and President-Elect of the American Institute Indian Studies, whose books include The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India (Duke 2010) and Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe (Chicago, forthcoming 2017).

Roundtable 2

Organizer - William Pinch

Forgotten Genealogies: A History and Theory Roundtable

Friday, July 6th, 12:10-13:40                                                                                          Tamarind, New Building

In this special roundtable session, four Asia-based scholars will discuss recent trends in historiography with a focus on questions of theory and philosophy of history. As has become increasingly apparent in recent years, the richness and diversity of Asian historiographical traditions complicate the notion that history should be understood only as the intellectual outgrowth of the European Enlightenment. At the same time, scholarship on these historiographical traditions frequently (and inadvertently) buttresses a conceptual Eurocentrism in determining what actually counts as history. Our panelists will reflect on how the innovative methodologies and theoretical frameworks they bring to their work address this conundrum and, indeed, illuminate broader challenges in Asian historiography—including the very prospect of Asia and its possible future histories. They will also discuss longer genealogies of historical understanding and intellection, and whether (and why) these risk being forgotten or marginalized in national and regional academic cultures.

Our special roundtable panelists are a mix of younger and mid-career scholars who share in common an interest in questions of methodology, historiography, and theory. They bring a diversity of approaches and frameworks to their scholarship, including oral history, memory/memoir, presence, literary analysis, paleography, microhistory, and global history. The session will be moderated by William R. Pinch and D. Gary Shaw, associate editors of History and Theory.


William R. Pinch received his BA and PhD from the University of Virginia.He is the author of Peasants and Monks in British India (1996) and Warrior Ascetics and Indian Empires (2006). He edited Speaking of Peasants: Essays in Indian History and Politics in Honor of Walter Hauser (2008); and co-edited History and Theory in a Global Frame (2015) with Ethan Kleinberg. His current research interests are in the interplay of micro-history and global history, with a particular focus on the mutiny-rebellion of 1857. He is also collaborating on a translation of two long 18th-century Brajbhasha poems from Bundelkhand, with an eye toward both their historical content and historiographical significance.

David Gary Shaw received his BA in history and philosophy from McGill University and his DPhil in history from Oxford University. He is the author of The Creation of a Community (1993) and Necessary Conjunctions: The Social Self in Medieval England (2005). He co-edited The Return of Science: Evolution, History and Theory (2002) with Philip Pomper. His current research interests include historical agency and the nature of the self in the Middle Ages. He is writing a book on elite travelers and the circulation of ideas in later medieval Europe.

Claudine Ang, Assistant Professor at the Department of Humanities (History), Yale-NUS, Singapore. Dr. Ang completed her doctoral studies in the Department of History at Cornell University in 2012 and works on the political uses of literature, including Vietnamese drama and Chinese landscape poetry, in the Mekong delta.

Nonica Datta, Associate Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Dr. Datta specializes in modern South Asian history and is the author of Violence, Martyrdom And Partition: A Daughter's Testimony (2009) and Forming an Identity: A Social History of the Jats (1999).

Xupeng Zhang, Institute of World History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing. Zhang works on Chinese historiography, global intellectual history, and the history of ideas. His essays include “In and Out of the West: On the Past, Present, and Future of Chinese Historical Theory” (2015).


Roundtable 3

Organizer - Anne Feldhaus

Shifting Genealogies and Geographies of Fieldwork

Saturday, July 7th, 12:10-13:40                                                                                     Tamarind, New Building

Fieldwork is often identified with anthropology, but the methodology is also part of other domains of scholarly practice. Ethnographic fieldwork has often been portrayed as a solitary fieldworker living in an isolated community. In fact, much fieldwork is conducted in megacities, and some fieldworkers follow mobile subjects through multi-sited projects across the elusively-defined geography of “Asia.” Contemporary fieldworkers are increasingly cognizant of how different kinds of historical consciousness, national projects, mass media, and global pressures inform their conversation partners’ worldviews. In this session, four seasoned fieldworkers from three different disciplines discuss some of the directions contemporary fieldwork is taking, describing their own encounters with the messiness of fieldwork in the process. Anthropologist Katherine Bowie has been conducting fieldwork in Thailand for over 40 years, finding that her research foci have expanded over time as she came to realize that even a single village cannot be understood without considering the historical impact of regional, national and international forces. Historian Queeny Pradhan has been conducting historical fieldwork in the hill stations of India, drawing upon archival sources and oral histories. Anthropologist Laurel Kendall began as a solitary fieldworker in a Korean village, but found herself at mid-life experiencing the pleasures and pitfalls of team-based research with colleagues in Vietnam. Political Scientist Manoranjan Mohanty, who has carried out fieldwork in Hela Township in Wuxi, China for nearly four decades, has had to devise strategies to cope with not only the fast process of change on the ground in rural policies and practices but also the gap between the questions that he was interested in pursuing – such as inequality, gender, and participation – and the the questions the authorities were preoccupied with, such as figures on growth, industrialisation and urban development.


Katherine Bowie, is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has served as Director of UW-Madison’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies. She was the President of the Association of Asian Studies from 2017-18. Her publications include Rituals of National Loyalty: An Anthropology of the State and the Village Scout Movement in Thailand (Columbia University Press, 1997); Voices from the Thai Countryside: The Necklace and Other Short Stories of Samruam Singh (University of Wisconsin Southeast Asia Series, 1998), and Of Beggars and Buddhas: The Politics of Humor in the Vessantara Jataka in Thailand (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017).

Queeny Pradhan is a professor of History at GGS Indraprastha University, where she teaches Indian History, Legal History, and Women in History. She received her doctorate from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. She has carried out extensive field research in Simla, Darjeeling, Ootacamund and Mount Abu. Her book Empire in the Hills: Simla, Darjeeling, Ootacamund and Mount Abu, 1820-1920 (OUP, India) came out in 2017. She is currently an ICCR Visiting Professor of Modern Indian History at the University of Vienna.

Laurel Kendall is Chair of Anthropology and Curator of Asian Collections at the American Museum of Natural History well as a Senior Research Fellow of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University. Her knowledge of Korea began with three years of U.S. Peace Corps service, which was followed by decades of anthropological work and many publications on women, shamans, modernity issues. In Vietnam she participated in several collaborative projects, beginning with the exhibition “Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind, and Spirit,” for which she received a Friendship Medal from the government of Vietnam. Kendall was President of the Association for Asian Studies from 2016-2017.

Manoranjan Mohanty was Professor of Political Science at the University of Delhi and is currently Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development ( and Honorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi ( His recently published book, based on his research on China's reforms during the past four decades, is China's Transformation: The Success Story and the Success Trap.

Anne Feldhaus (Moderator) is Distinguished Foundation Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University and the current President of the Association for Asian Studies. Her work combines philological and ethnographic approaches to study religious traditions of Maharashtra, the Marathi-language region of western India. Her ethnographic words include Connected Places: Region, Pilgrimage, and Geographical Imagination in Maharashtra (2003) andWater and Womanhood: Religious Meanings of Rivers in Maharashtra (1995).


Roundtable 4

Organizer - Oxford University Press

The Politics of Languages in Academics: Oxford University Press Roundtable

Friday, July 6th, 4:30pm – 6:00pm                                                                                                   Juniper, New Building

The goal of this conversational style session is to explore how languages play powerful roles in determining the legitimacy of knowledge production. Beginning with the dominance of English in our institutional spaces, the speakers will delve into understanding the emergence of Hindi and other Indian languages as alternatives in discourse development. Given our changing socio-political and economic context, the discussants will analyse whether Indian languages could play an important role in representing diversity or establish new hierarchies by trumping the old ones. Will academic spaces become more inclusive or remain exclusionary towards those marginalized, with cursory emphasis on languages?
The discussants belong to diverse yet related industries with an expertise to traverse between various languages. Between them they cover perspectives from academia, literature, publishing, and science.

Panelists :

Rakshanda Jalil is a writer, critic, and literary historian. She has published over 15 books and written over 50 academic papers and essays. Her recent books include Liking Progress, Loving Change: Literary History of the Progressive Writers’ Movement in Urdu (2014); a biography of Urdu feminist writer Dr Rashid Jahan, A Rebel and her Cause (2014); a translation of 15 short stories by Intizar Husain entitled The Death of Sheherzad (2014); and The Sea Lies Ahead (2015), a translation of Intizar Husain's seminal novel on Karachi and also An Uncivil Woman: Writings on Ismat Chughtai (OUP, 2017). She runs an organization called Hindustani Awaaz, devoted to the popularization of Hindi–Urdu literature and culture.

Urvashi Butalia is a publisher and writer. Co-founder of Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publisher, and now director of Zubaan, she is also author of the award-winning oral history of Partition, The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India.

Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and nonfiction into English. Twice the winner of the Crossword translation award, for Sankar’s Chowringhee (2007) and Anita Agnihotri’s Seventeen (2011), he also won the Muse India translation award (2013) for Buddhadeva Bose’s When The Time Is Right.

Gauhar Raza is an Indian scientist by profession, and a leading Urdu poet, social activist and documentary filmmaker working to popularize the understanding of science among general public. Known for his films like Jung-e-Azadi, on the India's First War of Independence and Inqilab on Bhagat Singh. He was also the honorary director of Jahangirabad Media Institute.

Roundtable 5

Organizer - Katherine Bowie

AAS-in-Asia: The Future of Academic Conferences

Saturday, July 7th, 2:40-4:10                                                                                                   Magnolia, Lower ground Floor

Abstract: The AAS-in-Asia conferences began as an experiment four years ago, with earlier conferences held in Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Due to the decision of the Government of India to bar Pakistani scholars, AAS has come under criticism for its decision not to cancel the AAS-in-Asia conference in Delhi. Should the AAS-in-Asia experiment continue, given the difficulties of finding venues in countries free of political complications? Roundtable speakers will highlight different aspects of the complicated political circumstances in which academic conferences on Asia are being organized, both across Asian countries and globally. Issues to be considered will range from how academic gatherings can help support academic freedom and buttress civil society under military regimes to how new venues might be found via teleconferencing and ships in international waters. The floor will then be open for discussion.

Panelists :

Emma J Teng is the T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations, and Head of Global Studies and Languages at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Earning her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, she specialized in Chinese studies and Asian American studies. A recipient of multiple awards, she has served as the Director of the MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies, on the AAS Board of Directors,  Chair of the China and Inner Asia Council of AAS, as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Asian Studies, and on the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Harvard-Yenching Institute.

Engseng Ho is Director of the Middle East Institute, and Muhammad Alagil Distinguished Visiting Professor of Arabia Asia Studies at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. At Duke University, he is Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History. He is a scholar of transnational anthropology, history and Muslim societies, Arab diasporas, and the Indian Ocean. His research expertise is in Arabia, coastal South Asia and maritime Southeast Asia, and he maintains active collaborations with scholars in these regions. He serves on numerous editorial boards and is co-editor of the Asian Connections book series at Cambridge University Press. He was educated at the Penang Free School, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago.

Anusorn Unno is currently the dean of Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University. He obtained a PhD in anthropology from the University of Washington. His research interest ranges from Malay Muslims in Thailand’s southernmost region to Thai politics and social movements in Thailand. In addition to academic work, he is the coordinator of Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights and chair of the program committee for next year’s AAS-in-Asia, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Amita Baviskar is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi.  Her research focuses on the cultural politics of environment and development in rural and urban India.  Her publications explore the themes of resource rights, popular resistance and discourses of environmentalism.  She has taught at the University of Delhi, and has been a visiting scholar at Stanford, Cornell, Yale, SciencesPo and the University of California at Berkeley. She was awarded the 2005 Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Distinguished Contributions to Development Studies, the 2008 VKRV Rao Prize for Social Science Research, and the 2010 Infosys Prize for Social Sciences.

Dilip M Menon is the Mellon Chair of Indian Studies and the Director of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa at the University of Witwatersrand. He was educated at the Universities of Delhi, Oxford and Cambridge and got his PhD degree from Cambridge. He is a translator from the Malayalam and writes on film, theatre and literature.  His research for the past decade has engaged with issues of caste, socialism and equality in modern India.   

Katherine Bowie is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and served as President of the Association of Asian Studies from 2017-18.  She received a BA with Distinction from Stanford University and her MA and PhD from the University of Chicago.  Specializing in Thailand, she has served as Director of UW-Madison’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Eisenhower Fellow to Thailand, Fulbright Scholar, President of the Midwest Conference of Asian Affairs, and multiple years on the organizing committees for the Council of Thai Studies (COTS), as well as multiple AAS committees.