Itinerario, the European Journal of Overseas History, is proud to announce a conference at NIAS on 22nd and 23rd May, 2000, on Shifting Communities and the Construction of Identities in Early-modern Asia -- with special but not exclusive reference to the eighteenth century.
The Scholarly Context
The scale, range and intensity of migration and displacement of people in Asia were among the conspicuous new departures of the era. Many of the effects have attracted scholarly attention, especially on commercial, political, military and institutional history. Yet the impact on the construction of identity remains an under-explored topic, whether among communities whose self-perception was affected by contact with others, or among groups affected by their own migrations or widening cultural contacts, or by the reception of cultural transmissions from elsewhere.
The potential for making a substantial and significant contribution in the field is suggested partly by analogy with the work which has been done on the early-modern Americas, particulary Hispanic America (especially by David Brading and Jorge Canizares on colonial communities and James Lockhart, Matthew Restall, Sabine MacCormack, Ken Mills and others on indigenous ones) and also partly by the so-far selective forays made into the relevant Asian materials, especially on the Chinese front by Wang Gungwu. Work on the experience of Hakka communities (Leong and Wright, Migration and Ethnicity in Chinese History) and on the more recent experience of overseas Chinese (by or under the aegis of Lynn Pan) also helps to suggest the possibilities.
No conference on this or any closely related subject has ever been held before as far as we know. Asian politics today remain deeply influenced by notions of ethnic consciousness inherited from the early-modern period, but their origins have never been studied in context. The conference aims to supply this deficiency.
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