International Conference on Naming in Asia:
Local Identities and Global Change
23-24 Feb 2006, Singapore
organised by Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
The cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary study of personal names is one of the most promising endeavours in the fields of history, social anthropology, sociology and linguistics. It holds the key to a number of important issues, including the definition of personal identities, the position of the individual in society, religious and cosmological representations, social change, gender and history. In Asia, a great variety of personal naming systems are present. Each bears on the way society defines personal and social identity. The colonial period and subsequent pressures of globalization are reflected in various systems of naming, typically intended to combine some link with indigenous practice (tenuous in some colonial cases), ethnic identification, legibility to government, and utility within a globalising system.
Chinese and Chinese-influenced naming systems include a sequence of two or three names -we could call them plurinominal- while Austronesian local systems tend to prefer a system based on one name -uninominal- supplemented or replaced in a number of cases by a colonial-inspired binomial system --whereby a person is known under a first or given name and a surname. The link between surnaming and modernisation in European history are beginning to be explored. In Asian and comparative terms the ground is still more fertile, with some recent publications (Scott et al. 2002, Massard-Vincent & Pauwels, 1999) just beginning the process of analysis. Much further ground must be covered before we can establish typologies and trends, and relate changes in the naming systems to social and political changes among the enormous diversity of Asian naming.
With this end in view, an international conference is being convened in Singapore. Its aim will be to cover new ground and better understand the role of naming in Asian societies through their past history and present circumstances, particularly global change. Papers are encouraged either to explore the dynamics of a particular naming system, or to pursue various thematic issues more broadly across several societies.
The following topics are among those encouraged:
Comparative study of personal names--typology of naming systems
The politics of naming: surnaming and the state
What is in a name: worldviews, cosmologies, representations
Names and religious identities.
Name-changing and religious conversion
Names and inheritance. Do patrilineages concentrate capital?
Structural role of naming in different societies
Regional naming systems: global and local
Islamic naming in Asian societies
Names in daily use, the politics of conversation
The linguistic structure of naming systems
This partial list of overlapping topics is suggestive of the scope in disciplinary fields and areas concerned. We intend this conference to bring together historians, anthropologists, sociologists and linguists.
The regional scope of the conference is centred on Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan. Languages belonging to all major linguistic families present in the zone will be considered.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Paper proposals including 250-word abstracts and 5-line biography should be sent to Ms Valerie Yeo at the following e-mail address by 28 February 2005.
Those selected will be urged to send in a completed paper by 1 February 2006.
Some funding will be available for those in the Asian region, post-graduate students, and others unable to fund themselves. It is hoped that the conference will lead to an important book.
For enquiries, please contact:
Charles Macdonald, CNRS, France, firstname.lastname@example.org
Zheng Yangwen, ARI, Singapore, email@example.com
Anthony Reid, Director, ARI, firstname.lastname@example.org
Massard-Vincent, J., & Pauwels, Simonne, Ed. (1999). D'un nom à l'autre en Asie du Sud-Est. Approches ethnologiques. Paris, Karthala.
Scott, J. C., Tehranian, John, & Mathias, Jeremy (2002). "The Production of Legal Identities Proper to States: the Case of the Permanent Family Surname." Comparative Studies in Society and History: 4-44.
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