The body is both human cosmos and culture canvas. It has been used by many peoples, religions and political regimes to identify themselves, to express their beliefs, and to launch social movements. In other words, many socio-cultural and political phenomena and problems manifest themselves through the body. Although the study of the body has flourished in the West in the twentieth century as is evident from the works of Marcel Mauss to Mary Douglas, it has not really started in Asia. Yet, the Asian field is exceptionally rich because Asia is home to many religions and to a host of rich body cultures. The peoples and political regimes of East, Southeast and South Asia have experienced colonisation, decolonisation and now globalisation. All this makes “the body in Asia” a rich mine for us to dig. As such, ARI is initiating and steering the study of the body in the Asian context.
We are calling for an international conference to which we can bring the first wave of Asian scholars who have explored the body as a topic of research. We want to explore a variety of ways in which East, Southeast and South Asianists can, learning from the works done by Western scholars, undertake the study of the body. The conference will focus on three themes and we invite paper proposals focusing on the following themes:
Sociological (fashions, food culture, weight-loss, tattoos, health fads and cosmetics)
Religious (the sacred, purity, transgression, cleanliness and so forth)
Artistic (dance, performance, martial arts, and representation).
We wish to invite papers from East, Southeast and South Asian historians, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and religious studies experts. While the conference wishes to provide up-to-date, comprehensive analyses of the various ways the body has been studies, it also hopes to contribute to the wider literature on religious globalisation and politics in the modern world. We hope to publish most if not all conference papers in a volume tentatively titled "The Body in Asia"
Asia Research Institute
Shaw Foundation Building, Block AS7, Level 4,
5 Arts Link, Singapore 117570
Phone: (65) 6516 4820
Fax: (65) 6779 1428
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