Given that the threat to the environment is one of the central dangers of our time, the conference addresses this crucial issue by looking at past practices and ideas and contemporary ones. In particular, it seeks to examine the intersection between concepts of the nature and practices concerning the environment in East, South, and Southeast Asia. Throughout, the work accomplished here will be cognizant of the need to engage global conversations on these issues, putting Asia in relation to the rest of the world.
While we believe that working conceptions of nature evidently affect the environment, we do not believe that official conceptions and ideologies about nature necessarily reflect environmental practices. The “fields” of history are far too dynamic and complex to be reducible to such a mode of enquiry. Rather it would behoove us to keep practices and conceptions of the environment analytically separate, although, of course, they have to be brought into dialogue with each other. We will investigate that dialogue and intersection to reveal new ways of doing history, anthropology, political science, geography and related endeavors.
In this initial conference (which we hope to continue in successive years) we intend to cover working conceptions of nature, particularly land and water, under the impact of different types of polities. Thus we explore not only how geography--both natural formations like rivers and mountains and seas and human-created boundaries like the DMZ in Korea--create states, but also how states produce different types of geographical settlements and uses of nature. The crucial third term in this formulation is of course technology under capitalism and we also seek to explore the conditions under which its interaction with new practical conceptions of nature and new roles for politics and the state may be able to restore the environment.
Note: This is not a call for papers but publicity for the conference. Conference may be attended upon registration but we are unable to provide any assistance.
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