Osaka workshop: ‘Globalization from East Asian Perspectives’, 15-17 March 2016

Date: 15-17 March 2016
Venue: Osaka University
Organiser: Professor Shigeru Akita (Osaka)

In October 2014, Osaka University, upon the initiative of its President, established the Institute for Academic Initiatives (IAI). As “Division 9” of the IAI, “global history” became one of four main research areas within this new organizational framework. The Global History Division proposes to explore, among others, “global history” from Asian perspectives through interdisciplinary research embracing a wide range of academic fields: history, international relations, economics, the arts and social sciences, and cultural studies. In addition, Osaka University can draw on a rich legacy in area studies and Asian Studies which it inherited from the previous Osaka University of Foreign Studies. The Global History Division consists of three research groups focusing on: (a) the supra-regional history of networks and interactions in ancient Central Eurasia and early modern maritime Asia; (b) the micro-history of medieval Kansai (Japan) and modern China; and (c) global economic history and the Modern World System.

The Asian History Section of the Department of World History at Osaka University has a long-standing tradition of archival research in a number of languages: Turkish, Mongol, Tibetan, Manchurian, and of course Chinese, regarding “Inner” Asia (now often called “Central Eurasia”). In the last two decades, the study of Asian maritime history, focusing on the East and South China Seas, and partly involving researchers from the Japanese History Major, has also gained in importance. Under the influence of these two leading research groups, studies of Chinese and Japanese histories, which are dominant in the historical discipline in Japan besides “Western History”, have shifted their regional investigative focus away from the conventional “East Asia” perspective (essentially China, Korea and Japan) and towards a broader and more flexible area of “Eastern Eurasia” and/or “Maritime Asia”. As a result, polygonal collaborations among scholars working on Central Eurasia, China, Japan, and maritime Asia (including Southeast Asia) are developing. Valuable methodological and analytical connections could be established between archival research and field surveys and between perspectives on global relationships and the micro-analysis of local societies. New insights were also gained from incorporating gender perspectives. Important aspects of these collaborations will be introduced during the first day of the workshop, focusing on historical periods before the collapse of the Mongol Empire. In order to stimulate a wide-ranging discussion, the workshop will not confine itself to cover a single academic specialization, such as Central Eurasia or the Sinic World. Rather, global analytical frameworks will be introduced, including Victor Lieberman’s global comparisons with “charter states” in Eurasia.

The research of the global economic history group aims at investigating the modern and contemporary international economic order of Asia, among others through the collaboration with scholars from Britain and America and with Asian scholars from Korea, China and India. Relevant research areas include the role of hegemonic states in the transformation of the international order; the comparative study of empires from the “early-modern” period to the twentieth century; and the study of the historical origins of the “East Asian miracle”.
By drawing on the expertise of these three groups of researchers, Osaka University offers perspectives on a long historical period, from ancient to contemporary times. In doing so, it hopes to be able to provide new and original insights into world and global history from Asian perspectives.

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Workshop website and papers:!workshop-march-2016/c1zeb

See workshop report: ‘Globalization from East Asian Perspectives’ report