7th Annual Nordic NIAS Council Conference “The Power of Knowledge: Asia and the West”

Sønderborg, Denmark
4th – 6th Nov 2013

Western intellectuals, and thus also media and the political elites, have long based their approach to reality on the fundamental assumption that the same basic processes underlie all human thought. In other words, how people make sense of the world around them was the same for everyone and everywhere. The implications of this assumption are many, from plain intellectual arrogance to war, over a wide array of
misunderstandings and animosities, resulting in a host of lost opportunities.
Contemporary engagements with Asia – be they political or intellectual – are often based on routine presumptions of either universal similarity or cultural difference. However, in an era of increasing globalization and shifting world order, both these presumptions appear problematic.


Keynote Speakers

The following speakers will inspire our proceedings:

Nandita Chaudhary, Associated Professor, Lady Irwin College, Delhi University

Jan-Olof Nilsson, Associate Professor, Department of Soc
iology, Lund University

Jaan Valsiner, Professor, Department of Psychology Clark University

Niels Bohr, Professor of Cultural Psychology, University of Aalborg

More Keynote speakers TBA


Undoubtedly culture matters. Through massive and longitudinal survey research it has been documented that cultural traits change much slower than most other societal phenomena, such as politics, economics, technological levels etc. Recently biology, neuro science, and not least cross-cultural psychology has documented that culture not only “sticks”, it is situated in the human mind as a subconscious guideline. Culture seems to have physical repercussions. Over time our cultural heritage impacts our habits of thought. Not that culture becomes written into our genes, but what we describe as cultural will be perceived as natural to carriers of a given culture.

However, globalization is challenging locally rooted cultural patterns, as well as mainstream social sciences and humanities. Although culture sticks, ideas travel. How does this affect social reality in Asia and the West? Ideas, concepts and theories do not stay put with their place of origin, they travel and questions arise as to what happens during their journey, and at the place of arrival? The travelling of ideas may be welcomed, resisted, or adopted to local conditions to serve specific social or political purposes. Regardless of the approach, the possession of knowledge of ideas may thus become a source of power, or bestow empowerment to certain groups. Ideas may have an impact on local culture, bringing changes to the place of arrival. On the other hand, the ideas themselves may change by being suited to local conditions, or even met with counter-ideas, thereby challenging the hegemonic position that Western ideas until recently has sought, and this despite the fact that Western thinking historically owes much to ideas and inspirations from the East.

As the movement of thoughts from East to West seem to increase, it is high time to realize the opportunities of a multipolar world and seriously consider all existing human experiences and knowledge systems. The present conference and PhD workshop will limit itself to Western and Asian experiences, i n an effort of bringing the two into a creative and fruitful dialogue. In light of this, area studies and the different disciplines need to come together and share insights and identify theoretical and methodological approaches that might strike a reasonab le balance between universal concerns and particular cultural understandings. This is not only an exciting new situation for academia; it is a serious obligation for us to contribute in producing knowledge that indirectly or directly can promote inter-cultural understanding and ease tensions, whether they occur in the suburbs of big cities or between states with different ideas and interests.

These and more topics will be discussed at the 7th Annual NNC Conference and PhD course to be held on November 4-8 at the University of Southern Denmark at its Sønderborg campus. We invite papers focusing on the macro- and micro -level analyses across social sciences and humanities.


Possible paper and panel topics include:

The concept of power, Asia and the West.
Gender knowledge: Power and Empowerment (Asia and the West)
Technology transfer, ideology transfer?
Western values in the Asian cultural fabric, Asian values in the Western cultural fabric.
The power of knowledge: individual, civil society and the s
Asian and Western perceptions on majority versus minority, center versus periphery.
Theory travelling, translation, appreciation and localization
Minorities Knowledge, a universally lost resource.

On Monday 4 November there will be presentations by both NIAS Library and Information Center (Linc) and Gerald Jackson the Editor in Chief of NIAS Press. NIAS Linc will give an introduction to their services and specialized online resources for Asian studies available to Nordic institutions. Gerald Jackson will talk about “How to Get Published” and the different possibilities within NIAS Press. Jaan Valsiner will give his keynote speech during the afternoon, and conference
registration will be open. All this will be followed by a welcome reception and buffet.

Conference dinner will be on Tuesday 5 November at Restaurant Brøggeriet. Conference participation is open to all scholars and graduate students. As this is an interdisciplinary conference we encourage contributions from the social science
disciplines and the humanities with emphasis on interdisciplinary perspectives. The conference will be combined with a PhD course where doctoral candidates may present and discuss their research projects with senior researchers as well as other fellow doctoral candidates. The first two days will be devoted to panels and keynote speakers while the last two days will focus on the course for doctoral students. It is possible for a limited number of participants to attend the conference without presenting a paper, or to attend the keynote speeches.


Conference Fee and Accommodation

The conference fee is 150 Euro, which includes the reception, conference dinner and lunches (according to the programme).
If you wish to attend the conference without presenting a paper the conference fee is 100 Euro. Accommodation is provided at Hotel Comwell Sønderborg (http://www.comwellsonderborg.dk/ ) between 4-6 November for conference participants who are presenting papers. If you wish to stay longer or at another hotel, you will have to organize and finance this yourself.



International researchers working on Asia in any social science and humanities discipline are invited to submit abstracts. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words.

23 September 2013: Deadline for submitting abstract (maximum 300 words)
1 October 2013: Acceptance of abstracts by Academic Committee
25 October 2013: Deadline for submitting the full paper and paying the conference fee

Abstracts and full papers should be submitted via the conference website where all practical information about the conference also is available:



Nordic & International PhD Course

University of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg Campus

7th – 8th November 2013

Co-organized with IIAS International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden

The course can be taken as a 7.5 ECTS credit course (to be approved by your university/institution). To receive the credits, doc
toral students must attend the conference on November 5-6, the course on November 7-8, submit a paper (10-12 pages) for the PhD course, and give comments to a fellow PhD student’s paper. Doctoral candidates are also encouraged to present their course papers (or an additional conference paper) in conference panels . In case you wish to present two papers, two abstracts should be submitted ( for deadlines, see above). The organizers hope to provide an interesting milieu for doctoral candidates to discuss their research and papers with senior scholars, as well asprovide an opportunity to interact with other doctoral candid ates in the field.

PhD fellows asso ciated with IIAS in Leiden can also opt to come for the 2 day PhD course only.



The participating PhD candidates have been able to present papers at the preceding conference or participate in it and therefore the PhD course will focus exclusively on discussing the papers presented by the PhD students. The papers will be discussed both by a senior scholar and by a fellow PhD candidate. Included in the assignment for the course is therefore also to prepare and present comments on one of the fellow PhD candidates’ paper. The workshops will be led by keynote speakers and senior scholars. A maximum of 20 PhD candidates will be accepted for the course.


Commentators at the PhD courseare

Nandita Chaudhary, Associated Professor, Lady Irwin College, Delhi University
Min Dongchao, Professor & Director of the Centre for Gender and Culture Studies, Shanghai University
Geir Helgesen, Direct or NIAS–Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
Nikita A. Kharlamov, PhD, Department of Communication and Psychology Aalborg University
Willem Vogelsang, PhD, Institute Manager, IIAS–Institute for International Studies, Leiden
Qi Wang, Associated Professor, Department of Design and Communication, University of Southern Denmark

Goals of the PhD Course

To create a cross-disciplinary forum that challenges PhD candidates to test and discuss issues of common concern relating to the themes of the conference.

To address individual theoretical, methodological, empirical and ethical challenges by “mentoring” and “peer reviewing” the papers presented by the participants.


Fee and Accommodation PhD Course

The fee for the conference and PhD course is 200 Euro, which includes conference fee, reception, lunches and dinner (according to the programme)

Accommodation is provided at Danhostel Sønderborg between 4-8 November (http://www.sonderborgdanhostel.dk/index.html)

For PhD fellows associated with IIAS coming for the PhD course only, the fee is 100 Euro.

For further information please contact Katrine Herold, Project Coordinator, NIAS, Katrine.herold@nias.ku.dk, orQi Wang, Associated Professor, Department of Design and Communication,
University of Southern Denmark, qi.wang@sdu.dk


Or go to the conference website





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