Thursday, June 20, 2013

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Cultural Heritage. Environment, Ecology and Inter-Asian Interactions

IIAS Events
Call for Papers
Cultural Heritage. Environment, Ecology and Inter-Asian Interactions
Deadline: 31 July 2013
Conference dates: 6-8 January 2014

In Asia, the notion of ‘heritage’ is often associated with the construction of post-independence nation-state models, the definition of national ‘traditions’, and the idea of a pre/post-colonial historical national continuity. As a result discussions about ‘heritage’ are often state-dominated, leaving little room for regional and trans-regional views especially where it concerns inter-Asian interactions. These interactions as well as the establishment of particular (sacred) sites were often the direct product of environmental or ecological conditions which would furthermore often also assure their continuation and/or conservation over long periods of time. However, over time not only environmental/ecological conditions would change but also geopolitical ones introducing different visitors and even ‘owners’ to particular sites, changing their cultural, social and political significance.

This conference welcomes papers that investigate the role environmental/ecological and historical factors have played in the changing significance of sites in Asia and/or how these factors (continue to) influence the maintenance and conservation of these sites. In relation to this the conference is also interested in how intangible forms of heritage (folklore, customs, or particular rituals) have similarly been influenced and/or affected. It particularly welcomes papers that introduce an inter-Asian perspective either with respect to the (changing) significance of these sites or in relation to the maintenance and conservation of them as cultural heritage. The conference is open to scholars from a diverse range of backgrounds including (art) history, archaeology, cultural studies, ecology & environment studies and social sciences as well as practitioners ranging from conservationists to managers and activists.

  • Rick Asher (Department of Art History, University of Minnesota)
  • Robin Coningham (Department of Archaeology, Durham University)
  • Engseng Ho (Cultural Anthropology, History and Duke Islamic Studies Center; Duke University)
  • Akira Matsui (Center for Archaeological Operations, Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties)
  • Mike Robinson (Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham)
  • Location
This two-day conference will be jointly organized by the new Nalanda University and the Netherlands based International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). Rajgir (Bihar) promises to be an exceptionally interesting location for this conference given its proximity to the ancient site of Nalanda University (a prime example of inter-Asian connections) as well as many other important historical and religious sites such as Bodh Gaya, where Buddhism finds it origin. The conference program will include a full-day of sightseeing. The location for the conference will be the newly built Convention Centre that is equipped with all modern facilities.

Accommodation and Transportation
Accommodation will be provided to all presenters in a convenient four-star hotel. To non-presenters accommodation will be made available at the same hotel at a special rate. Rajgir is easily connected by rail and bus to the airports of Gaya and Patna which have frequent connections with the international airports of Delhi and Kolkata. The conference organizers will gladly assist with travel queries and will make sure local transportation from and to the conference venue, hotels, bus and train station is provided for. Conference participation is free of charge. For further details please see:

Abstract & Program
Please submit your abstract of no more than 250 words before 31 July 2013. Please also include a summary of no more than a 150 words of your current affiliation, research interests and key publications. Presenters may be requested to be discussants and/or chairpersons in other sessions. Presentations will be thirty minutes with fifteen minutes of questions of answers. The presentation of photographic or video-material is not only possible but also highly encouraged. Suggestions for documentary screenings or musical performances that could be included in the evening program are also highly welcome. Please submit your abstract, inquiries and/or suggestions to:

Nalanda University was in existence for nearly 800 years from the fifth till the twelfth century CE and attracted scholars from countries as diverse as China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Tibet and even Turkey. It was one of the oldest universities in the world. The newly founded Nalanda University is an international university unlike any in India. It has been mandated to be an international institution for the pursuit of intellectual, philosophical, historical and spiritual studies. It aims to bring together the brightest and most dedicated students from countries across the world irrespective of gender, caste, creed, disability or socio-economic background. It is a non-state, non-profit, secular, self-governing international institution and will, eventually, consist of seven different schools, among which are schools dedicated to Historical Studies and one that focuses on Ecology & Environment Studies.

The International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), established in 1993, is principally a research and exchange platform based in Leiden, the Netherlands. It encourages the multidisciplinary and comparative study of Asia and as such actively promotes (inter)national cooperation. IIAS acts as an international mediator, bringing together academic and non-academic partners including cultural, social and policy organizations. The research at IIAS is carried out under the aegis of three programmatic clusters of which Asian Heritages is one. It explores the notion of heritage as it evolved from a Europe-originated concept associated with architecture and monumental archaeology to incorporate a broader diversity of cultural forms and values, including the so-called ‘intangible’ heritages and the importance of cultural heritage in identity construction.

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