Asian Studies Days 2022

 “Time of Reassessments”

Oct 26-27,  University of Turku

Asian Studies Days 2022 challenges the participants to approach Asian Studies in new ways. Firstly, there is a growing movement in universities in “Global North” towards casting off West-centrism and coloniality in research on Asia. While these debates are developing in various directions, this conference focuses on the “politics of knowledge and the analysis of power within academia itself” (De Jong et al. 2017). The question is how to identify and abandon long-standing patterns of power structures that for example define criteria for academic performance and knowledge production. Along with being orientalised, Asia is also exceptionalised and seen as something that can be understood in isolation from the rest of the world. The two keynote presentations help us to work towards de-westernized and non-hierarchical approaches of Asia.

Secondly, the past three years have forced us to rearrange educational programs in unexpected ways. This has accelerated new thinking and innovation in education. On the one hand, we will explore ways to protect non-local students’ well-being. On the other hand, we will address practices that have been found feasible when launching cooperation with Asian partners in online education.

Preliminary Programme:

Wednesday October 26, Hybrid
Venue: Calonia, CAL1 (map)
Online attendance via zoom: Zoom-registration link

Morning session:
Chair: Professor Lauri Paltemaa, Chair of the board, Finnish University Network for Asian Studies

11:00 Welcoming words
Louis Clerc, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Turku

Keynote presentations

11:10 – 12:00 Political Deification: Building theory from Asia”
Moumita Sen, Associate professor, Culture studies, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society
Presentation given via zoom.
Discussant: Yoko Demelius, University teacher, Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku

It has been clear from the decades of subaltern studies and other postcolonial scholarship, and more recently decolonial critique, that we need to build theory from the global South.

One of the problems facing us in understanding the wave of rising religious nationalisms and authoritarian politics globally is the separation of ‘religion’ and ‘politics’ as analytical categories. This particular analytical construct which stems from European enlightenment, while being repeatedly critiqued, still poses a challenge to scholars of the global south working on so-called religio-political phenomena.

For example, across Asian political communities, political leaders are transformed into deities, and worshipped or treated like supernatural beings. This occurs in various religious and national contexts in Asia and has been understood as instances of messianism, custodianship, sacred kingship, martyrdom, pacification, and charismatic authority among others. These concepts travel, intersect, and imbue the different political systems in Asian countries. Political deification, which borrows a South Asian popular phrase, is an overarching theory that explains how political legitimacy is strengthened by different religious affects, institutions, and actors.

By relocating the situated place of theories of political theology from Christology and Europe, this theory builds towards a pluriversal conception of power.

12:00 -12:50 Global China as Method: Situating Contemporary China within Global Capitalism
Nicholas Loubere, Senior lecturer, Department of East and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Lund
Presentation given onsite.
Discussant: Liisa Kauppila, Senior researcher, FORAC project, University of Turku

 Is China part of the world? Based on much of the political, media, and popular discourse in the West the answer is seemingly no. Even after four decades of integration into the global socioeconomic system, discussions of China continue to be underpinned, bound, and framed by a core assumption—that the country represents a fundamentally different ‘other’ that somehow exists outside the ‘real’ world.

Using a number of illustrative examples, this talk will examine how the othering of China functions in contemporary discourse and argue for a shift in perspective that recognises the ways in which the country and people are entangled in the global capitalist system.

12:50-13:30 lunch break

Afternoon session
Chair: Outi Luova, director, Finnish University Network for Asian Studies

13:30-13:40 Introduction to GINTL China  (Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning, GINTL), coordinated by the University of Helsinki
Olli-Pekka Malinen, University lecturer, Regional Expert (China)

13:40-13:50 Introduction to the EU-funded Horizon consortium “ReConnect” in which the Centre for East Asian Studies of the University of Turku CEAS is one of the members.
Lauri Paltemaa, Professor, Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku

13:50-14:30 COVID-19 and Well-Being of Non-local Students: Implications for International Higher Education Governance
Padmore Adusei Amoah, Assistant professor, and Weiyan Xiong, Assistant professor, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Discussant: Suvi Jokila, postdoctoral researcher, Dept of education, University of Turku

Non-local students have been one of the worst affected groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them live in foreign countries/regions with limited social and economic support. This presentation examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its control measures on the well-being of non-local students globally. It also examines the effectiveness of university support for the well-being of non-local students. Data were derived from a global survey on non-local students’ experiences and well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

A significant proportion of the students had low well-being. We found that being worried about COVID-19, perceived disruption of academic activities, perceived disruption of social activities and feeling lonely were negatively associated with the students’ well-being. However, informational support from universities was positively associated with their well-being.

These findings will be discussed in the context of higher education governance, policies and practical changes necessary to protect non-local students’ well-being during and after the pandemic.

14:30-14:45 Presentation of a survey on Finnish-Asian online education cooperation during the pandemic
Ville Sava, project researcher,  Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku

14:45-15:00 coffee / tea break

15:00-16:00 Panel on new practices for online education cooperation with Asian universities

– Maritta Välimäki, Professor, Nursing science,University of Turku – case: online courses on career development, with Chinese partners
– Jari Porras, Professor, Software engineering, Lappeenranta University of Technology – case: Online hackathons, with Malesian partners
– Johanna Lampinen, International education, University of Oulu – case: Blended Intensive Study Programme, with Indian partners
– Olli-Pekka Malinen, University lecturer, Regional Expert (China), Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning (GINTL) Coordination, University of Helsinki

16:00  Closing remarks

Thursday October 27, Onsite only

9:00-15:00 Doctoral seminar. Registration closed.