Competing Asian Visions

Thursday, 22 October 2015, 3:00pm - 4:30pm, IWM library
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This seminar will present two case studies on how Chinese and Indian economic and trade policies also serve strategic geopolitical goals, and go on to examine some of the consequences of these developments in the countries themselves.

Ranabir Samaddar will discuss the new phase of competition for emerging geopolitical spaces on the Asian continent by focusing on China’s new Silk Route strategy as well as India’s Look East policy. Expected to become the world’s largest economy in the near future, China is opening new trade routes, including some based on the centuries-old routes of the Silk Road. India’s “Asia pivot”, partly driven by military considerations to “contain” China, encourages closer connectivity and economic integration between India and Southeast Asia. These economic strategies raise issues of immigration, security, and the sharing of natural resources.

Helen F. Siu will examine neighborhoods in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou where one finds tens of thousands of West African traders. By visiting their usual gathering places – markets, churches and mosques – we can appreciate how global flows of goods and peoples have transformed urban landscapes in China. The talk also takes us to Tanzania to gain a better understanding of the nature, scale and intensity of China’s engagement with Africa.


Ranabir Samaddar is the Director of the Calcutta Research Group and has worked extensively on issues of justice and rights in the context of conflicts in South Asia, with a particular focus on migration and refugee studies, the theory and practices of dialogue, nationalism and post-colonial statehood in South Asia, and new regimes of technological restructuring and labor control. His publications include The Politics of Dialogue (2004), a three-volume study of Indian nationalism, and A Biography of the Indian Nation, 1947-1997 (2001). His political writings have been published collected in The Materiality of Politics (2007), and The Emergence of the Political Subject (2009). They challenge some of the prevailing accounts of the birth of nationalism and the nation state, and have signaled a new turn in critical post-colonial thinking.

Helen F. Siu is a Professor of Anthropology at Yale University. Since the 1970s, she has conducted fieldwork in South China, exploring the nature of the socialist state, and the refashioning of regional identities through rituals, festivals, and commerce. Lately, she examines the rural-urban divide in China, cross-border dynamics in Hong Kong, and historical and contemporary Asian connections. Her inter-Asia interests have taken her to South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In 2001, she helped found the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at HKU with an inter-disciplinary and inter-regional research agenda.

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