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Relocating Governance in Asia: State and Society in South and Southeast Asia, c. 1800-2000.

On January 22-24 the Leiden Institute for History and Faculty of Law hosted the conference ‘Relocating Governance in Asia: State and Society in South and Southeast Asia, c. 1800-2000’ at the Faculty of Law of Leiden University. The conference brought together more than 40 scholars from across the world to present and discuss their latest research on the history and present state of governance in South and Southeast Asia. Topics ranging from religious movements, subaltern experiences of governance, business and political collaborations, natural disasters and historical legacies of colonialism were all discussed across eight panels that brought together papers traversing Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Sri Lanka.

The conference offered a balanced mixture of new insights by early career scholars together with the expertise of experienced researchers from top Asian, European and American universities. Robert Cribb (Australian National University) and Indrani Chatterjee (University of Austin at Texas) gave intriguing keynote lectures on the desires of the state not to know certain aspects of their subjects and citizen’s lives, and the role that notions of care and mutual obligation play in governance. Farish Ahmad-Noor (Nanyang Technological University), provided a though provoking video lecture on knowledge production and ‘otherness’ in colonial states. The keynotes and panels provoked lively and constructive discussions and knowledge exchange that continued over the course of the conference, during drinks, a pub quiz, lunches and dinner.

The conference is expected to lead to new collaborations and partnerships. The organizers aim to publish a journal special issue based on the conference proceedings.

The event was sponsored by the N.W. Posthumus Institute, the Association of the KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies), the research network Asian Modernities and Traditions, the Leids Universiteits Fonds (LUF), and the Institute for History and the Department of Tax Law at Leiden University.

Conference organizers:

Maarten Janse, Girija Joshi and Sander Tetteroo

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