CfP: Mobility and Cultural Exchange in Southeast Asian Ports

Call for papers, deadline 25 October 2021

Scholars have used various frameworks to analyze mobility and cultural exchange in port cities in the Indian Ocean World, recognizing these as places of significant cultural, social, economic, and political diversity. However, the port cities of Southeast Asia have remained largely out of focus in this broader literature despite them being central points in networks of global exchange, constituting connecting hubs between regions further north, south, east, and west. Ports such as Arakan, Ayutthaya, Banda Aceh, Batavia/Jakarta, Hoi An, Manila, and Singapore, not only connected the Indian Ocean world, Western Europe with East Asia, or the Qing Empire with New Spain, but they also hosted people from different parts of Southeast Asia, facilitating an exchange of knowledge and culture.

This interdisciplinary workshop, as part of the Center for Global Asia’s ongoing research project on Port Cities Environments in Global Asia, seeks to spotlight the role of Southeast Asian port cities as places of cultural and intellectual exchange from the early modern period to the contemporary present. We seek a range of interpretative methodologies, source materials and languages from scholars grappling with these questions across the humanities and social sciences. We seek contributions that go beyond the colonial archive, making use of local languages and overlooked sources to reconstruct the active role played by Southeast Asian agents in constructing, adapting, and recreating their cultural worlds. These contributions may include, but are not limited to, work that explores exchanges in ideas about the natural world, spirituality, food, gender relations, music, arts, and human and non-human agents.

Depending on the COVID-19 pandemic, we aim to hold the workshop in-person in Shanghai in May 2022. If an in-person workshop is not possible, we will hold the workshop in a fully online format. Selected participants will be expected to submit their full paper draft (8000 words) one month in advance of the workshop in April 2022, which will be shared with other workshop participants. They are also expected to read and constructively comment on the papers of other participants. The workshop will feature short author presentations with most time allocated for the discussion of pre-circulated papers. The accepted papers will be considered for publication in either Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Asian Interactions or the Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies.

Please send a 300-word abstract and a CV to by 25 October 2021. We will aim to notify selected participants one month after this deadline.