AAS-SSRC Dissertation Workshop Series

2019: Asian Cities, Architectural Heritage, Civil Society and Urban Expansion
March 19-21, 2019 | Denver, CO

The Association for Asian Studies and the Social Science Research Council, with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, are pleased to announce the jointly organized AAS Dissertation Workshop Series. The workshop will be held in conjunction with the AAS annual conference in Denver, CO.

The economic and anthropological study of Asia was traditionally dominated by the study of village dynamics and relatively homogeneous and highly localized small ethnic populations. However, over the past decade, the study of rapidly expanding, diversifying, international Asian mega-cities has seriously impacted the field. Modes of urban development, expanding or decaying infrastructures, class-conflict, commuting time and traffic, forced evictions and water/waste management, issues connected to ethnic conflict, language homogenization, and immigration have infiltrated the research agendas of ethnographers, political scientists, and sociologists. This in turn has also led to an expansion of the study of the history of urban Asia with new studies of the development of cities and mega-cities like Hong Kong, Malacca, Shanghai, Bangkok, Manila, Mumbai, Chennai, Saigon, Singapore, Nagasaki and many others pre- and post-colonialism. Social scientists have also studied crime syndicates, trade, connectivity, cosmopolitanism, and the rise of a vibrant and politically active public culture and civil society in Asia. Finally, there has been a recent growth in the study of urban architectural heritage, nostalgia, and the politics and science of architectural preservation and “world heritage” designation. This attention to heritage is interwoven with questions of rising seas, land reclamation, public-transit expansion, pollution, employment, seasonable labor, and sustainability. Approaching this dynamic field requires scholars training in a variety of disciplines and employing various theoretical frameworks and methods. 

This workshop is intended to bring together doctoral students, regardless of citizenship, in the humanities and social sciences who are (1) developing dissertation proposals or are in the early phases of research or dissertation writing; and who are (2) planning, conducting, or are in the early phases of writing up dissertation research. The workshop will be limited to 12 students, ideally from a broad array of disciplines and working on a wide variety of materials and in various regions of Asia. It also will include a small multidisciplinary and multi-area faculty with similar interests.

The workshop is scheduled for the days immediately preceding the 2019 AAS annual conference in Denver, CO. It will begin the morning of Tuesday, March 19, continue for the next two and one-half days of intense discussion, and close with lunch on Thursday, March 21.

Participants will be invited back for a post-fieldwork workshop in 2020. The second workshop will be held 12 months later, after many or most participants have completed a significant amount of fieldwork or archival research and are at varying stages in the writing process. This follow-up workshop is intended to help participants shape and articulate the key focus of their dissertations as they begin writing.

The organizers will be able to provide financial support for participants including three nights accommodation, meals, and travel funds. It is hoped that participants also will attend the AAS annual conference immediately following the workshop. 

Applicants need not have advanced to candidacy but must have at least drafted a dissertation research proposal. Applications are also welcome from doctoral students in the early phases of writing their dissertations. Applicants do not have to be current AAS members to apply for the workshop, but if selected, must join or renew their membership to participate.

Applications must be submitted through the SSRC's online application system no later than January 5, 2019 and will consist of a narrative description of the dissertation topic (ten double-spaced pages), short application form, and a current Curriculum Vitae.
Workshop participants will be selected on the basis of the submitted projects, the potential for useful exchanges among them, and a concern to include a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, intellectual traditions, and regions of Asia. Applicants will be informed whether or not they have been selected for the workshop by late January. 
For further information about the workshop, or eligibility, please contact Justin McDaniel jmcdan@sas.upenn.edu. Questions concerning administrative matters or the application process should be directed to SSRC staff at asianstudies@ssrc.org. Faculty having related research interests who would be interested in serving as mentors for the workshop also should contact the organizers for details.