Call for Applications for a New AAS Workshop Initiative

"New Frontiers in Asian Economic History"

The AAS is pleased to invite applications to participate in the first workshop in its new workshop series “Emerging Fields in the Study of Asia” supported by the Luce Foundation. The first workshop, entitled “New Frontiers in Asian Economic History,” will take place on May 11-15, 2017 at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

The value of economic history as an area of enquiry stems from the centrality of economic activity to the human condition. With a significant fraction of the world’s population living in Asia and some of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world, Asia is poised to become the center of the world economy. Economic historians in the disciplines of history and economics have responded with a renewed interest in the historical roots and contexts behind this growth. At the same time, they have faced obstacles rooted in the demands of their disciplines, in constraints on the ability to work on certain regions of Asia and in the large investment necessary to pursue a research agenda that combines linguistic and regional expertise and diverse methodological skills. This workshop recognizes the increasing number of scholars, particular younger ones, embarking on the study of Asian historical economies, the breadth of topics encompassed by their work and the importance of overcoming obstacles to this research and opening new opportunities for future work.

The aims of this workshop are:

  1. to enhance the profile of economic history of Asia,
  2. to create a community of scholars spanning the sub-regions and disciplinary boundaries of Asia,
  3. to encourage historians and economists to engage in a dialog that will enable mutual understanding and appreciation, thereby planting the seeds for collaborative research across disciplinary boundaries, and
  4. to assist young scholars of economic history in launching and securing successful career trajectories in their various disciplines and/or institutions.

Recognizing the wide variety of issues addressed by scholars of economic history, there is no central theme for the workshop. The goals of the workshop will best be met by bringing together scholars whose work illuminates both the interdisciplinary possibilities open to economic historians and the wide range of methods and questions that can deepen our understanding of historical economic processes, practices and outcomes. Papers may address controversies among economists and historians, such as controversies over the claim that the ‘right’ institutions are a necessary condition for rapid economic growth and over the role of culture in economic development. They may explore diverse aspects of economic activity, such as accounting, business and financial history, the roles played by the state, impacts on and of climate change and the environment, merchant communities and trade networks. They may address new methodological interventions and new forms of evidence, biological, material and others. Participants will be selected with the goal of creating a robust discussion of the challenges and rewards of work in their chosen field, the insights they can share with their fellow participants regarding the research and writing process, and the kinds of future interventions, educational and otherwise, that may further the development of economic history research and teaching.

Workshop Structure

The workshop will bring together between 10 and 12 paper presenters as well as 6-8 senior scholars from the fields of economics and history who participated in a planning workshop held in June 2016.

The workshop will take place over four days. Participants will arrive in East Lansing, Michigan, on May 11, 2017. The first two days (May 12 and 13) will be devoted to the presentation of research, organized according to principles that will emerge once the participants are chosen.

Day 3 (May 14) will be devoted to a discussion of methodology, with particular emphasis on ways in which participants can contribute to enriching the analysis of each other’s work. In the afternoon participants will break up into small groups meeting with mentors to delve more deeply into the substance of their work and to explore ways in which a transregional focus contributes to enriching their research agendas.

Day 4 (May 15) is left open for participants to determine the kinds of discussions they find valuable, for planning for future collaborations and to organize a panel for the presentation of workshop outcomes at a panel organized for the 2018 AAS meeting in Washington, DC.

Participants may depart in the late afternoon or evening of May 15 or on May 16.


The ideal participants of the workshop are late-stage (dissertation writing) doctoral students and early-stage faculty members (pre-tenure or within seven years of receiving their doctorate in a relevant field) or other early career scholars (post-doctoral researchers).

Priority will be given to members of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) and the Economic History Association and their respective affiliated organizations. Participants who are not members of the AAS will be encouraged to join the association or an affiliated organization.


The summer workshop is supported by a generous grant from the Luce Foundation. Expenses for travel, room, and board will be covered for all participants for the duration of the workshop.

Application Process

Scholars wishing to participate in the 2017 summer workshop are asked to submit via email an abstract of no more than 10 pages, accompanied by CV of no more than 2 pages to AAS Executive Director, Michael Paschal, at Applications will be reviewed by a panel of senior scholars who have agreed to act as mentors for the workshop.

In addition to a short description of the issues to be discussed in the proposed paper, the abstract should outline what the author hopes to contribute to the workshop and how he/she hopes the workshop can further his/her development as a researcher working in some aspect of economic history of Asia.

Questions about the application process or administrative matters should be directed to Michael Paschal at the address listed above. Questions about topic suitability or other substantive issues may be addressed to the co-organizers Siddharth Chandra,, and Madeline Zelin,

The deadline for applications is January 6, 2017.

Those selected will be notified by February 3, 2017.