AAS-in-Asia 2020

"Asia at the Crossroads: Solidarity through Scholarship"

August 31 – September 04, 2020 | Online from Kobe, Japan

Late last year, in the context of political unrest and mass protests in Hong Kong, the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) decided, in consultation with partners at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), to move its annual Asia conference from Hong Kong to Kobe, Japan. In Japan, the Association will co-host with The International Academic Forum (IAFOR), and in partnership with three national universities in the Kansai area, Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto Universities.

The theme of the conference selected by the previous organizing committee was "Asia at the Crossroads", in large part in reference to Hong Kong as sitting at the crossroads of Asia, with its unique historical, cultural, and geopolitical place in the world. The new organizing committee, following discussions with CUHK, has decided to keep this theme because it underlines the extraordinary circumstances that led to the moving of the conference on the one hand, while emphasizing the unique nature of this new partnership with Japanese institutions on the other. Both reflect the reality that Asia is, indeed, at a crossroads.

The current social and political landscape in Asia only goes to demonstrate how timely the theme is. Individuals as well as political entities in Asia are grappling with existential questions of modernity, such as identity, diversity, and freedoms. The direction of Asia’s present and future has never appeared less certain, as rising authoritarianism, nationalism, and ethnic divisions increasingly threaten open society that allows universities and academic institutions to flourish.

To this end, the AAS is grateful to The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) and Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto Universities, who in the spirit of scholarship solidarity provide us with an alternative venue at the heart of the most historically, culturally and academically vibrant region of Japan. This conference is an opportunity to underline our commitment to the academic freedoms that sustain the great universities in Asia. In the spirit of solidarity through scholarship, we seek to highlight the continuing relevance and importance of such cooperation in providing necessary intellectual and physical spaces for the meaningful and free exchange of ideas, in an atmosphere that nurtures, encourages, and protects great scholarship.

We look forward to seeing you in Japan.

Co-chair: Joseph Haldane (Osaka University), Chairman and CEO, IAFOR
Co-chair: Christine R. Yano (University of Hawaii), AAS President

On behalf of the AAS-in-Asia 2020 Organising Committee

Key Information
  • Location & Venue: Online from Kobe, Japan
  • Dates: Monday, August 31, 2020 ​to Friday, September 04, 2020
  • Abstract Submission Deadline: February 10, 2020
  • Registration Deadline: July 15, 2020*

*Register early to take advantage of the discounted registration rates. Learn more about our registration options.

AAS-in-Asia2020 Supporters

Keynote Speakers

Barbara Watson Andaya (University of Hawai’i, USA): "Globalizing Education in Asia: New Challenges for Asian Universities"
Masashi Nishihara (Research Institute for Peace and Security, Japan): "Rebuilding a Resilient Liberal-Democratic Order"

  • Barbara Watson Andaya
    Barbara Watson Andaya
    University of Hawai’i, USA
  • Masashi Nishihara
    Masashi Nishihara
    Research Institute for Peace and Security, Japan

Special Panels

Late-breaking Panel: The Social and Cultural Impact of COVID-19
Late-breaking News Roundtable: New Threats to Academic Freedom
Special Panel Session: Reports from CULCON | Supported by the Japan Foundation
Special Panel Session | Supported by the Korea Foundation
Special Panel Session: The Other AI: Automation, Innovation and the Future of Work in Asia | Supported by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS)

Program Committee

Co-chair: Joseph Haldane (Osaka University), Chairman and CEO, IAFOR
Co-chair: Christine R. Yano (University of Hawaii), AAS President

Pavin Chachavalpongpun (Kyoto University)
Jack W. Chen (University of Virginia)
Purnima Dhavan (University of Washington)
Richard Donovan (Kansai University)
Jane Ferguson (Australia National University)
Yoko Hayami (Kyoto University)
Brendan Howe (Ewha Women’s University)
Peng Er Lam (National University of Singapore)
Ljiljana Markovic (Osaka University/Belgrade University)
Farish Noor (Nanyang Technological University)
Haruko Satoh (Osaka University)
Philip Streich (Osaka University)
Yoneyuki Sugita (Osaka University)
Julio Teehankee (De La Salle University)
Augusto De Viana (University of Santo Tomas)
Kiyomitsu Yui (Kobe University)

Organising Committee

Association for Asian Studies (AAS)

Prasenjit Duara (Duke University), President, AAS
Hilary Finchum-Sung, Executive Director, AAS
Robyn Jones, Conference Manager, AAS
Krisna Uk, Outreach and Strategic Initiatives Consultant, AAS
Christine R. Yano (University of Hawaii), AAS President

The International Academic Forum (IAFOR)

Joseph Haldane (Osaka University), Chairman and CEO, IAFOR
Ljiljana Markovic (Osaka University & Belgrade University)
Yutaka Mino (Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art)
Haruko Satoh (Osaka University)
Yoneyuki Sugita (Osaka University)
Kiyomitsu Yui (Kobe University)

Barbara Watson Andaya
University of Hawai’i, USA


Barbara Watson Andaya is Professor in the Asian Studies Program at the University of Hawai’i and former Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. In 2005-2006 she was President of the American Association of Asian Studies. Educated at the University of Sydney (BA, DipEd), she received an East West Center grant in 1966 and obtained her MA in history at the University of Hawai’i. She subsequently went on to study for her PhD at Cornell University with a specialisation in Southeast Asian history.

Her career has involved teaching and researching in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and since 1994, Hawai’i. She maintains an active teaching and research interest across all Southeast Asia, but her specific area of expertise is the western Malay-Indonesia archipelago. In 2000 she received a John Simon Guggenheim Award, which resulted in The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Southeast Asian History, 1500-1800. She is General Editor of the new Cambridge History of Southeast Asia and is completing a book on gender in sexuality in Southeast Asia from early times to the present.

Keynote Presentation

Globalizing Education in Asia: New Challenges for Asian Universities

In keeping with the theme of AAS in Asia 2020, Asia at the Crossroads: Solidarity through Scholarship, this presentation will focus on the globalizing of education, a key element in facilitating the scholarly exchanges that have become especially important in Asia. The presentation will begin by noting that the bridging of cultural differences through higher education has historical roots, but will then move to consider some of the early issues facing educators as Asian societies entered a new era after the Second World War. A major goal was to provide universal access to basic education, especially in newly independent and decolonizing states, while developing curricula that would instill a sense of national unity. As globalizing forces gathered pace, it also became obvious that preparing students for a changing world required greater attention to the international aspects of tertiary education, a direction that has gained in momentum since the late 20th century. Developments have been most evident in the nexus between travel and technology, which has opened up new transnational opportunities for student and faculty mobility and for cross-cultural conversations. This has come, however, with unforeseen challenges, for the idea that universities can be “ranked” according to some international standard has led to increased uncertainty about expectations for teaching and research, especially in Asia’s highly diverse environment. The spread of Covid-19 has made us acutely aware of the unforeseen dangers now posed by international travel, and despite the progress in technology the goal of creating a more globalized environment for both students and faculty suddenly seems to be put on hold. Yet in these very difficult circumstances universities still have a special role to play in providing a space where debate is encouraged, where academic difference is tolerated, and where the objective of educating the next generation is prioritized. As the 21st century advances we can thus affirm the “solidarity of scholarship” in an ever-widening global academy while acknowledging that the intellectual endeavor in Asia (itself a deceptive term) will always reflect the diversity that remains the key characteristic of this vast region.

Masashi Nishihara
Research Institute for Peace and Security, Japan


Masashi Nishihara has been President of the Research Institute for Peace and Security since 2006. Until then he served as President of the National Defense Academy, Yokosuka, for six years. From 1977-99 he was Professor of International Relations at the Academy. He was also Director of the First Department of the National Institute for Defense Studies. Dr Nishihara was a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra in 1979 and at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York in 1981-82. Nishihara received his PhD in political science from the University of Michigan after having conducted field research in Jakarta. In 1986-95 he served on the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). He also served on the task forces and panels under Prime Ministers Kiichi Miyazawa, Jun’ichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe.

Nishihara specializes in international security and Asian politics with his works including: The Japanese and Sukarno’s Indonesia (University Press of Hawaii, 1976), The Political Corruption of Southeast Asia (in Japanese, ed. Sobunsha, 1976), Vietnam Joins the World; American and Japanese Perspectives (co-editor, New York, M.E. Sharp, 1997), and “Regional Security Perspectives” in Asian Security (an annual report of Research Institute for Peace and Security).

Keynote Presentation: Rebuilding a Resilient Liberal-Democratic Order