The 10th East Asian Regional Conference in Alternative Geography
NEW GEO-POLITICS IN EAST ASIA
EARCAG 2022, Taipei
Date: December 9-11, 2022 (Dec. 12-14 for post-meeting field trip)
Venue: National Taiwan University, Taiwan
Organizer: Department of Geography, National Taiwan University
Abstract submission by
September 22, 2022 (Extended to October 10, 2022)
About the Theme
It is a critical moment in which we are heading towards a brave new world. New forms of differentiation and articulation are profoundly changing politics, economics, and society as we know them. The pandemic will eventually subside, but the way we see the world and are seen by others may never be the same.
We call for a rethinking of the “geo” of politics on everything. From the politics of knowledge, the politics of emotion, to more-than-human politics, all are activated, encountered, and entangled in specific spatial relations, producing certain effects. Also, we need to reflect on the “geo” of East Asia, even though it seems to be an unquestionable geographical category. What spatial associations make the politics of everything exhibit a certain East Asian quality, and how these political processes are further forged into a particular spatial form called East Asia, remain questions worthy of our inquiry at this very time.
Potential session topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
Timothy Oakes, University of Colorado
Seeing like a Chinese city: rethinking the politics of infrastructure from the edges of urbanization
In Seeing Like a City, Amin & Thrift argue for an alternative science of the city that entails harnessing machine intelligence for the common good, “making visible, rather than taking for granted, the hidden work of algorithms, machines and codes behind the city’s many sociotechnical systems and their effects, so as to make the city fabric a heuristic space in which publics can engage with machine intelligence.” (p. 27) They call, in other words, for a politics of infrastructure that recognizes the distributed intelligence of the city as a sociotechnical machine. While Amin & Thrift offer a welcome revision of ‘the political’ given the more-than-human dimensions of urban assemblages, their abstract conceptualizing of ‘the city’ remains oddly dislocated even as it resembles the generic cities of the capitalist West with which readers of English will be familiar.
This talk seeks to make concrete Amin & Thrift’s abstract ‘city’ and to locate it firmly within the rapidly changing frontiers of hyper-urbanization in China. In so doing, it finds their call for a new politics of infrastructure inspiring yet inadequate. Urban development in China challenges the very notion of ‘citiness’ that animates Seeing Like a City. While infrastructural urbanism in China raises significant, and familiar, questions about (the lack of) public engagement with and benefit from the machine intelligence of new cities, China’s urbanizing spaces look and feel nothing like ‘the city’ imagined by Amin & Thrift’s account. After tracing these new infrastructural spaces at the edges of China’s urban agglomerations, the talk considers a new politics of infrastructure brought about by the enrollment of formerly agricultural spaces into new networks of human (and non-human) circulation and suspension. The sociotechnical analytic pursued here suggests an understanding of an infrastructural politics of survival emerging from the spatial adaptations of the displaced, the uprooted, and the passed-over as they seek to inhabit with meaning and dignity the new world that has been thrust upon them.
James Sidaway, National University of Singapore
Critical Geoeconomics: a genealogy of writing politics, economy and space
Towards the end of the Cold War, the vocabulary of global power, space and economy received a qualitative update. Amongst the terms rapidly gaining prominence since the early 1990s, has been the notion of geoeconomics, the coining of which has frequently been attributed to political strategist Edward N. Luttwak. In his interpretation, it signified a transition away from Cold War ideological and military geopolitical competition, towards commerce and market-based geo-power. Over the past three decades, a “geoeconomics boom” set in, which sees think tanks and a varied body of politico-economic literature making extensive use of the term. Conventionally treated as a neologism, the provenance and earlier iterations of geoeconomics, some dating back more than a century, have been largely ignored by both celebratory and critical accounts. In this paper, we trace and contextualise these earlier instances, leading us to the Geopolitik era in Germany and references to geoeconomics in the United States in the decades after WWII. We thereby offer not only a much-needed genealogy of geoeconomics but also encourage a critical geoeconomics that takes its place amongst other cultures of resistance to imperial, statist and military scripting of the Geo.
Brenda Yeoh, National University of Singapore
The Spatial Politics of Non-Integration: Temporary Migrant Workers in (Post-)Pandemic Times
The challenges of contemporary migration in Asia have to be understood in the context of the postcolonial development of nation-states in the region. When large-scale labour migration began in the 1970s, many Asian countries had only recently cut their colonial apron strings, and were still in the process of consolidating nation-building projects. In this context, the specific labour migration regime that developed in Asia, was one that minimised challenges to the fragile imaginary of the nation-state in the making. This is accomplished by rendering migrants as transient sojourners whose place in host societies is to sell their labour but make no claims on the receiving nation-state. The migration regime that emerged in Asia was premised on keeping migration temporary, and apart from creating a privileged pathway for highly skilled migrants to gain residency and citizenship, most Asian receiving nation-states ruled out settlement, family reunification, long-term integration, and the acquisition of legal citizenship for less skilled migrants. In this context, this paper first examines how states manage the non-integration of low-waged transient migrants through spatial-temporal strategies of disciplinary power. It then assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and stalled mobility on the regime of enforced temporariness and examines potential pathways forwards towards a more sustainable regime of transnational labour.
Conjunctural analysis is a rather enigmatic practice, observed mostly after the fact and in feats of exemplary execution, apparently somewhat resistant to codification, and maybe too modish for methodological rules. Predicated on the analysis of politically salient ‘situations’, conjunctural approaches combine reflexive theorizing with socially engaged inquiry and context-rich, historicized modes of analysis. Exploring the potential of conjunctural analysis, the presentation will tease out the methodological implications of this rather elusive approach before placing them in dialogue with the case of Chinese capitalism. This is a case that routinely frustrates and confounds extant theoretical frameworks and conceptual categories, sometimes prompting theoretical defeatism. Although conjuncturalism is not methodologically prescriptive, it implies distinctive criteria for problem formulation and research design; for ‘casing’, case selection, and specification; and for the exposition and (re)construction of contextualized theory claims.
Since colonial times, officials, scholars and advocates have insisted that the core principle of Indonesia's customary land regimes is that tenure is collective and inalienable. They have argued against the commodification of land on the grounds that to treat land as a commodity is to invite the destruction of livelihoods and the shattering of life worlds, the dire fate Karl Polanyi described in The Great Transformation. Yet for more than a century, Indonesia's indigenous farmers have willingly commodified their own land as they embrace the production of global boom crops (coffee, rubber, cacao, oil palm). The real transformation for them is not commodification but capitalism, which comes in two formats: from above and from below. The first is the top down enclosure of land for corporate pursuits (mining, plantations, timber extraction); the second is the emergence of capitalist relations among small scale farmers themselves, a shift that imposes a form of market discipline they cannot escape. Recentering capitalism as a term of analysis exposes the true challenge of defending rural peoples' access to land and livelihoods today.
Roger Keil, York University
Beyond COVID-19: Repairing the planet after urban society’s first pandemic
COVID-19 has been the first pandemic on an entirely urbanized planet. Epidemic disease has historically been linked to processes of urbanization, cities have been predominant sites of such outbreaks, and networks of cities have previously shown to be vulnerable to infectious disease in particular. But through much of human history, cities were islands in a sea of rural landscapes. Today, urbanization has become a common, not exceptional, experience and urban life predominates how disease outbreaks emerge, spread and are governed – both in terms of response to current and preparation for future contagion. As cities have often been most affected in epidemic events, it was often those in the social, spatial and institutional peripheries that have suffered most, as has also been the case with COVID.
The collective experience of pandemic disease since 2020 was also overshadowed and made more acute by racial injustice, the continuing climate emergency, and the Russian aggression against Ukraine. These events further deepened the rifts the pandemic had revealed in various ways. Facing a postpandemic urban world involves meeting the immediate needs that the trauma of widespread illness and death has caused and the longterm public health, economic and social effects of such pervasive suffering . It also entails recognizing existing, envisioning further and implementing various modes of urban care and repair that address the entwined crises of infection, structural racism, climate change, and war.
Submission of Abstracts
If you are interested in participating in this conference, please submit an abstract online, no more than 500 words, by
September 22, 2022 (Extended to October 10, 2022). The organizing committee will review the abstracts and contact you with the result by September 30, 2022 (For abstracts submitted later than September 25, the result will be sent by October 15, 2022). Full paper due by November 30.
Submit your abstract
Online registration is now available from October 1 to 31, 2022.
Registration fee for participants from the OECD member countries, Singapore, or Hong Kong:
Full-time faculty: US$ 150
Independent scholars, retirees, or students: US$ 70
Registration fee for participants from Taiwan*:
Full-time faculty: US$ 50
Independent scholars, retirees, or students: US$ 16.6
for participants elsewhere:
Full-time faculty: US$ 70
Independent scholars, retirees, or students: US$ 35
*This conference is sponsored by National Science and Technology Council in Taiwan, so Taiwanese participants (either by nationality or affiliation) will be subsidized for the ower fees.
Travel Grant for Students and Postgraduate Researchers
The local organizer of EARCAG 2022, Taipei is pleased to offer limited funding (500USD per awardee) to assist graduate students and/or early career postgraduate researchers in attending this conference. The applicant’s abstract must first have been accepted by the conference. Applicants then need to submit a paper to the conference organizer (firstname.lastname@example.org) by November 15. Papers should be brief and concise (approximately 10 pages) to ensure efficient review. Notification on the results of the review will be sent by the end of November.
Grants will be awarded in US dollar cash after awardees’ presentations at the conference venue. Please note that due to financial constraints, this travel grant award will be limited to three selected applicants.
We have arranged a small local excursion around NTU on Dec. 10 in the late-afternoon. During the excursion, attendees will visit two important informal settlements with hisotry of resisting force eviction: Treasure Rock and Toad Mountain. This excursion is completely voluntary and will charge no extra fees for our registered attendees. Please note that spots are limited to 40 and will be filled on a first come, first served basis, but local attendees who are not presenters/moderators/discussants may not register for the excursion.
Treasure Rock and Toad Mountain: Witness the history of Taiwanese settlements and the regeneration of communities
Due to a shortage of housing after the war, people met their basic residential needs by constructing informal settlements. These settlements witnessed Taiwan's economic miracle, but after the 1990s, in order to beautify the city and construct public works, the government undertook projects to peacefully demolish informal settlements.
Treasure Rock and Toad Mountain, after the struggle and initiative of the people, the former is operated by the government, and the latter is managed independently by the local people. Although these approaches differ, they are both concerned with the living preservation of cultural assets; not only retaining the living texture of the original community, but also introducing elements such as art, environment, education, etc.
15:00 Meet at the NTU Geography Museum
15:00-15:30 Walk to Treasure Rock
15:30-16:30 Treasure Rock Guide: Zhan Zhixiong, Community Resident
16:30-17:00 Walk to Toad Mountain
17:00-18:00 Toad Mountain Guide: Shasha, community worker
18:00 Social Hour
Post-meeting field trip
From December 12 to 14, we will visit Matsu, a small group of islands across the Taiwan Strait, very close to mainland China but under the control of Taiwan. From 1958 to the end of 1978, Matsu (as well as Kinmen) was under Chinese fire for decades before the United States established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (mainland China) and severed formal ties with the Republic of China on Taiwan. These "frontline islands" in between not only witnessed the rise and fall of the Cold War, from which they constantly sought to reposition themselves, but even accidentally triggered geopolitical changes in East Asia.
This post-meeting field trip is completely voluntary and will charge extra fees at approx. US$500 for the flights and accommodation. Please note that spots are limited to 30 and will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Once you register for the field trip through our Online Registration, we will contact you for further arrangements.
Itinerary for our Matsu post-meeting trip
Daqiu Island / Qiaozi Village 大坵島/橋仔村
Once home to more than 200 residents, Daqiu Island was known as a fishing island, where fishers took turns getting their catch nearby and up to 30 kilometers away. Because of the martial law of the past, there are no longer any fishers today. Since 1996, the island has been virtually empty after the troops retreated. Instead, it is full of Formosa sika deer, welcoming tourists from afar. Sika deer are not native to Matsu, so how did this happen? We will tell you about the encounter of the state and the specie. Together we will pass the fishing village next to Daqiu and have a glimpse of the maritime culture of Matsu.
Qinbi Village 芹壁村
Unlike the decaying earthen houses on Daqiu Island, the black-tiled and yellow-brick houses in Qinbi are perfectly preserved due to their brickwork and renovation, which was promoted during the post-military period of tourist sightseeing. All traditional houses represent the Mindong style, and their pattern is very different from the culture of mainland Taiwan, eventually becoming known as “the Mediterranean of Asia.”
Salty Island Studio 鹹味島合作社
A cooperative coffee shop run by local teenagers, the Salty Island Studio used to be a factory that produced fish sauce, which you may still catch a whiff of in the rear half of the building. Before being perfectly renovated as a tourist site, this is the place where the center of Dongyin Island lies, once prosperous and then declined. You'll see unique details made by local artists and their visual art in the specially designed selection shop corner.
Andong Tunnel 安東坑道
This 464-level rock tunnel, once deep underground to avoid attacks from CPC missiles, is now reserved as a tourist attraction. The original atmosphere of the wartime spatial structure is preserved and reflects the tense situation between Taiwan and the PLA in the past. The especially well preserved Tunnels mark the unique status of Dongyin among the Matsu Islands.
Meishi Barracks 梅石營區
This is a place where soldiers stationed on the outer islands could get some rest in the face of all kinds of enemy harassment and bombardment. This town used to thrive almost exclusively because of the comfort industry, until the related facilities were closed and the buildings were empty. Now, in line with the Ministry of Culture's regeneration of historic sites project, a backpacker inn and a youth co-working space will be renovated and will later be accompanied by a new performance center. The government tried to refurnish these old historical sites to add value as another attraction in Matsu.
The EARCAG has provided a platform for critical geographers and other social scientists to debate social and spatial issues in East Asia for over 20 years. Given the increasing complexities, interdependence and inequalities in the development of capitalism around the world, we are concerned with how different territorial and scalar questions of community, city, nation-state, and geopolitics are entwined in East Asia, and how spatial and social justice should be reclaimed and realized in this context.
EARCAG Steering Committee: Byung-Doo Choi (Daegu University, South Korea), Bae-Gyoon Park (Seoul National University, South Korea), Amriah Buang (Malaysia), Jim Glassman (University of British Columbia, Canada), Chu-joe Hsia (Nanjing University, China), Jinn-yuh Hsu (National Taiwan University, Taiwan), Fujio Mizuoka (Hitotsubashi University, Japan), Toshio Mizuuchi (Osaka City University, Japan), Wing-Shing Tang (Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong)
Local Organizing Committee: Tsung-Yi Michelle Huang (National Taiwan University), Jinn-Yuh Hsu (National Taiwan University), Chih-Ming Wang (Academia Sinica), Wen-I Lin (National Taipei University), Yu-Ling Song (National Changhua University of Education), Sung-Yueh Perng (National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University), Kuang-Chi Hung (National Taiwan University)
Secretaries: Ling-I Chu (National Changhua University of Education), Brian Scanlon (National Taiwan University), and Cartus Bo-Xiang You (National Taiwan University)