Brett Neilson to be Workshop Director at InterAsian Connections V Conference

Together with Professor Ranabir Samaddar of the Calcutta Research Group, Professor Brett Neilson has been selected by the Social Science Research Council (New York) to organise a workshop at the InterAsian Connections V conference (opens in a new window). The conference will be staged at the Seoul National University Asia Center from 27-30 April 2016. Entitled 'Logistics of Asia-led Globalisation: Infrastructure, Software, Labour' (opens in a new window), the workshop welcomes papers that explore global extensions of Asian economic power by examining the conflicts and complexities generated when logistical operations hit the ground. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Social Science Research Council by 8 September 2015 through their online application form (opens in a new window). 

InterAsian Connections V is organised by the Social Science Research Council's InterAsia Program, Göttingen University, the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HKIHSS) at the University of Hong Kong, National University of Singapore (NUS), Yale University, and Seoul National University Asia Center (SNUAC).

A street scene in Seoul, South Korea. The photo, taken from the middle of the street, shows a small truck diving away down the street, many shops and restaurants with people eating outdoors, and others walking on the street.

Photo credit: 'as was the style that year' (opens in a new window)by Doug Sun Beams, Flickr Creative Commons license 2.0 (opens in a new window).

Call for Workshop Papers

Logistics of Asia-Led Globalisation: Infrastructure, Software, Labor

Asia's emergence as one of the world's most important trading regions is giving rise to new global connections and spatial economic networks. Recent attention has focused on China's 'One Belt, One Road' policy, which seeks to revive historical Silk Road transport routes, but infrastructural and informational installations across the region are fast changing geopolitical visions, renderings of urban space, and understandings of historical transition. From the Asian Highway Network to the Yuxinou freight railway connecting Chongqing to Duisburg in Germany, from the proliferation of discount airline hubs to the tangle of fiber optic cables surrounding data centers in Hong Kong's New Territories or the Jurong district of Singapore, logistical developments are reconfiguring both Asia's relation to the world and its internal logics of transport and communication. Building on critical perspectives that understand logistics as a political technology for producing and organising space and power, this workshop will enlist a diversity of scholars to discuss how digital technologies and material infrastructure combine to remake urban and regional territories and produce new forms of governance and subjectivity.

Logistics mobilises infrastructure, labor, data, and software to create a smooth world for the circulation of commodities and capital but, at every juncture, must negotiate social and cultural frictions. This tension lends itself at once to innovation in governmental technologies and to the organisation of dissent, resistance, and violence. In urban settings, logistics presents a model of space, time, and economy distinct from the global city of finance capital or the industrial city of factories. The logistical city tends to locate itself on the urban periphery, taking advantage of cheap land, lower labor costs and, ideally, a clean slate for the installation of infrastructure. This clean slate, however, is a planner's unfulfilled dream. Logistical spaces are commonly occupied by workers, peasants, migrants, and other marginal subjects who have their own vision and version of these spaces. There is a tussle between competing visions, which produces a narrative of urban transformation that is uneven, contentious, and overtly political. Understanding the stakes and consequences of this politics means not only examining conflicts on the ground but also studying how logistical technologies marshal populations in ways that parallel, rival, and influence the statecraft of traditional political bodies. 

This workshop welcomes papers that explore global extensions of Asian economic power by examining the conflicts and complexities generated when logistical operations hit the ground. We invite interventions that critically investigate resonances and divergences in the making of logistical connections between different sites, sectors, and practices of mobility. Contributions may focus on developments in Asia or examine how infrastructural and informational strategies extend from Asia to other continents in ways that reorganise both Asia's internal regions and the wider spatial patterning of the world. We are particularly interested in papers that utilise data analytics or other digital methods to offer insights into how logistical practices guide current global mobilities. More widely, we seek presentations from a range of disciplinary and conceptual orientations – including feminism, political economy, postcolonial theory, critical geography, and communication/media studies – to explore the power-laden operations of logistics in and beyond Asian urbanities, socialities, and regionalisms.

Workshop Directors

Professor Brett Neilson
Research Director, Institute for Culture and Society,
University of Western Sydney

Ranabir Samaddar
Director, Calcutta Research Group

For more information and to submit an application, visit the conference webpage (opens in a new window).

Logos of: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen; Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences; Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore; Social Science Research Council; Seoul National University Asia Center; Yale.