Sunday, February 5, 2023

CFP: 3rd Tsinghua Area Studies Forum - Tsinghua University, Beijing, China July 3rd to 5th, 2023

3rd Tsinghua Area Studies Forum

Call for Papers

2023 Forum: Developing Countries in the Age of Uncertainties – Risks, Resilience and Interdependency

Tsinghua University, Beijing, China July 3rd to 5th, 2023



I. Forum Introduction

Tsinghua Area Studies Forum is organized by the Institute for International and Area Studies (IIAS) of Tsinghua University. Upholding the principles of academic freedom, equality and scholarly autonomy, this Forum aims to build an international academic platform for area studies where scholars from all countries share their academic ideas, scientific research outcomes and research methods, and thus gain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the root causes of the changes, development and problems in developing areas. The Forum seeks to amplify the voice of scholars from developing countries, facilitate mutual inspiration among these scholars, and advance common development in the aforementioned regions. The first and second editions of the Forum were successfully held in 2019 and 2021 under the theme of “Innovating New Approaches to Common Challenges in Asia, Africa and Latin America” and “Areas of the World and the World in Areas”, respectively, and attracted a total of 257 outstanding scholars from different regions, with 47 panels held. A collection of forum proceedings in Chinese and English was published.

The 3rd Tsinghua Area Studies Forum is scheduled on July 3-5, 2023, on the campus of Tsinghua University, jointly organized by the IIAS and other academic institutions in China and abroad, with the theme of “Developing Countries in the Age of Uncertainties – Risks, Resilience and Interdependency”. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the world is entering an age of ongoing uncertainties. Developing countries bear the brunt of the ensuing risks, and the recession and disorder brought about by global turmoil have worsened their already fragile living environment. Compared with the age of globalization where rapid growth was pursued, the age of uncertainties demands more sustainable ways of production and life, so as to be more resilient in the face of risks. At the same time, while a fractured and decoupled world has lost its original close ties, the resulting uncertainties have brought home to countries the reality of interdependency, leading to a regional reconnection. In a word, this year’s Forum wishes to explore the commonalities and differences of developing countries in the age of uncertainties.

The Forum will cover research topics concerning Sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia and North Africa, South Asia, Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia, etc., and focus on hot issues, theoretical research and policy discussions in various areas from the perspective of different disciplines such as political science, foreign language and literature, sociology, anthropology, economics, law, history, etc.

The 2023 Forum will be comprised of three sections: a keynote forum, interdisciplinary panels for each area, and panels for cross-regional topics. The Forum will invite prestigious area studies scholars at home and abroad to give keynote speeches. All participants are required to submit written papers which must be unpublished with the submitter as the primary author, and must not infringe upon any intellectual property rights or expose any confidential information. The author takes full responsibility for the views expressed in his or her submitted paper. After the conclusion of the Forum, papers that are deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to the field of area studies will be selected for publication in a book, which is intended to improve the quality and promote the standardization of research in area studies.

II. Panel Topics

  1. Governance in Africa and Regional Development
  2. African Social Resilience and Its Generation in an Age of Uncertainty
  3. African Political Development in an Age of Change
  4. West Asia and North Africa in the Shadow of Major Power Competition
  5. State Building Crisis and Governance in West Asia and North Africa

Location: Tsinghua University, Beijing, China Time: July 3-5, 2023

Topics for the interdisciplinary and cross-regional panels are as follows:

Sub-Saharan Africa

1.     Governance in Africa and Regional Development

2.     African Social Resilience and Its Generation in an Age of Uncertainty

3.     African Political Development in an Age of Change

West Asia and North Africa

2.     West Asia and North Africa beyond Nations: Research Unit Recalibration and Reconceptualization

3.     West Asia and North Africa in the Shadow of Major Power Competition

4.     State Building Crisis and Governance in West Asia and North Africa


1. Social Governance

2. Multidimensional Conflicts

3. Political Resilience

Latin America and the Caribbean

1.     The “New” Left Turn and Resource Nationalism in Latin America

2.     The Resilience of the Latin American Left: Theory and Practice

3.     Coping with Inequality: Reforms and Challenges of Social Policy in Latin

American Countries

4.     State-Business Relations in Latin America

5.     New Features of Latin American Social Movements

6.     Food Security and Food Sovereignty in Latin America

Southeast Asia

1. Southeast Asian Studies as a Sub-discipline of Area Studies

2. Development and Transition: Path and Sustainability

3. History and Culture: Change and Legacy in the Age of Uncertainties

4. Order and Change: Southeast Asia’s Role and Response


South Asia

1.     Development of South Asia in the Post-Epidemic Era

2.     History, Culture, and Social Governance in South Asian Countries

Cross-Regional Panels

1. Regional Development in South and Southeast Asia: History and Impacts

2. Global South Asia: Connection and Change

III. Submission Requirements

The working languages of the Forum are Chinese and English. Translation between the two languages will be provided. No registration fee will be charged. Accommodation and round-trip travel expenses of invited scholars will be covered by the Organizing Committee. If you are interested, please submit the following materials:

1. Email the abstract of your research paper (in Chinese or English, about 300 words), application form (see Annex 2), and full CV to prior to March 1, 2023;

2. The completed paper (in Chinese or English) must be submitted before May 1, 2023. The paper should meet the norms of academic writing, and should be no less than 6,000 words in English, or no less than 10,000 in Chinese.

Within two weeks after receiving the abstract of your paper and application form, the Organizing Committee will send you a letter of acceptance and a notice on how to register for the Forum website and submit the full paper.

After the full paper is received, reviewed and accepted, the Organizing Committee will send you an official invitation letter before June 1, 2023. Following the conclusion of the Forum, selected papers of high quality will be collected and published by well- known publishing houses.

Experts and scholars at home and abroad engaged in area studies are most welcome to submit their paper and attend the Forum.

Sub-Saharan Africa

1. Governance in Africa and Regional Development

Governance and regional development in Africa have always been a global concern; from public sector administration to business activities involving all types of enterprises, from the continuous improvement of the business environment to the effective development of the regional economy, governance at all levels is closely related to the development of the region. In the post-epidemic era, the change and adaptability of governance in the African areas, as well as their ability to adapt to various types of changes in governance, largely determine the effectiveness and foresight of their regional development. This panel aims to explore the mechanisms of interaction between governance and regional development through the analysis of governance systems at all levels, the integration of different cases and the use of multidisciplinary perspectives. The panel will cover topics such as, but not limited to, political-business relations, regional governance, spatial interventions, the business environment, urban development, land reform and the park economy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

2. African Social Resilience and Its Generation in an Age of Uncertainty

For any society, resilience is the core of its culture; it is not only the result of the joint influence of social structures and actors, but also a key force in coping with internal and external changes. Like many other societies, Sub-Saharan Africa is characterized by a complex social structure and cultural diversity, which profoundly influences the decisions and actions of individuals, societies, and countries. Despite the great strides made, African societies are still under the lingering effects of colonialism and neoliberalism while extensively faced with such external influences as climate change, public health security, energy crises, and food security. In the face of these internal, and external factors with combined and mutual influence, what role will Africa’s social resilience and its generation process play again? How can different actors show their self-determination? To answer these questions, this panel will focus on broad, specific or emerging social issues and the extended academic issues in Sub-Saharan Africa, and gain insight into the deep logic of Africa’s social development and change by elaborating on the resilience of African society and its generation process in the age of uncertainty.

3. African Political Development in the Age of Change

Change is an eternal topic in the political and social development of mankind. In recent years, the extraterritorial power competition and public health crisis sweeping the world have not only changed the international development environment faced by Sub- Saharan African countries, but also profoundly affected their political development process. In a changing world, African countries and societies have shown their unique resilience in adapting and responding to challenges, while actively embracing new opportunities that arise. Through an in-depth discussion of the institutional arrangements, history, discourse and practice of political development in Africa, this panel hopes to enhance the understanding of Sub-Saharan Africa’s development in terms of state and nation building, political parties and their systems, ethnic and identity politics, and transnational cooperation for international development in the age of change.

West Asia and North Africa

1. West Asia and North Africa beyond Nations: Research Unit Recalibration and Reconceptualization

For a long time, the nation-state has been the basic research unit for West Asia and North Africa studies and even area studies. On the one hand, it provides a set of universally-recognized research frameworks and delineates clear research boundaries for researchers in the field. On the other, it imposes invisible restrictions on academic and theoretical development. The formation of the nation-state is closely linked to a specific worldview that presupposes the natural justification of artificially demarcated boundaries, assumes homogeneity within borders and heterogeneity outside, while masking the complexity of the real world. The establishment of area studies as a level- 1 discipline provides us with an opportunity to reflect on and reconstruct the basic research units. This panel encourages participants to discuss the formation process of historical boundaries of West Asian and North African countries, sub-national identity and secession movements, the underlying dynamics of border conflicts, the cross- border flow of people, goods, and ideas, and the regional influence of supranational organizations and actors, and propose new research units and conceptual frameworks on this basis.

2. West Asia and North Africa in the Shadow of Major Power Competition

The West Asia and North Africa region is a hub connecting East and West and has unique geostrategic importance. Historically, empires with world influence such as the Alexander Empire, the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire, the Arab Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, all competed for control over the region. In modern times, with the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the Safavid dynasty, Britain, France and Russia successively established colonies and spheres of influence in West Asia and North Africa. At the beginning of the 20th century, the infamous Sykes-Picot Agreement and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by British and French troops after World War I led to the incorporation of most of West Asia and North Africa into the Anglo-French colonial system. After World War II, although countries in West Asia and North Africa successively gained independence amid the tide of national liberation movements, the region still could not get rid of the influence of foreign powers. The five Middle East wars involved not only old colonial powers such as Britain and France, but also the rising superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union. In the 21st century, the US consolidated its position in West Asia and North Africa through the Gulf War and the Iraq War; Britain and France actively intervened after the Arab Spring to expand their influence in the region; Russia also made a comeback by intervening in the Syrian civil war. Amid the strategic competition of major powers, countries in West Asia and North Africa are also seeking changes and actively explore independent diplomatic strategies and development models. For example, Turkey maneuvers between the US, Russia and the European Union to strengthen its influence in regional affairs. Iran, under pressure from the US, has strengthened strategic cooperation with China and Russia to safeguard its national security and interests. Gulf countries, which are allies of the US, have also begun to “look east” and actively diversify their diplomatic strategies. This panel aims to explore the influence of foreign powers on West Asia and North Africa in history and reality, and the passive response and active exploration of West Asian and North African countries amid the game of major powers.


3. State Building Crisis and Governance in West Asia and North Africa

At the beginning of the 20th century, after the political loyalty and solidarity of the Muslim community (Ummah) based on a common faith failed, the political elites of the countries of West Asia and North Africa tried to replace the legitimacy of traditional Islam with the ideological legitimacy of secularization and nationalization and its social mobilization. In the process of modern state building, countries in West Asia and North Africa experienced to varying degrees value and policy swings. As a result, traditional social ties such as ethnic groups, religion, family clans, and region still have a strong impact on national political operation and social life. The fundamental reason for this phenomenon lies in the marginalization of West Asia and North Africa in global political and economic system, which has always trapped the region in the contradiction between foreign modernity and local tradition in its process of state building. When this contradiction becomes too intense to reconcile, the state-building crisis would occur and repeat itself. But countries in West Asia and North Africa are not passively adapting


1. Social Governance

History and tradition are the rich heritage of Eurasian countries, and also important links that transcend and connect the boundaries of time and space. The social governance methods selected by Eurasian countries according to the characteristics of the times and their development needs clearly embody their unique pursuit of a balance between tradition and modernity.

2. Multidimensional Conflicts

Geography gives Eurasia its distinctive characteristics, and brought different influences and interpretations to the countries in the region in many historical stages. At present, Eurasian countries are facing a complex situation on the road of development, with intertwined conflicting factors, and it is urgent for them to identify and clarify multidimensional issues and positions.

3. Political Resilience

Eurasian countries have entered a new cycle of development, and many of them are faced with more prominent new problems and challenges in the political field. Their real-life solutions to finding a suitable path for safeguarding tradition and reforming governance at the same time are an important topic worth studying.

Latin America and the Caribbean

1. The “New” Left Turn and Resource Nationalism in Latin America

Latin America is a region rich in natural resources. Under the global trend of green development, expanding renewable energy and accelerating energy transition has become the priority of the post-covid economic recovery. Resource nationalism may affect domestic policy debates and decision-making, implicating potential dynamics in the development model. This panel attempts to discuss the past and current situation of resource nationalism and its implication for related development policies in the region. It welcomes both theoretical research and empirical evidence with a country-specific focus.

2. The Resilience of the Latin American Left: Theory and Practice

The Latin American left has a long history and considerable resilience, and is diverse in theory and practice. With its recent resurgence, an understanding of the roots, manifestations and development paths of its resilience can help us better grasp the pattern of evolving political ecosystem in Latin America.

3. Coping with Inequality: Reforms and Challenges of Social Policy in Latin American Countries

The problem of income inequality is a challenge facing many developing countries, and social policy is an important tool for the public sector to alleviate social inequality. Since the 1980s, Latin America has been an important pilot area for social policy innovation. In this panel, participants may evaluate the drivers, outcomes and effects of policy changes in Latin American countries covering such social policy areas as pension, health care, education and family support, and discuss how to promote the new round of reform given the macro environment of economic austerity and political uncertainty in the post-covid world.

4. State-Business Relations in Latin America

State-business relations are an important perspective for understanding the economic development models and policy choices of many developing countries. While participating in economic globalization, Latin American countries have seen drastic changes to their state-business relations. This panel may cover research on the Latin American state-business relations in history, cross-country comparisons, and specific cases in specific industries.

5. New Features of Latin American Social Movements

Social movements in Latin America have taken on a variety of new characteristics in recent years: they have attracted more heterogeneous groups, employed new organizational methods, and set more diverse goals and purposes. This new trend of social movements in Latin American countries have reference value for the world’s social movements and political changes.

6. Food Security and Food Sovereignty in Latin America

Food security is an important aspect of national security. As revealed by shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the vulnerability of developing countries in agriculture can’t be ignored. Although Latin America is rich in agricultural products and exports are booming, there are still structural imbalances, which are reflected within countries, categories and classes. This panel aims to focus on the food security governance tactics adopted by actors of different levels in these countries and the dilemmas they face from the perspective of domestic food security governance, and analyze the particularities and complexities of defending national food security and achieving food autonomy in these countries from the perspectives of history, culture, ecology, politics and economy.

Southeast Asia

1. Southeast Asian Studies as a Sub-discipline of Area Studies

In September 2022, the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council and the Ministry of Education of China jointly issued The Catalog of Postgraduate Programs (2022), that listed “Area Studies” as a first-level discipline under the category of interdisciplinary studies. As an emerging interdisciplinary discipline, Area Studies undertakes the important task of promoting the construction of China’s independent knowledge system of area studies, and provides important support for the construction of China’s area studies discipline system, academic system and discourse system. Meanwhile, it shoulders the mission of strengthening interdisciplinary research and interdisciplinary integration and innovation.

In the past three decades, China’s Southeast Asian Studies has undergone three major stages of transformation: 1) increase of visibility and popularity; 2) diversification of disciplines and research methods; and 3) expansion in breadth and depth of research. The teaching and learning of Southeast Asian Studies have also been institutionalized. Nevertheless, controversies still remain on how to develop the disciplines, set up degree programs, increase the output of teaching and research results, and then realize China’s independent knowledge production with Southeast Asian Studies under the first-level discipline of Area Studies. In view of this, this panel intends to invite scholars for a discussion on ‘Southeast Asian Studies as a Discipline’, especially its development under the discipline of Area Studies. This panel also dedicates to a discussion on the core of Southeast Asian Area Studies, internal paradigm, basic theory group, research content and boundary, methodological norms and characteristics from the ontological, epistemological and methodological perspectives, as well as the formation of discipline awareness, the development direction of the discipline, its academic evaluation standards, and student training models.

This panel aims to build an academic exchange platform where participants can explore the theory and practice of area studies with Chinese characteristics in the context of changes unseen in the past century, tap the potential of Southeast Asian studies as a discipline, realize its mutual learning and integration with traditional disciplines, achieve innovation in theories and the knowledge system, and lay the foundation for building Southeast Asian Studies as a discipline.

2. Development and Transition: Path and Sustainability

There has been a lot of discussion about the concept of development around the world. According to Amartya Sen’s theory of development as freedom, development is the process of expanding the freedoms that people can exercise. People’s understanding of development has expanded from economic development to more comprehensive and sound development. Among all the complex concepts and practice paths of development, how to view the choice of development paths made by different countries in Southeast Asia? How do we assess the relations between state and society in Southeast Asia’s transition and development? How to view the social inequalities arising from development and transformation? Are there any common problems faced by developing countries in Southeast Asia in the process of development? How can they realize the vision of sustainable development? This panel will try to answer these questions.

3. History and Culture: Change and Legacy in the Age of Uncertainties
In the age of uncertainties where disruption and innovation are often beyond people’s

experiences, how should we examine and understand the meaning of history and culture?

What is our response to the context of the time in historiographies and deep description of cultures? How should the historical writings and cultural practices left by predecessors be continued or criticized in this era? In the age of risks and anxieties, innovation and hope, this panel invites participants to discuss and explore the possibilities dealing with the confusion of our time, reflecting on the legacies and responding to an innovative future, with the answers and responses rooted in the context of the diversity, in the rich historical subjects and diversified historical narratives, in the mixed cultural contexts and vivid cultural practices of Southeast Asia.

4. Order and Change: Southeast Asia’s Role and Response

Today’s world is witnessing changes in the international and regional order. As the great power competition continues, regional security is threatened by such factors as armed conflicts and public health crises, and countries are also experiencing changes and shocks at home. In this changing world, Southeast Asian countries should rise up to the new geopolitical challenges, find their new positions in the ever-changing international order, and participate in the shaping of the world order and regional order. Moreover, they should also deal with the impact of various ideological trends and external changes on domestic politics, economy, society and people’s livelihood, and navigate their own development in the ever-changing world. In this context, this panel will discuss the relationship between Southeast Asia and the current world order and changes, and observe how governments and people in Southeast Asia respond to challenges in the changing world order.

South Asia

1. Development of South Asia in the Post-Epidemic Era

Since the global spread of the epidemic from the year of 2020, South Asia has been severely impacted by the high population density of a quarter of the world's population and faces many challenges to its social development. The epidemic has profoundly changed the development of South Asia, with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, and Pakistan all experiencing economic and social problems in varying degrees. with respect to the momentum of political radicalization, the region is at risk of a new round of political unrest. In 2023, South Asia has entered the post-epidemic era, and South Asian countries are facing many development opportunities. This panel will analyze the development of South Asia from the perspectives of economics, politics, sociology, history and literature.

2. History, Culture, and Social Governance in South Asian Countries

One of the common features of South Asian countries is that they all have diverse societies and cultures, which have shaped different social forms and vibrant societies. South Asian countries are rich in literature, history, religion, and ethnicity, which have been influential in social development. Based on the profound history, social governance in South Asia also faces many practical problems. Social governance encompasses a wide range of actors, including governments, social organizations, business groups, and individuals, who jointly participate in important social affairs and work together to maximize the public interest. Topics such as cross-boundary water management, climate, forests, religious temples, basic education, and the status of women all have some historical and cultural influences and social forces involved. This panel attempts to discuss the historical and cultural factors of South Asian countries and the important issues of social governance within the countries, and based on that, to explore regional historical and cultural issues and transnational social issues.

Cross-Regional Panels

1. Regional Development in South and Southeast Asia: History and Impacts

South Asia and Southeast Asia have historically close ties. The two regions have had close contact and interaction in culture, language, politics, religion, and architecture, and the Southeast Asian region has been deeply influenced by the culture of South Asia. In the contemporary world, both South Asia and Southeast Asia are experiencing high economic growth and are simultaneously facing political, economic, and social issues such as post-colonial modernization, globalization, and nationalism. This panel will focus on the long history of interaction between these two regions and the impact of this interaction on both regions at various periods of history, as well as how South Asia and Southeast Asia respond to the common regional development issues they face contemporarily, in order to explore the commonalities between the South and Southeast Asia regions.

2. Global South Asia: Connection and Change

For complex historical reasons, a significant number of people from South Asia migrated to Africa, West Asia, Oceania and other regions since the 19th century. They gradually integrated into these regions and formed a large and stable diaspora, which has greatly enriched local cultural pluralism while participating deeply in local economic and political development as well. In the age of the many uncertainties that the world is facing today, these South Asians abroad maintain ties and bonds with their countries of origin in terms of historical memory, cultural identity, emotional closeness and economic aspirations, while at the same time they have also developed different worldviews and behavioral patterns in their new living environment. Against this backdrop, the theme of this panel aims to explore the complex changes and existences of the concept ‘South Asia’ outside its original borders, both in terms of the survival and development of overseas South Asians, and the relationship between South Asia, a complexus of geographical, geopolitical and cultural concepts, and its political, economic, socio-cultural interactions with countries and societies outside its borders.


3. Developing Countries in the Context of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

After the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Ukraine has become the front line and main battlefield of confrontation between Russia and the Western camp represented by the United States and the European Union. As the conflict continues, its consequences and effects have quickly spilled over, and the refugee crisis and the energy crunch first swept across Europe. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has also affected developing countries in Eurasia, West Asia and North Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean to varying degrees. In Eurasia, after Russia announced the partial mobilization order, some Russians began to flock to neighboring countries to avoid military service, and Kazakhstan became a popular destination. In West Asia and North Africa, oil-exporting countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are inevitably involved in the “oil and gas war” between the United States and Russia. In South Asia, both the United States and Russia want to woo India over to their side. In Sub-Saharan Africa, countries have suffered greatly from soaring fuel and food prices caused by Western sanctions against Russia. In Latin America and the Caribbean, some countries are under pressure to “pick their side” either with the US or Russia, and meanwhile have become the first victims of price hike of energy, food and other commodities. This panel aims to explore the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on developing countries and their response.

4. The Impact on Developing Countries of the Changing Global Economic Order

The panel focuses on the impact, both positive and negative, which the changing economic order is having on the peoples of the Global South. Some papers are expected to focus on the content and nature of the changing economic order, while others will look at the effects of these policies. These effects may include changes in the dynamics of the economies (in the pattern of state-business relations, development strategies pursued, labour organization and labour relations, etc), but the main emphasis will be on changes in the social conditions, well-being, and political dynamics confronting and experienced by the population. Attention is expected to be given to changing patterns of inequality, seen through the prisms of changes in the global distribution of wealth between different regions of the world, and the changing distribution of wealth within countries.

5. Conflict and Conflict Resolution in the Developing Countries

The panel takes a broad perspective on conflict. This perspective includes intra-societal conflict (such as conflicts based on ethnic, religious, class, race, rural-urban and pastoralist-farmer divisions); intra-state civil conflict (such as domestic insurgency, resource-based political struggles, and system- and personality-based political conflicts); and regional and international conflict. Particular attention will be given to the social and economic factors shaping conflict at all levels, and to the techniques and potential for conflict resolution in each case. The effectiveness of existing structures for conflict resolution will be assessed, and the scope for developing new institutions for conflict resolution will be given consideration.

6. The Dilemmas and Challenges for the Developing Countries in Confronting Climate Change

Intensifying global warming has made climate change an important public issue in today’s world. To address the negative effects of climate change, major countries including China and regional organizations have proposed their own carbon neutrality plan to accelerate the energy transition. Developing countries, as they are more vulnerable in terms of capital, technology and state governance capacity, face a more serious challenge imposed by the cumulative effects of climate change. This panel encourages participants to discuss the impact of climate change and energy transition on developing countries, plans and measures of developing countries to cope with climate change and energy transition, and the game between developed and developing countries toward the goal of carbon neutrality.