AAS/SSRC Dissertation Workshop, Toronto

The Association for Asian Studies and the Social Science Research Council have announced plans for the first jointly organized AAS/SSRC Dissertation Workshop, which will be held in conjunction with the AAS annual conference in Toronto in March 2012. The workshop will be organized and led by David Szanton and will follow the same basic model used in previous AAS workshops.

The workshop title is “Rewriting History: Nationalism, Identity, and the Politics of the Past.” Radical and conservative scholars, novelists and biographers, governments, education ministries, and tourist agencies are all writing and rewriting national histories and narratives. Attempts to strengthen or legitimate specific interests have entailed the rediscovery, reinterpretation and even the reinvention of values and identities, past social forms, victories and defeats, as well as natural and human trauma. Rewriting the past and creating heritage are ancient and seemingly universal phenomena, raising difficult questions about what we can know and the politics of historical writing. Issues of rewriting history are not limited to the concerns of historians; they are as salient to anthropologists, political scientists, specialists on religion, cultural studies, and others across the humanities and social sciences.This workshop is intended to bring together doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences who are developing dissertation proposals or are in early phases of research or dissertation writing and who are also dealing with the kinds of issues mentioned above in the context of contemporary or historic Asian states and societies.

The workshop will be limited to twelve students, ideally from a broad array of disciplines and working on a wide variety of materials in a variety of time periods and in various regions of Asia. It also will include a small multidisciplinary and multi-area faculty with similar concerns.

The workshop will be scheduled for the days immediately preceding the 2012 AAS annual conference in Toronto. It will cover two and one-half days of intense discussion beginning the evening of Monday, March 12, and running through noon of Thursday, March 15.

Pending receipt of outside foundation funding, participants also will be invited back for a post-fieldwork workshop. The second workshop will be held 24 months later, after many or most participants have completed a significant amount of fieldwork or archival research and are at varying stages in the writing process. This follow-up workshop is intended to help participants shape and articulate the key focus of their dissertations as they begin writing.

The organizers will be able to provide at least limited financial support for participants, including three nights’ accommodations, meals, and partial “need-based” travel funds. Students are encouraged to approach their home institutions for additional support. Additional support may become available pending outside funding. It is hoped that participants also will attend the AAS annual meeting immediately following the workshop.

Applicants need not have advanced to candidacy but must have at least drafted a dissertation research proposal. Applications are also welcome from doctoral students in the early phases of writing their dissertations. Application instructions and forms will be available on the SSRC Web site (www.ssrc.org) by December 1, 2011, and must be submitted by January 3, 2012.

Workshop participants will be selected on the basis of the submitted projects, the potential for useful exchanges among them, and a concern to include a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, intellectual traditions, and regions of Asia. Applicants will be informed whether or not they have been selected for the workshop by late January.

For further information about the workshop structure and eligibility,
contact David Szanton (Szanton@berkeley.edu). Questions concerning administrative matters or the application process should be directed to Nicole Restrick (Restrick@ssrc.org).