• Conference

7th Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network

24 - 26 June 2021

7th Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network

Borderland Futures: Technologies, Zones, Co-existences

Dates: 24-26 June 2021
Venue: Reconciliation & Coexistence in Contact Zone (RCCZ) Research Center, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea

Deadline Call for Proposals: 30 September 2019

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE - Asian Borderlands Conference Seoul - Postponed to 24-26 June 2021 due to COVID-19 Outbreak

Borderland Futures: Technologies, Zones, Co-existences

In the past decade, Asian borderlands have experienced intense ruptures and unparalleled connectivity across diverse communities and geographies. The re-opening of frontiers has unleashed a development frenzy evident in new railways, road networks, import/export zones, trading ports, markets and casinos. Higher level initiatives such as China’s “Belt and Road” and India’s revamped “Act East” policies seem to promise a renewed interest in creating greater social and economic spaces for mutual prosperity. At the same time, ground level realities challenge these top down notions and visions of transregional engagement and fast-track development.

Over the past decade peace-building and co-existence have opened new possibilities for reconciliation, resolution, and readiness for shared futures. State and non-state actors continue to seek new directions and pathways away from a past haunted by conflicts, violence and unsettled differences. In doing so friendship ties and communal bonds can be strengthened across borders to make space for respect, recognition, and co-existence. Nevertheless, anxieties over security and sovereignty trigger concerns over unregulated mobilities, the prevalence of shadow economies, new forms of crime, the abuse of military force, and resource and trade wars. Borders are thus being reconsidered and reinforced in parts of Asia, creating new uncertainties and precarities for communities living in borderlands.

The 7th Asian Borderland Research Network (ABRN) conference focuses on three key themes – technologies, zones, co-existences – that aim to generate broader debate and intellectual engagement with borderland futures. Panels and papers will offer critical reflections on these key themes both theoretically and empirically.

Technologies – Borderlands in Asia are shaped by technology to varying degrees: from sites of surveillance and dense infrastructure to areas that are seemingly remote and distant from nodes of technology. Panels engaging with this theme might consider the following questions: How do technologies of various forms transform the ways in which borders are drawn, maintained, and crossed? How are technologies used to make borders “smarter”? How do technologies enable new opportunities for social and economic development on the margin? How have endogenous forms of technology been evolving across the Asian borderlands? Can technologies help to remake the geographies of power? Will technologies lead to new forms of displacement and dispossession?

Zones – Borderlands are attractive as zones for development, investment, extraction and extra-territorial experimentation. Panels engaging with this theme might consider the following questions: How do zones alter the lives and livelihoods of borderland communities? Do zones enable new forms of mobility in borderlands and across borders? Can we imagine zones as both productive and extractive sites? What are the politics around establishing zones in borderlands, and how do they reflect changing spatial imaginations? Do productive zones change the vision of borderlands in national and transnational ideas of the future? What happens to borderlands when zones decline or are shut down?

Co-existences – Everyday life in Asian borderlands in history was and is determined by varying forms of socio-economic, cultural and political co-existence, which are often (but not necessarily) subject to transforming border regimes. Panels engaging with this theme might consider the following questions: How might we identify and analyse co-existence in Asian borderlands? What kinds of institutions, communities, societies and polities co-exist in borderlands? How does the constant negotiation of co-existence lead to new configurations of border arrangements? How can historical memory and experience of co-existence and convergence in borderlands resolve disputes and conflicts between nations and states in the future? What role do technologies and zones, but also interconnections, infrastructures and mobilities, play in negotiating and shaping co-existences across borders and vice versa?   

Humanities and Technologies for the Sustainable Peace and Co-existence in Contact Zone

A Special Programme for the 70th Korean War anniversary commemoration

The 7th ABRN conference also marks the historic occasion of the 70th Korean War commemoration, which offers a unique opportunity in time for scholars to discuss a future of peaceful co-existence across the Korean Peninsula and beyond. ABRN and RCCZ will host a special parallel programme on the Korean War commemoration to encourage cross-disciplinary dialogues and scholarly discussions on sustainable peace and co-existence in contact zones in and beyond the Korean context.   

Application Procedure

Since one of the main goals of this conference is to spur collaboration and conversations across diverse fields in the hope of building up a more nuanced picture of the intersections and relationships across Asian borderlands, we would like to include scholars, writers, policy studies researchers, artists, filmmakers, activists, the media, and others from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds. We hope that these conceptually innovative panels, based on new research, will help to develop new perspectives in the study of Asian Borderlands.

We encourage applicants to submit a full panel proposal, as only a small number of individual papers will be selected. We will consider proposals for panels and roundtables that have a thematic focus, are of a comparative character, and involve scholars or practitioners affiliated with different institutions. If you are looking for other people to join your panel prior to the 30 September deadline, you may post your panel abstract and contact information on our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/asianborderlands) in order to reach a wider network.

 The deadline to send in panel, roundtable and paper proposals is Monday 30 September 2019. Participants will be notified around January 2020. Please visit the Application Forms Page to submit your proposal.


 Very limited financial support may be made available to some scholars who reside in Asia and some junior or low-income scholars from other parts of the world. If you would like to be considered for a grant, please submit the Grant Application Form in which you state the motivation for your request. Please also specify the kind of funding that you will apply for or will receive from other sources. Please note that the conference operates on a limited budget, and will not normally be able to provide more than a partial coverage of the costs of travel. The form should be submitted before 30 September 2019. Requests for funding received after this date will not be taken into consideration.

Further information about registration fees, the venue, accommodation, and logistics will be provided on the ABRN website (www.asianborderlands.net) once the panels have been accepted.

For updates on Registeration (Covid 19 Update): All paid registrations will be automatically transferred to the new dates, no action is needed. If you are unable to attend the conference in 2021, you may cancel and receive a full refund of your registration fee, please contact us to arrange for the refund. The early bird registration fee will be extended until 1 February 2021.


Duncan McDuie-Ra, University of New South Wales, Australia

Erik de Maaker, Leiden University, the Netherlands

Henryk Alff, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Germany

Juan Zhang, Bristol University, United Kingdom

Kee-Hyun Ban, Reconciliation & Coexistence in Contact Zone (RCCZ) Research Center, South Korea

Tina Harris, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Willem van Schendel, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands


The conference is organized by the Reconciliation & Coexistence in Contact Zone (RCCZ) Research Center; International Institute for Asian Studies and the Asian Borderlands Research Network (ABRN).

To visit the official website: https://www.asianborderlands.net/?fbclid=IwAR3eig0L78UJhKHecwMStKBU_T-bjKYbTDRx4DSzTVlzUqsD0c9pTITJFx8

To visit the RCCZ updates: http://rccz.cau.ac.kr/eng/03_work/work_02a.php?idx=&p_idx=147&s_kind=&s_scroll=&s_key=&p_page=1&code=b_2&p_listtype=&p_mode=view&mode=&p_pgfile=%2Feng%2F03_work%2Fwork_02a.php


Reconciliation & Coexistence in Contact Zone (RCCZ) Research Center
Chung-Ang University
South Korea


For more information, please contact Ms Martina van den Haak at  m.c.van.den.haak@iias.nl