Crossroads Asia Conference at Center for Development Research, Bonn, Germany, November 27-28, 2014

Call for Papers

The research network Crossroads Asia: Conflict, Migration, Development, funded by the Area Studies Initiative of the German Ministry of Education and Research since March 2011 questions the validity of the conventional ‘world regions’ of Central and South Asia as defining bases for Area Studies as conceptualized, organized and taught at German universities. The increasing mobility of people, goods and ideas along Asia’s crossroads – so the networks assumption – does not  justify a division of the world in territorially fixed ‘areas’, defined by certain character traits to be found on the ‘inside’, but instead demands for concepts that take these dynamisms into account. The network chose Norbert Elias’ concept of figurations to generate knowledge transgressing conventional areas and brought together researchers trained in Central, South Asian and Iranian Studies with geographers, political scientists, sociologists, linguists and social anthropologists.

The here proposed conference on ‘Crossroads Studies’ as research programme aims to bring together the empirical research conducted by the network members with empirical, conceptual and methodological debates on the rethinking of Area Studies – from Asia just as much as from other parts of the world. It is the explicit aim to identify several empirically-based common lines of thought and emic patterns of  defining socio-cultural and physical spaces relevant for the rethinking of disciplinary constructs of those, namely for Area Studies.

Our research into the everyday lives of people living between Eastern Iran and Northern India, as well as the Aral Sea and Western China strongly indicates that different mobilities, just as much as immobilities, and thus different types of borders and boundaries are negotiated, take on shape, come into being or are deconstructed again in and as a consequence of human communication and interaction processes.

The notion of ‘Crossroads Studies’ therefore refers not only to the study of different types of mobility and immobility along some of Asia’s crossroads and the reflection of the researcher’s own position in this. But in addition it refers to the conscious reflection of these border/boundary negotiations as processes of the communicative construction of socio-cultural and physical spaces at the crossroads of Area Studies and ‘systematic’ disciplines. We thus locate ourselves, ‘Crossroads Studies’, in the centre of what Knorr-Cetina (1999: 12) calls “the disunity of science” and “the diversity of the manufacturing systems from which truth effects arise”. It is this diversity – with reference to ‘systematic’ disciplines, Area Studies and geographic regions of the world that we hope to nurture in this conference on rethinking of Area Studies, by studying the dynamisms and the blockades of today’s world.

We thus would like to encourage the submission of innovative papers related to the rethinking of Area Studies from any disciplinary or Area Studies perspective as well as of empirical and/or conceptual nature. For submission please send a max. 2 page long abstract and a short CV to Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge (Mail: by latest April 30th. Selected speakers will be expected to submit a full draft of the conference paper by October 15, 2014. The conference organisers will cover the travel expenses of all invited speakers.    

Center for Development Research
Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF)
University of Bonn
Walter-Flex-Str. 1-3, Room 1.013
53113 Bonn, Germany