2 River Moei - Thailand-Myanmar border (houses on the other side are in the Burmese town of Myawaddy)

Activated Borders: Re-openings, Ruptures and Relationships
4th Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network

Deadline proposals: 1 February 2014

Conference dates: 8-10 December 2014

Venue: Southeast Asia Research Centre, City University of Hong Kong

All over Asia, international borders condition encounters between diverse ethnic, linguistic, economic, religious, and political groups. Recently, many formerly disregarded borders have been ‘activated’. Some have become more permeable for people, goods and ideas. By contrast, elsewhere in Asia borders have actively hardened. Such border dynamics (which have a history of centuries) shape cross-border linkages and are shaped by them. During the 4th Asian Borderlands Research Conference in Hong Kong, we invite submissions that address continuities and transformations along routes and borders in Asia, broadly related to the theme “Re-openings, Ruptures and Relationships.”

  • Re-openings: Asia has witnessed many closed and then re-opened borders. What are the political, economic and cultural factors behind these dynamics? Who are the prime movers behind activated borders – states, borderland communities, or others? What are the characteristics of the new connections, reunions and corridors that are being created in Asian borderlands – and how can we theorize them?
  • Ruptures: The closing of borders may lead to networks, communities and pathways being reimagined and restructured. What does closure mean in practice? How permeable are officially closed borders? And are they easier to cross for some than for others? Does it make sense to assert the idea of the “borderland” throughout political and historical ruptures?
  • Relationships: Cycles of border activation impinge on the evolution of ethnic, family and gender relations; trade, investment and infrastructure; migration and tourism; the flow of information and technology; environmental issues; security concerns; and many more. The physical presence of the state may wax and wane as borders open up and close down. How does this affect the relationships between state agents, borderland communities and border-crossing individuals?

Since one of the main goals of this conference is to spur collaboration and conversation across diverse fields in the hope of building up a more nuanced picture of the intersections and relationships across Asian borderlands, submissions are invited from scholars, writers, policy studies researchers, artists, filmmakers, activists, the media, and others from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds. We invite conceptually innovative papers, based on new research, in order to develop new perspectives in the study of Asian Borderlands.

Only a small number of individual papers will be selected. We therefore encourage you to submit a full panel proposal. 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.

The deadline to send in panel, roundtable and paper proposals is 1 February 2014.

Please visit http://asianborderlands.net/ to submit your proposal. Participants will be notified around April 2014.

Very limited financial support may be made available to specific scholars residing in Asia and some junior or low-income scholars in 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. The form should be submitted before 1 February 2014. Requests for funding received after this date will not be taken into consideration.

Further information about registration fees, the venue, and logistics will be provided on the ABRN website once the panels have been accepted.


  • Prof. Mark R. Thompson, City University of Hong Kong
  • Dr. Yuk Wah Chan, City University of Hong Kong
  • Dr. Tina Harris, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Prof. Willem van Schendel, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Dr. Erik de Maaker, Leiden University, the Netherlands

The conference is organized by the Southeast Asia Research Centre, City University of Hong Kong; International Institute for Asian Studies, the Netherlands and the Asian Borderlands Research Network.


For more information, please visit the website at http://asianborderlands.net/, or email [email protected]