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With this 2022 theme, we aim to draw attention to how Asian societies and diasporas have been shaped by empire. We understand empire to be a crucial factor in shaping the trajectories of past and present Asian societies. This theme seeks to explore questions such as how Western colonialism and imperialism have influenced politics, culture, economics, and social relations in Asian societies and diasporas; how unequal global and local power relations continue to matter for transnational solidarities and struggles for social justice in Asia and in the United States and how non-western empires matter within Asia. We propose that an understanding of empire and its consequences in Asia is crucial to promoting social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion in the United States and in Asia. Our events this year will seek to highlight diverse and marginalized voices in Asian Studies. This theme will undergird our events in 2022-2023, culminating in our annual symposium in spring 2023.   



Friday, April 21, 10:30am - 5pm
CASE Building E422

This year’s Asia Symposium will explore two fundamental contemporary legacies of imperialism and colonialism in Asia: indigeneity and environmental justice. Noting that empire has been a crucial factor in shaping the trajectories of past and present Asian societies, this year’s symposium seeks to draw connections between past and present, between activism and scholarship, and between Asia and the US. The Asia Symposium will feature two roundtables featuring both early-career and more established scholars from the Colorado Front Range region, and a keynote by Professor Sunil Amrith. Please join us for this special day of discussion and reflection on the linkages between empire and changing Asian environments, social movements, and indigenous politics.

10:30 Opening Remarks
Tim Oakes 
(CAS Interim Faculty Director) and
Holly Barnard (Associate Dean for Research) 

10:45am - 12:15pm Roundtable: Politics of Indigeneity in Asia

This roundtable brings together scholars to discuss contemporary politics of indigeneity in Asia. Centering Indigenous perspectives and epistemologies, the scholars will discuss how indigeneity functions across different colonial/imperial geographies in Asia and highlight varying struggles for self-determination and sovereignty.

Naim Aburaddi (PhD Student, Media Studies, CU Boulder) 
Patrick Das (PhD Student, Linguistics, CU Boulder)
Shae Frydenlund (Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geography, Indiana University) 
Dawa T. Lokyitsang (PhD Candidate, Anthropology, CU Boulder) 

Moderated by: Natalie Avalos (Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies) 

12:15pm-1:15pm Lunch Break (on your own)

1:15pm-2:45pm Roundtable: Environmental Justice in Asia

This roundtable will feature scholars from several Front Range universities to discuss environmental justice in contemporary Asia. Topics will include a discussion of the work being done by activists in different parts of Asia toward climate justice and a just transition, the key injustices faced in different contexts, the relationship between activism and scholarship, and how research on environmental justice in Asia shapes the teaching of EJ issues in the US context.

Denise Fernandes (PhD Candidate, Environmental Studies, CU Boulder)
Sara Jackson Shumate (Director for the Center for Individualized Learning (CIL) At Metropolitan State University of Denver)
KuoRay Mao (Associate Professor, Sociology, Colorado State University)
Phaedra Pezzullo (Associate Professor in the College of Media, Communication, and Information, CU Boulder)
Emma Loizeaux (PhD Student, Geography, CU Boulder)

Moderated by: Emily Yeh (Professor of Geography, CU Boulder)

3:00-4:30 Keynote: Sunil Amrith, (Yale University) 

Life, Moving: Notes from a Small Island
Ecologists tell us that we are living in the midst of a “universal redistribution of life on Earth.” This talk explores what that means, starting from the vantage point of a city-state—Singapore—that is better endowed than most small islands to respond to rising waters. What kinds of people—and what other forms of life—can, and can’t, move in response to escalating risk and uninhabitable conditions? Moving from the biography of a single tree to the constrained movement of migrant workers across borders, the talk places both mobility and immobility at the heart of our considerations of environmental justice.
Sunil Amrith is the Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History at Yale University, and current chair of the Council on South Asian Studies at Yale’s MacMillan Center. His research focuses on the movements of people and the ecological processes that have connected South and Southeast Asia. Amrith is the author of four books, including Unruly Waters (2018) and Crossing the Bay of Bengal (2013). He is the recipient of the 2022 Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History, a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, and the 2016 Infosys Prize in Humanities

Followed by a reception in the Chancellor's Hall

2023 Asia Symposium Participant Bios