Recalibrating Diasporas: Asia Pacific and the Spaces Beyond

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
School of Arts, Murdoch University

Recalibrating Diasporas:

Asia Pacific and the Spaces Beyond


An Interdisciplinary, International Conference organised by

The School of Arts, Murdoch University, in cooperation with the

Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies





June 27-28, 2019


In the 21st century, we bear witness to an array of variables that compel us to re-think the meaning of “diaspora.” The Anthropocene and political upheaval have forced human life to become far more precarious than in previous era. Environmental catastrophes, climate change, natural disasters, and water shortages exact minute control over the movements of precarious lives. Such control occurs even as these conflicts regulate, through deficits of sustenance, the health and wellbeing of individual lives and their linked families and kinship bonds. New political formations and competition over these fluvial networks through and beyond the borders of Asia Pacific make us re-think the overdetermined meanings of “the Global South,” and consequently “the Global North,” in the 21st century.


These concepts apply blanket definitions to areas that are very different, and are, moreover, socially, politically, economically, and technologically vulnerable in distinct ways. These areas and waterways have differently facilitated and experienced colonialism by competing empires that have employed different modalities of domination and tactics of wealth and labour expropriation. The oceanic waterways that facilitate these processes involve a network of “roots and routes,” to draw on Paul Gilroy’s terminology from his seminal study The Black Atlantic (1993), and have centred the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean as privileged sites of trade movement. In this particular scenario of knowledge production, we propose a return to the term “diaspora” in the interest of more complex ways of thinking about migration and its liminality. 


Recalibrating Diasporas thus seeks to critically interrogate the geopolitical recalibrations and vectors of power that produce diaspora in the present moment. Environmental, socio-economic, geopolitical, and technological shifts have cast wide effects on the culture, literature, philosophy, and identity of the affiliated countries. Robust debates concerning immigration, citizenship, indigenous versus hegemonic cultures, gender and sexuality, legacies of racism, global ecosystems, and the definition of “The Global South” warrant a rigorous return to the term “diaspora.” This return is especially significant in the frame of diaspora’s relation to particular global pathways and spaces and is perhaps more important now than ever before with respect to the Indian Ocean and its conjunction with other waterways including (but not limited to) the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf, Southern Ocean, Tasman Sea, South China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean.


To this effect, we welcome interdisciplinary scholarship on race, space, power, the Anthropocene, and diaspora in the wake of decolonisation movements into and beyond the 21st century around the theme Re-Thinking Diasporas in the broadest possible sense.



Confirmed keynote speakers at the conference are:


Professor Paul Arthur

Chair in Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, and Director of the Centre for Global Issues, in the School of Arts and Humanities.

Edith Cowan University, Australia


Professor Dipesh Chakrabarty

The Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations

University of Chicago, USA


Professor Ann McGrath

Director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History and Professor of History

Australian National University, Australia


Professor Gunlög Fur

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Founder of the Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies

Linnaeus University, Sweden


Paper topics may address but are not limited to:


-- Redefining migration, diaspora, postcolonial studies

-- The Anthropocene and its effect on diaspora

-- Reconceptualizing the globe and globalisation

-- Diaspora in (post)colonial history

-- Indigenous peoples and limitations on domestic movement

-- Indian Ocean Studies along and beyond the rim

-- Diaspora and deep history

-- Digital humanities, media, and culture/ cultural studies

-- Identity studies dealing with race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, nationality

-- Queer (LGBTQI+) subject formations and oceanic identities

-- New currents of xenophobia, racism, orientalism, otherness, and exclusion

-- Language, citizenship, employment status treaties

-- Policy, law, and trade issues that re-shape comparative Asian Studies

-- Lines of migration and postcolonial enquiry from Europe to Australasia

-- New media studies and communication paradigms

-- Diasporic religions and rituals, and belief systems on the move

-- Innovation and threats around nuclear technology, war, holocaust, contamination

-- Mining, fracking, and other forms of resource extraction from the earth

-- Ecological humanities, including environmental literature, history, and philosophy

-- New genealogies and historiographies of migration and citizenship

-- Re-thinking area studies and field formations

-- Human trafficking and sex work with reference to illegal movement

-- Tactics and strategies of tourism, trade, and marketing

-- Surrogate mothers, midwifery, adoption, reproduction, and parenting across borders

-- Political economies, food security, job security, and threats to the aforementioned

-- Endemic wildlife and ecosystems and the looming threat of extinction

-- Gaps in trauma studies, especially how it relates to Africa and Australasia



Please submit a 500-word abstract along with a short CV (2pp max.) as one document by 30 November, 2018, to:



We expect to vet and select abstracts in a timely manner. A range of accommodation options in Perth City and the port city of Fremantle is available, as are options in Murdoch. Perth features some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and June tends to be pleasantly cool. Perth and Fremantle feature multiple attractions, events, bars, and restaurants. We anticipate several publication opportunities to arise from the conference in reputable academic venues including at least one edited collection of essays and one special journal issue. We also expect to nurture new collaborations.


Those who are accepted following the deadline will be apprised of the specific venue, hotel rates, and other details as we confirm them along with the final program.


Organizing Committee officers (alphabetically):


Dr Tim Flanagan, Space Coordinator

Philosophy, Murdoch University


Dr Rahul K Gairola, Co-Chair

English & Postcolonial Literature, Murdoch University


Dr Johan Höglund, Co-Chair

Director LNUC Concurrences, Linnaeus University


Dr Melissa Merchant, Co-Chair

Theatre and Drama Studies, Murdoch University


Dr Lauren O’Mahony, Local Advisor

Global Media & Communication, Murdoch University


Dr Simon Order, Treasurer

Radio & Sound, Murdoch University