Border Studies is a field attempting to extend its reach. Generally understood to have originated in - and still be centered on North America and Europe - recent years have seen the desire and necessity of applying its insights further afield, become increasingly common. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its preponderant demographic, and increasingly economic, weight, attention has focused, patchily and unevenly, on Asia. However, with Asian states continuing to be defined in such seemingly contradictory terms as non-Westphalian and Westphalian, or colonial and post-colonial, is there any value in attempting to reach a consensus on what exactly border studies within Asia might look like? On the basis of work done on territorial disputes at opposite ends of Asia, in Japan and Georgia, and making reference to India’s Northeast, this paper shall offer a first, and very early, attempt at setting out why there may be value in considering a specifically Asian border studies within this globalizing world, and why the time now would be ripe for the further development of such a notion. Such a claim serves notice that globalization has reconfigured rather than reduced the significance of the state, with notions of an Asian border to study being intimately related to the most recent manifestation of material globalization, China’s much-heralded OBOR policy, seeking to girdle the world in a network of state-sanctioned flows. Yet amid the constant invocations of economic policies developed by both regional and national authorities that hold out the promise of an ever-expanding flow of wealth overwhelming barriers in the region, programs for upgrading infrastructure in order to make this vision a reality still stumble in marking out the state’s extent. This presentation will argue that it is in the increasing salience of this contrasting logic that we may find value in the notion of studying Asian borders.
About the Speaker
Edward Boyle is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law and the Center for Asia-Pacific Future Studies, Kyushu University, Japan. His doctoral research concentrates upon the incorporation of Japan’s north into the space of the state during the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, looking at the history of the cartography of the region as well as the concepts of territory that underpinned them. More recently, he has been looking at the comparative history of early modern imperial mapping, contemporary practices of bordering and the multiscale nature of borders under globalization. His work intersects with political science, geography, history, and scholarship on international relations.
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