AAWH 5th Congress
6-8 October 2021
Jawaharlal Nehru university
New Delhi, India
Asia and the Globe: Connecting the Past with the Present
the AAWH President
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, most international conferences have been cancelled or moved to virtual platforms. Despite the challenges, we are planning to hold the Asian Association of World Historians (AAWH) 5th Congress at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, India in October 2021.
The value of direct face-to-face discussions and dialogues among AAWH members and scholars has become even more vital, even as we may use some remote applications such as Zoom or Google Docs. Direct interpersonal communication enables us to clearly experience one another’s intents and motivations more effectively than discussion limited to virtual dialogue.
This pandemic reminds us of the historical meaning of ‘decolonisation’ in the Asia-Pacific area and the limitations of transnational cooperation in the region. The progress and duration of decolonisation and the attendant post-colonial globalisation and formation of Asia-Pacific nation-states have been limited—around 70 years since 1946. After the end of the Cold War (1989-1991) the pace of globalisation accelerated in the region. Many expected the coming of an era with a new sense of global citizenship (perhaps most strongly around the Asia-Pacific). However, the reality now looks to be a revival of nation-states and a strengthening of their influence both domestically and externally. The current coronavirus pandemic has served to remind us of these realities and the limitations of regional and transnational cooperation.
Since its foundation, JNU has played a leading role in India (South Asia) in the support of liberal democracy and civil rights. It is a great privilege and honour for us to collaborate with JNU scholars to create ‘World History from Asian Perspectives’ based on their liberal-minded academic traditions in the face of Asia’s current disruptive international order.
I strongly hope that the challenges related to the coronavirus in India and other regions will improve in the near future. We will continue to make plans and will formally announce the details of the coming JNU conference at a later time.
Professor Shigeru Akita
President, The Asian Association of World Historians
Convener, The fourth Conference of the Asian Association of World Historians
Professor of Western History, Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University
Jawaharlal Nehru University
In response to the most apt short message uploaded by Professor Shigeru Akita, President of AAWH, I would like to add a short message in solidarity with the spirit expressed by the President on behalf of the JNU organizing committee for the 5th Congress of the AAWH.
The global pandemic has indeed brought to fore global challenges far beyond just the health and medical issues. In the wake of the pandemic we are witnessing the much greater need for global cooperation, which unfortunately is not happening on a sufficient scale, barring perhaps some positive initiatives within the European Union seen recently. The challenges faced globally are many: that of maintaining economic growth; providing a much sturdier safety net for the underprivileged groups, classes or even nations; resisting the easy slide towards subversion of democratic rights using the special powers appropriated by the state to deal with the pandemic and so on. The fault lines, to the extent that they existed in each society are now getting foregrounded in all their naked brutality, as it has always tended to historically, at times of such crisis.
This is precisely the moment when the global intelligentsia needs to brainstorm and intervene globally. The AAWH provides one such platform. The fifth meet for the AAWH in JNU in fact has a special panel on the pandemic and issues arising from it. The other panels too discuss issues of international cooperation, global best practices in challenging excesses committed by the state and so on.
The President has been generous in praising the liberal, democratic, pro-poor heritage that JNU has stood for, a heritage bequeathed by India’s national liberation struggle. Our students and faculty have over the years been known for the resistance they offered to any attempt to curb that tradition. We will be proud to hold the next Congress of the AAWH to keep that heritage alive. We are very hopeful that by October 2021 we will be able to hold this most meaningful event.
Professor Aditya Mukherjee
Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi