Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Re-defining Asia from within: Civil Society and the Pan-Asian Conferences of 1926 and 1927

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Gulmohar, First Floor

This paper revisits the Pan-Asian Conferences of 1926 in Nagasaki and 1927 in Shanghai as examples of civil society driven efforts at redefining ‘Asia’ from within Asia. Both conferences were organized by Chinese and Japanese Asianists who invited activists and thinkers from several East and Central Asian countries to discuss plans for the creation of an Asian League. This new League was not only meant as an alternative to the Geneva-based League of Nations in order to give Asians a stronger voice in international affairs and world politics. Its aim was also to serve as a platform of exchange to overcome intra-Asian dissonances and to strategically plan measures of regional integration, such as building schools, banks, and railways. Eventually, however, the difficult balancing act between nationalist and imperialist realities on the one hand and Asianist idealism on the other hand failed.


Using recently discovered archive materials, this paper will shed new light on how the conferences contributed to intra-Asian exchange and to the spatial definition of ‘Asia’ which challenged dominant Western imaginations of ‘Asia’ and of its assumed role in world history.  

Torsten Weber

DIJ German Institute for Japanese Studies, Japan

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