At a time when national and global dynamics of historicization and politicization put transnational higher education under severe strain, this panel discusses the global locus and responsibility of the Asia-focused university classroom in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States in comparative and connective perspective. The roundtable responds to challenges old and new that have begun beleaguering the pedagogical means and goals of those cognizant of teaching Asia outside of Asia, outside of received Eurocentric institutional frameworks or both. To compensate for those challenges, the participants will engage collectively in delineating a set of shared concerns that affect students’ ability to engage in political reasoning, that promise to enhance their intellectual sensibilities and that can contribute to societies despite their disparities.
Perhaps since the 1990s more than before, the twentieth-century past of Asian societies appears more immediately enmeshed in the global present. For this reason, the participants highlight the diverse and rarely discussed experiences and forms of geographic, political and social distance in relation to teaching Asia beyond the Asia/West dichotomy, addressing the roles of professors and students alike. Participants will invite a conversation on the reasons why area studies in a global age have become a particularly conflictual and conflicted enterprise: a force field of individual, institutional and intellectual vectors and priorities requiring transnational teachers to reposition their classrooms amid national specialties. How can academic capacities be buttressed through local advantages while adjusting pedagogies to an Asia socially, politically and intellectually in flux? Moving beyond the essentialist and inaccurate cliché of “Asia” versus “the West,” the roundtable calls for a serious exploration how to teach Asia beyond Eurocentric paradigms regardless of academic location and its constraints.
Aligned with the ICAS 11 theme, the roundtable is consciously composed of academics whose transnational backgrounds play a formative role in their pedagogical functions past and future. The lives and trajectories of teachers and students poses the fundamental question whether Asian history in the twenty-first century can be taught in new ways with a human purpose.