GLASS Roundtables

GLASS will host various events that involve the Visiting Scholars or relate to their work. These might include faculty roundtable discussions, reading groups, film screenings, or visits to collections.

Faculty Roundtable: Art in Exile (December 2014)

11 December 2014 
Gravensteen, Room 11 
Pieterskerkhof 6 
2311 SR Leiden

Art in Exile: global modalities of art production, display and appropriation
What different kinds of work does art do in a global context? Specifically focusing on art in ‘exile’ or diaspora, we wish to discuss and debate how art - produced, displayed and encountered - constitutes different modes of global knowledge and experience.

For the artist in exile, artworks can produce a powerful expression of a complex suite of anxieties, desires, affective states and political statements that encompass experiences of exile, belonging, liminality, and fragmentation. In the museum context, assemblages of objects and artworks that are the result of longstanding European collecting practices in distant places do a very different kind of work in their host country. Here, we wish to problematize more explicitly the notion of the ‘exotic’. Like the fetish and the rarity, the exotic is art “in exile” from its previous familiar surroundings. In what ways does the act of bringing something inside museum walls set in motion a series of metamorphoses? More concretely, one could ask: what does Asian (or African or American) art mean in the context of the Europe, both within institutional/public culture and popular/private culture? What, if any, is the relationship between the display of ‘Asian Art’ in national museums and the popular trend of displaying Buddhas in Dutch homes? We are interested in examining the kinds of experiences and expectations that inhabit or enshroud Asian or other art practice in these different contexts of exile.

Scholars invited to this roundtable addressed these various modalities of art-in-exile in order to foster critical reflection on the histories and conditions of possibility that have brought about the exiled or diasporic status of various artworks and collections. We considered what these art practices reveal about historical and contemporary relationships between Europe and other states and regions, and the specific capacity of art to mediate, consolidate, transgress and transform them.

Topics and participants

Prof.dr. Anne Gerritsen (Leiden, LIAS)

Prof. Clare Harris (Oxford, Anthropology) - exile and belonging in global art worlds 

Prof. Peter Pels (Leiden, Anthropology) - collecting and enclosing the ‘exotic’ 

Dr. Wayne Modest (NMWV, Director of the Research Center for Material Culture)- popular appropriations of non-European art 

Dr. Anna Grasskamp (Heidelberg, Art History)- crossroads – framing ‘Asian art’ in Europe


Faculty Roundtable: Who Owns the Canon? (October 2014)

Time: 11.00-13.00 hours. 
Location: Heinsius room, University Library
Witte Singel 27, Leiden. 

This faculty roundtable was organised by LUCIS in cooperation with GLASS (Global Asia Scholar Series).

Who Owns the Canon?
Is the concept of a canon, a fixed and historically located corpus of words spoken by a historical figure, an illusion? The historical processes that lay behind the formation of authoritative scriptures have long been included in debates on how to trace words passed on through time and place to historical figures. Taking this process further, the canon can be viewed as a living text – the (temporary, localized) product of a never-ending process of revision and change at the hands of individuals and groups far removed from the one in whose name the words were spoken. Applied to constantly new needs and insights, the question arises to what extent the transmitted words can be linked to the historical figures who gave their name to them and whether we can speak of canons at all. 

Examining the canon as a continuously fluid corpus, this roundtable raised the following questions: 

- How do canons come into existence? What forces, external or internal, impact(ed) the formation process and the form of authoritative scriptures? How does this impact claims of historicity? 
- Can we identify a situation of "being a canon" or are there only "canonization processes"? Is there an end to the canonization process? 
- How does the appropriation of authoritative scriptures by individuals and groups impact the form of a canon? 
- How does the use of the canon through time and place impact its meaning and form? What revisions and changes are recognizable in this process? 
- Against this background, is it still possible to speak of the words of Socrates, Muhammad, Confucius, the Buddha, etc.?

1. Professor Jonathan Brown (Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization, Georgetown University) 
2. Professor Jonathan Silk (Buddhist studies, Leiden University) 
3. Professor Ineke Sluiter (Classical languages and culture, Leiden University)  
4. Dr Kiri Paramore (Asian Studies, Leiden University) 

Chair: professor Petra Sijpesteijn (director of LUCIS and professor of Arabic Language and Culture, Leiden University).


Faculty Roundtable: International Borders and the Incoherent State (March 2014)

7 March 2014
Gravensteen, Room 1.11
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

Roundtable Questions
Is the idea of the coherent state no longer tenable? From the perspective of its borders and margins, the state and its classical image as exercising full authority within its borders has eroded. Increased mobilities (of people, commodities, networks) across national borders has undermined simple binary couplings such as legality and order, state and authority, legitimacy and power. Exploring questions of fluid or ‘incoherent’ borderlands, this roundtable will raise the following questions:

- In what ways do transnational flows and mobilities, and the multiple state strategies to contain, bypass, deflect or co-opt them, produce ‘incoherent states’ or new concepts of the state?

- How is the concept of sovereignty reconfigured by competing sources of authority and the social configurations created in border zones across Asia? Do these border practices effectively render differences between strong and weak states irrelevant and if so how and to what extent?

- What new subjectivities and moral geographies are produced in such zones?

1. Caroline Humphrey (Anthropology, Cambridge)
2. Erik de Maaker (Anthropology, Leiden)
3. Leonard Blussé (History, Leiden)
Chair: Leo Lucassen (History, Leiden)

Faculty Roundtable: Postcolonial Frictions? (June 2013)

Postcolonial Frictions? (Dis)Locating the 'pre-modern' in Asian Modernities
14 June 2013
11.00-13.00 hrs
Gravensteen, Room 1.11
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

Kicking off the discussion, Farish Noor spoke about the recent 'invasion' of East Malaysia by Southern Filipinos who claim an ancestral right to their 'native land'. He used this example as a way to look at the question of the postmodern postcolonial nation state in Asia and is concerned with the following questions:

- Can we really escape primordialism (ethno-nationalism and ties of blood and belonging) in a postcolonial world today?
- Are these ties really a symptom of the pre-modern interrupting the course of modernity (ie. an abberation) or are they forms of subaltern resistance that may not necessarily be negative?
- How do we understand the process of capital-driven democratic development in Asia today? I view countries like Malaysia, Indonesia as hybrid states that contain elements iof both the modern and pre-modern, and without having to create a new hybrid typology, can we rethink our premises for modernity and the project of Modernity?

General Roundtable Questions
1. Where is the ‘primordial’ in the post-colony? How do state and capital stage, appropriate or re-configure the primordial and the pre-modern?

2. How do contesting claims of lineage and ancestry (through the tropes of ethnicity, regionalism, sovereignty, cultural practice, etc.) disturb the idea of a monolithic ‘national-modern’ in the post-colonies?

3. Are frames of ‘hybrid’, ‘alternative’, and ‘multiple’ modernities valid or sustainable for theorizing the Asian modern?

1. Farish Noor (Political Science, Nanynag Technical University)
2. Bart Barendregt (Anthropology, Leiden)
3. Kiri Paramore (LIAS-Japanese Studies, Leiden)
4. Idrees Kanth (LIAS-South Asian Studies, Leiden)

Faculty Roundtable: The Question of Gender (April 2013)

Asian Modernities, Global Interactions and the Question of Gender

25 April 2013
13.00-15.00 hrs
Gravensteen, Room 11
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

Roundtable Questions

1. What does gender analysis—and not just a focus on women -- bring to fields such as Asian studies and global studies? What are some of the conceptual blind spots of these fields that it helps illuminate?

2. Why has gender-analysis remained marginal to the major concerns and questions of Asian and global studies?

3. Does gender continue to remain an important category of analysis in this moment of post-national scholarship? Has gender reached its conceptual limits as currently conceived?

4. How might Asian and global studies revitalize the critical potential of gender as a category of analysis? What questions and concerns might these fields raise for gender scholarship?


Professor Mrinalini Sinha, History/South Asia, Unversity of Michigan
Prof. dr. Remco Breuker, Korean Studies, Leiden
Dr. Ratna Saptari, Anthropology/Southeast Asia, Leiden
Dr. Harriet T. Zurndorfer, Chinese History, Independent Scholar/Leiden
Dr. Anup Grewal (Moderator) Comparative Literature, Kings College London

M. Sinha, “A Global Perspective on Gender: What’s South Asia Got to do with it?" in Ania Loomba and Ritty Lukose eds. South Asian Feminisms (Duke University Press, 2012), pp. 356-374

Ara Wilson, “Intimacy: A Useful Category of Transnational Analysis” in Geraldine Pratt & Victoria Rosner eds. The Global and the Intimate, (Columbia University Press, 2012), pp. 31-56.

Faculty Roundtable: Alternatives to Eurocentricism (November 2012)

Asian Modernities, Global Interactions, and Alternatives to Eurocentricism
November 23, 2012 
13.00-15.00 hrs
Gravensteen, Room 1.11
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR  Leiden

Roundtable Questions
Both AMT and LGI profile areas at some level posit the question of imagining and pursuing a true alternative to Eurocentric scholarship. 

1. What would such an alternative look like and how concretely, not just ideally, is this possible? 

2. What are the stakes that may inform such a path? 

3. What do we mean by “alternative?” Are formulations such as “multiple modernities” or “Asian modernities,” or even theories of “flows” and networks” able to engage with questions of power, histories of colonialism and imperialism or other economic, political, cultural and ideological hierarchies? 

4. What kinds of questions trouble the creation of fields such as “Asian studies”, “Area Studies” and “International Studies” ? 

5. How are “areas” or regions like “Asia” constituted? How do these configurations interact with theories of the “global” and “transnational?” What kinds of disciplinary questions do they pose? What, in other words, are the stakes of these fields, approaches and disciplines? Do they conceal/repeat Eurocentricity or Eurocentric processes of othering?

Engseng Ho’s scholarship has importantly engaged in such questions and we have invited him to start off the discussion and debate. Our goal is to foster a wider debate and discussion amongst the researchers here at Leiden. We have invited 5-6 Leiden scholars to make statements and will invite a larger group of researchers from within and outside of Leiden to take part in the discussion. Although the roundtable will focus on Asia, scholars working in the areas of Middle Eastern Studies and African studies will join the roundtable. The proceedings will be open to the Leiden community, and we hope to video the proceedings to make it available to the community at large.

- Engseng Ho, Professor of Anthropology & History, Duke University
- Gabrielle van den Berg, Lecturer of Persian Language and Literature
- Jos Gommans, Professor of Colonial and Global History
- David Henley, Professor of Contemporary Indonesia Studies
- Leo Lucassen, Professor of Social History
- Ethan Mark, Lecturer of Modern Japanese History
- Petra Sijpesteijn (Moderator), Professor of Arabic Language and Culture

Last Modified: 23-01-2015