Call for Papers

Graduate Student Symposium
Johns Hopkins University
Department of Anthropology


May 27-28, 2021

Venue: Online via Zoom

Keynote Speaker: Mei Zhan

(Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine)

The emergence of COVID-19 as a global pandemic has prompted unprecedented focus on Asia, from the source of contagion, to containment strategies, to vaccine production. In this critical moment, this symposium aims to stimulate conversation to rethink region beyond geographically marked boundaries and seeks to engage with pandemic-induced precarities and possibilities that unfold in everyday life. 

We encourage submissions engaging questions in two broad areas: anti-immigrant violence and xenophobia directed towards Asian peoples in the United States and elsewhere; and, comparative and connective study of region through the pandemic. How are pandemic measures enacted or enabling authoritarianism; what does democracy look like under pandemic? How do people respond to pandemic measures in relation to authoritarian pasts? How has migration shifted in relation to pandemic measures, when national borders are intensified in the state’s policing of transmission control, disinfection measures, as well as vaccine distribution? At the same time, how are these boundaries dismantled and reconstructed as people, viruses, and vaccines circulate across them? How might close attention to scenes of everyday life in the pandemic put pressure on conceptualizations of Asia as a coherent entity?  

This rethinking of Asia beyond conceptions of a geographically fixed object of study might lay the ground for decolonizing knowledge and subjectivity. How, in what ways, might the pandemic generate openings to further follow these reconceptualizations? Since the pandemic poses its own challenges not only in terms of the conditions of knowledge production, but as itself an object of study, what methodologies might help apprehend this moment as it is unfolding? What new pressures does the pandemic place on processes of knowledge production in the social sciences and humanities?

The two-day symposium will feature panel presentations, a keynote delivered by Professor Mei Zhan, and a roundtable discussion session on anti-Asian violence, race politics, and gender in light of the recent violence in Atlanta. We invite papers across disciplines as well as multi-modal presentations (performance, poetry, video, or sonic ethnography) that take seriously both the difficulty and limitations posed by the pandemic and the methodological creativity afforded by this moment for rethinking Asia in terms of region, boundary, and connections.

Encouraged topics and themes include but are not limited to:

  • Reconceptualization of Asia 
  • Representation and imaginaries of Asia
  • Intersections of anti-Asian violence, race politics, and gender
  • Experiences of domesticities, home, and homeland 
  • Borders, boundaries, and migration
  • Nation-state, belonging, and citizenship
  • Pandemic, contagion, containment
  • Uncertainty and precarity
  • Methodologies during COVID-19
  • Expressions and normalizations of crisis
  • Possibilities for theory and political action

Submission Guidelines

The symposium will take place May 27-28,  2021, via Zoom. We encourage submissions from graduate students across disciplines as well as artists and practitioners.

Submission of full papers or presentations is required no later than two weeks prior to the start of the conference.

Individual Presentation Submissions

Please submit a concise abstract (max. 250 words) to by April 26th, 2021. Submissions should include a brief bio (i.e., presenter’s name, program, year of study, research focus, and contact information).