Symposium: Asia in Transition, 1919-2019 (April 30, 2019)

The Boston University Center for the Study of Asia is pleased to present a symposium

Asia in Transition: 1919-2019

on Tuesday, April 30 2019 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm

at the Florence and Chafetz Hillel House, Boston University,
213 Bay State Rd, Boston, MA 02215

One hundred years ago Asia underwent a wrenching transition. The First World War had shaken the international order to its core, setting in motion forces that would reshape the region for decades to come. In Korea, hundreds of thousands of people joined the March 1st Movement to protest Japan’s continued colonial rule on the peninsula. In China, even larger numbers were mobilized in the May 4th Movement – widely considered to be the first mass nationalist movement in China – to oppose territorial concessions that had been made to the Japanese Empire as part of the Paris peace conference. In India, anti-colonial sentiment reached a fever pitch, leading to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. The Third Anglo-Afghan war resulted in the independence of Afghanistan and the drawing of the Durand Line separating Afghanistan and what is today Pakistan. Meanwhile, Japan became one of the founding members of the League of Nations, an achievement that was almost immediately soured by the US rejection of the racial equality clause, sowing the seeds of Japan’s alienation from the liberal international order. In short, 1919 was a pivotal moment in Asian history, one whose memory continues to cast a giant shadow over region today.

Today, Asia again appears to be undergoing radical changes. An economically ascendant and militarily increasingly powerful China is asserting its territorial claims more vigorously than ever abroad, while domestically the Chinese Communist Party and Xi Jinping are consolidating power while shifting sharply towards an increasingly harsh authoritarian order. The Moon Jae-in government is desperately trying to move the peace process with Pyongyang forward despite continued disagreement and tensions over the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Japan under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is taking dramatic new steps to enhance its military posture, including the deployment for the first time of its own aircraft carriers. In India, an estimated 900 million people have turned out to vote, passing judgment on the government of Narendra Modi and its policies of economic reform and Hindu nationalism. In Afghanistan, fitful talks are continuing over how to end that country’s 18 year-old insurgency. And overshadowing the entire region is the uncertain role of the United States under President Donald Trump. On the 100th anniversary of the momentous events of 1919, the Boston University Center for the Study of Asia has called together a group of leading scholars to explore the ramifications of 1919 and the connections and parallels between Asia at the start of the 20th century and today. In what ways do the events of 1919 shape the dynamics in the region today? Are there any lessons that can be learned from the past for the present? And are we once again facing a moment in history where a fundamental transition is in the offing?

BUCSA Hosts Symposium on Asia in Transition: 1919-2019


Thomas Barfield (Boston University), “Disputed Paths to Progress—What to do with Independence: Afghanistan’s Still Unresolved 1919 Debates on Secular Modernism vs. Islam as Guiding Principles”

Mark E. Byington (Cambridge Institute for the Study of Korea), “Korean Pseudohistory and Its Roots in the 1919 Independence Movement”

Antara Datta (Lecturer, Royal Holloway, University of London),

Frederick Dickinson (University of Pennsylvania), “Versailles at 100: Japan and the Dawn of a Global Century”

Michael Green (Georgetown University and CSIS)

Yinan He (Lehigh University), “Chinese National Identity in Transition: Impact on East Asia”

Thomas U. Berger (Boston University)
Erik Goldstein (Boston University)


About the Speakers and Discussants:

Thomas Barfield is Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Dept. of Anthropology, Boston University. His current research focuses on problems of political development in Afghanistan, particularly on systems of local governance and dispute resolution. He has also published extensively on contemporary and historic nomadic pastoral societies in Eurasia with a particular emphasis on politics and economy.

Dr. Barfield conducted ethnographic fieldwork in northern Afghanistan in the mid-1970s as well as shorter periods of research in Xinjiang, China, and post-Soviet Uzbekistan. He is author of The Central Asian Arabs of Afghanistan (1981), The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China (1989), and The Nomadic Alternative (1993), co-author of Afghanistan: An Atlas of Indigenous Domestic Architecture (1991), and editor of Blackwell’s Dictionary of Anthropology(1997). Barfield received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006 that led to the publication of his newest book, Afghanistan: A Political and Cultural History (2010).

He is also director of Boston University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies & Civilization and currently serves as president of the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies.

Thomas Berger is Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. Berger joined Boston University in 2001 after having taught for seven years at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of War, Guilt and World Politics After World War II,  Cultures of Antimilitarism: National Security in Germany and Japan and is co-editor of Japan in International Politics: The Foreign Policies of an Adaptive State. His articles and essays have appeared in numerous edited volumes and journals, including International SecurityReview of International StudiesGerman Politics and World Affairs Quarterly.

Mark E. Byington is the president and co-founder of the Cambridge Institute for the Study of Korea (Cambridge, MA), an organization that seeks to develop academic studies involving Korea and the surrounding region outside of the university setting. He was formerly the founder and project director of the Early Korea Project at the Korea Institute, Harvard University, in which capacity he served as editor of Early Korea, an edited serial publication focused on early Korean history and archaeology, and the Early Korea Project Occasional Series. He received an A.M. degree from the Regional Studies East Asia program at Harvard (1996) and a Ph.D. degree from the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard (2003), with a research focus on the early history and archaeology of northeastern China and the Korean peninsula. He is also a past lecturer in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, where he taught courses on Korean history and archaeology. He is presently a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, and an Affiliated Fellow at the Center for the Study of Asia, Boston University, at both of which he researches and develops programs on the early history and archaeology of Northeast China. He is the author and editor of several publications, the most recent of which is The Ancient State of Puyŏ in Northeast Asia: Archaeology and Historical Memory, Harvard University Asia Center Press, 2016. His primary research interest centers on the formation and development of early states in the Korea-Manchuria region. His current research involves the application of remote sensing and geographic information systems, and particularly the use of historical imagery, in studies of the archaeology and early history of northeastern China.

Antara Datta is Lecturer in International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London. She earned  BA degrees from Delhi University and the University of Oxford, and her MA and PhD from Harvard University. Her first book Refugees and Borders in South Asia: the Great Exodus of 1971 (Routledge, 2012) engages with the aftermath of the process of decolonisation and uses the war of 1971 to examine the creation of “affective” and “effective” borders in South Asia, the subjectivity of minorities, as well as changing ideas about citizenship within South Asia that move beyond the familiar paradigms of region and religion. Her current research looks at the link between border crossers and the creation of ideas about nationality and citizenship in South Asia. In particular she is interested in the expulsion of the Indian diaspora from Burma and Uganda as well as the presence of European refugees in India after WWII. A separate strand of her research examines the manner in which the Indian state has attempted to open up multiple possibilities of belonging for Non Resident Indians. At Royal Holloway, she teaches courses that are influenced by her interest in the making of nations and states in modern South Asia as well as questions of war, violence and displacement in a comparative context, gender and nationalism, and empire and decolonisation.

Frederick R. Dickinson, is Professor of Japanese History, Co-Director of the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, and Deputy Director of the Penn Forum on Japan (PFJ). Born in Tokyo and raised in Kanazawa and Kyoto, Japan, he teaches courses on modern Japan, on empire, politics and nationalism in East Asia and the Pacific, and on World History. He received an MA (1987) and PhD (1993) in History from Yale University and holds an MA in International Politics from Kyoto University (Kyoto, Japan, 1986). He is the author of War and National Reinvention: Japan in the Great War, 1914 – 1919 (Harvard University Asia Center, 1999), Taisho tenno (Taisho Emperor, Minerva Press, 2009) and World War I and the Triumph of a New Japan, 1919-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Currently, he is working on a global history of modern Japan.

Dickinson has received grants from the Japanese Ministry of Education, the Fulbright Commission, and the Japan Foundation and was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution (Stanford University, 2000-1) and a Research Scholar at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Kyoto, Japan, 2011-12). He has held visiting professorships at Swarthmore College, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), Kyoto University and Kwansei Gakuin University (Nishinomiya, Japan).

Erik Goldstein is Professor of International Relations and History, Boston University. His research interests include diplomacy, formulation of national diplomatic strategies, the origins and resolution of armed conflict, and negotiation. He has published in numerous journals, including Review of International RelationsMiddle Eastern StudiesEast European QuarterlyHistorical ResearchHistorical Journal, Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies, and the Hague Journal of Diplomacy. He is the author of Winning the Peace: British Diplomatic Strategy, Peace Planning, and the Paris Peace Conference, 1916-1920 (1991); Wars and Peace Treaties (1992); and The First World War’s Peace Settlements: International Relations, 1918 – 1925 (2002, Italian translation, 2004). He has co-edited The End of the Cold War (1990); The Washington Conference, 1921-1922: Naval Rivalry, East Asian Stability, and the Road to Pearl Harbor (1994); The Munich Crisis: New Interpretations and the Road to World War II (1999); Power and Stability: British Foreign Policy, 1865-1965 (2003); and the Guide to International Relations and Diplomacy (2002). Professor Goldstein was also the founder-editor of the journal Diplomacy & Statecraft and has served on the editorial boards of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Hague Journal of Diplomacy and is currently on the editorial board of International History Review. He has a continuing interest in the training and professional education of diplomats, which began with his participation in delivering the British Know How Fund programs for diplomats from countries in transition during the 1990s.

Goldstein is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (of Britain) and has served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Global Change and Governance, Rutgers University and the Advisory Board of the Centre for the Study of Diplomacy at the University of Leicester (UK).  He was elected to the Governing Board of the International Baccalaureate, 2010-16. Goldstein was previously Professor of International History and Deputy Director for the Centre for Studies in Security and Diplomacy at the University of Birmingham (UK) and has held appointments as Secretary of the Navy Senior Research Fellow at the Naval War College; Visiting Scholar, Centre for International Studies, University of Cambridge; Visiting Professor, University of East Anglia, and Visiting Professor at King’s College London.  He has also served as the President of Phi Beta Kappa, Epsilon of Massachusetts.

Michael Green is Director of Asian Studies and Chair in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is also a senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at CSIS. He previously served as special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council His current research and writing is focused on Asian regional architecture, Japanese politics, U.S. foreign policy history, the Korean peninsula, Tibet, Burma, and U.S.-India relations. His most recent book is By More than Providence: Grand Strategy and American Power in the Asia Pacific since 1783 (Columbia University Press, 2017) Dr. Green speaks fluent Japanese and spent over five years in Japan working as a staff member of the National Diet, as a journalist for Japanese and American newspapers, and as a consultant for U.S. business. He has also been on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses, and a senior adviser to the Office of Asia-Pacific Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He graduated from Kenyon College with highest honors in history in 1983 and received his M.A. from Johns Hopkins SAIS in 1987 and his Ph.D. in 1994. He also did graduate work at Tokyo University as a Fulbright fellow and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a research associate of the MIT-Japan Program. He is a Trustee of The Asia Foundation, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Aspen Strategy Group, and serves on the advisory boards of the Center for a New American Security and Australian American Leadership Dialogue and the editorial board of The Washington Quarterly.

Yinan He is an associate professor in international relations at Lehigh University. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on politics of memory and reconciliation, Chinese and Japanese foreign policy, and national identity mobilization and nationalism in East Asia. She is the author of The Search for Reconciliation: Sino-Japanese and German-Polish Relations since World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2009). She was a research fellow of the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program, An-Wang Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese Studies at Harvard University, John M. Olin Fellow in National Security at Harvard University, and Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar of the United States Institute of Peace. Her research has also been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, MacArthur Foundation, and Japanese Government Mombusho Scholarship, among others. In 2011-2013 she was selected as a Public Intellectuals Program fellow of the National Committee on United States-China Relations. In AY 2018-2019 she is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Center on Contemporary China of Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. She holds a B.A. from Peking University and M.A. from Fudan University in international politics.