Academic Indigenization in Asia at Its Crossroads

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Academic Indigenization in Asia at Its Crossroads
Stream: Anthropology
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Jinba Danzeng, National University of Singapore, Singapore (organizer, presenter)
Shuli Huang, Academia Sinica, Taiwan (presenter)
Junpeng Li, Central China Normal University, China (presenter)
Chengpang Lee, National University of Singapore, Singapore (presenter)
Ying Chen, National University of Singapore, Singapore (presenter)
Dingxin Zhao, The University of Chicago (and Zhejiang University), United States (chair)
Eiji Oguma, Keio University, Japan (discussant)


This panel examines the outcome of academic indigenization in Asia since the early 20th Century and its pitfalls and promises. In so doing, the panel makes a critical assessment of Asian academia’s association with academic dependency through history, including its current status quo of knowledge production. To advance this agenda, we adopt a historical-comparative approach, namely an inter-Asian perspective and longitudinal lens to juxtapose this movement’s divergent trajectories and repercussions in East Asia and Southeast Asia.
Four papers contribute to this agenda from different angles. The first two problematize indigenization in China. While Huang Shuli examines a growing unease about the “mutual dependency” of Chinese ethnologists and Western anthropologists and their subsequent “mutual competition” since the late 1980s, Junpeng Li proposes going beyond the debate about indigenization proper to foreground the underlying structure of China’s intellectual field instead. The other two papers further this inquiry in a broader context. Chengpang Lee and Ying Chen develop a measurement index to appraise academic dependency in various sociology departments in Asia. Jinba Tenzin subsequently brings our attention to both the accomplishment and obstacles in the decolonizing and indigenizing process in Asia and beyond through a comparison of the indigenizing undertaking of two generations of sociologists/anthropologists in China and Southeast Asia.
Noteworthy, our panelists and discussants are carefully selected to represent regional and research diversity and advance our dialogue on academic autonomy and knowledge production in Asia at its crossroads through building a research network across Asia and throughout the world.