Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference

  • Pan, Y. (Member of organizing committee)

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganizer / committee member


    I am a co-organizer of the conference panel "Imperialism and the Riverine Environment in Modern Asia," which was presented at the 2022 Association for Asian Studies Conference. Below is the abstract of this conference panel:

    This panel proposes “riverine environment” as a springboard for comparing histories of imperial control in modern Asia. Literature utilizing James Scott’s idea of “seeing like a state” identifies mountains, swamps, and forests as landscapes suited to imperial resistance and plains and river valleys as suited to imperial control. Rivers, however, have dual potential: they can support or impede the communication, agricultural, and commercial ambitions of empires. Using case studies from South and East Asia between 1820 and 1940, this panel discusses how empires remade rapids, riverbeds, floodplains, and watersheds to exert their agendas of irrigation, navigation, flood-control, and urban planning.

    Our panelists dialogue with histories of the environment, technology, and infrastructure. Mukherjee narrates the East India Company’s abortive attempt to apply steam-power to alluvial distributaries of the Ganges and wrest them into year-round shipping channels. Hossain scrutinizes how an impermeable urban landscape of imperial display on the newly embanked Buriganga River displaced indigenous practices of land use in Dhaka. Pan argues that the infrastructural remaking of rapids in the Upper Yangtze River complicated the contestations between imperialism and nationalism. Hayashi introduces the Japanese Empire’s expansion of flood-control plans in Taiwan and the resultant dispossession of indigenous communities. Through critical investigations into the machines, infrastructures, and discourses developed by imperial states, we reflect on how riverine projects generated increasingly uneven access to spaces and resources. Pre-circulating our papers, we will encourage participatory discussion on how the entanglements of rivers and imperialism in modern Asia offer insights to contemporary water crises.
    Period26 Mar 2022
    Event typeConference
    LocationUnited StatesShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionInternational