Published on: 24-Oct-2019
In recent years, the questions of ethnicity, race and racism have come to assume an increasing prominence in scholarly as well as social discussions in Asia. In response to the turbulent global economy, the fracturing of international barriers, and a renewed surge in flows of migrants and displaced persons worldwide, national populist movements have suddenly become a potent and growing political force. Longstanding liberal values such as pluralism, tolerance, and multicultural coexistence have come under challenge, as fears of economic crisis and cultural conflict have given strength to extremist stances across the political spectrum. Finally, the fact that historical barriers have come down between different population groups has resulted in some cases in the intensification of conflicts between them over other explosive fault-lines, such as differences of religious belief that too can take on a racial or ethnic dimension.
The current rise of populist anger across the West portends a potential revival of the nation-state, which has often had a relatively homogeneous population as its foundation. Alternatively, the fragmentation of social and political systems may indicate a return to older institutional arrangements that could be surprisingly peaceful and tolerant compared to modern multi-ethnic or multi-cultural states because they were more willing to recognize hard cultural differences. What kind of relationship between the old and the new are we likely to see as the nations and cultures of Asia attempt to adjust to new social and economic realities?
In the Asia of today, what does ethnic diversity and pluralism mean? What kind of impact has globalization had on the relations between different ethnic groups in multi-ethnic states such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia? What kinds of conflicts—as well as new modes of coexistence—are being generated by the flow of peoples in accordance with the demand for labor and patterns of investment? How are more ethnically homogeneous nations such as Japan, China, South Korea, and Japan affected by this dynamic? Are there already signs of impending change in these latter, more socially homogeneous, societies?
Lunch will be provided for participants.
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