​The issue of borders has long been contested in Central Asia and the Far East with present-day consequences stretching from academic theorizations to military confrontations. These debates often fixate on the role of the state in drawing and fortifying boundaries with skewed historical arguments about glorified national pasts and anxieties about the future, often overlooking the complicated meaning and nuanced context in which borders are formulated. The outdated approaches, underpinned primarily by colonial and Eurocentric perspectives, have long limited directions in research, and necessitate rethinking and reformulation.  
The purpose of the conference is to critically interrogate these conventional narratives and rethink the role of borders through a historical and anthropological perspective. By challenging the preoccupations around divisions and boundaries, the conference invites participants to consider the importance of hubs and mobilities throughout the modern age. We hope to bring together histories and ethnographies of mobility and the everyday in Central Asia and the Far East to challenge narratives of the periphery and frontier that continue to frame the region.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, both regions witnessed a multitude of political reconfigurations, imperial delimitations, and socio-cultural transformations. These processes had a profound impact on how people connected and moved within and beyond the regions. Some began to move according to the changing regimes, creating new networks of connections, and paving alternative routes. However, others contested, resisted, and followed existing patterns of mobility. This conference provides a forum to reflect on not only how borders were shaped but also how the inhabitants of the region engaged with these through their own conceptions of space, networks, and connections. 
With a strong focus on cultural interactions and transnational exchanges, the conference invites submissions that highlight the concept of hubs and mobilities in and around Central Asia, the Far East, and other regions as a way to explore heterogeneity. We also welcome proposals that challenge the terminology of Central Asia and the Far East itself – terms that are not without their baggage – and propose alternative spatial approaches to the study of this part of the world. Moreover, topics that interweave these and surrounding regions, exploring the inter-regional connections, are also welcome. 

Papers are welcome to explore but are not limited to the following themes:
  • Rethinking historical hubs 
  • Imperial borderlands and frontiers
  • Colonial/imperial practices and legacies of (b)ordering
  • Urban hubs and interregional trades
  • New approaches to the study of mobilities and migrations, including comparative theories of locality and transregional studies
  • Religious activity and spiritual routes
  • Trade, commercial links, and merchant networks  
  • Intellectual networks and educational centres
  • Officials, public servants, and state agents
  • The (b)ordering of race
  • Collective history of anti-colonial struggles
  • Interventions in the existing socio-spatial and temporal categories
  • Connections with other adjacent regions  
Submission guidelines and conference details
The conference will be held virtually on the 23rd and 24th of May, and the working languages will be English and Russian.
Please submit your title, abstract of 200-300 words, and a short biographical note to the conference email address If you are submitting a proposal for a panel, please include an abstract for each paper (300 words), a summary of the panel theme (250 words), as well as a short biography of each panel speaker.
All proposals should include your name, email address, and academic affiliation (if applicable).  
The extended deadline for submission is 25 March 2022.
For any enquiries, please contact the organizers at
Photo above: Vladivostok by Merrill Haskell in 1919, reproduced by D. A. Ancha, V. I. Kalinin, T. Z. Pozdniak in Vladivostok na fotografiiakh Merrilla Khaksella, 1919-1920 (2009)   


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