ASIANET: The Asian Century

The 21st Century is Asia’s Century. At the ASIANET 2019 conference, we analyse the rise of Asia along three axes: the economy and global power balance; the environment and resource politics; and social, political and ideological change.

Photos: Colourbox, Unsplash, Aljazeera English,, May Wong

The conference is organized by Asianettverket (The Network for Asian Studies).


Day one: June 6

Opening Session

08:30 – 09:15  Registration

09:15 – 09:40  Opening of the conference

State Secretary Marianne Hagen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Connecting Asia Research and Norwegian Policymaking

09.45 – 10.05  Research communication and policymaking

Svein Bæra, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

10.05 – 10.25  Asia in a Time of Change

Kristin Høiby, Norwegian Research Council

10.25 – 10.50  Q&A

10.50 – 11.15  Coffee

Keynote 1

11:15 – 12:30

  • Japan’s Leadership in Promoting Regional Security Multilateralism in Asia, by Paul Midford, NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology

12:30 – 13:30  Lunch

Roundtable 1

13.30 – 15.00   Changing power balances and global competition

  • Paul Midford , NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Rasmus Bertelsen, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway
  • Paul O’Shea, Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University
  • Åshild Kolås, The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
  • Henrik Hiim, Norwegian Inistitute of International Affairs (NUPI)
  • Sunniva Engh, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, UiO

    15:00 – 15:20 Coffee

    Roundtable 2

    15:20 – 16:50  The Environment and Resource Politics in Asia

    16:50 – 17:10  Break

    Keynote 2

    17:10 – 18:45  China's Feminist Awakening, by Leta Hong Fincher, journalist, scholar and author

    Conference dinner

    The keynote is followed by dinner in Georg Morgenstiernes hus.

    Day two: June 7

    Parallell sessions 1

    09.15 – 11.00  Parallel sessions:


    1. Constructing “Sustainable Japan”: Ideology and Practice, part 1

    Chaired by Aike Rots, UiO

    • Sustainability in Japan’s Development Cooperation Strategy. Raymond Yamamoto, Århus University
    • Religious Innovation for Sustainability: Greening God in the Japanese New Religious Movement Seichō no Ie. Marius Lian, UiO
    • Understanding Tourism and Sustainability within a World Heritage Property of Japan. Raluca Mateoc, University of Fribourg

    2. Glimpses of the Asian Century

    Chaired by Kjersti Litleskare, Norwegian Network for Asian Studies

    • Asian mobilities consumptions in the Nordic. Young-Sook Lee, UiT - The Arctic University of Norway

    • Authorised Pictures: A Study of Contemporary Chinese Political Cartoons. Linn A. Christiansen, Leiden University

    • Sustainability along the Belt and Road: A myth or a reality? Ilaria Carrozza, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

    • Forest becomes frontline: Conservation and Counter-Insurgency in a space of violent conflict in Assam, Northeast India. Anwesha Dutta, Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI)

    3. Asia’s emerging middle classes: aspirations, mobility, consumption

    Chaired by Arve Hansen, Norwegian Network for Asian Studies, UiO

    • Middleclass Reproduction Out of Place: The case of a family in an unauthorized colony in Delhi. Anne Waldrop, Oslo Metropolitan University - OsloMet
    • Transnational housing investments as a prism on the roles of migration in the emergence of a new middle class in Pakistan. Marta Bivand Erdal, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

    • Consumer socialism: Consumption, development and the new middle classes in China and Vietnam. Arve Hansen, University of Oslo

    • Culture capital, campus experience and job search: The discrepancy of the urban and rural graduates’ employment in China. Dian Liu, University of Stavanger

    11:00 – 11.15  Coffee

    Parallell sessions 2

    11.15 – 12.45  Parallel sessions:


    1. Constructing “Sustainable Japan”: Ideology and Practice, part 2

    Chaired by Aike Rots, UiO

    • Economy or Ecology? The Dilemma of Firefly Villages. Ellen Benedicte Haugan, University of Oslo
    • The Pest of the Ocean: Japanese Discourses on the Sustainable Use of Whales. Fynn Holm, University of Zürich
    • The Japanese Snow Crab Industry: Sustainable Seafood? Elisabeth Sjo Engen, University of Oslo

    2. Networking and Promoting Asian Studies in the Nordic Region: A Conversation

    12.45 – 13.30  Lunch

    Roundtable 3

    13:30 – 14:45  Social, Political and Ideological Change

    14.45 – 15:00  Closing remarks

    Arve Hansen and Kenneth Bo Nielsen, Norwegian Network for Asian Studies

    About the Conference

    Economically, the gravity of the world economy has been shifting eastwards for decades. Starting with Japan and later the Asian Tigers, it is now China, India and other emerging economies that increasingly dominate the headlines. Indeed, Asia’s increased influence in nearly all areas has altered the conditions under which research on Asia is carried out in Norway, while also radically changing Norway’s need for expertise. Despite the fact that many countries in Asia are still low-income countries, it is no longer natural to see Asia solely from a development perspective, but more in combination with disciplines that are also relevant to foreign policy and security policy. As the Norwegian Research Council states in its new ‘Asia in a Time of Change’ initiative, there is now a felt urgent need for ensuring that Norway consolidates and further develops research competence of a high international standard on a broad spectrum of topics that reflect Asia in a time of rapid change, what this means globally, as well as what the consequences will be for Norway.

    At the 2019 Asianet conference, we wish to stimulate debate along these lines by zooming in on the following three theme clusters.

    The Economy and Global Power Balance

    Asia is, in short, the most important growth region in the world. Politically, it is home to both the world’s largest democracy and the world’s largest authoritarian regime, but also displays a wide range of other modes of governance. This include both national and transnational modes, including the ambitious process to unite the diverse governing regimes of Southeast Asia through ASEAN. Perhaps most important of all is China’s strategic expansion and the renewed importance of regional security policy. How does economic growth and competition translate into global political influence? What are the regional and global ramifications of the emergence of regional superpowers, and what can we learn from Asian perspectives on politics and diplomacy?

    The Environment and Resource Politics

    Rapid economic growth has serious environmental consequences that are global in scope. While China has long been seen as a villain, the country under Xi Jinping appears to now be taking a leading role in global climate diplomacy. And East Asia more generally will play a key role in advancing the technological shifts required to move towards sustainability. At the same time, the consumption levels among the rapidly emerging middle classes is increasing at astounding rates. What is the role of Asia in solving global environmental challenges? Can Asian perspectives on the sustainable society contribute towards global sustainability?

    Social, Political and Ideological Change

    Rapid economic growth and urbanisation, changes in the composition of the population, increased access to education and better health are leading to a broad spectrum of often-contradictory forms of social, political, and ideological change. Insight into the development new modalities of political participation, representation and mobilisation is thus essential if we are to understand how Asia will look in the 21st century. At the same time, macro-structural economic transformations interweave with forms of social and cultural change both locally and globally. New consumer cultures manifest new hybrid forms that merge the old and the new, and Asian cultural forms, images and artefacts that subtly fuse popular culture and soft power are ever more global in scope. How can we best approach and understand such changes in contemporary Asian societies?

    We explore the three theme clusters through a combination of plenary session, round tables, keynotes, and parallel themed panels. 

    Supported by

    The conference is supported by The Norwegian Research Council and The Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation.

    Contact information

    Coordinator: Arve Hansen (

    Coordinator: Kenneth Bo Nielsen 

    Assistant coordinator: Kjersti Litleskare (

    Tags: Asianettverket, Asia, conference, SDGs
    Published June 1, 2019 12:59 PM - Last modified Oct. 6, 2021 4:42 AM