Civil Society in Asia:
International Conference in Melbourne
Civil society is one of the most dynamically expanding sectors in contemporary Asian society. It is a public sphere that broadly refers to non-state institutions and associations that are critical to sustaining modern democratic participation. Civil society originally was a product of Western culture or an ethnocentric idea; it represents a particular set of relationships between the state and either society or individuals in the West. Civil society debates indeed have been narrowly circumscribed by modern Western modes of liberal individualism.
Throughout the centuries, the concept of civil society has spread to other cultures. Each society molds its own version of civil society, reflecting its most important values, which may include individual liberty, public solidarity, pluralism, and nonviolence, all of which sustain a vibrant civic culture.
This conference is part of an ongoing book project titled The Routledge Handbook of Civil Society in Asia, an interdisciplinary reference resource that focuses on civil society, which will provide a broad, comprehensive survey of the directions and nuances of civil society across Asia. We examine Asian social, cultural, political, and historical phenomena from the perspective of civil society, primarily in the post-World War II era, and each chapter sheds light on grassroots practices developed by local civil society groups.
The conference aims to provide an intellectually exciting space for discussion with the chapter contributors of The Routledge Handbook of Civil Society in Asia. The book will have 39 chapters on critical topics and issues in civil society in Asia - 21 country reviews and 18 thematic essays under comprehensive rubrics such as institutions, civic engagement, social movements, infrastructure, etc. Ultimately this conference will offer a great opportunity for networking and further research collaboration since we all share a strong research bond - Asian civil society.
Lastly we appreciate generous support from Japan Foundation as well as The University of Melbourne Faculty of Arts and Asia Institute.
I look forward to seeing you in Melbourne.
21 December 2016
Akihiro Ogawa, PhD
Organizer, Civil Society in Asia: International Conference in Melbourne
Editor, The Routledge Handbook of Civil Society in Asia
Professor of Japanese Studies, Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne