Throughout the twentieth century, the ideas of Marx and Lenin were fervently listened to, adopted, modified, and confronted in Asia–an ideational and organizational reservoir still of foremost importance today. What socialism has meant, and still means, in theory and in practice has always been highly heterogeneous. Asian movements have not simply mimicked the blueprints and dogmas of Soviet or European Marxists, but have built and contextualized their own: the postcolonial metamorphosis of class and regional order; the appropriate role–if any–of religion, culture, and nationalism in their societies; the organization of political institutions and economic control mechanisms after 1989, etc. Above all, what has set socialists in Asian societies apart from their comrades in the West have been three great challenges they have had to simultaneously contend with in their articulations of liberation: how to build up empirical and juridical statehood, how to forge a nation after colonial divide-and-rule, and how to position themselves in a world order not of their making. In a postcolonial world, this then begs a key question: what can Asian imaginaries, institutions, and practices tell us about socialism as a global phenomenon?
The speakers here have contributed to a recent special issue
of Third World Quarterly
on these questions, and they will discuss their research on Vietnam, China, and comparisons with other states across Asia and Africa. The event coincides with the 66th anniversary of the Asia-Africa Conference at Bandung, Indonesia–a major event in the global politics of the 1950s when emerging socialist states across the postcolonial world asserted their independence not just from the polities of imperial Europe but also from Western ideas of political normativity.
The panel will include
- Dr. Mohammed al-Sudairi (Post-doctoral researcher at the Hong Kong Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, and Head of the Asian Studies Unit at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies)
- Prof. Julia C. Strauss (Professor of Chinese Politics, SOAS, University of London), and
- Dr. Harry Verhoeven (Convenor of the Oxford University China-Africa Network)