Territorial conflicts among sovereign states, whether on land or sea, have been endemic since the appearance of the very idea of sovereignty in Europe. Yet as Thongchai Winnichakul and others have revealed, the very idea of a sovereign ‘geobody’ in Asia is not much more than a century old. So how are historical materials and events that do not speak to the modern notion of sovereignty utilized to make sovereignty claims? To what extent is the mobilization around historical identities the more important factor? How rapidly can these identities change? How do states and other players negotiate between relatively recent international laws, identity mobilization and assertions of raw power?
Morning session: Historical Identities, International Law and the Limits of Power
How have international law and conceptions of sovereignty related to power and realpolitik historically and is there a new triangulation at this point? To what extent have historical identities (whether constructed or mobilized) played a role in this triangulation? How do states and other political players control or manage domestic constituencies in these situations?
Afternoon Session: The South China Sea
What was the nature of military domination on the maritime Silk Road historically before and after Portuguese interventions, most notably of course the Zheng He expeditions? Since when has the South China Sea become an object of territorial claims and how can we understand the timing and nature of the claims of the different nation-states from a geopolitical perspective? Can the same also be understood from a domestic politics viewpoint? What are the alternative possibilities for addressing this problem?
Venue to be announced.