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Research Centre for East Asian Studies Groningen

Call for Papers: Europe and East Asia since 1945: a historical survey

30 October 2017

When: 14-15 June 2018
Where: University of Groningen
Organisers: European Union Liaison Committee and Centre for East Asian Studies Groningen (CEASG)
Deadline proposals: 20 December 2017

Present-day East Asia is in the centre of political and economic interest. It is impossible nowadays to overlook the region, which has evolved into one of the growth engines of the world. Apart from Japan and South Korea, China in particular attracts the attention. Deng Xiao Ping’s Open Door policy, starting in the late 1970s, has set in motion a development which has changed the country immensely and has not stopped producing its impact until this very moment. China keeps on moving ahead, thereby increasingly influencing the rest of the world, including its neighbouring regions East and South-East Asia and, further away, the European Union.

Understandably, as a result of this fast development, most of the academic studies on East Asia and China, in relation to Europe, focus on present-day issues, covering trade, finance, investments, security policies, etc. Increasing interdependence in the global sphere and the rapid disappearance of geographical barriers have made the relationship between the two regions so urgent and dynamic that issues of the day - like tensions regarding the South China Sea, China’s recent Belt & Road initiative, and the North Korean nuclear threat - tend to dominate the academic debate.

In this turbulent atmosphere of breaking news, short-term solutions and unpredictable behaviour, it seems all the more expedient to look at the Europe-East Asia relationship with somewhat more distance and reflection. This is exactly what the Groningen conference aims to do. It attempts to produce a survey of how the contacts between the two regions have developed over time (1945-today), both on the bilateral and multilateral (EC/EU-ASEAN) level and how Europe has approached the gradual rise of East Asia as a global competitor. Is the postwar relationship based mainly on economic considerations, or are political issues just as important? What is the relevance of the historical dimension for present-day contacts and problems? The following issues may come up for discussion:

  • The impact of the Cold War (1947-1990) on bilateral and multilateral relations. What has been the meaning of the end of the Cold War for mutual affairs between the EU and East Asia?
  • The triangular relationship with the United States: To what extent have postwar US policies dominated European visions on the East Asian region? And - vice versa - to what extent have they dominated East Asian visions on Europe?
  • European and East Asian evaluations of the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and its aftermath.
  • The (previous) attraction of Maoism on intellectuals in Europe.
  • The development of economic and trade relations between the EC and China before and since the first trade agreement in 1978; business involvement and growing investments.
  • The evolution of monetary relations and the introduction of ECU and Euro.
  • The problems concerning a Sino-European dialogue on human rights and democracy.
  • European reactions to the economic rise and fall of Japan.
  • Mongolia’s post-Cold War pivot to the EU.
  • European outlook on conflictual relations in East Asia: Japan-China, North Korea (DPRK) - South Korea (RoK), Japan-South Korea, etc.
  • The evolution of multilateral cooperation: the EC/EU and ASEAN. Europe’s postmodern world of shared sovereignty versus geopolitics in East Asia where protection of national sovereignty and pursuance of national interests prevail.
  • East Asia’s diplomatic relations with the EC/EU and its member-states; East Asian perceptions of Europe over time.
  • The cultural dimension: mutual attraction versus ‘lost in translation’.
  • Other issues of historical relevance pertaining to Europe and East Asia.

Please hand in your paper proposal (maximum of 500 words) before 20 December 2017 and send it to: ceasg We can provide hotel accommodation during the conference for those whose paper proposal has been accepted. The best papers presented at the conference will be considered for publication in a special issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of European Integration History.

For more information, please contact prof. Jan van der Harst (University of Groningen):

Last modified:12 December 2017 2.26 p.m.

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