Call for Papers: Rethinking Communities in the Age of the Digital

Call for Papers: Rethinking Communities in the Age of the Digital

The 3rd Asiascape: Digital Asia Conference – 29 May 2018 at Leiden University, the Netherlands

Deadline for proposals

1 February 2018, via the submission dropbox.


Brill Academic Publishing, the International Institute for Asian Studies, the Leiden Asia Centre, and Leiden University invite submissions from scholars in area studies, social sciences, humanities, law, computer sciences, and from multi-disciplinary backgrounds to the 3rd Asiascape: Digital Asia (DIAS) conference, to be held in Leiden, the Netherlands, on 29 May 2018.

The goal of the conference will be to critically assess what kinds of ‘communities’ might emerge from the age of the digital. Presenters are invited to explore this issue along social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions of internet and digital media uses in Asia, and to bring multi- and interdisciplinary theories and methods to bear on this topic. A selection of high-quality contributions will be published in the academic journal Asiascape: Digital Asia (Brill).

DIAS contributors may want to consider combining their visit to Leiden with attendance at the International Communications Association’s annual meeting in Prague from 24-28 May; participants are also welcome to join the 16th Chinese Internet Research Conference (CIRC) in Leiden from 22-23 May, which extends the DIAS theme to various modes of digital connection.

Conference Theme: Rethinking Communities

Information and communication technologies like the internet are frequently singled out as harbingers of social and political change, in Asia as much as elsewhere. Yet there has not been a sustained scholarly effort to explore how contemporary ICT affect social groups, how they change interpersonal dynamics, to what extent they shape our sense of community, and what laws and regulations are leveraged to then govern such communities. Do digital technologies extend and accelerate the established logics of social interactions and group affiliations, or do they transform the rationale behind our relations? What happens to friendships, family ties, work relations, and political interactions once they are ‘upgraded’ to Web 2.0? What does it take to bring users together and turn them into political subjects like ‘netizens’? Can there ever be such a thing as a ‘digital community’, and if so: what would make such a community sustainable as a viable political group? And what changes do digital media networks introduce to traditional ‘imagined communities’, that is: to large-scale associations like nations, religious orders, or political movements, in which members do not personally know all other members but construct their sense of belonging through screens and digital interfaces?


Questions like these go to the heart of how we conceptualize digital media and their relevance today. We invite contributors to DIAS to explore these issues in Asian contexts and to revisit the idea of ‘community’ through both critical, theoretically-minded research and innovative empirical methods.

Paper Proposals

The organising committee invites proposals for paper presentations that address one or more of the questions raised above on issues of ‘communities’. This may include, but is not limited to, topics such as:

  • Social and political participation in digital networks, as well as limitations to such participation (e.g. access, digital divides, etc.),
  • Digitally enabled group activism and its limits,
  • Everyday use of technologies such as mobile devices and computers in different social and communal contexts,
  • The interaction between work and leisure on the internet, as well as issues related to digital play (e.g. when play and labour fuse into ‘playbour’),
  • Group interactions in changing media environments, for instance in the face of microblogging and social chat,
  • Communal activities in environments where media converge, and where different digital media technologies, formats, and genres exist side-by-side on digital platforms,
  • Digital discourse and communication power in Asian networked societies,
  • Media theory and digital methods related to the study of ‘community’ in the Asian context.

Proposals for papers should be written in English and should not exceed 400 words.

Submission Process

Proposals should be submitted by 1 February 2018, through the following submissions dropbox. The organising committee will inform applicants of its decision by the end of the month.  Full versions of the accepted papers are to be submitted by 1 May 2018. Papers should not exceed 8,000 words, including notes and references, and should be sent to the organising committee via email.

Publication Strategy

Promising contributions may be included in a special issue of the academic journal Asiascape: Digital Asia (Brill). Eligible participants will receive the opportunity to revise their papers by 1 August 2018, for subsequent peer-review and possible publication in early 2019.

Travel and Attendance

The conference will be held at the Humanities Building of Leiden University (Lipsius), at Cleveringaplaats 1, 2311 BD Leiden, The Netherlands.

Attendance will be subject to prior registration. There will be no registration fee. Participants will be expected to arrange and cover their own travel and accommodation costs, but information will be available regarding suitable hotel reservations and venue details.

Contributors are invited to join our opening event and welcome drinks on the evening before the official conference, on 28 May, and to stay for drinks and dinner at the International Institute for Asian Studies after closing of the conference proceedings on 29 May.

Partners and Sponsors

The 3rd DIAS conference is made possible through the kind support of the following institutions (in alphabetic order):

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