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The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (IACS) Society’s Biennial Conference returns to India after a gap of more than fifteen years. The 2021 conference was organized virtually by the IACS Society’s Secretariat at the National University of Singapore. In 2023 we propose a Landing Zone for the conference at Ahmedabad, India, July 27-29.

In pandemic times, no schedule can be written in stone. However, since we are all keen to travel and meet each other after more than two years of lockdowns and quarantines, IACS 2023 aims to be primarily an in-person conference. It will be hosted by the Centre for Inter-Asian Research, Ahmedabad University (CIAR: CIAR is a dynamic new research initiative at the University, tasked with forging connections between scholars and practitioners in the inter-Asia space.

Ahmedabad-2023 is the thirteenth conference since the first IACS event in Taipei in July 1998, titled Problematising Asia. Since then, biennial conferences have taken place in Fukuoka (2000), Bangalore (2004), Seoul (2005 and 2017), Shanghai (2007), Tokyo (2009), Dhaka (2011), Singapore (2013 and 2021), Surabaya (2015), and Dumaguete (2019). In 2007 the Open Call format was introduced. Through this period, IACS has experimented with several other formats, including closed and open teaching workshops, master-classes, forums, student pre-conferences and myriad related events.

The overarching theme for our 14th conference is Post-Pandemic Futures: Re-Mapping Inter-Asian Routes.

The last two years have disrupted the forms of mobility to which we had become accustomed in inter-Asia, throwing our fragile collaborative structures into disarray. There is no simple return possible to a pre-pandemic age, no easy throwing away of masks. Zoom and its many cousins are now an integral part of our life at work and play. As we cautiously venture out on revenge tourism, we observe that the post-lockdown world around us has changed in innumerable ways. Online and offline, virtual and actual, are no longer binaries but spaces that form a continuum. In light of our transformed habitus, we attempt to reimagine the resources we had. Critique, once seen as a key task of Cultural Studies, tries to reinvent its purposes and its modalities. Community-building, another key task we took up in inter-Asia, is also being re-thought. With pandemically heightened awareness of borders, precarity – economic, social, cultural – has become the dominant feature of our everyday lives. It is all the more urgent that we look for new ways of re-connecting. At IACS 2023, we invite you to engage in renewed forms of working together by paying close attention to the material conditions of such collaboration, and by re-shaping our collective vision of what an inter-Asia conversation could be like.


Research Clusters and Landing Zone: In the spirit of IACS’ decades-long experimentation with new modes of knowledge production, IACS 2023 at Ahmedabad proposes a further format innovation that involves long-form programming:

Step 1: An Open Call for Research Clusters is put out. Interested applicants – either as groups or individuals – fill out the application form and send it to the conference host, CIAR. The list of selected clusters will be put up on the IACS Society website ( If you have proposed a new cluster theme, it will be included in the list if selected.

If you haven’t already applied as a cluster member, you will have two weeks’ time to go through the list, decide which cluster you want to enter, and complete the correspondence with the convenor of that cluster. At the end of that period, the convenor will inform CIAR of its list of members.

Each cluster will be a self-organised collective, located at different virtual and offline venues. CIAR will offer logistical support where required. Each cluster can have an open or closed structure as per its preference. We expect that approximately 15-20 Research Clusters will be formed about ten months before the 2023 Conference. These will include clusters that already exist, are in the process of being formed, or are yet to be created.

General guidelines for clusters: (a) Please ensure that the members are engaging in an inter-Asia conversation beyond national boundaries; (b) Convenors should include at least five people in their clusters to ensure greater diversity of perspectives.

Step 2: Cluster convenors meet, to discuss and explore possible partnerships, working groups, overlaps of interest and potential panels. This could be in the form of an online roundtable convened by the IACS Secretariat.

Step 3: Collaboration with local partnerships explored. This includes setting up ‘local programming’, including planning for sites of engagement in Ahmedabad and planning for visits or excursions which resonate with the key ideas of the clusters. CIAR will be in charge of providing advance information and background readings.

Step 4: As the Conference programme is worked out, each Cluster proposes a series of panels in its area. These panels could be in both the closed or open-call format as per preference. Overarching themes bringing the concerns of different clusters together would be presented in plenary events for conference participants and invited guests.

Step 5: Full programme is published and advertised. And there are regular check-ins with the working groups by the Knowledge Production and Facilitation team at CIAR.

Step 6: The in-person conference happens at the Landing Zone.

Step 7: After the conference, each Cluster has a reflection session among its members and puts out a short entry on the conference blog. The different commitments made for the final production are archived, and an online space for continuing interaction can be established.

Step 8: Post-Ahmedabad, the Research Clusters reconvene online and work towards an anthology, a journal special issue, a digital database, collaborative journal articles etc.

The main difference of our proposed new format is that we are not asking you to send a paper abstract or a panel abstract. We are inviting you to work with your peers at different times during the year and decide what and how you will be presenting at Ahmedabad. Each Cluster is free to decide its own modalities of discussion and presentation.

The final programme schedule for the three-day conference will be prepared in June 2023 after receiving inputs from all the Research Clusters. See Deadlines below for the date by which each Cluster has to send in its presentation format and requirements.

When your Cluster is accepted, or when you enter an existing Cluster, you will receive documentation from CIAR to enable you to apply for conference funding from your institution.



  • Call for Cluster Formation: July 10, 2022
  • Application Deadline: September 10, 2022
  • Notification of Cluster Acceptance: September 15, 2022
  • Cluster membership closes: September 30, 2022
  • Early Bird Registration Opens: March 1, 2023
  • Early Bird Registration Closes: March 31, 2023
  • Final Registration Deadline: May 31, 2023
  • Cluster requirements sent to CIAR: June 1, 2023
  • Conference: July 27-29, 2023




*India and South Asia participants can pay the registration fees in INR.

A limited number of registration fee waivers and other kinds of funding support are available, especially for students. Please write to us explaining why you qualify for such support.