ICAS 2, Berlin
9–12 August 2001
The second instalment of ICAS took three rather than two years to come about, which was partly due to the Millennium Bug alarming everyone at that time. No less than 14 associations in the field of Asian studies were involved in its organisation, and it took place in five buildings of the Free University in the middle of Berlin. The IIAS enabled, with its ‘The IIAS Connects You’, conference participants the possibility to check their e-mail and provided free access to the Internet, which must have been a relief for many in the post-millennium era. By this time practically all academicians were online, which certainly increased the connectivity amongst them.
If I had to single out one of the keynote speeches of all ICAS editions it would certainly be the one given by Wang Gungwu, one of Asia’s most important public intellectuals. He is best known for his explorations of Chinese history and for his writings on the Chinese Diaspora (albeit not a term he himself likes to use). His keynote was about ‘Divergence and Dominance. Challenges to Asian Studies’. Wang characterised the development of Asian studies and mentioned the risks, but also the opportunities, of the different ways in which Asian studies is performed in present times. In 2018, in the first part of his autobiography Home is not Here (NUS University Press) he reflects on family, identity, and the ability of the individual to find a place amid historical currents that have shaped the world. He will certainly broach the topic of Asian studies in the second part of his autobiography (forthcoming) and he will doubtlessly evoke new horizons that will put the field of Asian studies in a new cyclical perspective.
This truly interdisciplinary conference opened up whole new, intriguing insights and knowledge for me – Kati Kuitto, co-organiser ICAS 2
Wang Gungwu attended a meeting of all organising parties in Berlin, where two important decisions were made that had a decisive influence on the future development of ICAS. The first was the decision to organise ICAS in Asia, every two years, in cooperation with a local host. This not only to further increase Asian participation, but also to connect to the Asian city in which it was being held. The second decision was to establish a permanent ICAS Secretariat, to be hosted by IIAS in Leiden, in order to facilitate and safeguard the concept of a cross-disciplinary and cross-regional approach to Asian studies. In short, to guarantee the continuity of the ICAS process and assist the local hosts in the organisation of ICAS.