Connectivity and Cartographic Anxiety Conference at Kyoto University

On October 1, Edward Boyle and Jabin Thomas Jacob participated in a Workshop organized by Rohan D’Souza at Kyoto University, which brought together 7 speakers for a really focused discussion, primarily on India’s Northeast and the surrounding neighbourhood. With thanks to Rohan for organizing the event, and Kyushu University for Wakaba Challenge grant that facilitated Jabin and my participation.

For some photos of the event and the subsequent dinner, see HERE.

(with thanks to Patrick and Aimee-Linh at Yogascapes) 

Japan Association for South Asian Studies Report

Closely following on the heels of the World Social Science Forum came a panel at the Annual Meeting of the Japan Association for South Asian Studies, held in Kanazawa on 29 and 30 September, 2018. This panel was convened by Edward Boyle, and supported by both a Progress100 grant for the Commemoration of the Completion of Ito Campus, Kyushu University, awarded to Professor Akihiro Iwashita, and a Wakaba Challenge Grant examining “Japan and Northeast India: Development Aid, Connectivity and Reterritorialization”, awarded to Edward Boyle. This support provided through Kyushu University enabled the attendance of both Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman and Jabin Thomas Jacob in Kanazawa, and all the participants offer their gratitude to Kyushu University for the opportunity received.

The panel was entitled “The Connectivity Panacea: geopolitical postures and developmental dilemmas in Northeast India” and sought to bring together four scholars working on India’s dynamic Northeast region from a variety of perspectives. Chaired by Edward Boyle, it sought to critically examine the place of the Northeast within India, as well as its role as a theatre for an expanding geopolitical competition involving India, China and Japan, and seek to reflect upon the possible effects of such contestation for the region itself. The first paper, given by Rohan D’Souza (Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University), sought to highlight that “Connectivity has no Pulse: Rivers as a biological challenge to Infrastructure in North East India” in order to emphasize the unintended consequences that could result from the construction of riverine infrastructure, but also the problems of promoting a form of connectivity based upon static, rather than a more natural, dynamic infrastructure.

This attention was built upon by the second paper, from Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman (Visiting Faculty to TISS Guwahati), on “Infrastructure Development in Northeast India: Examining Inequality and Exclusion in the Development Promise of Economic Connectivity”. In it, Mirza focused on the policy of connectivity, and sought to highlight that infrastructure and connectivity development in Northeast India has resulted in the coupling unequal spaces within that region, and, in Mirza’s words, “the path to ‘progress’ and ‘prosperity’ cannot hop, skip and jump such inequality”. Both papers emphasize the lop-sided pattern of development in the region.

The lop-sided nature of development is reflected in the impact of foreign state’s on this borderland space. Security concerns stemming from the territorial dispute with China over Arunachal Pradesh is frequently presented as an impetus for connectivity projects, a factor reviewed by Jabin Jacob (Associate Editor, China Report) in his paper on “The China Factor in Northeast India’s Connectivity Projects”. Tracing the contrast in Indian and Chinese infrastructural projects on both sides of the border, the paper brought into focus the capacity gap that exists between India’s aspirations for the Northeast and what it is able to achieve there.

It is to overcome this gap, indeed, that the Japan International Cooperation Agency has been invited to invest in the region by the Indian government, which is the focus of Edward Boyle’s Wakaba Challenge project and his paper here, which was “Exploring Connections in Connectivity”. Offering some early reflections from what is intended to be a long-running project, it sought to trace out the effects of Japanese investment on how the space of the region is understood. There was finally time for brief questions from a packed audience.

World Social Science Forum 2018

The 2018 World Social Science Forum was held from the 25 – 28 September in Fukuoka, Kyushu. The fourth in a series of regular meetings convened by the International Social Science Council, the Forum was organized by Kyushu University and sought examine questions of “Security and Equality for Sustainable Futures”. Kyushu University Border Studies was fortunate enough to be involved in a number of sessions, and was sponsored in its endeavours through a Progress 100 grant awarded to Professor Akihiro Iwashita by Kyushu University, which enabled us to host a series of events which celebrated the commemoration of the completion of Kyushu University’s new Ito Campus. Both Professor Akihiro Iwashita and myself would like to extend our gratitude to Kyushu University for their generous support, which made our participation in this and other events possible.


The first day of the conference concluded in a Reception attended by the Crown Prince of Japan, whose attendance impressed upon visitor’s the importance of this event and the prestige granted to Kyushu University for winning the opportunity to host it. The first panel in which Kyushu University Border Studies was involved was one on the frontline of questions of security and sustainability in the contemporary world. “Arctic Geopolitics and Climate Change” brought many of the issues central to the conference into sharp focus, offering an examination of the course of Arctic Policy from a series of national perspectives. Minsu Kim, from the Korea Maritime Institute in Pusan, Korea, spoke on the “Development of Korea’s Arctic Policy: the role as a ‘Responsible Arctic Partner’” and traced out the emergence of the Arctic as a focus of policy in the Republic of Korea. Tony Tai-Ting Liu, of the University of Tokyo, Japan, spoke on an “Arctic Policy with Chinese Characteristics: The Polar Silk Road Initiative and Its Geopolitical Implications”, which offered a controversial perspective on power dynamics in the Arctic region. Xu Liu, of the Renmin University of China, similarly examined the questions raised by “The Ice Silk Road Initiative and Its implication for the Arctic Governance”, which are indeed central to the region’s transformation in recent years.

Fujio Ohnishi, of the Arctic Research Center at Hokkaido University, Japan, examined the “Development of Japan’s Arctic Policy: The Third Basic Plan for Ocean Policy”, bringing Japan’s engagement with the region up to date by focussing on the emergence of this new policy document in May this year. The final speaker, Minori Takahashi, from the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University looked at the “The emergence of Cold-War-like power relations in the post-Cold War era and their influence on sub-state actors in the Arctic: Thule Air Base as the study case”, shifting the audience’s attention back from the Arctic as presented in think-tanks and policy-shops of Asian states to its existence as a place, remote from, and frequently hostile to, the designs and practices of states existing at great remove from its borders. The panel’s discussant, Martin van der Velde, from Radboud University in the Netherlands, offered a tremendous number of points for further discussion, many of which were picked up by the presenters in their responses. The panel was co-chaired by Hyunjoo Naomi Chi of Hokkaido University and Akihiro Iwashita of Kyushu University, and the participants were fortunate to be able to continue the discussion long into the evening.

The third day saw Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman and Hyunjoo Naomi Chi in action as part of the Ito Commemoration team. The afternoon session, OP6-01 The Politics of Inclusion: Towards a Secure and Sustainable Future, featured Mirza Rahman’s paper on “Infrastructure Development in Northeast India: Examining Inequality and Exclusion in the Development Promise of Progress and Prosperity”, in which he examined some of the issues surrounding the problem of investing in regions, rather than merely constructing concrete corridors through them. A number of the themes introduced here will be later developed in his talk at Ito Campus on October 10. Naomi Chi was part of a Topical Session on T06 Case studies in Migration and Integration, which for practical reasons would ultimately be merged with another session, T07 Sexual Crimes and Violence Against Women and Men, that was impractically scheduled to occur in the same room at the same time. Ultimately, there was enough overlap between each of the papers to make this clash of sessions into a worthwhile exercise. Case studies examining the return of Indonesian nurses from working in Japan, the sexual violence committed against female politicians in Uganda, and the politics of desire experienced by widowed Muslims in India served to ground the topicality of the session in a series of very human stories, which made for a satisfying panel. The day concluded with a banquet, providing the perfect opportunity for participants at the conference to relax with one another in a more social setting.

The final day kicked off in the morning with the main event associated with the Progress100 grant, which was a special session that examined “Border Studies Today: Theoretical Development and Its Role in the Contemporary World”, chaired by Professor Akihiro Iwashita of Kyushu University, and moderated and commented on by both Edward Boyle and Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman. This Roundtable sought to offer a more global perspective, via both the speaker’s backgrounds and the scope of their discussion. The session began with a brief outline of its aims from Edward Boyle, before each of the contributor’s was invited to contribute for about ten minutes, before the discussion was opened up to the floor. The first speaker, Martin van der Velde, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, spoke regarding the development of “European Borders Studies in the past decades”, and sought to trace out a key distinction in the way it was possible to study borders in Europe as opposed to elsewhere in the world. Drawing upon a tripartite typology of methods and approaches, he emphasized how Europe’s commitment to reducing the significance of borders, through a border regions framework that seeks to both increase mobility over the boundary while ameliorating imbalances on either side of it, is fundamentally different to how borders exist in other parts of the world. The second speaker, Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, George Mason University, USA, spoke passionately on “Borders in the Americas in the Era of Trump: Walls and Closed Borders”, and brought home the effectiveness of Trump’s policy towards the southern border, as Mexico itself is forced to transform into the United States’ border wall, as a condition for remaining in NAFTA, and thus once again recasting the relationship between the two nations. The role of the border here, indeed, suggested the truth of the comparison that Martin van der Velde had drawn.

The third speaker, Serghei Golunov, now at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russia and a Professor at Kyushu University until March of this year, ambitiously sought to bridge the “Theory-Practice Gap in Contemporary Border Studies” by highlighting some of the reasons for the mutual distrust of academics and policy-makers towards each other’s fields of expertise. The talk highlighted how it would be useful for a more intense dialogue between the two traditions to take place. This perspective was also built upon by Akihiro Iwashita in his look at how we are heading “Back to the Future: A world of “fortresses”?”, in which a cyclical pattern of border transition, constantly shifting from ‘open’ to ‘closed’, is deployed in order to make a case for the potential universalization for the discipline. A unique feature of border studies is its multidisciplinarity and ability to go beyond regionalism, and these strengths were reflected in the panel as a whole, which was mentioned by both commentators in their remarks on the session. Questions from the floor focussed on the question of the universal applicability of the study of borders, as well as an engagement with the balance between data and emotion in how we understand borders in the contemporary world. In so doing, they emphasized the central contribution that could be made towards resolving global issues through the study of borders, edges, and liminal spaces.

The contribution of the Ito Commemoration team to the Forum concluded in an afternoon session, OP1-04 Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific, chaired by Yoichiro Sato, in which Edward Boyle spoke on the question of “Envisioning Island Spaces: Integral territory and national fragments”. An intensely debated session returned the border discussion from the abstracted space of the academia to the policy domain, and highlighted the challenges to the borders of the international system posed by the expansion of China, in particular. It provided a fitting conclusion to an intense engagement of borders with questions of security and sustainability, as the various participants split up and heading off to further engagements in Kanazawa and Tokyo.

11th Kyushu University Border Studies Seminar

The 11th in our series of Border Studies Seminars will be held on Saturday, May 19 at Kyushu University’s Hakozaki Campus. The keynote speech will be given by Dr. Satoshi Ishida, Lecturer at the Department of Public Policy, University of Nagasaki, and will be followed by a roundtable on border tourism. The seminar will be held in Japanese. 

For more details see HERE.

Hokkaido Workshop on Immigration Policy and Border Security in Japan

As part of the Jean Monnet Network grant “Comparing and Contrasting EU Border and Migration Policy – Are They Exemplary?”, and in collaboration with the Borders in Globalization network, the Hokkaido University Public Policy School, and the Association for Borderlands Studies Japan Chapter, Kyushu University Border Studies is part of a Workshop focusing on Immigration Policy and Border Security in Japan. This is part of a series of events, with previous meetings in Strasbourg (May 2017) and Brussels (November 2017).

The program for the Workshop is available HERE

2018 HOPS & SRC Border Studies Summer School

2018 Border Studies Summer School

Application period: February 1 to 28, 2018


The Graduate School of Public Policy (HOPS) and the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center (SRC) at Hokkaido University are delighted to announce the commencement of the Border Studies Summer School (within the framework of the Hokkaido University Summer Institute) which they will host in Sapporo from July 2-5, 2018.

The SRC hosted a summer school on border studies from 2010 to 2014 as part of the Global COE project “Reshaping Japan’s Border Studies.” Starting in 2016, the Border Studies Summer School has been hosted as part of the Hokkaido Summer Institute, which is a program that brings together distinguished scholars and our faculty members to provide an enriching educational experience to students from across Japan and around the world. The Border Studies Summer School will allow participants to expand their knowledge on courses previously open only to students at Hokkaido University.

This year’s summer school will be a two-part program. The focus of the first half of the lectures will be on Northeast Asia while the second half will be on North America and East Asia. There will also be an excursion to a local museum to learn about Hokkaido. We ask that participants attend all of the above as part of the Border Studies Summer School. We will issue a certificate of completion on the last day of the summer school to those who finish the program.

For more details, see the poster HERE.

We will also be awarding scholarships to students who meet the criteria. Please click and download the following PDF file regarding the details of the application procedures as well as how to apply for the scholarship.

(Application procedures.pdf)

Border Studies Summer School Online Registration ⇒

DC Policy Forum on Russia in the US-Japan Alliance

“Russia in the US-Japan Alliance? Beyond Chinese and North Korean Challenges”

 US relations with Russia have become a major focus in Washington following the election of President Trump. US-Russian relations had been on ice since the crisis in Ukraine, and while it was widely believed that the election of Trump would offer the possibility for a reset, this has not been forthcoming. Suspicions over Russia’s interference in the election have further undermined an already fragile relationship.

By contrast, Japan under PM Abe has consistently sought better relations with Russia. Although officially signed up to the international sanctions over Ukraine, Japan ignored the advice of the Obama administration and seductively dangled prospects of economic cooperation in front of President Putin. However, this made no impression on the latter, who demolished Japan’s hopes of a Northern Territories resolution (with the return of two islands) in the December 2016 Leaders’ Summit, while also succeeding in dividing Japan from the rest of the G7. Despite the presence of the US-Japan Security Alliance, therefore, the two countries are out of step when it comes to relations with Russia. This workshop will focus on how we should think about US-Japan relations with the Russian bear in the room.

Additionally, the session will consider how this affects relations with an increasingly prominent China and the possible response to the threat of North Korea, which with its nuclear development and missiles appears the principle threat looming over the region. Understandings regarding these challenges also have an influence on the place of Russia within the US-Japan Security Alliance.

Drawing upon the panelists combined expertise in US-Russia, Russia-Korea, Russia China and Russia-Japan relations, this session will demonstrate the value of triangulating these issues when thinking about the role of Russia in US-Japan relations, and look to how these various challenges are potentially able to be overcome through the Alliance.

26 February 2018 (10:30-12:00)
USJI Office Seminar Room, 2000 M Street, Washington DC 20006

Hosted by:

Guadalupe Correa Cabrera (George Mason University)

Roundtable Participants:

Yong-Chool Ha (University of Washington)

Matthew Rojansky (Woodrow Wilson Center)

Paul J. Saunders (Center for the National Interest)

Akihiro Iwashita (Kyushu University / Hokkaido University)


Serghei Golunov (Kyushu University)

Moderated by:

Edward Boyle (Kyushu University)

See the flyer HERE.

Crisis in Northeast Asia Conference

On 27 January, at Nishijin Plaza, the Center for Asia-Pacific Future Studies, together with National Institutes for the Humanities, will host a conference on the “Crisis in Northeast Asia”.

There will be a Special Symposium on the North Korean Issue, conducted in Japanese, and then two sessions on Security in Northeast Asia held in English. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided for the English sessions.

The conference will run from 12:30 to 18:30 in the afternoon, and will be the last large-scale event held by the Center before it closes its doors in March.

More details can be found in the poster HERE