From 19 to 21 May 2005 the Gendering Asia Network held its first conference at Kungälv Folkhögskola near Göteborg. The conference brought together forty-two scholars and students from the Nordic countries as well as from Asia, Australia and North America. Nordic scholars engaged in studies of gender and Asia generally have established wide-ranging networks within their particular area of research. However, especially MA and PhD students working within the field of gender and Asia in the Nordic countries have expressed a strong need for a network to support them in their studies and enable them to identify and make contact with other students as well as scholars working within their fields of study.
Thus, the conference was held in order to begin building a strong, imaginative and resourceful network that will benefit research and teaching on gender and Asia in the Nordic countries. On the one hand we know that scholars are engaged in research and teaching on gender and Asia in more or less all the Nordic countries, but on the other hand we also do not have an overall picture of who exactly is doing what and where. One aim of the network is to facilitate exchange by building a database of scholars and students working on gender and Asia. Asian studies environments in the Nordic countries are all relatively small, and although most scholars have their individual networks within and beyond the Nordic countries, we believe there is room for increased Nordic interaction, exchange and collaboration that can be facilitated by a formalized network.
The network is not defined as a Nordic Gendering Asia Network. Much of our work takes place in collaboration with colleagues in Asia and elsewhere in the world and the network, as reflected also by participation in the conference, is open to participants from all parts of the world.
The theme of the first conference was broad and paper presenters were asked to consider how gender is part of their research either as a methodological/theoretical approach and/or as a focus of study and to discuss how a gender perspective in their work has provided new knowledge on Asia. The two keynote speakers Maila Stivens and Nguyen-vo Thu-huong, as well as several paper presenters addressed the gendered processes that construct many dimensions of Asian modernities and their incorporation into a globalizing world. Other papers analyzed the effects on women and men of the dramatic economic, social and political changes sweeping the region. In future the plan is to convene annual conferences on more specific themes.