The History of the Gendering Asia Network 

The Gendering Asia Network was initiated in 2005 and the first activity was a conference held at Kungälv in Sweden in May that year. Wil Burghoorn, Göteborg University; Helle Rydstrøm, Lund University and Cecilia Milwertz, NIAS-Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, initiated the network and with the conference we encouraged participants to join us in building a strong, imaginative and resourceful network that would benefit research and teaching on gender and Asia in the Nordic countries.

The focus of network activity can be defined by a quote from the keynote speech given by Professor Maila Stivens at the first conference. She said that when applying a gender perspective the aim is not simply to analyse the ‘effects’ on women of the dramatic economic, social and political changes sweeping the region or to add women to the mainstream accounts that seem so resolutely to mostly exclude them. Rather, the aim is to explore the thoroughly gendered processes that construct many dimensions of Asian modernities and their incorporation into a globalizing world.

There were several reasons why the network was initiated:

  • The overall aim is to strengthen research and teaching on gender and Asia in the Nordic countries.
  • On the one hand we knew that several scholars were engaged in research and teaching on gender and Asia in more or less all the Nordic countries, but on the other hand we also did not have an overall picture of who exactly was doing what and where. We wanted 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 we all have our individual networks within and beyond the Nordic countries we believed there was room for increased Nordic interaction, exchange and collaboration that could be facilitated by a formalized network

The Nordic perspective was emphasized. However, we very consciously chose not to call this 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 is open to colleagues from all parts of the world.

Activities since 2005


In 2006 the second conference was held in Iceland. In 2008 the third conference was held in Helsinki, and a forth conference was held in Copenhagen in 2010. All conferences attracted participants from the Nordic countries, Asia, North America and other parts of the world.


Both the first and the second conference led to issues of the NIAS publication – NIAS Nytt/NIAS News – Asia Insights.

The Gendering Asia Book Series

Parallel to the Gendering Asia Network the Gendering Asia book series with NIAS Press was initiated. The network and the book series are closely linked in terms of academic focus.

NordForsk grant

In 2010 the network received a three-year grant (2010-2013) from NordForsk to consolidate the network and shift the main focus of activity to producing joint publications and formulating joint research projects.

NordForsk 2010-2013

The main NordForsk funded activity was to convene a series of conferences and workshops as well as smaller group meetings:

Conference 11-13 November 2010 at Copenhagen University as part of a larger Copenhagen University Asian Dynamics Initiative conference

First workshop 14-15 November 2010, hosted by NIAS, University of Copenhagen

Second workshop 10-13 October 2011, hosted by the Centre for Women’s Gender Research and EDDA – Centre of Excellence, the University of Iceland

Third workshop 21–24 August 2012, hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Conference 13-15 October 2014 A Multitude of Encounters with Asia – Gender Perspectives. 8th annual NNC Conference, University of Iceland, Reykjavik


The main outcome of the NordForsk supported activities was publications and dissertations by individual members as well as joint publications by network members including these few examples:

Theme issue Norwegian Journal of Geography:  2013, Volume 67(4). Gendered mobility in Asia: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/sgeo20/67/4 Articles by network members Ragnhild Lund, Anna Karlsdottir, Philip Martin, Chamila T. Attanapola, Yee Yee Swe, Ann Fenger Benwell and Kristina Göransson.

Chapter 8 ”Remembrance, commemoration and memorial ceremonies” in the book:

Falk, Monica, Lindberg 2014 Post-Tsunami Recovery in Thailand: Socio-cultural responses. New York: Routledge

Vu Thi Thao, 2014. Chapter 5 – When the Pillar of the Home Shaking: Female Labor Migration and Stay-at-home Fathers in Vietnam, in Inhorn M. C., Chavkin W., and Navarro J. A. Globalized Fatherhood, Oxford: Berghahn books.

Sungju Park-Kang, Fictional International Relations: Gender, Pain and Truth (Routledge, 2014).


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