Comparative Approaches to Inter-Asian Religious and Trade Networks: ARI 3-4 March 2016

Asia Research Institute Seminar Room, National University of Singapore
469A Tower Block Level 10, Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259770 [MAP]

Organized by the Asia Research Institute; with funding support from the Office of the Deputy President (Research & Technology) of the National University of Singapore; and in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany.

Singapore is the hub of Southeast Asia. All kinds of networks have Singapore as their central node. Many of the founding pioneers of Singapore established transnational business networks based on the island, linking it to Southeast Asia, China, and the global market. Early Chinese settlers placed their collective regional business offices (huiguan) inside temples dedicated to their local deities, and these temples developed rites to bolster business trust. The networks of these branch temples/huiguan connect Singapore to founding temples and regions in Southeast China, as well as to other sites around Southeast Asia. Similar networks were developed by Indian business and community leaders, many of whom were also Indian temple founders, and by Arab and Malay community and business leaders who founded mosques. Some of these Islamic merchants were involved in an extensive trading network linking Singapore to the Middle East. Christian missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, built churches, schools, printing presses, and hospitals to serve a growing community of believers. This conference seeks papers that explore the transformations of these different networks. Papers are welcome that map their historical evolution, discuss their central nodes and secondary transmission points, investigate their internal organizations and processes, examine their flows of investment capital, their practices, ideas of the good life, their forms of ritual knowledge and their ritual specialists, their modes of philanthropy and mutual-aid, and the kinds of symbolic and associative capital developed within these networks. We also welcome papers on the transnational networks of the business firms and shipping companies linked to these networks. This conference seeks to build on efforts to disaggregate national and regional frameworks (nation states, Indian Ocean vs South China Sea), and to explore specific axes of circulation and exchange across regions (religious networks, legal frameworks, philanthropic organizations, credit-pooling), leading to multiple or shared sovereignties as well as semi-autonomous communities, and the creation of new social formations across the entire range of Asian connections.



Admission is free, however, registration is required. Kindly register early as seats are available on a first come, first served basis. Please email Minghua at to indicate your interest to attend the conference.




Prof Kenneth DEAN
Asia Research Institute, and Department of Chinese Studies, National University of Singapore
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Prof Peter van der VEER
Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany

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