This conference will bring together scholars of South, Southeast, and East Asia for a discussion framed by the concept of a “wood age.” We will consider both the centrality of wood to material life in the premodern world and the changes brought by the industrialization of the forest. Using perspectives from social and cultural history; archeology and paleoecology; and the histories of art, architecture, science, and medicine, this conference will address the wide range of ways that people interacted with woodlands. These dialogues will help move forest history beyond the early focus on deforestation while offering an environmental critique of Asian history and correcting the current Eurocentric bias of forest history.
The conference will feature panels on the interactions between forests, wood, and six critical topics in Asian contexts: changing landscapes and patterns of land-use; the relationship between states and forests; knowledge regimes and ritual practices; colonialism and nationalism; borderlands and frontiers; and the link between governing institutions and specific sylvan species. Three distinguished scholars have been invited to frame our dialogues through an introductory address and keynote panel. We will conclude with a roundtable of experts to further comment on the implications of this research for other regions and disciplines. Altogether, we hope the conference will not only bring together interdisciplinary scholarship on Asian forests but also reexamine and recontextualize the basic concepts, terms, and records that form the basis of forest history, to establish the contexts for cross-cultural and diachronic comparisons.
The conference will be held at 10 Sachem Street (Room 105), New Haven, CT. Registration is strongly recommended due to limited space. Details are available at campuspress.yale.edu/woodage . Opening remarks start on Friday, September 21, 2018 at 2:30 PM.