Literatures, Languages & Cultures

What’s it like to co-organise an international conference?

Tsz Ho (Brian) Wong, an East Asian Studies PhD candidate, tells us about working with the Hong Kong Young Historian Institute on this year’s International Symposium for Young Scholars in Asia Seas.

Photograph of Tsz Ho outdoors in woodland
Tsz Ho (Brian) Wong is a first year PhD student in East Asian Studies

Tsz Ho (Brian) Wong is in his first year of a PhD in East Asian Studies. He is particularly interested in the history of modern East Asia, with a focus on economic history, intellectual history and histories of science and technology.

It was while studying for his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Hong Kong in 2019 that Tsz Ho attended his first Hong Kong Young Historian Institute (HKYHI) event, an Undergraduate Conference on Historiography.

Following his move to the UK for a masters at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), he kept in touch with the Institute, attending the first two International Symposia for Young Scholars in Asia Seas in 2021 and 2022.

Building on this participation, and speaking at other events too, Brian then gained experience in conference organisation at LSE, making him ideally placed to be invited onto the preparatory committee for this year‘s third HKYHI symposium for young scholars.

Diversifying participation through hybrid events

For the third International Symposium for Young Scholars in Asia Seas, which is split between online and hybrid sessions, Tsz Ho is working alongside co-organisers based in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia.

To develop the symposium’s Call for Papers, which is now open, he tells us that the team had a preliminary online meeting to discuss the theme of Diaspora and Confluence in Maritime Asia. They will meet again at the end of April to discuss proposals from postgraduate students and early career researchers working on Asian social, political, business, economic and religious history.

Asked what students from the University of Edinburgh can expect from the symposium, and why they should consider submitting a paper, Brian says “By participating, students can exchange ideas and receive feedback on their work from peers and scholars from around the world, as well as expand their social networks.”

“Papers can be written in English or Chinese, and selected papers may be invited for publication in PolyU’s peer-reviewed journals. Last year we had speakers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and the UK. I hope we will have a more diverse cohort this year.”

Absorbing debates and methodologies

At the University of Edinburgh, Brian is supervised across the Schools of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) and History, Classics and Archaeology (HCA).

Asked why he chose Edinburgh, and how he finds being based in two different schools, he says the expertise of his supervisors - Professor Aaron William Moore in LLC and Dr Felix Boecking in HCA - was a major factor, underpinned by the “numerous archival materials collected by the University libraries”.

He tells us “Just as Professor Moore is a transnational and comparative social historian, being supervised by staff from different parts of the university gives me the opportunity to absorb debates and methodologies from different disciplines of historical studies and to conduct research from a broader, comparative and transnational perspective.”

“Edinburgh is also a beautiful city, which I’ve loved since I first visited in the summer of 2019.”

The third International Symposium for Young Scholars in Asia Seas takes place over two days in August 2023. Friday 25 August will be an online session, and Saturday 26 August will take place on a hybrid basis, both online and at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The team is currently inviting paper proposals from postgraduate students and early-career researchers aligning with the conference theme of “Diaspora and Confluence in Maritime Asia: Intercultural Dialogue and Convergence”.

Submit a paper proposal by 24 April 2023

Are you interested in postgraduate research in Asian Studies?

Our interdisciplinary community brings together specialists in the languages, literatures, cultures and politics of China, Japan and Korea with experts in East Asian and international relations. Working with colleagues elsewhere in LLC, and across the wider University, we are able to support research which crosses boundaries between disciplines and/or languages.

Find out more about postgraduate research in Asian Studies

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