Indiana University Bloomington
Difference and Constitutionalism in Pan-Asia

With generous support from the IU Institute for Advanced Study, the Maurer School of Law, the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs, and the Center for the Study of the Middle East, the Center for Constitutional Democracy and the ANU-IU Pan Asia Institute will host a symposium on Difference and Constitutionalism in Pan-Asia March 4-5, 2011 on the IU Bloomington campus.

Date: Friday, March 4 through Saturday, March 5, 2011

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location: Maurer School of Law, Bloomington, IN
Free and Open to the Public

Constitutionalism is sweeping the world.  In the past 20 years, at least a dozen countries in the pan-Asian region have proposed or adopted new or made important changes in existing constitutions.  Much of the impetus for this focus on constitutions comes from the political and social pressures generated by lines of division and difference within societies: lines including religion, race and ethnicity, gender, language, and the rural/urban divide.  People in many countries look to their constitutions as mechanisms for taming the disruption that sometimes accompanies difference and for establishing just and stable polities that can encompass such differences.

The pan-Asia region provides a particularly good context for the comparative analysis of constitutionalism and difference.  Stretching from the Middle East through Central Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia to East Asia and the Pacific, this region covers a hugely diverse collection of countries.  Most of the possible variations of history, culture, politics, and law that might affect the role of constitutionalism can be found within the region.

The conference will bring together a distinguished collection of scholars from IU, ANU, and other universities in the U.S. and abroad to address the challenges of difference and constitutionalism from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives.  They will bring to bear the methodologies and insights of history, anthropology, sociology, political science, and law.  In addition, the focus will be explicitly comparative.  The great and complementary strengths of IU and ANU in area studies will provide a necessary foundation from which we can uncover and examine both the similarities and the differences in the experiences of different countries.

Panels will be organized around five themes: gender, ethnicity and race, the urban-rural divide, religion, and language.  Each panel will include speakers addressing a range of sub-regions within pan-Asia.  This thematic organization is designed to promote comparative and cross-cultural exchange. The conference will further the development of the CCD and PAI at Indiana University while expanding the knowledge base about how constitutions can manage difference productively.  We hope that this knowledge will contribute in the long run to building more stable and democratic governments in countries around the world.