GEAS Graduate Conference – Call for Papers



GEAS Graduate Conference:

Individual Agency in Institutional Contexts in East Asia

Date: 9-10 December 2016

Venue: Berlin (Graduate School of East Asian Studies, Free University of Berlin)

How institutions work in real life depends to a considerable extent on how individuals relate to them in their everyday activities. As the structures given by institutions are often manifold, conflicting, and multi-leveled, diverging interpretations and pathways of action can be expected. There are various perspectives to study the relationship between institutions and individuals, among which some recent approaches emphasize the agency of individuals within an institutional setting. How do individuals interact with larger cultural, social, political, and economic contexts? Also, while doing research, how can scholars navigate the gap between concrete persons or situations, and the abstract models of agency?


Ph.D. candidates of the Graduate School for East Asian Studies at Free University of Berlin are organizing a graduate conference about individual agency in institutional contexts in winter 2016. We invite young scholars engaging with East Asia in their research to discuss the role of individual actors and their agency in empirical studies, as well as in theory building. We welcome contributions that focus on formal and/or informal institutions. Examples could include the Article 9 of the Japanese constitution (peace clause), chaebŏl (industrial conglomerates) in Korea, and guanxi (social ties) in China. The main purpose of this conference is to provide a forum for young researchers for an academic exchange from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Application requirements:

The conference is aimed at doctoral candidates and recent PhDs in area studies or social science disciplines related to East Asia. There are no specific requirements in respect of a candidate’s disciplinary background. The disciplines that will be considered include, but are not limited to social and cultural anthropology, law, economics, history, political sciences, and sociology. Each speaker will be asked to deliver a paper in English, followed by a discussion with invited scholars and specialists.

Application process and schedule:

1) Applicants are to submit the paper title and abstract (no more than 300 words) in English by 31st July 2016 at
2) The selected participants will be notified by End of August 2016
3) Final papers (5000-8000 words) should be sent in by 4th November 2016.


Organizers’ website: