Over the past 20 years, India and China have experienced rapid economic growth which has transformed their positions in the world, their view of themselves, and their impact on the planet.
However, with growth have come the burdens of development: environmental degradation, social and regional inequality, physical and mental health problems, mass migration, and grassroots riots. New infrastructural and technological challenges have arisen and international relationships have shifted. India and China tackle their similar challenges in very different ways, reflecting their contrasting political and social systems.
In recent years, the fascinating tension created by the similarities and differences between the two has attracted an expanding multi-disciplinary scholarship of Sino-Indian comparative work. Previous comparative research has suggested that what and how we compare depends heavily on theoretical approaches dominant in each country. These approaches however, are neither consistent nor cohesive, and given that the global reality is also diverse, it is surprising that we should expect them to be so.
How are these theoretical problems to be overcome? Could we form a better comparative framework to understand India and China in our changing world? And if so, then how? How is this challenge being tackled in different disciplines and industries, and what can we learn from different approaches to collaboration and comparison in use today?
A New Response: What is Juxtapose?
Juxtapose is a multi-faceted project aiming to create new approaches to comparative works on India and China, incorporating diverse perspectives to stimulate fresh contributions to the academy and beyond. We are proud to be supported by The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH), the Davis Foundation for Chinese Studies, The South Asia Research Cluster (SARC) of Wolfson College, Oxford, Center for the East Asia Studies (CEAS) and School of International Studies (SIS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and to be a selected project of Global Policy.
At present, the Juxtapose Project is comprised of three parts. Firstly, we have an ongoing inter- and multi-disciplinary conference series focused on creating and exploring new comparative paradigms for study of and work with India and China. We held our inaugural meeting in April 2013 at Wolfson College, Oxford, and our 2014 conference at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. We plan to triangulate our cooperation between Chinese and Indian institutes and the University of Oxford where we are primarily based at this time.
The Juxtapose Series is devised simultaneously as a platform for scholarly gathering, with invited guest speakers and global contributions, an outlet for creative cooperation, an opportunity for in-person discussion and problem-solving, and an online space at http://indiachinaresearch.blogspot.co.uk/ where contributions can be made by academics, policy-makers and other interested parties. It is intended to be truly inter- and multidisciplinary. More information on our diverse, multi-faceted approach can be seen on the relevant pages here.
In an effort to dislodge the unevenness of access to conferences and events, Juxtapose places importance on the use of technology as a tool to bring thinkers together, despite geographical distances and economic constraints. Our ambition is to bring these two realms, the online and the physical, together as seamlessly as possible, and as interactively as possible. We invite international participants (or any who wish to) to give their papers through online conferencing, or filmed remarks, and we encourage the submission of presentations, essays or thoughts from a broad range of academics, practitioners and policy makers, as well as traditional academic papers. We aim to bring papers and works from 2013 and 2014 together in a printed or e- volume.
The second part the Juxtapose Project is a bilingual blog. By sharing the latest publications of China-India studies contributed by professionals from the Juxtapose network and beyond in a more approachable way to the general public, this blog aims at bridging the gap between scholarly research and public readings of multi-disciplinary China-India comparison. Apart from our own website, the blog will be simultaneously hosted on our media partners in China, UK and beyond, including China Daily, Caixin Media and Global Policy.
The third part of Juxtapose is our monthly podcast In Context, which will be launched towards the end of 2014. This public-facing extension of our work will bring together a varied network of senior academics to respond to current events in India and/or China by contextualising them in time and space. We consider this an opportunity to create a powerful resource for the use of academics in both a research and teaching context, and a tool to reach out to the public at large, filling gaps in knowledge about these countries that are so central to our global future.