An international conference to be held at the Royal Asiatic Society, London | 26 May 2019

Histories of print in South & Southeast Asia often touch on technologies of production in broad, cursory ways that conform to predetermined ideas about their deployment, their function, and their impact. However, there are ample historical indications of local engagements that contradict the characterisation of the print revolution as a uniform global phenomenon – or indeed as a revolution at all. Have narratives of influence and impact obscured the many personal and material engagements that constitute the social history of print and technology in Asian contexts? Moving away from sweeping histories of printing and publishing, this conference focuses on the more intimate scale of materials, processes, practices, as well as on labourers, tinkerers, entrepreneurs and other individuals in the history of print in South and Southeast Asia. With the aim of exploring material, practical, and technological involvement of individuals and social groups with objects, machinery, raw material, the movement, transportation, and dissemination of printing objects and printed matter, and indeed language, script, orthography – among many other facets of engagement – the conference invites papers that investigate South & Southeast Asian experiences in relation to any dimension of print production.

We invite proposals for papers of 20-minute duration. Please send an abstract (300 words) and short bio (150 words) to:

The conference is free and open to all (no speaker fee or attendance fee). We are unable to cover costs involved in travel or accommodation, however early career researchers presenting at the conference will be reimbursed for economy travel (within UK). Tea/coffee and refreshments will be provided during the conference, lunch is not included. 

Authors of all selected proposals will be invited to publish extended versions of their papers in a peer-reviewed journal issue of Contextual Alternate. Submission guidelines for the journal can be found here: