In the context of the 2010 Shanghai Biennale, the West Heavens project started to facilitate dialogues between Indian and Chinese intellectuals. In 2011, the project also organized a film festival—titled "You Don’t Belong”—touring Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Hong Kong, and Hsinchu, along with intellectual forums. Such dialogues between Indian and Chinese circles of thought were actually made possible via the wider network of “Inter-Asia Cultural Studies” that has been in place since late 1990s and the East Asian Critical Journals Conference. Hence, from the beginning of the West Heavens project, we had begun to imagine the possibility to expand the “India-China” focus of the dialogue to encompass other Asian circles of thought. In collaboration with the 2012 Shanghai Biennale, three intersecting intellectual networks converged to stage the “Asian Circle of Thought 2012 Shanghai Summit.”
With “World in transition, imagination in flux” as the title of the conference, held in the Power Station of Arts in Shanghai, from October 12 to 19, this historical event attempted to initiate a platform for critical dialogues among intellectuals and thinkers across Asia. The purpose of the conference states: "As the world is now in rapid transition, economically, politically and culturally, there is a sense of urgency to come together to analyze the present and imagine the future in regional terms. For the past two or three decades, different projects have been carried out to contribute to the (re)integration of Asia at the level of knowledge production. Projects like Inter-Asia Cultural Studies: Movements journal, East Asia Critical Journals Conference, and the West Heavens have been able to connect intellectual circles across different parts of Asia. We feel this is the moment to work together to initiate the Modern Asian Thought Project to create new forms and modes of knowledge for the future of global peace and a more humane world”.
Kuan-Hsing Chen teaches in the Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. His most recent publication is Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization (2010, Duke University Press).