Asia Pacific Education Review – Special Issue CfP–‘Asia as Method: Toward Ontologies and Epistemologies of Difference’

Asia Pacific Education Review – Special Issue Call for Papers
Asia as Method: Toward Ontologies and Epistemologies of Difference

Special Issue Editor

Kevin Kester, Seoul National University (

Educational researchers have long sought insights for domestic education by drawing on lessons learned from abroad. The home context is normalized within these traditions as the centre from which the other is understood. But rarely has the field examined the ontological changes of educators themselves working abroad, and the implications this holds for challenging and transforming accepted theoretical and pedagogical norms of the field.

As long-term international work provides insights that transcend simple travel abroad or traditional ethnography, this Special Issue explores how university educators working abroad in the long-term experience ontological and epistemological transformations. A longer period of employment and life abroad provides unique insights as the educator goes through personal ontological and epistemological transformations via ‘border thinking’ that informs his/her analysis (T. Kim, 2014; Rappleye & Komatsu, 2017).

Theorizing the borders, Gloria Anzaldua (1987) writes, “the borderlands are physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory, where the lower, middle and upper classes touch” (preface). She goes on to illustrate with the US-Mexico border as an example, “The US-Mexico border es una herida abierta [an open wound] where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds” (p. 3). Educators working in international contexts encounter these ontological and epistemological borders daily and are brought to grapple with the role of Otherness in their scholarly practices. Mignolo and Tlostanova (2006) write, “Border thinking is the epistemology of the exteriority; that is of the outside created from the inside” (p. 206).

At the same time, the Western gaze in recent years has been critiqued as the hegemonic lens through which education is theorized (Silova et al., 2020; Zhang et al., 2015), and scholars in East Asia (and elsewhere) have called on Asian and non-Asian educators alike to think beyond Western-centricity and beyond domination-oriented thinking (Chen, 2010; B.Y. Kim, 2002; Takayama et al., 2018). These scholars argue against Western-centricity and against the adoption and adaptation of Western (as well as domestic exclusionary) concepts as mechanisms of control by scholars and the political elite (T. Kim, 2016; Vickers, 2020).

In reference to the East Asian context bringing West and East together, Chen (2010) states, “The Taoist concept of taiji, as a structural totality in place prior to the existence of yin and yang, has to be analyzed on two levels. On the higher level, the unity of yin and yang is complementary and indeed encompasses a totality. But on the lower level, yang is higher than yin, and the former governs and encompasses the latter” (p. 264). Chen’s double critique here of Western-centric practices and domestic hierarchies – e.g., caste, class, and gender – is especially visible for those educators who working long-term abroad encounter the constraints and affordances of difference.

This Special Issue, then, asks: How are educators’ theoretical and pedagogical practices informed by migration across contexts? What sorts of ontological and epistemological transformations might educators experience during long-term periods abroad? How might these transformations initiate decolonial moves in regard to educational pedagogy, policy and practice?

This Special Issue explores these questions within and beyond the context of Asia drawing on the unique insights of diverse educators. Importantly, beyond examining Asia as a defined territory or entity that is distinct from the West, this Special Issue looks toward the ways that Asia, the West, and the Global South co-exist within each other. Drawing on Kuan-Hsing Chen’s (2010) Asia as Method and Gloria Anzaldua’s (1987) Borderlands, the issue seeks to re-center Asia within educational discourse, not as an object of analysis but as an agential subject. To deeply access issues of ontological and epistemological transformation, this issue welcomes a diverse range of methodologies, such as reflexive and contemplative inquiry, autoethnography, qualitative empirical research, conceptual/philosophical methods, and other approaches.

We invite manuscripts that deal with these questions from diverse authors. All papers should be written as reflections on ontological and epistemological changes that scholars of/in Asia experience by embracing and/or working in other cultural contexts. Brief manuscript proposals (500 words) are due by October 1, 2021, and should be submitted to Kevin Kester at
Please reach out to the Special Issue editor with any questions or comments.

The following timeline is expected:

October 1, 2021: Submission of abstracts.

October 22: Invitation to submit full manuscript.

March 11, 2022: Submission of full manuscript.

April 15: Completion of first round reviews.

May 13: Submission of revised manuscripts.

June 10: Completion of second round reviews.

July 8: Submission of final manuscript.

July 29: Notification of final acceptance.

August 26, 2022: Proposed publication date.

Instructions for Submission

Please send proposals to Kevin Kester at by October 1, 2021. Proposals will be reviewed by the editorial team and authors of successful abstracts will be contacted by October 22.

Full manuscripts (6000-8000 words excluding references) are due by March 11, 2022, to be submitted through the journal’s regular portal on its homepage. Please indicate in the submission that the paper is being submitted as a part of the Special Issue. Further details are available on the APER website:


Anzaldua, G. (1987). Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Aunt Lute Books.
Chen, K.-H. (2010). Asia as Method. Duke University Press.
Kim, B.-Y. (2002). Korean Education Viewed from a Post-colonial Perspective. Humanities Research 5: 149-176.
Kim, T. (2014). The Intellect, Mobility and Epistemic Positioning in Doing Comparisons and Comparative Education. Comparative Education 50: 58-72.
Kim, T. (2016). Internationalisation and Development in East Asian Higher Education: An Introduction. Comparative Education, 52, 1-7.
Mignolo, W., & Tlostanova, M. (2006). Theorizing from the Borders: Shifting to Geo- and Body Politics of Knowledge. European Journal of Social Theory 9: 205-221.
Rappleye, J., & Komatsu, H. (2017). How to Make Lesson Study Work in America and Worldwide: A Japanese Perspective on the Onto-Cultural Basis of (Teacher) Education. Research in Comparative and International Education 12: 398-430.
Silova, I., Rappleye, J., & Auld, E. (2020). Beyond the Western Horizon: Rethinking Education, Values and Policy Transfer. In G. Fan & T. Popkewitz (Eds.), Handbook of Education Policy Studies (pp. 3-29). Springer.
Takayama, K., Sriprakash, A., & Connell, R.W. (2018). Toward a Postcolonial Comparative and International Education. Comparative Education Review 61: S1-S24.
Vickers, E. (2020). Critiquing Coloniality, ‘Epistemic Violence’ and Western Hegemony in Comparative Education – The Dangers of Ahistoricism and Positionality. Comparative Education, 56, 165-189.
Zhang, H., Chan, P.W.K., & Kenway, J. (2015). Asia as Method in Education Studies: A Defiant Research Imagination. Routledge.You have access to our articles

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