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Ian Rowen
Assistant Professor
School of Social Sciences
College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Ian is Assistant Professor of Geography and Urban Planning in the School of Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he holds cross-appointments in the School of Art, Design, and Media, and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

His work on culture, politics, and place-making has appeared in The Journal of Asian StudiesAnnals of the American Association of GeographersAnnals of Tourism ResearchAsian AnthropologyInternational Journal of Transitional JusticeThe New York Timesthe BBC ChineseThe Guardian and elsewhere.

He has been a Visiting Scholar at Fudan University (China) and Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen (Germany), a postdoctoral fellow at Academia Sinica (Taiwan), and a Fellow of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Agile Governance. His research has been supported with a Fulbright Fellowship and multiple US National Science Foundation grants. He has delivered invited talks at institutions including Stanford, Harvard, University of California Berkeley, SOAS University of London, and NYU Shanghai.

Fluent in Mandarin Chinese and proficient in Bahasa Indonesia, he served as lead translator of “Tibetan Environmentalists in China: The King of Dzi,” a book written by journalist and Peking University and UC Berkeley fellow Liu Jianqiang that explores the interface of religion, ecology, and cultural politics in Tibet (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). Ian’s previous translations credits include such award-winning films as ‘Splendid Float’ and ‘Spider Lilies’, directed by Zero Chou.

Much of his early scholarly work focuses on the cultural and political geography of both travel and protest between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. Treating tourism as a political technology, he pays particular attention to performances of state territory and ethno-national membership. His newer work examines the politics of emergent historical periodization schemes, such as the World Economic Forum’s “4th Industrial Revolution”, and the hybrid spaces of globalizing cultural movements such as Burning Man. All of these projects are grounded in action research and long-term participant-observation.

Research Statement

Much of my early scholarly work focused on the cultural and political geography of  travel and protest between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. Treating tourism as a political technology, I examined performances of state territory and ethno-national membership. Concurrent to this, I conducted extensive action research on and within social movements on China’s periphery, including the Hong Kong Umbrella and Taiwan Sunflower Movements.

My newer ongoing work considers the cultural and political geography of emergent historical periodization schemes, such as the World Economic Forum’s “4th Industrial Revolution”, the hybrid spaces of globalizing movements such as Burning Man, and a variety of industrial and intellectual projects conducted under the banner of “innovation” in Asia and elsewhere.

Research One-liner

Creative methods for seeing, making and claiming space

Publications
  1. Taiwan’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: The geopolitics of transitional justice in a contested state. International Journal of Transitional Justice. 11(1), 92-112. (with Jamie Rowen).

-Among the first articles on Asia to appear in this field-defining journal

  1. The geopolitics of tourism: Mobilities, territory and protest in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 106(2), 385-393.

-Among the first articles to theorize tourism as a state territorial strategy

  1. Inside Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement: Twenty-Four Days in a Student-Occupied Parliament, and the Future of the Region. The Journal of Asian Studies, 74(1), 5-21.

-First and most-cited article on this epoch-defining social movement

Latest Projects

Constructing the 4th Industrial Revolution: The geography of an emergent periodization scheme

Here Be Dragons: Surveying the sacred, shanzhai, and simulated spaces of Chinese Burning Man

Interrogating Innovation: An examination of industrial and intellectual projects conducted under the banner of “innovation” in Asia and elsewhere.

Advice to young researchers

Read and wander widely, and follow your instincts beyond your institutions

Other affiliation(s)

Assistant Professor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

Expert Areas

Research Interests

Research Category
Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences
Research Sub-category
Chinese Culture & Language (Chinese Studies), Sociology
NISTH Assigned Topic Groupings
Fighting inequality
Affiliated Sustainable Development Goals
GOAL 8: DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH – Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs.
GOAL 9: INDUSTRY, INNOVATION, AND INFRASTRUCTURE – Investments in infrastructure are crucial to achieving sustainable development.
GOAL 16: PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS – Access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
Last Updated
08 Apr 2020
Last Updated
13 Sep 2020