LITHUANIA

Source: Asian studies in Lithuania – Audrius Beinorus, Center of Oriental Studies at Vilnius University, Lithuania (2009). See the original text

 

SHORT HISTORY

Asian studies in Lithuania date back to the 19th century, when Vilnius University was at the heart of Oriental language studies. The department of Eastern languages was founded as early as 1810, but with no one at its head. A famous Vilnius intellectual, Kazimir Kontrimas, ventured a proposition to the Governor of the Vilnius district to establish an Institute of Eastern Studies; however, for unknown reasons, the project was not accepted, and talented university students were forced to scatter around the world.

During the independence period between the two World Wars, Oriental studies in Lithuania did not get the attention and support they deserved; they survived only because of the efforts of a few devoted scholars.

In Soviet times, under the control of Moscow, Lithuanian schools of higher education were not allowed to set up institutes of Oriental studies. As a result, students were sent to Russian universities.

After 1993, with the independence of Lithuania, Asian studies enjoyed a revival. The Centre of Oriental Studies at Vilnius University focuses on studies of regions in South, East and Near-East Asia. The objectives of the Centre are to prepare specialists in Asian studies for scientific research, the development of cultural and business relations as well as to promote better understanding of Eastern cultures in Lithuania.

After receiving generous support from social partners and state institutions, a BA programme of Classical Asian Studies was added in the academic year 2000. In 2005, a new BA programme in Iranian studies and an MA programme in Contemporary Asian studies and in 2007 a BA in Turkish studies were introduced.

PRESENT ORGANISATION AND FUNCTIONING

Centre of Oriental Studies

Vilnius University

University Street 5

LT-01513, Vilnuis

Centre for Asian Studies at the Faculty of Political Sciences and Diplomacy

Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University

Vaizganto 30, Kaunas

The Centre for Asian studies was established in 2009 by combining two existing institutions: the Asian Studies Centre and the Japanese Studies Centre.

Students are required to pay for their studies, as there are no Government grants for Asian studies; however, agreements between Lithuanian and Asian and other European universities provide various grants.

Students can go to Asian universities for part of their studies.

The educational system in based on the model: BA, MA , PhD.

ABOUT THE STAFF

Vilnius University

Centre of Oriental Studies

There are 25 full-time and part-time lecturers. The number of full-time positions depends on the number of students and the University’s budget.

Ten students are admitted every 2 years to each BA programme: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Iranian, Arabic and Turkish studies. Every 2 years, 15 students are admitted to the MA in contemporary Asian studies.

Lecturers and researchers in Asian studies at Vilnius University are members of the Central and Eastern European Network for Indian Studies (CEENIS) and the European Network of Contemporary Academic Research on India (ENCARI).

The staff divide their time between research and teaching, with one third of their salary assigned to research.

All lecturers who hold a PhD are obliged to do research and to publish.

Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University

There are three researchers and seven lecturers for approximately 20 MA students.

At Kaunas University, teaching and research are clearly divided.

The number of scholars in Asian studies has increased regularly in recent years. Because of the low salaries, it is almost impossible to attract senior scholars from abroad for full-time positions.

FIELDS STUDIED

Vilnius University Centre prepares qualified specialists in humanities and social Sciences. Among its educational objectives are analysis and research of cultural evolution in the major geographical regions of Asia, intercultural communication, and prospects of collaboration in Asian studies. The approved research topic for 2008–2013 is ‘Traditional Strategies of Knowledge in Asia’.

13 Asian languages are taught at the Centre: Japanese, Mandarin, Chinese, classical Chinese, Tibetan, Persian, Dari, Arabic, Turkish, Hindi, Sanskrit and Vedic.

Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University provides instruction in Japanese, Mandarin and Korean. Their main research theme is: ‘Representation (images) of East Asian countries in Europe’.

PUBLICATIONS

 


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