Source: Presentation of Asian and Pacific studies, by Olga Lomova, Institute of East Asian Studies, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic (2009). See the original text here
Asian studies in the Czech Republic date back to the second half of the 19th century. ‘Asia’ was considered to be all the countries beyond Europe, including the Middle East, South and South East Asia and the Far East. From the beginning, Indology and Sinology have been the focus of Asian Studies at Prague’s Charles University.
After 1948, with the victory of the Communist revolution, Asian studies flourished. New chairs in Sinology, Japanology, and Koreanistics were established, and Indology developed further, divided according to language (Hindi, Bengali, Tamil). As there was restricted academic freedom in other humanities, Asian studies also attracted some of the best minds in Czech humanities at the time. Most of these developments stopped in 1968 after the suppression of the Communist reformist movement, which resulted in purges in academic institutions, restricted access to information, limited international information and in some cases, namely Sinology, direct subordination of research and teaching to the decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Academic research hibernated, occasionally pursued by scholars in private, and teaching was restricted to language instruction and topics relevant to politics and ideology. The only new development in this period was the creation of Mongolian and Vietnamese studies at Charles University. When academic freedom was restored in 1990, Asian studies faced a huge generation gap, accompanied by controversy about the previous Communist activities of some of the older scholars. Asian studies therefore returned to the tradition of philology-oriented studies. Asian social sciences started to develop only with the new generation of PhD degree holders.
PRESENT ORGANIZATION AND PRESENTATION
Charles University, Faculty of Philosophy (public institution, no fees)
116 36 Prague 1
Telephone: +420 224 491 850
Fax: +420 224 491 895
There are three entities in the University:
- Institute of East Asian studies
- Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation International Sinological Centre
- Institute of South and Central Asia
Oriental Institute, Academy of Sciences, Prague (public institution)
The Institute has a department of East Asian Studies and a department of South Asian Studies.
Palacky University Olomouc, Faculty of Philosophy (public institution, no fees)
Department of Asian Studies
Masaryk University, Brno (public institution, no fees).
Centre for the Study of Religion in China and Japan
Metropolitan University, Prague (private institution, tuition fees).
Department of Asian Studies
In these universities and institutes, the following studies are proposed: literature, linguistics, early history (pre-modern and modern), philosophy, religion, anthropology, Chinese medicine, contacts with Europe, contemporary Buddhism, modern literature, Taiwan.
Depending on the university or institution, BA and MA programmes are offered, a wide variety of language classes, various country studies
Charles University in Prague is the only centre of higher learning in the Czech Republic that offers a PhD programme in Asian studies.
Annual conferences and workshops are organized. There are also bilateral exchanges, European programmes and projects supported by Asian foundations.
ABOUT THE STAFF
There are about 56 lecturers and researchers in Asian studies in the Czech Republic. A full-time teacher is required to devote 1/3 of time to teaching, 1/3 to research and 1/3 to administration.
The number of students in all the listed institutions is 450-500, with a steady rise in the numbers.
– Acta Universitatis Carolinae – Studia Orientalia Pragensia since 1945
– Mongolica Pragensia since 2007
– Archiv Orientalni since 1929 (in English, French and German)
– Novy Orient since 1945 (in Czech)