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Association of South-East Asian Studies in the United Kingdom (ASEASUK)

Source: Victor T. King, Emeritus Professor of South East Asian Studies, University of Leeds, United Kingdom: “A History of ASEASUK on its 40th Anniversary” (2009). See the original text on:

The ASEASUK Association was born in London 1968. It was created to “meet the felt needs consequent to the growth of South East Asian Studies in the United Kingdom.”

The South East Asian Studies constituency was relatively small and residentially concentrated in the 1970s and very much focused on the three main Centres of South‐East Asian Studies ‐ London, Hull and Kent.

Already by the 1980s the Association had expanded considerably in its membership and the presence and participation of scholars from several universities outside the three Centres had increased markedly. This trend has continued to strengthen to the present.

The Association has continued to struggle to protect South‐East Asian language‐based area studies programmes from the vagaries of government funding and policy.

The first list of members compiled in 1971 totalled 64 just over two‐thirds of the membership came from the three recognised Centres.

It is worth emphasising the important role of the London School of Economics (LSE) in the early development of the study of South‐East Asia in the United Kingdom.

Most certainly those professionally involved in research and teaching in language and literature joined the Association as members, some served on the Committee from time to time and they attended the annual conferences but perhaps ASEASUK’s attention to their scholarly interests was not as energetic and positive as it might have been until relatively recently. Our conferences, for example, were primarily directed to issues and themes in the social sciences and humanities, though more recently we have introduced through panels on Indonesian and Malay Manuscript Studies.

Language specialists have also moved into such multidisciplinary areas as cultural-media, film and gender studies and through these interests they contribute increasingly to the Association’s conferences.

Nevertheless, one result of this relative neglect was the founding of Indonesia Circle at SOAS in 1973, with its own association newsletter (later to become the journal Indonesia and the Malay World). It was also accompanied by the setting up of the Indonesian Etymological Project which organized colloquia in different European countries every two years. Specialists in the broader field of Austronesian languages also did not confine their regional interests to what came to be defined as South‐East Asia in the post‐war period for that matter neither did the small number of archaeologists and pre-historians who were active in ASEASUK.

British Institute in South-East Asia and the Academy Committee

Discussions in the Academy and with the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about the need to found an Institute in Asia go back to at least 1958. These deliberations prompted by the recommendations of the Scarborough Report (1947) and initially coordinated by a Committee of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London focused on the possibility of establishing an Institute in Far Eastern or East Asian Studies. This was to concentrate primarily on China and Japan and the preferred location was Tokyo. Largely for financial reasons the plans for an Institute, which originally was to share premises with the British Council in Tokyo, eventually fell through. The decision was taken at that point to recommend to the Council of the Academy that a British Institute be established, setting down various options, requirements and recommendations.

Proposals went to the Council at its meeting on 26 October 1972 and approval was given to proceed to found an Institute, which was to be located in Singapore for an initial period of three years.

Its purpose was to promote joint endeavours with local scholars on research objectives of mutual interest in South‐East Asia (particularly in the fields of archaeology, history, art history and Anthropology) to keep British scholars informed of needs and priorities in regard to research work in the region and to arrange for collaboration and secure the necessary permits for British scholars to work there.

The Institute’s directorship was advertised in 1974. Dr Milton Osborne, an Australian citizen who was then in the Department of History at Yale, with experience in the Australian Foreign Service and good relations with French academy and a distinguished historian of Indochina, was appointed to the post in October of that year. The link to Australia was confirmed.

The Institute moved in mid 1984 and was formally registered in Bangkok in October 1984. Yet the difficult financial situation continued and the decision was taken eventually to close the Institute officially in December 1985.

Its operations were gradually run down and the library sold off and sadly the Institute, just over a decade after its foundation, ceased operations in Bangkok in June 1986.

British Academy Committee for South-East Asian Studies

It was decided to establish a London‐based Committee for South‐East Asian Studies in 1986, on a very modest budget, whose main responsibilities were to approve and sponsor research projects and activities, and to keep the Academy informed about the needs of British‐based researchers in South‐East Asia and the opportunities for research.

There ASEASUK was also successful in securing continuing research funding for a five‐year period from 2005‐06 from the Academy and is recognised currently as an Academy‐funded Learned Society with the responsibility of disbursing grants for field research and for the support of conference panels, publications, and related outreach activities.

In particular, if it had not been for Academy financial support from 1986 there would only have been a most modest level of British field and primary research in South‐East Asia. It is also very unlikely that the Association’s newsletter, which is part‐funded by Academy resources, would have been able to sustain and develop a substantial twice‐yearly programme of publication and an international outreach.

Co-ordinating Council of Area Studies Associations

Another important development a few years after the establishment of the British Institute was the founding of the Co‐ordinating Council of Area Studies Associations (CCASA) which held its constituent meeting on 19 June 1980 at the University of Birmingham.

The Council continues to function with some energy to this day (and ASEASUK continues its membership).

Annual meetings and conferences are organized, and some of them lead to publications. From 2000 it was decided that ASEASUK should not go head‐to‐head with the European Association of Southeast Asian Studies (EUROSEAS) and that it should relax and take a year out when EUROSEAS meets.

The European Association was founded in 1992; it organises its major international conferences every three years, which many ASEASUK members attend and at which they present papers.

The membership has steadily increased over the past 25 years. In 2004 the Association’s membership stood at 152, which included 16 students (26 overseas and 15 retired members). It now stands at about 190. This certainly does not exhaust all those individuals who undertake research in and on South‐East Asia.

Our newsletter and the website

Perhaps one of the most significant developments for the Association was the decision taken at the Annual General Meeting on 30 March 1984 to circulate a Newsletter entitled, perhaps rather unimaginatively, ASEASUK News.

The development of an enlarged newsletter issued twice‐yearly was in part to fill the gap left by the demise of the British Institute and its Southeast Asian Studies Newsletter, which was published quarterly between September 1980 and January 1986.

Present and future

At the moment ASEASUK enjoys the firm support of the British Academy which has accepted, endorsed and funded its five‐year plan entitled ‘Integration and Interaction in the South‐East Asian Region’ which was launched in 2005‐06.

It goes without saying that for a modestly resourced Association like ours the grant from the Academy has been invaluable. It has to be said that an annual grant, in 2008‐09 it stood at £78 000, can sustain a whole area of field research, and relatively small amounts of public funding have helped support an enormous amount of research activity in South‐East Asia during the past two decades, across a wide range of disciplines and subject areas, some of which (in the social sciences in particular) are not well represented in the Academy.

Therefore, it has enabled us to fund primary research in and on the region, to encourage early career scholars in undertaking field research, to continue with our newsletter at current levels of production and circulation, to develop our website and support registers, surveys, and public lectures, and to provide strategic resources for our annual conferences. We can now, for example, give some financial support to postgraduate students and ‘emerging scholars’ to present their research at our conferences in a national and international forum, and, as our founders envisage, to enable and underpin ‘the projection of South‐East Asia as an important field of study within the United Kingdom generally’.

We have a programme of annual meetings planned until 2012. The bi‐annual newsletter will continue to be produced, the website is undergoing further development, and we are currently updating our register of researchers (at the moment exceeding 100 individuals) which is also available on our website.

From Victor T. King,
Emeritus Professor of South East Asian Studies, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
“A History of ASEASUK on its 40th Anniversary” (2009). See the original text on:

New Perspectives for Asian Studies in the Humanities: Summary of the text by Alain Peyraube and Wang Ayling

Source: Peyraube, Alain, Wang, Ayling, “New Perspectives for Asian Studies in the Humanities”, in Asian Studies in the Humanities: Visions for the Future, European Science Foundation, Young Researchers Forum ‘New Perspectives for Asian Studies in the Humanities’, ESF-CCKF Humanities, Spring 2009, 27-30 May 2009, Prague, pp. 5-6.

Interdisciplinary Area (or Areal) studies stem from heterogeneous and interdisciplinary fields of research and academia that relate to a particular geographical or cultural region. These studies grew increasingly popular in the United States and in Western academia after the Second World War. However, they had also succumbed to much criticism from area specialists themselves and found that their popularity was declining from 1980-2000.  When the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies in the United States and the National Centre for Scientific Research in France, which had raised and administered funds for Area Studies, closed down their area committees, this was interpreted as a the drastic changing of research.

The greatest threat to Areal Studies came from the Social Science, mainly from Political Science and Economics and not from the Humanities.

Areal studies have hugely benefitted Asian studies, which are one of its main branches of study, as well as African, American, Latin American and European studies. The term, ‘Asian studies’, not only encompasses the study of archaeology, history, languages, linguistics, anthropological and cultural studies, philosophy, religions, art and literature, but also aspects of sociology, politics and economics in traditional Asian and other contemporary societies.

In order to examine to which point Asian studies were becoming popular again in the Humanities, the ESF Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH) and the Taiwan Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (CCK-F) invited academics to participate in a three-day workshop entitled, ‘New Horizons’ in Prague from 27th-30th May 2009.

The role of the ESF Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH) is to coordinate existing and emerging transnational networks of academics and institutions in the Humanities. Its stakeholders are national and international research funding bodies, which look for new input to discussions on strategic choices. The Taiwan Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (CCK-F), on the other hand, promotes the internationalisation of Chinese studies by incorporating both the academic trends in Taiwan and abroad. Moreover, its aims of fostering young talent mean that new fields and conceptual frameworks can also be developed.

Two Asian Studies networks in Europe

The Asia Network was founded by a group of researchers and supported by the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research (MENESR), the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Foundation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH), the National Foundation for Political Science (FNSP) and the School of Graduate Studies in the Social Science (EHESS). The aims of the Asia Network include compiling a list of experts of Asia and bringing them together in order to develop their expertise, studying issues concerning Asia, attracting and stimulating the interests of specialists from other regions or disciplines related to Asia and to create a hub of skills and knowledge through the creation of a database, allowing cooperation with similar organisations in Asia, North and South America.

The International Institute for Asian Studies (ILAS), on the other hand, is a postdoctoral research centre, in Leiden and Amsterdam. Its aim is to encourage the interdisciplinary and comparative study of Asia and promote national and international cooperation. The Institute focuses on the human and social science and their interaction with other sciences.

As an international mediator, working closely with national and international partners, the Institute’s activities include providing information services, constructing international networks and setting up international cooperative projects and research programmes.

Additionally, the ILAS welcomes many postdoctoral fellows in Asian studies, which are selected by an academic committee, as well organising workshops, conferences and the publication of an international newsletter and other academic material. Like the Asia Network, the ILAS, too has database containing information about researchers and institutes in the field of Asian Studies in Europe and throughout the world.

Finally, in terms of its institutional networks, the ILAS plays a strategic and leading role in networks such as the ‘Leiden Consortium for Asian Studies’, the ‘European Alliance for Asian Studies’ and the ‘International Convention of Asian Scholars’.

School of Oriental and African studies – SOAS (United Kingdom)

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The School was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies. It took its present title in 1938, by which time it had also established itself as a centre for African Studies. It moved to its present site in 1941 (London).

The School of Oriental and African studies has more than 300 academics. It is structured academically into three faculties. In addition to academic departments SOAS also has regional and interdisciplinary centres which are responsible for a vigorous programme of activities such as conferences, colloquia, seminars and publications.

The number of academics in each center is indicated in brackets.

All details are on:

Faculty of Arts and humanities Departments

  • Anthropology & Sociology (19)
  • History of Art & Archaeology (14)
  • History (23)
  • Music (7)
  • Study of Religions (14)
  • School of Arts (25)

Faculty Centres

  • Media and Film Studies (8)
  • Sainsbury Institute for the study of Japanese art (7)

Departmental Centres

  • Buddhist Studies (8)
  • Eastern and Orthodox Christianity (1)
  • Jaina Studies (11)
  • Migration and Diaspora Studies (69)
  • The Study of Japanese Religions (6)
  • SOAS Food Studies Centre (41)


Faculty of Languages and culturesDepartments

  • Africa (13)
  • China and Inner Asia (13)
  • Japan & Korea (14)
  • Language Centre (15)
  • Linguistics (10)
  • Near & Middle East (24)
  • South Asia (13)
  • South East Asia (9)

Faculty Centres

  • Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (40)
  • Film and Screen Studies (20)
  • Language Pedagogy (23)
  • Translation Studies (25)

Departmental Centres

  • Languages of the Wider World LWW-CETL (6)
  • Jewish Studies (4)
  • Islamic Studies (2)
  • London Confucius Institute (6)


Faculty of Law and social sciences Departments

  • Development Studies (20)
  • Economics (26)
  • Financial & Management (20)
  • Law (29)
  • Politics (24)

Faculty Centres

  • Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Science (4)
  • Gender Studies (38)
  • International Studies and Diplomacy (CISD) (17)
  • Taiwan Studies (5)
  • Water and Development (7)

Departmental Centres

  • Colonialism, Empire and International Law (4)
  • Development, Environment & Policy (13)
  • Development Policy and Research (CDPR) (2)
  • East Asian Law (9)
  • Ethnic Minority Studies (CEMS) (2)
  • Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS) (7)
  • International Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice (18)
  • Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (CIMEL) (8)
  • Law and Conflict (10)
  • Law, Environment and Development (7)
  • Politics of Energy Security (CEPES) (11)

Regional centres

  • Centre for Iranian Studies (30)
  • Centre for Palestine Studies (33)
  • Centre of African Studies (130)
  • European Association of Israel Studies (3)
  • London Middle East Institute (113)
  • Centre of South Asian Studies (62)
  • Centre of South East Asian Studies (32)
  • Centre of Korean Studies (14)
  • Centre for the Study of Pakistan (13)
  • Centre of Chinese Studies (46)
  • Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus (11)
  • Japan Research Centre (27)

Interdisciplinary centres

  • Centre for Digital Africa, Asia and the Middle East (3)
  • International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies IFCELS
  • London International Development Centre

Asia-Pacific Studies in Sweden

Source : Stefan Eklöf Amirell, Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm, MedAsia / Eurasiane conference, Sept. 2011

Short History

The origins of Asia-Pacific Studies in Sweden go back to the first chair in Oriental Languages, which was inaugurated in Uppsala in 1621. Originally, the position comprised West Asian languages, but as a result of increasing contacts between Sweden and Asia and the Pacific in the course of the eighteenth century – particularly due to trading activities of the Swedish East India Company and the travels in the region of several disciples of Carl von Linnaeus – interest in South and East Asian languages and cultures increased. In addition to the chair in Uppsala, a corresponding chair was instituted in Lund and at the same time the number of languages taught was increased. By the mid-nineteenth century the professor in Lund was expected to master twelve oriental languages, including Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit and Chinese.

The second half of the nineteenth century saw an expansion and professionalization of Oriental Studies at the universities of Lund and Uppsala. More faculty positions were instituted, and in 1889 Sweden hosted the International Congress of Orientalists. Focus for the academic studies was on West and South Asia, whereas the study of East Asia – particularly China and Japan – was predominantly the domain of amateur scholars and missionaries. The explorations of Sven Hedin in East Asia around the turn of the twentieth century, however, was accompanied by an increasing interest in East and Central Asia, and in 1918 a private donation led to the establishment of the first chair in Chinese (and a few years later, Japanese) at the University College of Gothenburg, at first held by the renowned sinologist and linguist Bernard Karlgren.

In the post-World War II years and under the influence of the area studies expansion in the United States in combination with Sweden’s greater interest in the developing world (including development aid and Sweden’s policy of neutrality in the Cold War, which brought about an rapprochement to many Asian countries), academic interest in the contemporary social, political and economic conditions in Asia rose in Sweden. Asian Studies as a field of research expanded, but the researchers were scattered in many disciplines and universities or university colleges.

As a consequence, in 1968 the Nordic Council of Ministers founded the Nordic Institute for Asian Studies in Copenhagen with the purpose of creating a strong, focused research environment for Asian Studies, comprising the regions of East, Southeast, South and Central Asia. For close to three decades, NIAS was the leading research environment in Asian Studies in the Nordic countries and for many Swedish scholars the focal point in terms of research environment, research activities and physical resources, particularly the library.

For most of this period, Swedish research on the Asia-Pacific region was fore mostly carried out by individual researchers or smaller groups of researchers in the established disciplines, particularly history, economic history, social anthropology, political science and sociology. A large part of the funding – which still was very small in relation to overall research funding – came from the Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries (SAREC), a government authority charged with the task of furthering research that would facilitate the political, economic and social progress of the developing countries. In geographic terms, the focus of interest for the SAREC-funded research was on the countries with which Sweden had close links in the field of development aid, particularly India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. However, historians, for example, also took an interest in maritime Southeast Asia, as manifested by the publication of a thematic issue of Sweden’s leading journal in the history discipline, Historisk tidskrift, on modern Southeast Asian history (1977).

Contemporary Asia-Pacific Studies in Sweden

In the 1990s, Asian Studies in Sweden developed and expanded significantly, boosted towards the end of the decade by an official policy (mainly economically motivated) to enhance Sweden’s contacts with Asia. Part of this policy was to strengthen the knowledge base in Sweden about Asia and to develop cooperation with Asian countries in research and higher education. Several area studies centres specializing in the Asia-Pacific (or a part of the region) were founded at different universities, including the Center for Pacific Asia Studies (CPAS) at Stockholm University (founded already in 1984, but since the early 2000s integrated in the Department of Oriental Languages), the European Institute for Japanese Studies (EIJS) at the Stockholm School of Economics, the Centre for Asian Studies (originally East and Southeast Asian Studies) at the University of Gothenburg and the Centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies at Lund University.

The Centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies in Lund was in 1996 given a special status as a permanent, national centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies, including a somewhat unclear ”coordinating function” for Asian studies in general in Sweden. Funding came both from the government’s research budget and from the University. The Centre today hosts the largest Asian Studies Library in Sweden and an international masters program in Asian Studies. It also provides opportunities for externally funded researchers to carry out their research at the Centre and funds two-year post-doctoral fellowships for researchers in the field of contemporary East and Southeast Asian Studies. The Centre, moreover, hosts the Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET).

In addition, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT) took the initiative to launch the Swedish School of Advanced Asia-Pacific Studies (SSAAPS) in 2001. SSAAPS, which was active until 2009, provided scholarships for PhD students as well as post-doctoral fellows based Swedish universities, in addition to organizing conferences and providing funding for research travel and conference attendance for Swedish scholars in the field of Asian Studies.

Meanwhile, the Nordic Council of Ministers decided to scale down their funding of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (along with several other Nordic research and higher education institutions), which resulted in a contraction for NIAS. In 2005, the Institute was integrated with the University of Copenhagen, and even though NIAS still to an extent functions as a major hub for Asian Studies in Sweden and the other Nordic countries, its relative importance as such has declined, particularly in Sweden.

More recently, the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) in Stockholm has developed a strong research programme on East and Southeast Asia, focusing particularly on international relations and maritime security in East and Southeast Asia. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), moreover, hosts the SIPRI China and Global Security Programme since 2009, and the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University – which has a strong tradition of studies on security issues in Central, East and Southeast Asia – hosts the research programme ”East Asian Peace” since 2011, both funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

To summarize, studies of the Asia-Pacific have seen a substantial expansion in Sweden in the last two decades. Swedish research on the region today covers a wide spectrum of disciplines and topics. Among the most prominent research subjects are democracy and human rights, development economics, gender relations, cultural and religious change, labour, migration and peace and conflict studies. The emphasis is on the contemporary social sciences, and the expansion has been less marked, or non-existent, in fields such as archaeology, literature, music, art history, linguistics and pre-modern history.

Useful links

Centre for East and Southeast Asian Studies, Lund University

European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics

Swedish South Asian Network, Lund University

Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen



Pour citer cet article : Stefan Eklöf Amirell, «Asia-Pacific Studies in Sweden », carnet RESAP-Livre blanc des recherches sur l’Asie et le Pacifique, 24 avril 2013. [En ligne : ]

Asian and the Pacific studies in Switzerland (Lausanne)

Source : Conférence MedAsia-Eurasiane : Les études et recherches sur l’Asie et le Pacifique en Europe, Nicola Pozza, MER, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des Lettres, Section de langues et civilisations slaves et d’Asie du Sud, Suisse, Paris, 12-13Septembre 2011.

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Institute for the Science of Religion (Faculty of Arts)

-“Zentralasiatische Kulturwissenschaft” (CAS), Central Asian studies


-Department of East-Asian Studies (Faculty of Arts + University of Lausanne):

Units of Japanese and of Chinese Studies

Maîtrise spécialisée pluridisciplinaire en études asiatiques (MASPEA, 3 faculties)

Centre for Asian Studies (The Graduate Institute of international and Development Studies)


Department of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (Faculty of Arts)


Minor in Contemporary Asian Studies (Collège des humanités)


-University Research Priority Program (URPP):

ASIA AND EUROPE, Exchanges and Encounters

Department of Indology (Indogermanisches Seminar, Faculty of Arts)

The Institute of East Asian Studies (Faculty of Arts)

The East Asian Art History Section (Institute of Art history)


South Asian Studies in the United Kingdom

Source: An introduction to South Asian Studies in the United Kingdom, by Dr Vibha Arora (Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi) and Dr Lawrence Saez (School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS), United Kingdom (2009).

See the original text

Voir la version française

South Asian Studies: past to present

Although largely considered to be an interdisciplinary subject, South Asian Studies historically began at universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, London and Edinburgh, in response to a need to train and familiarise missionaries and colonial administrators in the languages, religions, and cultures of South Asia. The richness of their libraries and their archives reflects these historic ties and the trajectory of critical scholarship on South Asia.

The incorporation of the South Asian community in the UK is highlighted by the fact that most universities have student-run societies fostering informal networking, encouraging academic discussions, and providing cultural exposure to South Asian dance, music, food, and the arts. Altogether a composite experience is available to any student and researcher of South Asian Studies in UK.

The historic ties between the universities and the academics of the UK and South Asia are being sustained through several scholarships that are offered to students (for South Asians to study in the UK and for UK students to study at South Asian universities) and through fellowships available to researchers and academics.

Academic networks

Research networks and collaborative research projects between the scholars in the UK and South Asia enable academic exchanges and influence development funding and policy decisions regarding South Asia.

  • The British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) is one of the world’s leading academic associations devoted to the study of South Asia.  BASAS is the largest UK academic association for the study of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and the South Asian Diaspora.
  • SOAS: School of Asian and African Studies

The school counts 350 researchers or teachers.

There are 3 faculties (Arts and humanities, Language and culture, and Law and social sciences) and 8 regional centres attached to the school.

  • Britain Nepal Academic Council (BNAC)
  • British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS)
    Centre for Applied South Asian Studies (CASAS), University of Manchester
  • Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Bristol
  • Centre of South Asian Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
    Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge
    Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh
  • Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Sussex
  • Centre for India and Global Business, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
  • Contemporary South Asian Studies, University of Oxford
  • Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford
  • Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, Open University
  • India and South Asia Business Centre, University of Leeds
  • India Observatory, London School of Economics (LSE)
  • Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, University of Oxford
  • Pakistan Security Research Unit (PSRU), University of Bradford
  • Pakistan Study Group (PSG)
  • Scottish Centre for Himalayan Research, University of Aberdeen
  • South Asia Department, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

Teaching and research centres

In response to the growth of interest and to utilise the academic resources available, several UK universities (London, Edinburgh and Manchester) have introduced South Asian Studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate degree levels, and some universities are awaiting formal approval. These courses are enriched by language teaching and research facilities in South Asian languages that enable a deeper and more accurate understanding of South Asia.

Several universities have established Centres for South Asian Studies, while in other universities South Asia is taught as an option in disciplines such as Anthropology, Sociology, Politics, Economics, History, Geography, Theology, Cultural Studies, Education, Literature, Media and Cinema studies.

Academic centres at the Universities of London, Oxford, Cambridge, Sussex, and Edinburgh have seminar series on South Asia enabling academic exchange and networking between researchers and students.

Moreover, many universities (such as Cambridge, Oxford, London, Edinburgh) have language teaching facilities in Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, Nepali, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali, Tibetan, and so on.

Some universities have geared their academic training and research endeavours with a single country or single issue focus.

Nevertheless, current research trends and conference themes on South Asia also indicate the shift towards a Commonwealth approach to development, social policy, and understanding of the South Asian diaspora.


In sum, the efflorescence of South Asian Studies in higher education is evident in the range and number of taught and research degrees, the number of language courses, and the popularity of South Asian options within other courses that are offered by Colleges and Universities in the United Kingdom.


Source: Asian studies in Greece, by Charalambos Tsardanidis, Institute of International Economic Relations, IIER, Greece (2009). See the original version.

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The area studies are not high in the research agenda. However, there has been a little bit more interest in area studies in recent years (for example at the Department of Turkish and Asian Studies, or Balkan studies in other universities).

More attention is paid to the near abroad than to Asia: the Balkan Studies, Middle East/Mediterranean Studies and even more on European Studies.

There is not enough trained University staff and researchers on Asian studies. There is no even knowledge of Asian languages. There is a lack of colonial past and tradition, and no past cultural, economic and political links with Asian countries. In addition, there is a lack of funding.

A great interest in Chinese language can be noticed in Greece. The immigration from Asia in Greece could be a positive factor for the expansion of Asian studies, as could be the expansion of Greek business in Asia.

A – No research at the University level:

1 University of Athens, Department of Turkish and Asian Studies

Misnomer, as all the courses refer to Turkish studies only.

B – Institutes which are not affiliated to Universities:

2 Public Administration School

All the research conducted there has not been formulated in the framework/ methodology of Area Studies with some exceptions.

Research conducted concerns mainly economic aspects like: Japan’s, China’s and India’s economy, regional integration like ASEM, inter-regional aspects: like ASEM and FEALAC, social aspects, like: the flow of immigrants, the Chinese immigrants entrepreneurship.

3 The Asia unit of the Institute of International Economic Relations (IEER) that belongs to Greek Association and Ltd Co.


Areas studied: Central Asia, China, Turkey, East Asia, India

Disciplines studied: trade, economy, development, cooperation, politics, international relations

Subjects studied: the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), FEALAC (Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation), ASEAN and inter-regionalism: ASEΑN – EU Relationship, relationships Europe/Greece – China/Japan, trade Prospects between Asia and Europe, Asian Migrants in Greece, India’s political look toward the East, economical presence of Asians in Greece


 Source: Sinology in St. Petersburg: Traditions and Contemporary Approaches, by Nikolay Samoylov, Faculty of Asian & African Studies, St.Petersburg State University, Russian Federation (July 2012). See the original text here



On the 18th of June 1700, Peter the Great issued an edict that is considered to be the first decree on Russian studies of Oriental languages.  The Russian Tsar ordered that “two or three talented and not very old monks” be sent to Tobolsk (Siberia) to study Chinese and Mongolian. The first ecclesiastical mission arrived in Beijing in 1716 and remained there for the following three centuries, preaching Christianity. They studied the Qing dynasty, the Manchu army and relations between China and neighbouring countries, and translated Chinese and Manchu publications as well as Confucian classics into Russian. In 1741, Illarion Rossokhin founded the first school of Chinese studies in Saint Petersberg.

The Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Saint Petersburg was established in 1854. In 1899, an Institute of Oriental Studies was founded in Vladivostok, at which graduates of Saint Petersburg University were the first professors.

After the October Revolution in 1917, all the faculties and departments of Petrograd University (former Saint Petersburg) were reorganized. Gradually, the only method of scholarly research and teaching became Marxism-Leninism: the main fields studied were to be social and economic development and the history of the class struggle and the revolutionary movement in China. Between 1920 and 1950, Soviet officials imposed the Stalinist view on China in university courses, repudiating classical Sinology. During that period, many Russian Sinologists were arrested and put into prison or concentration camps or simply killed.

The Faculty of Oriental studies was re-established in 1944, and the best traditions of the Saint Petersburg School of Chinese studies were brought back to life by a group of renowned Russian Sinologists.

In 1960 to the 1980s, Sinology took a new direction, with the study of Chinese intellectual history, the history of Chinese secret societies and religious groups and the history of the Chinese peasant movement. From 1961 to the present, the Faculty of Oriental Studies has held special conferences on the problems of historiography. Today, it ranks among the world’s largest institutions in the field of Sinology.


  •  Saint Petersburg Faculty of Oriental Studies

A 4-year BA programme is offered at the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Saint Petersburg University.

Students must study at least two oriental and one European language. The theoretical courses cover a wide spectrum of disciplines: history of China, Chinese literature, linguistics, ethnography, philosophy, economy and religions.

Graduates are awarded a BA in the general field of Oriental and African studies.

The Faculty also offers five Masters degrees, and graduates are awarded an MA degree in Oriental and African studies.

Students learn Chinese, both modern and classical, literature, ethnography, religion, philosophy, politics and economics; they also study English and Japanese. This curriculum provides the students with extensive knowledge of Chinese civilization and Chinese society, to help them work in various fields as researchers, interpreters, diplomats, journalists, teachers, librarians and business representatives in East Asia.

Professors from Saint Petersburg State University contributed to the establishment of a new Sinology centre in Blagoveshensk, at the Russian-Chinese border.

Many eminent scholars maintain the best traditions of the classical Saint Petersburg School for Chinese studies. They are concentrated in two departments:

  • Chinese Philology
  • History of Far Eastern Countries

Fifteen professors and teachers hold seminars on various aspects of Chinese studies.

Specialists from other Saint Petersburg academic institutions, such as the Institute of Oriental Studies, the Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography and the State Hermitage Museum, are invited to teach special courses.

  • Confucius Institute at Saint Petersburg State University

Founded in July 2005 under an agreement between Saint Petersburg State University and the Chinese national office for teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Its aims are to combine excellent traditions of teaching Chinese in Russia with the experience of Chinese partners and the latest techniques of distance education. The Confucius Institute offers courses in Chinese language, calligraphy and culture.

11 teachers of Chinese languages: nine are Russian and two are Chinese.

160 students are enrolled in language courses.

  • Saint Petersburg branch of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies

Founded in 2010 as a branch of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Its main task is cooperation in the scientific activities of Saint Petersburg and Moscow scholars engaged in East Asian studies.

  • Library of the Russian Academy of science

The library of the Russian academy of science is a large State-owned library based in Saint Petersburg.

The library was founded in Saint Petersburg by a decree of Peter I in 1714 and subsequently integrated into the structure of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Since 1747, all academic institutions, and since 1783 all publishers in the country have been legally obliged to provide the library with a free copy of each published item. Between 1728 and 1924, its collections were stored in the Kunstkamera building, with which it had formed a single academic institution until 1803. In 1924-1925, the collections were transferred to a new building built for the library in 1914 and occupied by a military hospital during the First World War. On 15 February 1988, the library suffered a catastrophic fire, which destroyed or damaged a considerable part of the collection.

The Asia and Africa Publications Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences Library was established in 1953.

  • Institute of Oriental Manuscripts

Dvortsovaya nab. 18, Saint Petersburg

The Institute is divided into six academic divisions:

Department of Ancient Eastern Studies

Department of Central Asian and South Asian Studies

Department of Far Eastern Studies

Department of Manuscripts and Documents

Department of Middle Eastern and Near Eastern Studies

The Academic Library

  • Kunstkamera

Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. Russian Academy of Sciences

3 University Embankment, Saint Petersburg

In autumn 1714, Peter the Great ordered Doctor Robert Areskin to move his personal collection and library from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, the new capital, and to begin work on the creation of the first State public museum – the Kunstkamera. For Peter the Great, it was extremely important to create an image of a changing Russia. The Emperor had the habit of receiving ambassadors in his museum, and a tour of the museum was part of the programme for all important guests.

The museum is divided in research departments:

Department of Australia, Oceania and Indonesia

Department of America

Department of Physical Anthropology

Department of Archaeology

Department of Africa

Department of East and Southeast Asia

Department of Eastern Slavs and Peoples of European Russia

Department of Europe

Department of Caucasus

Department of Siberia

Department of Central Asia

Department of South and Southwest Asia

Department of the history of Kunstkamera and 18th century Russian Science (M.V. Lomonosov museum)

Centre of Political and Social Anthropology

  • Saint Petersburg State University, Faculty of Philosophy

Saint Petersburg State University Faculty of Philosophy

Department of Oriental Philosophy and Culture established in the Faculty of Philosophy of Saint Petersburg State University in 1998.

It has four educational programmes, two of which are devoted to Far Eastern and South Asia regions: Chinese culture (headed by Professor Marina Kravtsova) and culture of India (headed by Professor Sergei Pahomov).

Overall enrolment in the Chinese culture programme is 100 students, currently with five full-time teachers. The programme covers a wide range of topics in the history of Chinese culture (including religion, philosophy, political thought  in classical times and modernity). The teaching is based primarily on developing the linguistic skills of the students, enabling them to carry out their research on the basis of both primary sources and secondary literature. The course takes 5 years, which is traditional in the Russian higher educational system, and comprises both lectures such as on the history of China, the history of Chinese culture and philosophy, the history of Chinese art, the history of Chinese literature, Chinese popular beliefs and religions of modern China. There is also  a variety of courses in both modern and classical Chinese and written Japanese. At the end of each school year, a research paper must be presented. The course is completed by a State examination and an oral examination on the final research topic. On the basis of their academic achievements, the students can continue to graduate school.

The programme on the culture of India is organized on the same model. The overall enrollment is 20 students, with four full-time teachers. It covers various areas of Indian culture, including religious, philosophical and social aspects, from antiquity until modern times, with numerous lectures on topics such as Indian philosophy, history of India, Vedic religion and Hinduism, Indian literature, Indian art and the social system of India. The programme also includes language classes in Sanskrit and in Hindi (the main language of modern India).

  • Ho Chi Minh Institute

Saint Petersburg State University Faculty of Asian and African Studies

The Institute was founded in 2010 with support from the Government of Viet Nam and Saint Petersburg State University.

The main research areas:

Contemporary political situation in Viet Nam

International relations in South-East Asia

Foreign policy of Viet Nam

Modern and current history of Viet Nam


Source: Summary of information gathered by Mikhail Roshchin, Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Federation (2010).


Oriental studies at Moscow University started as early as the 1750s. The Institute of Asian and African Studies is the leading Russian centre for training specialists in oriental studies in general and in studies of countries and regions of Asia and Africa.

The Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences is Russia‘s leading research institution for the study of the countries and cultures of Asia and North Africa. The Institute is located in Moscow. It was formerly in Saint Petersburg, but in 2007 the Saint Petersburg branch was reorganized into a separate Institute of Oriental Manuscripts.

  • Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology

 Leninsky Prospect, 32A, Moscow

Short history

The Institute is part of the history branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It was established in the Soviet Union by amalgamation of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography and the Institute for the Study of Ethnic Groups of the USSR in autumn 1933.

The institute has its own library, archives and museum.

Countries and fields studied

Central Asia, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, other countries of South-East Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, the republic of Korea, Japan, Oceania.

Anthropology, social and medical ethnology, ethnosociology, ethno-ecology, cross-cultural psychology, culture, political sciences, religion.


153 researchers

24 PhDs


An electronic publication:

Races and people” is a magazine that is published regularly. The last one appeared in 2006.

  •  GORKY Institute of World Literature

 Povarkaya, 25A, Moscow

The Institute is part of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It was founded in 1932 for the 40th anniversary of Maxim Gorky’s literary activity.

The department of Asian and African literature was founded in 1975-76.

The Institute is considered the most important Russian centre in literature studies. The personnel comprises 209 researchers, with 39 PhD students.

  • Institute of Linguistics

Bolchoi Kislovsky Pereoulok, 1/12 Moscow

The Institute is part of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It was founded in 1950 in Moscow.  The staff comprises 103 researchers, with 25 PhD students.

The Institute is considered an essential linguistic study centre.

  • Institute of Practical Oriental Studies

Nahimovsky Prospeckt, 32 Moscow

This nongovernmental institution of higher education, which is part of the Academy of Pacific Region Countries, was founded in 1993. It was initiated on a decision of the Academic Council of the Institute of Asian and African Studies of Moscow State University to meet the growing demand for orientalists with training in practical rather than purely scientific areas.

There are 65 professors and 268 students.

The countries studied are: all the Arabic countries, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, other countries of South-East Asia, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

The fields studied are history, linguistics, culture and politics.

  • Institute of Oriental Studies

Rozhdestvenka, 12  Moscou

The Institute was established during the time of the Soviet Union and was situated in Saint Petersburg. In 1950, the Institute was transferred to Moscow and is now known as the main centre of oriental studies in Russia. The Saint Petersburg branch still exists, to which, since 2009, the Institute for Oriental Manuscripts is attached.

There are 388 researchers and 50 PhD students.

The countries studied are: all the Arabic countries, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, other countries of South-East Asia, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and other countries of Oceania.

The fields studied are: history, philology, linguistics, economy, culture and politics.


Rozhdestvenka, 12, Moscou

The University was founded in 1994 in Moscow.  It is a branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, and many professors at the University are also researchers at the Institute.

There are 72 professors and 203 students.

The countries and areas studied are: the Far East, Australia and other parts of Oceania, South and South-East Asia, Iran and the Arabic world.

Institutes in charge of Asian and Oriental studies in Romania

There are different institutes in which Asian research is conducted in Romania where researchers, human and social sciences PhD teachers and Asian geo-cultural relations experts work on culture, history, social life, archaeology or linguistics.

Most institutions are attached either to the Romanian Academy or to a University where one can find research centres and Master studies of Asian languages, civilisations and cultures.

Religion, religious interaction between eastern and western Europe, modern history of Eastern Asia, political orientation, migration, literature are so many studied subjects.

Most of the teachers have passed their PhD, but some are still studying and often publish articles in French or English.

The studied countries are: the Russian federation, India, Japan, China, Turkey, Tibet, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belorussia, Afghanistan and the Caucasian region.

Many scholarships were granted for Japanese studies due to the cultural and educational exchanges that exist between Romania and Japan.

In 2008 the first Master in Eastern Asia studies was created at the university of Bucharest, students can major in Chinese, Japanese or Korean language. That same year was created the Asian studies department at the Babes- Bolyai Cluj-Napoca University.

The University study centres:

Centrul de studii est-europene si asiatice (Eastern Europe and Asian studies centre), Bucharest University.

10 researchers or teachers.

Str. Povernei, no. 6, Sect.1, Bucharest, Romania


Centrul de Istoria Religiilor (Religious studies centre), history faculty, Bucharest University.

9 researchers or teachers.

B-dul  Regina Elisabeta, Nr. 4-12, Sector 5

Asociatia Romana  de Istoria Religiilor (Association for the History of religions), University of Bucharest

10 researchers or teachers.

Str. Edgar Quinet 14, Cod Postal 010017, sector 1

Centrul de studii romano-japoneze (Romanian-Japanese studies centre),

10 researchers or teachers.

Universitatea Româno-Americană,
Bulevardul Expoziţiei, nr. 1B

Institutul de Turcologie si Studii central-asiatice, (Institute of Turkish and Central Asian studies), University Cluj-Napoca.

20 researchers or teachers.

Universitatea, BABEŞ-BOLYAI
Mihail Kogălniceanu nr. 1 RO- 400084

The fantasy and rationality Research Centre Mircea Eliade, University of Craiova

9 researchers or teachers.

Str. A.I. Cuza nr. 13

Craiova 200585

Centrul de studii ebraice Goldstein Goren, (Hebraic studies centre), Bucharest University.

Str. Edgar Quinet 5-7, Bucureşti.

The Romanian Academy institutions:

Institutul de Istorie “Nicolae Iorga” (History Institution Nicolae Iorga),

Bld Aviatorilor1, 011851Bucureşti

Institutul National de Istoria a Religiilor (National Institute for the History of religions)

15 researchers

Calea 13 Septembrie, nr. 13 Sect. 5, Bucharesti.

Bucharest University

Faculty of foreign languages and literatures; department of oriental languages and literature.

Asian studies Masters: China, Japan, and Korea.

Strada Pitar Moş nr. 7-13 etaj 1, Bucuresti

Hyperion University

Calea Calarasilor, Nr. 169, Sector 3, Bucuresti

University Babes-Bolyai Cluj-Napoca

Mihail Kogălniceanu nr. 1 RO- 400084

Faculty of arts

Department of Asian studies

Chinese, Japanese and Korean language studies.

Bucharest Japanese language school

Str. Biserica Enei nr. 2, bl. Dunarea

Popular Constanta University

20 researchers or teachers

Universitatea Populara Constanta, Bd. Ferdinand nr. 28, mun. Constanta, CT 900726

“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Japanese language and culture courses.

Bulevardul Carol I, Nr.11, 700506 Iasi.

Asian Research Centres:

Romanian Euro-Asian studies Institute

31-35, Emil Racovita Street, Residential Complex Azur 1, Pipera Vila AJ 42, Bucarest

Nipponica Foundation

BB-dul. Timişoara, Nr. 43, Bl. P13, Ap. 148, Sector 6, O.P. 66, C.P. 53, Cod 77300, Bucurest

Cultural exchange centre – Musashino, Brasov

Str. Matei Basarab 2, 500008 Braşov

Asociatia profesorilor de limba japoneza din Romania (Japanese languages professor’s association).

Bdul Stefan cel Mare si Sfint, nr 17, bl. 1, sc C, et. 2, ap6.  Iaşi, jud. Iaşi

Japanese and Romanian culture lovers’ association

B-dul. 1 decembrie 1918, Bl. 205, Ap.34, Târgu Mureş


Source: Report on Pacific Studies Centers and groups in Europe, by Serge Tcherkézoff, Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS – Institute of Advanced Studies in Social Science), France  (2009).

Voir la version française

There are four centers in Europe :

Three full-blown which are, from north to south:

In Norway, at the University of Bergen (4 + …)


It is interesting to note how, in Norway (which has absolutely no historical, strategic or aid-related interest in the Pacific), external funding and institutional importance for Pacific Studies can nevertheless be reached through pursuing the role of the Pacific in the wider theoretical agendas of anthropology and related disciplines.

In Netherlands, at the University of Nijmegen


The CPAS constitutes a network of social and cultural anthropologists, legal anthropologists, development sociologists, geographers, historians, and linguists at the University of Nijmegen and at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. At present approximately 25 senior and 14 junior scholars are affiliated with the Centre.

These research projects are initiated and carried out by staff from the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies, the Department of History, the Department of Folk Law, the Department of Human Geography and the Research Group Language and Cognition of the Max Planck Institute. The Centre is affiliated with the Nijmegen Institute for Social Cultural Research (NISCO) and the national Research School for Resource Studies for Development (CERES). In the field of Oceanic and Southeast Asian Studies it closely cooperates with the Netherlands Association for Oceanic Studies (NVOS), the Centre for Non-Western Studies (CNWS), the Centre for Asian Studies in Amsterdam (CASA), and the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS).

The CPAS has signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the modalities of cooperation in the field of Pacific and Asian Studies with the Departments of Anthropology in Aarhus (Denmark) and Heidelberg (Germany). The CPAS is also represented on the board of the European Society for Oceanists since it was established at Nijmegen in 1992.

In France, at the CNRS/EHESS/Aix-Marseille Université



The CREDO is a multidisciplinary research and information centre specialised in South Pacific societies in the fields of social and cultural anthropology, history and archaeology.

There are 25 members part of three institutions: the CNRS (National scientific research centre), l’EHESS (Advanced social studies school) and the Aix-Marseille University.

The centre has set up three different activity sectors:

The first one concerns research in anthropology, history, ethno-archaeology and linguistics focused on Oceania (Australia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia).

The second relates to the teaching activities in the framework of the anthropology department of the Provence University (from junior to postgraduate students) and to the Master and PhD training at EHESS.

The third one refers to Documentation Centre on Oceanian societies.

The CREDO is part of the “Maison Asie-Pacifique” along with IrAsia (Asian research institute, UMR7306) and a unit combining documentation services with research enhancement.

The “Maison Asie-Pacifique” supplies the necessary tools to the members of two joint research units: the CREDO and IrAsia. The expression “Maison Asie-Pacifique” is often used to name all of the components. It represents more than 100 people (teacher-researchers and tenured associate teachers, PhDs, technician-engineer) whose attachment to a specific same structure allows them to be part of a workplace, a meeting place with a real global synergy beyond a simple worksite.

And  a fourth one, growing rapidly: In UK, at the University of Saint Andrews


The Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of St Andrews is offering two PhD fees-waiver scholarships in Social Anthropology. Focus is open but broadly defined as work on the societies of island Pacific and Melanesian regions.

There are three Research Units, or groups, or academic associations.

The largest and oldest is

In UK, at the University of East Anglia

University of East Anglia, SAINSBURY (The Sainsbury Research Unit (SRU))

It is a centre for the study of the arts of Africa, the Pacific region and the Americas, providing high quality facilities and a specialist research library for its staff, postgraduates and visiting scholars.

Two others are

In Germany, at the University of Göttingen


In Germany, there is nearly only the University of GOTTINGEN where Pacific studies are strong. Besides several teachings (W. Kempf, Elfriede Hermann, etc.) – but not organized within a Center dedicated to Pacific studies–, there is an “Association for Pacific Studies” which is housed in the University. The main concern is the economic development, on socially and environmentally acceptable terms, especially of the economically disadvantaged states of the Pacific Region.

In Austria, at the University of Vienna

In Austria, at the University of Vienna, there is an association:

Osterreichisch-sudpazifischeGesellschaft OSPG


 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.


Charles University, Faculty of Philosophy (public institution, no fees)

Celetna 13

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;html

  • 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.


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)



Source: Asia-Pacific studies in Finland, by Tiina Airaksinen, University Lecturer in Asia-Pacific Studies, Asia-Pacific Studies programme University of Helsinki, Finland (2009). See the original text here



The University of Helsinki was founded in 1640 as the Royal Academy of Abo and moved in 1820 to Helsinki. It is the oldest University in Finland. The chair for Professor Linguarum Orientalium was established as soon as 1640.

Asia Pacific studies were inaugurated in 2001 at the Renvall Institute of the University of Helsinki and are more specifically oriented towards East and Southeast Asia.

The University of Turku has been offering courses on East Asia for over forty years. In 2005, a Professorship in Contemporary Chinese History was established within the Department of Contemporary History under the aegis of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Since its founding in 2006, the Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS) has led and carried out a number of high-profile research projects. Between 2007 and 2009, the Academy of Finland awarded CEAS a 250,000 euro grant for its project on Tianjin and urban governance in China


University of Helsinki

The main fields studied are: history, societal issues, integration, international relations, development problems and contemporary cultures of the region.

After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Asia Pacific studies, students can continue towards a Master’s degree in East Asian studies. So far three students have completed their BA degrees in Asia Pacific studies.

Different seminars, forums and conferences are regularly organized for students, postgraduate students and postdoctoral scholars.

Institute for Asian and African Studies, East Asian Studies programme

Founded in 1974, the first professorship in East Asian studies was created in 1987 and became permanent in 1994.

Confucius Institute

Established in 2006, organizes languages and culture courses related to China.

University of Turku

University of Oulu

Concentrates on Japanese studies.

Open University


University of Helsinki

There are courses on history, politics, economics, anthropology and arts. The different research fields are: Modern Asian history, Asian-Western identities and interaction, Asian-Western intercultural encounters.

Modern Asian Studies in general include history, economic development and political issues.

Institute for Asian and African Studies, East Asian Studies programme

The two principle directions of research are: Classical East Asian Studies (classical languages, literatures, philosophies and fine arts and Modern East Asian Studies (modern history, economic development, socio-political issues).

Due to the limited resources of these lines of research in Finland, students specializing in more specific topics are advised to search for contacts and supervision abroad.

Teaching and research languages: Japanese, Korean, Chinese, English, Finnish, Cantonese ad Vietnamese.

University of Turku

Research areas:

  • Environmental issues and urban development in East Asia
  • Legal system and human rights in China
  • Social movements and protests in China and Japan
  • Taiwanese contemporary politics
  • Chinese labour migration
  • Chinese foreign relations

University of Oulu

Research areas:

  • American occupation in Japan
  • Missionary work in Japan
  • Japanese national identity
  • Image of Japan in the West


University of Helsinki

1-2 researchers and around 5-6 part time teachers.

Languages of teaching and research: English, Finnish and Swedish.

Institute for Asian and African Studies, East Asian Studies programme

There are two professors, three lecturers, one assistant and several special readers and part-time teachers.

About 16 Bachelors of Arts, 19 Masters of Arts and 3 Doctors of Philosophy graduate yearly from the Institute. Students can work as teachers, translators, researchers or international administrators.

University of Oulu

3 PhD thesis, 4 Licentiates and over 20 MA thesis.


In English:

  •  Leena Avonius, Damien Kingsbury (eds.): Human rights in Asia. A reassessment of the Asian values debate, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
  • TiinaH. Airaksinen: Love your country on Nanjing road: the British and the may fourth movement I Shanghai. Renvall Institute Publications; 19. University of Helsinki, 2005.
  • Raisa Asikainen (toim.): Perspectives on China. Papers from the Nordic association for China studies conference at the University of Helsinki, June 7-9 2005. Renvall Institute Publications; 21. University of Helsinki.
  • Olavi K. Fält, Fascism, Militarism or Japanism? The interpretation of the crisis years of 1930-1941 in the Japanese English-language press. (1985)
  • The Clash of Interests. The transformation of Japan in 1861-1881 in the eyes of the local Anglo-Saxon press. (1990)
  • Henry Oinas-Kukkonen, Tolerence, Suspicion and Hostility. Changing U.S. Attitudes toward the Japanese Communist Movement, 1944-1947. (2003)
  • Seija Jalagin (ed.), Japan – Reflections on the Eastern Mind. (1998)

In Finish:

  • Raisa Asikainen, Teemu Naarajärvi, Juha Vuori (eds.): Pekingin kevät 1989. Tiananmen ja kiinalaisen aktivismin rajat, (Spring in Pekin 1989: Tiananmen and limits of Chinese activism), Gaudeamus 2005.
  • Raisa Asikainen, Juha Vuori (eds.): Kiinan yhteiskunta muutoksessa, (Chinese society in transition), Gaudeamus 2005.


Source: Asian studies in Ireland, by Chris Connolly, University College Cork‐National University of Ireland, UCC, Ireland (2009). See the original text here



Asian studies are a very young established academic discipline in Ireland, with the first school of Asian studies launched in 2008 at University College Cork-National University of Ireland, Cork (UCC). However, research on and study of Asia go back some years, when a number of business schools initiated Japanese language teaching into their curriculum; most notably the University of Limerick’s Kemmy Business School established the Euro-Asia Centre. In 1999, the Irish Government launched its ‘Asia Strategy’ document, prioritising the development of economic and other relations with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Viet Nam.  As part of phase II of this strategy, in 2005 the Minister for Education announced the Department of Education’s support for the establishment of two Irish institutes of Chinese studies, one in University College Dublin (UCD) and the other in University College Cork (UCC). The institute in UCC quickly grew into a full department, running four degree programmes in Chinese studies. In 2009, the department expanded its scope of enquiry to include an MA in Asian studies, with a regional focus on North East Asia, and study in either Japanese or Korean language. Other institutions in Ireland have also introduced the teaching of Asian languages, while individual academics have their own research areas that include Asia-related topics.


  • University of Ulster, University College Cork (UCC);

  • Queens University Belfast (QUB)

  • National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)

  • University of Limerick (UL)

  • Dublin City University (DCU)

  • University College Dublin (UCD)

  • Trinity College, University of Dublin (TCUD)

  • National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM)

  • National College of Ireland (NCI)

Third-level education in the Republic of Ireland is public and free, although students are required to pay a registration fee of €1500 to cover student services. A grant system is available providing up to €3400, administered by county councils. The education system is based on the License, Master, Doctorate system.


There are 85 academics researching in the area of Asian studies, who conduct work on 22 different Asian countries, regions and intergovernmental bodies. China, Japan and India are the countries with the highest level of research activity. Most scholars are required to do research and teach as part of their duties, and it is a contractual obligation of all full-time academics to be ‘research active’ and publish, although there is no national system for the monitoring of this. Researchers are free to choose their own areas of research, although, of course, the Government can provide direction through preferential treatment for specific areas of research by the administration of research grants on certain topics. Private consultancy work is permitted, but must be declared. Internal research grants are limited, and most funding comes from external sources.


Language and cultural studies are the main areas of study.  East Asia is the main area of research in language and cultural studies. Politics and history are the top areas of interest in each of the four regions of Asia (South, East, Southeast and Central Asia). The languages studied in the various establishments are: Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Malay and Indonesian.


Source: Asian Studies in Italy, by Carlo G. Cereti, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy (2005). See the original text here.



Asian studies in Italy focus mainly on China, Japan, India and Central Asia. Oriental studies have been practised in Italy since Imperial Rome. In 1481, Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldaic were taught in Rome’s Studium Urbis because of the importance these languages had for studying the Bible and church history.

In the Middle Ages, travellers, merchants and men of religion travelled throughout Asia to reach the “Far East”, the most famous of these being Marco Polo. Sinology in Italy is, however, most strongly associated with the work of two Jesuits: Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) and Pasquale D’Elia (1890-1963). Matteo Ricci was the first Italian Sinologist, while Pasquale D’Elia was the best Sinologist in Rome between the two World Wars and was the last “pre-modern” missionary Sinologist.

In the 1980s, Japanese and Chinese studies underwent major changes. Up to the early 1980s, most students interested in the Far East had a background in the humanities and were interested mainly in Asian culture. Towards the second half of that decade, the number of students rose from 10 to 15 a year to over 100 a year, and the fields of study expanded from language and culture to economy, history and contemporary subjects. More recently, specialized Japanese courses have been offered, such as Japanese business at the private Bocconi Univerity of Milan and the translation and interpretation course in Lecce.

Indology and Central Asian studies are less developed than Chinese and Japanese studies.


Today the three main seats of research are Naples, Rome and Venice.

 ·         L’Orientale at the University of Naples, formerly the Istituto Universitario Orientale, hosts a large department of Asian studies, covering the whole of Asia and the Islamic world.

  • The University of Rome, La Sapienza, hosts specialists in the languages, history and archaeology of Asian countries.
  • At the University of Venice, “Ca’Foscari”, the main focus is on Chinese and East Asian studies.

Several cultural institutions and private foundations have been particularly active in promoting Asian studies, including:

  • The Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente, established in 1995
  • The institute Venezia e l’Oriente of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, founded in 1958
  • Chinese and Japanese studies:
    • Chinese language and literature: 35 researchers, including seven full-time professors (four in Venice, one each in Rome, Milan and Naples).
    • Japanese language and literature: 24 researchers, including six full-time professors (two in Naples and Venice and one each in Rome and Milan).
    • History of Eastern and South-Eastern Asia: 11 researchers, including three full-time professors (two in Naples and one in Venice).
    • Archaeology, history of art and philosophy of Eastern Asia: seven researchers, including five full-time professors (two in Naples, one each in Rome, Venice and Genoa).


Today, there are 77 permanent researchers in Chinese and Japanese studies in Italian universities.

  • Indian studies:
    • Modern languages and literature of the Indian sub-continent: 10 researchers, including three full-time professors in Rome, Venice and Naples.
    • Indology and Tibetology: 18 researchers, including eight full-time professors in Milan, Bologna, Palermo, Turin, Cagliari, Pisa, Basilicata and Rome.
    • Philosophy, religion and history of India and Central Asia: five researchers, no full-time professor.
    • Archaeology and history of the arts of India and Central Asia: nine researchers, including four full-time professors in Naples, Bologna and Rome.

A total of 42 researchers are studying India and Central Asia.


At the University of Naples, Asian studies include the whole of Asia and the Islamic world. At the University of Rome, instruction in Chinese and Japanese was followed by teaching of Persian and then of Sanskrit. In Venice, the department of Eurasian studies focuses on themes connecting Europe to Asia. The Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente runs research and cooperation programmes in many Asian countries, including China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Yemen. It also organizes languages courses in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Persian and Turkish.


  • East and West, founded in 1950 and published by the Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente
  • Annali dell’Istituto Univerisitario Orientale, published by the University of Naples
  • Rivista di Studi Orientali, the official journal of the department of oriental studies at the University of Rome
  • Quaderni Eurasiatici, published in Venice