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



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.


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.


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.


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’.




Source:  Asian studies in Portugal – State of the art, by Miguel Santos Neves, Institute of International and Strategic Studies, IEEI, Portugal (2009). See the original text here



Although the Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish permanent, regular relations with Asia in the 16th century, Asian studies are a secondary, marginalized area of academic and scientific studies in Portugal. Jesuits in Macao founded the first European University in Asia, the College of Sao Paulo, in 1594. Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, interest in Asia decreased, partly because of the decline of the Portuguese empire in Asia. It is only during the 19th century that there was renewed interest in Chinese culture, and sinology was revived in Portugal in the early 20th century.

Structured Asian studies are a recent phenomenon in Portugal. Most of the institutions in this field were created after the late 1980s, mainly during the current decade, and the number of Portuguese institutions involved in Asian studies has been expanding since 2000. Their fields are restricted to South, Southeast and Northeast Asia. The number of institutions with permanent, structured programmes in Asian studies has increased from 3 in the 1980s to 13 in 2012. The main impetus for this development was the process of transition of Macao to the sovereignty of China that started in 1987.


There are three types of institutions in the field of Asian studies:

  • Institutions purely for research:
    • Instituto de Estudos Estratégicos e Internacionais

The Asia programme has two permanent researchers, one senior and one junior, and four senior associate researchers.

  • Asiania (Centro de Estudos Asiaticos) at the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

A university-based research centre with two senior researchers

  • Centro de Estudos Africa – Asia at the Lisbon Technical University

A university-based economic research centre with three senior researchers

  • Institutions that combine research and education:
    • Faculdade de Letras at the Universidade de Lisboa, which offers a BA in Asian studies and has three researchers
    • Instituto de Estudo Orientais at the Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, which offers a Masters in Oriental studies and has seven researchers, doing mainly historical research
    • Centro de Linguas e Culturas Orientais at the Universidade do Minho, which offers a BA in Oriental studies, a Masters degree in Chinese studies and various PhDs on Far East Culture and literature, Chinese and Japanese linguistics, and oriental philosophies and religions
    • Instituto Portugues de Sinologia, which offers courses in Chinese language and culture and has a group of five researchers
    • Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau, which is a Portuguese public institution under the Ministry of Higher Education and Science
    • Instituto do Oriente of the Lisbon Technical University, which offers a postgraduate course on modern China and has nine researchers

 ·         Institutions exclusively for educational activities:

 o   Centro de Lingua e Cultura Chinesa at the Oporto Polytechnic Institute

  • Instituto Oriental at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  • Centro de Estudos Asiaticos at the Universidade de Aveiro
  • Universidade Aberta (Open University)

 There are at present fewer than 100 researchers, including a significant number of young people, most working on contemporary Asia.


Analysis of the content of research projects and education on Asia and the Pacific reveals that there is no structured research on the Pacific, and all research activities are restricted to Asia. There is a strong concentration on China, with research covering culture and language, economic development and foreign policy, and Chinese immigration.

The three dominant themes studied are:

  1. International relations mainly with China, state building and identity in Timor-Leste , and the transition of Macau to a Special Administrative Region of China.
  2. History, with a strong focus on research on India, followed by China and then Japan.
  3. Culture and language, focusing mainly on China, followed by Japan. Most of the available university courses address the culture, philosophy, religion and linguistics in these countries, but little research is conducted.


Today, four journals specialized in Asian affairs are published in Portugal:

 ·         Daxiyangguo – Revista Portuguesa de Estudos Asiaticos. Launched in 2002, it is a bi-annual, bilingual (Portuguese and English) journal published by the Instituto do Oriente of Lisbon Technical University.

  • Zhongguo Yanjiu – Revista de Estudos Chineses. Launched in 2007, it is an annual journal published in Portuguese by the Portuguese institution of Sinology.
  • Revista Oriente. Launched in 2001, it is published annually by the Fundaçao Oriente
  • Bulletin of Portuguese / Japanese Studies. Launched in 2000, it is a bi-annual journal published in English by the Centro de Historia de Além-Mar (Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Universidade dos Açores).


Source: East-Asian studies in Bulgaria, by Boyka Tsigova, Department of East Asian Studies, St. Kliment Ohridski, University of Sofia, Bulgaria (2009). See the original text here



Much research has been conducted on Asia and the Pacific in Bulgaria since the beginning of the 20th century. Most studies have focused on understanding the Eastern world and to introducing various Eastern cultures (Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Arabic) into Bulgaria. In 2007, the Confucius Institute was opened in Sofia at Saint Kliment Ohridski University, which is financed and supported mainly by China. This centre for eastern language studies is the main institution for research on Asia and the Pacific in Bulgaria, with four departments and 10 majors.

The first degree programmes of the centre began in 1984 in the Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology. Since then, the centre has grown and is today the largest national unit for study and research on Asia in Bulgaria.

The department for East Asian Studies is the largest at the centre and in the Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology. It was established in 2000 and comprises programmes for Japanese, Chinese and Korean studies.


– Main institution:

Sofia University Saint Kliment Ohridski (Centre for Eastern Languages and Studies).

1504 Sophia, 15 Tzar Osvoboditel Blvd

Rector: Professor Ivan Ilchev, Dr Habil

Tel: +359 2 946 18 15

– Other institutions where Asian and Pacific studies are undertaken:

University of Veliko Turnovo

D.A. Tsenov Academy of Economics

National Academy of Art

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Various research institutes


–        Language and culture of East Asia (Japan, Korea, China), and also of India, Pakistan, Iran and Armenia. Also Caucasian, Arabic and Semitic languages and culture, and Turkish and Altaic languages.

–          Linguistics, literature, ethnology, arts, religion. Social and economic life.

–         Degrees offered at the centre:

BA, MA, and doctoral programmes.

Language courses

Asian culture courses


 –         Staff at the centre:

  • 43 full-time lecturers and approximately 73 part-time lecturers per year
  • In the department of Eastern Studies: 16 full-time lecturers 13 part-time lecturers and 6 guest lecturers.
  • In the Japanese studies programme: 6 full-time lecturers and 3 part-time staff plus 2 guest lecturers from Japan.

Total number of students: 450 in 2009-2010.

 –          Education is free at the University, except for Government fees.  Scholarships for studying abroad are also available.

–          Research is one of the responsibilities of scholars at the University.

–          Researchers who work in institutes outside the University are full-time researchers engaging mainly in scientific work. They are not required to teach, except when their scientific field requires it. Professors are responsible for the quality of the teaching; they also supervise PhD students and participate in various forms of the university administration.

–          Many students have found successful career development in the fields of science, education, translation, journalism, diplomacy, public administration and private business.


–          Bulgarian Oriental Studies, Centre for Eastern Languages and Studies.

–          Series Oriens, Centre for Eastern Languages and Studies.

–          Yearbook of Saint Kliment Ohridski University, Sofia, Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology.

–          Contrastive linguistics, Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology and Faculty of Slavic Studies.

Annuaire de l’Univerité de Sofia Saint Kliment Ohridski, Faculty of History.






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Source: Asian studies in Belgium – Pierre-Henry de Bruyn, University of La Rochelle, France, and Paul Servais, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium (2009). See the original text here



Oriental studies were first taught and studied in Leuven, Belgium, as early as the beginning of the 16th century, in a period when the countries now called Holland and Belgium still formed a loose entity called the Low Countries, which were part of the Habsburg empire of Spain, ruled by Charles V.

In 1517, the College of the Three Languages (Collegium Trilingue) was founded by Hieronymus van Busleyden, canon of Mechelen, a humanist, diplomat and friend of Thomas More and Erasmus of Rotterdam. At the initiative of the latter, Busleyden bequeathed his fortune to a foundation for the establishment in Leuven of an institute for the study of Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Alhough the Collegium Trilingue was formally independent of the Faculty of Theology, its main purpose was to provide theology students with a solid knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew as an indispensable means for a correct interpretation of the Bible.

During the period leading up to the First World War, Indian, Iranian and many more languages were added to the curriculum of both the Faculty of Theology and the Faculty of Letters. However, until the mid-1930s, the courses remained scattered over two faculties and did not lead to a regular degree in Oriental Studies as such. Some felt that the time had come to bring lecturers and courses together under one and the same roof. As the chancellor stated in his official announcement of the establishment of an Orientalist Institute in 1936: “During the first three quarters of the nineteenth century, the different branches of Oriental Studies were mainly considered ancillary sciences, in the service of either scriptural and theological studies or classical philology. However, these disciplines have long since become independent, and we should have started uniting forces and efforts many years ago. This unification has now become a fact in the Orientalist Institute of Leuven, which will have as its programme the philological instruction of all ancient languages and critical instruction of the history of the ancient peoples of the Orient.”

Far Eastern Studies in the broad sense took a step forward due to the monumental contribution of Professor Etienne Lamotte. This scholar, appointed professor in 1932, distinguished himself in the study of Buddhism. Equally at home in Sanskrit, Pali and Tibetan as in classical Chinese, he poured out impressive translations and studies of Buddhist scriptures, thus building himself and the institute a world reputation. The 1960s were a decade of upheaval and tremendous change for the University. In 1966-1967, the University was divided into two entities: a Dutch-speaking university, which remained in the historic town of Leuven, and a French-speaking university, which moved to a new site in the French-speaking part of Belgium and was renamed Louvain-la-Neuve. The Orientalist Institute was divided along the same linguistic lines. As most of the professors concerned with the Far East were French-speaking, the Far Eastern section moved to Louvain-la-Neuve, where Lamotte continued to teach. The Orientalist Institute expanded its programme to a 4-year curriculum in 1974. In 1978, it gained the status of a full department within the Faculty of Letters and started a 4-year programme of Far Eastern Studies. When China opened its doors in 1979, a programme of Sinology was established with Professor U. Libbrecht (retired since 1993) at its head. Since then, the programme has witnessed considerable expansion. At present, apart from the general programme—consisting of courses in Chinese language (both modern and classical), history and philosophy—students are offered the opportunity to specialise in either culture and history or economy. The classes are taught mainly in Dutch.


  • Université Catholique de Louvain
  • University of Leuven
  • The Belgian Institute of Chinese Studies established in 1929 following an initiative from China. During its 80 years of existence, the Institute has developed three types of activities: a library, educational activities such as courses and conferences, and publication of Buddhist and Chinese texts.
  • The Belgian Society for Indology, in which the University of Ghent plays a leading role with its department of languages and cultures of South and East Asia.
  • The Centre for Japanese studies of the University of Ghent
  •  The Centre for International Cooperation and Development Studies of the Free University of Brussels


 ·      After Monseigneur Lamotte died, Chinese studies at the Université Catholique de Louvain almost disappeared, but recently this field has entered a progressive reconstruction process, not so much in the field of Classical Sinology but rather in studies of contemporary areas.

At the University of Leuven, three fields of research are currently represented:

  • Classical Chinese philosophy in the Zhou and Han dynasties
  • Cultural exchanges between China and the West since the 17th century
  • Modern Chinese (including applied research on teaching Chinese)

In the other institutions, the subjects under study include: Sanskrit and Tocharian culture, Jain philosophy, early Buddhism, the status of religion in modern times with a focus on Buddhism in modern East Asia and modern Japan, intellectual history and philosophy in modern Japan and China.

Asian languages such as Prakrits, Hindi, classical Chinese and Japanese are also taught.


The only two sinologists in teaching positions in a French-speaking university in Belgium are: Eric Florence at the State University of Liege, a specialist on issues of migration, who contributed to the foundation of a Confucius institute in Liege in 2006; and Françoise Lauwaert at the Free University of Brussels, who gives two courses on China (historical anthropology of the Chinese world and contemporary Asia) and courses in classical laguage. She is also attached to the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Belgique.

The situation in the French- and the Flemish-speaking parts of the country are thus different, even though both parts, with very different financial and institutional environments, have leading personalities who are striving to improve the state of Asian studies.