International Institute for Asian Studies
Asian Heritages - IIAS addresses the variety of definitions associated with heritage and their implication for social agency, including those currently questioned of 'national heritage' or 'shared heritage' | Read more
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The Asian heritages cluster focuses on the politics of culture and cultural heritages in Asia. It addresses the variety of definitions associated with heritage and their implications for social agency.

In particular it explores the notion of heritage as it has evolved from a European originated concept associated with architecture and monumental archaeology to incorporate a broader diversity of cultural forms and values. This includes the contested distinctions of 'tangible' and 'intangible' heritages, and the importance of cultural heritage in defining one's own identity or identities vis-à-vis those of others.

In Asia, the notion of cultural heritage is often associated with the construction of post-independence nation-state models, the definition of national 'traditions' and 'authenticity' and the idea of a pre/post-colonial historical national continuity. The cluster engages with a broad range of related concepts, and more generally, with issues pertaining to the political economy of heritage. It also focuses on the dangers involved in the commoditization of perceived endangered local cultures/heritages, including languages, religious practices, crafts and art forms, as well as forms of material vernacular heritage – issues increasingly prevalent in Asia's fast transforming social landscapes. Other areas of exploration include the practise of heritage conservation in Asia and Europe and urban revitalisation through cultural heritage preservation.

'Heritage' includes the process in which heritage is produced. The cluster recognises that in addition to governments and institutions a larger set of stakeholders are involved in the field of heritage, with a role for local communities in defining and preserving their own heritage.

summer School 2014Critical Heritage Studiesikay weaving as heritage

Urban Heritage in Taipeisummer Programme 2011Heritages in Asia and Europe

Asian Heritages Updates

UKNA lunch lecture
31 October 2017

Since Timor's independence in 1999, followed by the destruction of most of the country's infrastructure by the retreating Indonesian army, the capitol of Dili has been a mirror of the social, legal and economic problems of the country. Through a number of different case studies, this presentation will debate how the interaction of different elements plays out in reconstruction and urban change in a context such as the Timorese.


The SieboldHuis is named after Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold (1796-1866), surgeon major in the Dutch East Indies Army and Dutch diplomat in Japan. In his capacity as general practitioner Siebold gained access to many everyday household goods, woodblock prints, tools and handcrafted objects...


After three years of planning and construction, Leiden University's new Asian Library is ready. Bringing together various important collections on Asia, the Asian Library holds the largest collection on Indonesia worldwide, and some of the foremost collections on South and Southeast Asia, China...


Sanskrit is a global phenomenon—a language that has captured the intellectual imagination of historians and linguists in nineteenth-century Europe, and contemporary students of yoga and āyurveda, alike. While Sanskrit is commonly studied as a literary form, its influence has extended to...


Kathmandu Triennale is Nepal’s premier platform for global contemporary arts. It is the latest iteration of the pioneering Kathmandu International Art Festival. Like the precursory Festivals, whose 2009 and 2012 editions centered on the themes ‘Status of Women’ and ‘Earth|Body|Mind’, the...


The redesigned Historical Photographs of China web site ( was formally launched in January 2017, showcasing over 10,500 images, including 1,400 recently added images from nine new collections.


Reviewed title:

Michael Dylan Foster. 2015
The Book of Yōkai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore
Berkeley: University of California Press
ISBN 9780520271029