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 Indian Himalayan state of Sikkim, which separates Nepal to the west and Bhutan to the east, emerges into the historical record with the establishment of the Namgyal dynasty in the 1640s. As a Buddhist kingdom Sikkim's closest cultural links were with their northern neighbour Tibet, but...


During the period of the East India Company’s authority in Bengal, the Company stationed a ‘Collector’ in Rangpur (now in northern Bangladesh). The Collectors, of whom the most famous was Warren Hasting's envoy to Bhutan and Tibet, George Bogle (1746-81), were responsible for the Company's...


Gentrification involves the conversion of dilapidated residences and areas into refurbished units and locales through an influx of residents with a higher earning power. In some cases, gentrified spaces facilitate the local tourism needs and generate income for local proprietors and businesses....


“Reading the world always precedes reading the word, and reading the word implies continually reading the world.” 1Freire, P. 1999. A Paulo Freire Reader. New York: Herder...


The Power and Pleasure of Possessions in Korean Painted Screens
Showing at the Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook University until 23 December 2016
Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas (8 April–12 June 2017)
Cleveland Museum of Art (5 August–5 November 2017...