International Institute for Asian Studies
From the director
Posted on October 2018

The International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) were honoured to serve, once again, as one of the principle facilitators of the second edition of the international conference ‘Asia-Africa, A New Axis of Knowledge’ which took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 20-22 September 2018. The other key partners in this endeavour were our host, the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), and the Association for Asian Studies in Africa (A-ASIA). This partnership stems from a continuing commitment of IIAS to collaborations beyond boundaries of any kinds, which must include academic, cultural, public and social actors, particularly those from the two most populated and dynamic ‘southern’ regions (or continents) of the world: Africa and Asia.

Posted on June 2018

We are currently entirely captivated by the preparations of two major events, both of which promise to stand as important new steps in the pursuit of IIAS’s global engagement. The first is the upcoming Africa-Asia conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (20-22 September 2018). It will be the second edition of the Africa-based event after the success of Accra 2015, in Ghana.

Posted on March 2018

The past few months, following ICAS 10 in Chiang Mai, have been a phase of consolidating IIAS’s ongoing programmes and reinforcing its capacities in order to carry out its mission. Some important events have punctuated the period: a workshop on ‘Reimagining the Civic Role of the University’ at Mandalay University and a methodological meeting on ‘the Workshop’ at Brown University’s Cogut Center for Humanities (Providence), both under the Humanities Across Borders (HaB) programme funded by the Andrew W.

Posted on October 2017

This summer, two incidents reminded us that academic freedom, which we often take for granted, can be curtailed or overtly restricted. The first incident was the absurd charge of ‘fomenting illegal political assembly’ brought against our colleague Professor Chayan Vaddhanaphuti from Chiang Mai University, along with four very young Thai academics, Chaipong Samnieng (PhD candidate), Teeramon Buangam (MA student), Nontawat Machai (undergraduate student), all from CMU, and Pakavadi Veerapaspong, an independent writer and translator.

Posted on June 2017

The release of the 77th issue of the Newsletter coincides with the tenth edition of the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), which will take place in July in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in collaboration with Chiang Mai University. Such occurrence is an opportunity to reflect on ICAS, its constant departure from the conventional academic conference model into a large-scale local-global clearing house, and its pioneering facilitation of decentralized intellectual exchange platforms in Africa, Latin America and the Indian Ocean.

Posted on March 2017

I was recently asked to reflect on IIAS’s collaborative and partnership philosophy. I take the opportunity of this tribune to elaborate on the subject, especially as my attention and that of many of my colleagues is currently focused on two ongoing major initiatives: our new humanistic pedagogical programme ‘Humanities Across Borders, Asia and Africa in the World’, and the tenth edition of ICAS in Chiang Mai next July.

Posted on October 2016

The 2016-2017 academic year started well for IIAS, as we received a major grant from the New York-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue our innovative work to develop new research and teaching paradigms that seek to move beyond traditional area studies, towards what can best be defined as globally connected humanities.

Posted on June 2016

The Spring of 2016 at IIAS has been marked by the unusual conjunction and demands of developing three major grant proposals. Two of them seek to contribute, in different ways, to the renewal of urban studies by further contextualising its practice, and by engaging more with the local human ecologies. The third proposal, more ambitious, seeks to set in motion a connected humanities platform aimed at fostering new research and educational opportunities, built on an inclusive international and trans-regional network of scholars and social cultural actors.

Posted on October 2015

I am writing this just as we are completing, in collaboration with our African and international partners, what was perhaps the most daring initiative by IIAS or by an institute of its kind: the extraordinary conference ‘Africa-Asia: A New Axis of Knowledge’ (Accra, Ghana, 24-26 September 2015). With more than 300 participants coming from 30-plus countries, mainly from Africa and Asia, about 60 panels and roundtables focusing on as many subjects, and despite all the logistical difficulties such an undertaking entails, something quite special took place during these three magical days at the University of Ghana, exactly 60 years after the historic Bandung conference. An “epiphany”, was how one of our Ghanaian hosts described it.

Posted on July 2015

With the two major IIAS-supported events of ICAS 9 (Adelaide) and the Africa-Asia Knowledge Axis (Accra) approaching, it is fitting for me to update you on how our institute is progressing in its efforts to explore new research-led orientations through the programme ‘Rethinking Asian Studies in a Global Context’ and its five forums (urban, heritage, geographies, arts and Africa-Asia.

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