Czech Republic

The Oriental Institute in Prague

The Oriental Institute was founded in 1922 to promote the development of Oriental Studies in Czechoslovakia. In 1953 the Institute was incorporated into the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences and there followed a period os about fifteen years when, under the leadership of an outstanding Sinologist J. Prusek (1906-1980), Oriental Studies burgeoned and made a good name abroad.

In the years 1970-1989 classical and traditional research was limited, ceding ground to contemporary history, politicology and economy. However, after 1989 the Institute returned to traditional Oriental Studies even though its staff had been very restricted and it was not able to cover as many disciplines as it had done in the past. At present research activities are concentrated on the study of culture, history, religion, literature and languages of Africa, the ancient Near East, the Arab countries, Turkey, Iran, India, Burma, China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Korea. The main task of the Institute under the present conditions is to maintain continuity, carry the torch for the worthy tradition of Czech Oriental Studies, by slowly reviving research fields which fell into abeyance or which are dying out.
In addition to research activities the Institute provides various services to the administration and the general public such as serving as a pool of expertise, providing translations, interpreting facilities, information service and lectures. The Institute engages in many international activities such as conferences, long-term exchanges, teaching, lecturing and publishing abroad. Contacts on a permanent basis are maintained with the London School of Oriental and African Studies, the Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Bochum and with the Südost Asien Institut, Fachbereich Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.

Research activities
At present the Institute employs twenty-three research fellows in the following three departments:
1. Department of Africa and the Near East
Ancient Near Eastern Studies: prehistory of Mesopotamia, the Sumerians and Semites in the 3rd-2nd millenia pre-Christian era; the history of the Assyrians, Akkadian literature African Studies: history of the South African region; Ethiopian Studies
Arabic Studies: Iranology; Arabic literature; Islamic Studies
Turcological Studies: quantitative linguistics

2. Department of South Asia
Indian Studies: ancient Indian medicine; Indo-Aryan languages; Hindi literature; religious minorities; agrarian relations
Burmese Studies:
contemporary Burmese affairs

3. Department of East Asia
Chinese Studies: traditional Chinese medicine; Taoism; Chinese Buddhism; modern Chinese history; modern Chinese phonetics
Tibetan Studies: history of Sino-Tibetan relations; Tibetan literature
Mongolian Studies: cultural history and literature of Mongolia

Lu Xun and J.K. Fairbank Libraries
The Library was established in 1922, but actually began work in 1929. Since then, the collection has grown to more than 190,000 volumes. Apart from the so-called General Library (630 volumes of rare prints and incunabula, c. 340 volumes of Oriental MSS, 2,700 titles of Oriental journals), the Library includes the specialized stock of the Chinese Lu Xun Library (c. 66,000 volumes. See section East Asia China in this Newsletter for more information on this library), the Korean Library (c. 3000 volumes) and the Tibetan Book Fund the Kanjur and Tanjur of the Derge edition plus several Tibetan MSS, blockprints as well as printed books). The John King Fairbank Library, which belonged to a late professor of Harvard University and which has been donated to the Oriental Institute by Mrs Wilma Fairbank, his widow, was solemnly inaugurated in November 1994. This Library contains close to 2500 monographs, volumes of studies and periodicals relating to nineteenth and twentieth century Chinese history. Offering a virtually complete coverage of Anglophone works on the subject to all the specialists in modern Far Eastern history, the Library has every chance of being able to develop into an extremely important research centre.

Dr Josef Kolmas, Director
Dr Jirí Prosecký, Deputy Director
Dr Lubica Obuchová, Scientific Secretary
Dr Otakar Hulec, Chairman of the Scientific Council
Dr Blahoslav Hruska, Department of Africa and the Near East
Dr Jan Becka, Department of South Asia
Dr Jirí Síma, Department of East Asia
Dr Jirí Prosecký, Chief Librarian

The Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Pod vodárenskou vezí 4
182 08 Praha 8
Czech Rublic
Tel: +42-2-6605 2492 (secretariat)
Fax: +42-2-7987 260

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