The activities of Dutch institutions of higher learning are regularly evaluated by the Netherlands
Academy of Arts and Sciences. The evaluation commission 'Kleine Letteren' among whose
members were authorities in the field of Asian Studies has just pronounced a positive adjudiciation
on the work which the IIAS has undertaken since its foundation in 1993. The Dutch Ministry of
Education, Culture, and Science has allotted the IIAS an extra financial impulse of nlg 6.5 million
over a period of five years (1995-1999) to extend the internationalization of its functions. This
decision was taken on the basis of the advice of the Dutch Scientific Organization (NWO) that: 'The
IIAS plays a key role in International research in the Humanities and Social Sciences with sufficient
international financial input which is the decisive criterion for a contribution from the budget for
international facilities.' At present plans are being formulated for how this budget can be best used
to attain our goals. Dr J.M.M. Ritzen, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture, and Science will
pay a working visit to the IIAS in March.
Over the past few months MoUs have been concluded with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in Shanghai and the Academia Sinica in Taipei with a view to promoting cooperation in academic fields of mutual interest and acting as intermediaries and facilitators between Dutch (European) and Chinese academic institutions. At no very distant date the reciprocation of information, the exchange of researchers, and the organization of joint international seminars, as well as the development of long-term bi-lateral or multi-lateral reserach programmes are envisaged.
On 21 December 1995 H.A.F.M.O. van Mierlo, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered a lecture at the IIAS Asian Ambassadors' Lunch which was attended by Asian ambassadors accredited to the Netherlands, leading Dutch journalists on Asia, and representatives of the business community. In his lecture he underlined the importance of the process of globalization in fostering dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe in which a Euro-Asian partnership can become a major element. Van Mierlo admitted differences of opinion on human rights a matter which had been discussed in detail by his predecessor, Pieter Kooijmans, in the third volume of the IIAS Lecture Series entitled Human Rights in an Interdependent World. Van Mierlo modifies this issue even more by stating that some human rights are more universal than others.
The IIAS Internet Server now contains nearly 1000 records, about 20 Mb, ranging from information on the IIAS, the esf Asia Committee, the electronic version of the IIAS Newsletter and other Asia- related sites. In April, the first IIAS Guide to Asian Studies on Internet, which contains more than 1000 addresses of useful sites, discussion lists, and databases in the field of Asian Studies, will be presented during the Annual Meeting of the AAS in Hawai'i. In cooperation with IDC Publishers, the Research School CNWS, the KITLV Press, MMF Publications, kit Publications, the Kern Institute and Terra Incognita the IIAS will present 'Dutch Publishers on Asia', at the AAS meeting.
Message from Venice
In the editorial in IIASN 6 I alluded to plans for the cultural forum in Venice which has now just taken place, from 18-19 January, in Venice at the Cini Foundation. It proved to be an ideal meeting place for more than hundred Asian and European participants to exchange their viewpoints on the future of Europe-Asia relationships. An initiative of the European Commission the Forum was conceived as the first consultative hearing among representatives of civil society from Asia and Europe, representing a variety of disciplines and sectoral interests. Given the innovative character of the meeting it is still too early to launch a well-defined programme of action. However, there is reasonable hope that the political leaderships in both regions will view the work achieved by the meeting as a sincere token of a commitment to expand and deepen the scope of relationships between Asia and Europe. More concretely the Forum also resulted in a whole range of practical recommendations for ways in which this dialogue may be enhanced. (See article on page 12)
Dutch Asian Studies
On 12 January 1996 the 'Working community' Southeast Asia and Oceania met at the headquarters of the Dutch Scientific Organization (nwo) in order to discuss its strategy for the future now that its advisory function for the nwo has come to an end. In his speech the director of the IIAS, Prof. W.A.L. Stokhof, argued a cogent case for the foundation of a Dutch Association for Asian Studies (DAAS). He offered the future organization secretarial, financial, and organizational support. During the meeting several other speakers seconded this idea and gradually a consensus was reached which approved the founding of a steering group consisting of representatives from all fields of Asian Studies. In the months to come this steering group will assess whether enough support can be found amongst the Asianists in the Netherlands to make the establishment of such an organization worthwhile. The group will use the Guide to Asian Studies in the Netherlands, which in fact contains the virtual membership of the organization, to contact its prospective members. It cannot be denied that in order to be able to internationalize effectively and to play a role at a European level Asian Studies needs to be firmly anchored at a national level. Eventually all the national various organizations of Asian Studies could form the European Association for Asian Studies which would be a more bottom-up organization compared to the esf Asia Committee which is organized top- down. Initiatives towards the foundation of national Asian Studies associations, when such does not already exist as in Germany, are being developed.
During the meeting there were murmurs of criticism that while the IIAS was operating well at an international level, the attention it paid to the national context was sometimes less than statisfactionary. This has been acknowledged by the IIAS and several ways by which Asian Studies in the Netherlands could be strengthened are being explored. Possible avenues to achieve this aim are the foundation of a platform on Asian Libraries in the Netherlands which would coordinate and optimalize the Asian collections in the Netherlands avoiding any duplication of activities, coordinating acquisitions policy, describing collections, etc. A workshop will be organized to discuss national cooperation in more detail. This workshop will be sponsored by the IIAS. In other positive steps the IIAS has consolidated its contact with the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS), the International Institute for Social History (IISG), and the Nijenrode School of Economics. The IIAS also subsidizes field trips for Dutch researchers and has made fellowships available for senior researchers which cover the expense of the replacement of senior fellows in their absence.
Below you will find a letter to the editor from Susan Whitfield, editor of the Dunhuang Studies Newsletter in which she points out that although the work of Professor Drège is well- known there is nonetheless a lack of knowledge on current pre-modern Central Asian scholarship which she proposes remedying by the creation of a database.
This brings me to a final remark. At present the European Database for Asian Studies contains pertinent information on 3000 European scholars in the field of Asian Studies. This means that a lot of scholars have still not yet filled out their questionnaire. At the back of this winter issue you will find the questionnaire. If you want to have your name in the Guide to Asian Studies in Europe, which will be published at the end of 1996, please return it free of charge to the IIAS.