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Asia in Focus Issue 8 is out now!

Asia in Focus is a peer-reviewed OA journal published online twice a year by NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. NIAS is a Nordic research and service institute focusing on Asia’s modern transformations. The focal point of the journal is the modern Asian societies viewed from the standpoints of social sciences and humanities. The geographical focus is the Asian countries from Central Asia to Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand.

Asia in Focus was initiated by NIAS to provide Master and PhD students with a widely accessible and transnational forum to publish their findings. The journal accepts submissions (academic articles, academic essays, book reviews) to students from all European institutions of higher education.


Contents – Issue 8

NIAS is interested in nominating candidates for Marie Curie Individual Fellowships

Marie Curie Individual Fellowships

The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen is interested in nominating candidates for Marie Curie Individual Fellowships. These EU-funded European Fellowships:

  • are open to researchers moving within Europe, as well as those coming in from other parts of the world.
  • can restart a research career after a break, such as parental leave.
  • can help researchers coming back to Europe find a new position.

To apply, you will need a completed PhD, a very strong academic profile and a research proposal of up to 10 pages, in a field involving Asian studies.

NIAS is a regional institute established in 1968, with its own academic press and library services. Administratively, it is located within the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen (see

NIAS supports work in all areas of Asian studies across the social sciences and humanities, but has particular strengths on East and Southeast Asia. Special areas of current interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Climate and sustainability
  • Comparative politics
  • International relations, especially relations between the Nordic region and Asia
  • Gender
  • Digital media

Because this scheme supports mobility, applicants presently based in Denmark or those who have spent 12 months or more in Denmark over the last three years are not eligible.

Anyone interested in applying should send a CV and a two page outline research proposal to NIAS Director, Duncan McCargo, duncan(at), as an initial expression of interest by 25 July 2020. We will work with selected applicants to prepare the final application and nominate them for the Marie Curie fellowship scheme. Please note that we do not hold any funding ourselves: we are simply making nominations to the programme, with no certainty of success.


Further information is available here:


New article by Andreas Bøje Forsby

Andreas Bøje Forsby has written about Danish-Chinese relation in the latest isuue of Danish Foreign Policy Review:

For many years, Danish-Chinese relations were generally progressing smoothly, growing deeper and more diversified across a wide range of areas in line with the underlying objectives of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement from 2008. In the meantime, China rose to become Denmark’s second-largest non-European trade partner, while bilateral cooperation were extended to cover areas like research, education, renewable energy, judicial affairs, tourism as well as a wide range of trade-promoting initiatives. Recently, however, Denmark’s relationship with Beijing has become problematized on several accounts, calling the overall stability of bilateral relations into question. The main drivers of this new development trend are the burgeoning US-China great power rivalry (i.e. its spill-over effects) and the re-politicization of fundamental political differences amid growing Chinese assertiveness in Denmark and elsewhere. Danish-Chinese relations thus seem to be entering a new era where it will become increasingly difficult to pursue a “business-as-usual” approach.

Read more in the attached.

The Nordic Asia Podcast

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a podcast series co-hosted by Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) in Copenhagen and Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the University of Turku. 
Experts join us in every episode to share their insights about timely topics within Asian Studies.

The inaugural episode was a discussion of the South Korean elections on April 15th with Sabine Burghart from CEAS and Duncan McCargo, Director of NIAS. 

In the second episode NIAS Post Doc Researcher Andreas Bøje Forsby joined Duncan McCargo for a conversation on China-Denmark relations.

Since then, the podcast series has covered a wide range of timely topics on Asia, from ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia with Lucrezia Canzutti, to the COVID-19 lockdown in India Sirpa Tenhunen and Jelena Salmi, the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh with Arild Ruud, and the branding of post-coup Thailand with Petra Desatova.

Listen to it on AsiaPortal.


Message from the Director of NIAS, Duncan McCargo

Welcome to the NIAS website.  

Our greetings during this very difficult period: we are all facing unprecedented challenges because of the COVID-19 virus that is having so many adverse impacts on our personal and professional lives.

Following instructions from the Danish government NIAS had to cease physical operations, along with our host institution the University of Copenhagen, on 12 March. However, NIAS remains very much alive and well. We are continuing to offer our online resources through the AsiaPortal ( - do take a look if you have not visited lately) and to work on publishing, grant applications and other projects. We also recently relaunched our InFocus blog feature on the AsiaPortal – please send your ideas or contributions to

We are, of course, not currently able to host academic visitors or guest speakers on campus. However, starting from the week beginning 20 April, we will be hosting regular virtual events, and launching a new Nordic Asia podcast series in collaboration with the Centre of East Asian Studies at the University of Turku in Finland. 

Please keep in touch – we welcome your feedback, ideas and suggestions.

All the best


Ny Ræson artikel af Andreas Bøje Forsby

Er Kina en revisionistisk stat, der forsøger at nedbryde den eksisterende internationale orden med henblik på at opbygge en alternativ orden centreret om Riget i Midten? Nej, svarer NIAS-forsker Andreas Bøje Forsby i det seneste nummer af RÆSON-magasinet. Men Beijing forfølger i dag sine kerneinteresser på en mere selvhævdende måde end tidligere. I artiklen analyserer han først omfanget af Kinas institutionelle, politiske, økonomiske og geopolitiske revisionisme og ser dernæst nærmere på, hvordan Kinas ekspanderende kerneinteresser går hånd i hånd med en mere selvhævdende udenrigspolitik.

Læs hele artiklen i det vedhæftede.

Corona Virus prevention: NIAS is closed from 13 March

Friday, March 13, 2020 to Monday, March 23, 2020

In order to mitigate the spread of the Corona virus the Danish government has decided that students and staff at all higher education institutions in Denmark are not to turn up at the University for studying or working from 13 March onwards. University of Copenhagen and with it NIAS will therefore be closed down for a period of at least a fortnight and we will carry on our work from home. You can reach us on our emails, please see our staff list.

Read more about the closure at University of Copenhagen

Call for chapter proposals

Reframing Transnational Researcher Positionalities:
Decolonial Resistance and Cross-Border Dynamics of Knowing and Unknowing


This call for chapter proposals seeks empirical as well as theoretical contributions which explore one or several of the below-mentioned questions:

  1. How are transnational researcher positions situationally constructed and institutionally conditioned? Which sets of power relations are at stake in such positionings and how do they operate both within and beyond the frameworks of coloniality and neo-liberalist knowledge regimes (Cannella & Koro-Lungberg 2017; Kuokkanen 2011; Mohanty 2013)?

  2. What does having and/or claiming transnational positionality entail in accounting for the ways power systems inform and influence our research practices? What are the related methodological consequences/implications for knowledge production as abyssal (De Sousa Santos 2007) and/or interwoven situated (Haraway 1999) practices?

  3. What can critical engagement with knowledge production regimes as situated through transnational researcher and participant positionalities offer in rethinking/framing the politics of knowledge as a decolonizing project that imagines alternative destinations for all kinds of social, material, scholarly and artistic capital?

    We seek contributions that shed light on the shifting directions of migration and mobility flows, and the many conditioning transnational experiences that are involved in research practices. We also welcome contributions from different disciplinary, theoretical and thematic lines of inquiry, but particularly invite scholars of feminist, post-colonial/decolonial, indigenous and migration studies to contribute.

    Interested authors are invited to send an abstract (two versions: one extended abstract of maximum 750-1000 words and one shorter version of approx. 300 words) of the proposed chapter to Yan Zhao, Magdalena Nowicka and Marie Lovrod before May 15th, 2020.

    The abstract must clearly state the title, question(s) for discussion within the framework of the book, theoretical or/and empirical ground, alongside with short bio(s) of up to 75 words per author.

    Read the full call for chapter proposals here.


Phoungvyna Sangva, MA, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg
I am working on a master dissertation related to an ethnographic study that aims to identify and explore local people’s experiences and perspectives toward an influx of Chinese migrants and investments in their everyday lives in Shihanoukville, Cambodia. It also aims to understand how economic relations influence social life, having bearing on health, trust, working condition, emotions, and landscape in the city as a whole. During my field study, I spent four weeks observing and conducting interviews with local people in Shihanoukville. Currently, I am analyzing the data from my field studies and finding the main aspect from the materials.


Heidi Alexandra Darvell, MA, Center for Peace Studies, University of Norway
I’m currently a Master student in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies, Center for Peace Studies at UiT, the Artic University of Norway, Norway. I took my Bachelor’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, Faculty of Culture and Society, Malmö University, Sweden. I’m interested in studying the conceptualization of peace, peacebuilding from a theoretical and practical point of views, in informal and formal formations. I’m current working on my Master Project where I’m researching the UN PBF’s peacebuilding projects in Kyrgyzstan and it’s change in focus from inter-ethnic conflicts to prevention of violent extremism.


Desatová and McCargo quoted in BBC News and TIME Magazine

Friday, 21 February, the Future Forward Party in Thailand was dissolved, after the country's Constitutional Court ruled it violated campaign financing rules.

Director at NIAS, Professor Duncan McCargo, comments to TIME Magazine that the ruling is a disappointing development in Thai Politics. “Six million people voted for that party,” he says. “A lot of those people already felt disenfranchised and alienated, and now they’re going to feel more so.” See the full article here.

Post Doc Researcher at NIAS, Petra Desatová, has likewise commented on the situation to BBC News Thailand, in which she argues that the party’s dissolution reflects that Thai politics is still in the hands of small elite. "Thailand remains just as divided (if not more) than it was ahead of the 2014 coup," she says. See the full article here (in Thai).