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Mária Kubincová, MA student, University of Turku

I am a student in the master's degree programme of East Asian Studies at CEAS. The topic of my thesis is the Japanese phenomenon of hikikomori, also known as "social recluses" or "shut-ins", in other words, people who voluntarily cut their ties with society and stay inside their rooms or homes for months or even years. Originally, this problem was believed to be predominantly affecting young adult males in Japan, however latest surveys conducted by the Japanese government revealed potentially thousands of cases also among older Japanese citizens. Hikikomori is now considered to be one of the most pressing issues in contemporary Japanese society, and it is being recognised outside of Japan as well (Italy, South Korea, Finland...). In my research I am focusing on the media discourse and how the issue of hikikomori is presented in Japanese media, the stigmatisation of this condition and how it is contrasting with the self-image and self-representation of hikikomori.


Nicholas Bernardi, MA student, University of Turku

As a student of East Asian Studies, my thesis focuses on Japanese media and their degree of freedom in the face of external influence.
Japan is considered a strong democratic country, especially in East Asia, but it has faced strong criticism regarding press freedom from various organizations because of limitations imposed by its political class. Through a series of interviews to reporter actively involved with Japan, both from Japanese and international newspapers, I plan to collect their opinions on the topic of press freedom and see how much they overlap with the current academic view. The objective of this research is to re-analyse and find new aspects within the Japanese media system that will let us understand more clearly how impactful external influence is on Japanese press freedom.


Lauri Selonen, MA student, University of Turku

Lauri Selonen is an MA student at the Centre of East Asian Studies at University of Turku, Finland. At the centre he specializes in Japanese society.

Having previously finished his BA in the subject of Media Studies, he has looked into combining these two fields in his research. In his master’s thesis Selonen examines the performance and production of masculinity in the Japanese reality television show “Terrace House”. He attempts to produce a rich, descriptive account of gender production in a single reality show and set these findings in a dialogue with the broader norms of masculinity in Japan.


Riina Pesonen, MA student, University of Helsinki

Riina studies East Asian Studies with Japanese as their major at the University of Helsinki, Finland. With an interest and background in gender studies, media education and Asian Studies, Riina’s thesis combines these three fields of study. The aim of this thesis is to discuss the representations of rape culture in Japanese Boys Love (BL) manga, which is usually made by and for women and young adolescent girls. By using critical discourse analysis, the thesis looks at how discourses supporting and enabling rape culture in popular culture media (in this case, BL) are portrayed as romantic and part of the narrative, and how as such they may end up reinforcing rape culture phenomenon itself.

SUPRA Nordic Scholarship for MA and PhD students Spring 2020

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

If you are working on a MA or PhD thesis during Spring 2020 and need some inspiration, literature or simply just time to write on your thesis, then NIAS has something to offer: the Nordic Scholarship!

The Nordic Scholarship covers inexpensive travel to Copenhagen, two weeks board and accommodation plus a working place at NIAS! A perfect chance to concentrate on your thesis, have inspirational talks with our researchers or access material from Northern Europe's most comprehensive Asian studies library.

More information about SUPRA students' experiences at NIAS and practical information as well as application form.

NB: SUPRA scholarships are primarily for students from NNC member institutions.

Deadline for application: 1 October 2019

For more information, please contact


Vanya Koleva, MA student, University of Turku

Vanya Koleva is from Bulgaria and is currently studying East Asian Studies at the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, Finland where she also completed an internship and acquired valuable skills for working in academia.

Her thesis focuses on the cartoons of President Donald Trump in Chinese English language newspapers. She is going to analyze how Trump and the US are portrayed and how their representations change.  The cartoons show the Chinese attitude towards the US and Donald Trump’s government and reflect the changes in China-US relations from Chinese perspective. Moreover, being in English language newspapers, the cartoons also represent the image of the US and Trump that China propagates.


Nina Maunuaho, MA student, University of Turku

Nina is a media studies major from Finland. With a particular interest in both, media and China, she is going to focus on Chinese Internet memes in her thesis. The thesis takes a look at how Chinese online censorship and the political system are commented by using memes and other circulating online content, how the self-censorship occurs  in the memes and what their purpose is after all in the context of authoritarian online environment. She is going to look at the means that memes use to challenge the censors and the political atmosphere online, and try to find out whether political memes in China could be categorized as a powerful tool against the censorship or are they just part of the online carnival.



Arsalan Bilal, MA student, University of Tromsø

Arsalan Bilal—commonly known as AB— is currently a graduate student in the Peace and Conflict Transformation programme at the Centre for Peace Studies (CPS), University of Tromsø – the Arctic University of Norway. With a background in politics and international relations, he has pursued academic and research courses in several countries. He is profoundly interested in South Asian politics.

AB’s current research focuses on the impact of Pakistan-India conflict—which has intensified in the recent years—on the exacerbation of the Afghanistan war, particularly in the post-2011 period. The project is additionally geared towards exploring the prospects of developing a framework for dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi that can translate into peace in Afghanistan and beyond. His research hinges upon, inter alia, in-depth interviews with policymakers and experts in Pakistan, India and other countries.


Kasper Dahlberg, MA student, Helsinki university

Kasper's master’s thesis project is about Finland and China trade and what factors have been affecting it from 1978 to current day. It takes a look at the trade both from an econometric perspective doing models about the trade trough GDP and WTO access for its statistical models. As well as more from a literature research how the trade in goods have been shifting under the period in products, the political relations between the countries as well as trade deals, and barriers of trade between the two countries.

New workplace student at NIAS

Christoffer Dahl

I am a masters student at the department of political science at the University of Copenhagen. Last semester I worked as an intern at the Danish Embassy in New Delhi. I am currently writing my masters thesis at NIAS, where I will research how the opposition to the proposed changes to the Japanese constitution has developed.

Research area
I am writing my masters thesis on the proposed changes to the Japanese constitution. The main focus of my thesis is article 9 of the constitution, which prohibits Japan from using military force unless it is in self-defense, which the ruling party seeks to revise and the opposition to this proposed revision.


Anders Fylling, MA student, University of Bergen

Networking and communication: Pulp and paper exports from Norway to China, 1890-1920.

My thesis will focus on the networks and communication that existed between Norwegian, European and Chinese actors, which facilitated the large tonnage of exports from Norway to China in the mentioned period. By applying theory with a transnational historiographical perspective (theories presented by Pierre-Yves Saunier and Akira Iriye (among others)) to the aforementioned topic, my thesis will hopefully shed light upon the individuals and organizations that lived and worked through, and in between self-contained entities (nations and polities). Thus increasing the understanding of what is, and when was, "globalisation" (Saunier, 2013).


Mari Peltola, MA student, Lund University

The situation behind Japan’s stagnant nuclear politics

I am writing my thesis on Japan’s nuclear energy situation. Worsening climate change requires move to cleaner methods of producing energy. After Fukushima’s nuclear disaster, Japan had the opportunity to move towards cleaner energy sources. The current government is still planning on producing 20% of Japan’s energy mix by nuclear power and since the disaster, this situation haven’t changed drastically despite the public’s opinion against nuclear power. My leading question is that why is the nuclear energy situation stagnant, what drives the stagnation and what methods has been taken to move away from the situation?

Duncan McCargo, Director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies; and Professor of Political Science, University of Copenhagen

I first visited NIAS in 1997 and have made regular academic visits to the Nordic region ever since. I assumed the NIAS Directorship in the summer of 2019, after several years during which I held a shared professorial appointment at the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds and the Department of Political Science at Columbia University - teaching alternate semesters in Yorkshire and New York. At Leeds, I twice chaired one of Britain’s largest political science departments and supervised 27 doctoral students to successful completion. At Columbia, I co-founded the New York Southeast Asia Network, an innovative academic collaboration funded by the Luce Foundation.

Fascinated by Asia since my undergraduate days, I've spent several years in Thailand, and have also lived in Singapore, taught in Belfast, Cambodia and Japan, and published on Indonesia and Vietnam. As I hate repeating myself, I change research topics regularly. I am committed to doing serious fieldwork. Time magazine wrote of my work ‘No armchairs for this author… McCargo is the real McCoy.’

I’ve published three books with NIAS Press, including the best-selling Thaksinization of Thailand (with Ukrist Pathmanand, 2005). My ESRC-funded ninth book, Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand (Cornell University Press 2008) won the Asia Society's inaugural Bernard Schwartz Book Prize for 2009. My monograph Fighting for Virtue: Justice and Politics in Thailand is forthcoming from Cornell University Press.

I appear regularly on BBC radio and television, have written commentaries for publications including the Daily TelegraphEconomistForeign AffairsGuardian, Independent, New York TimesTime and Financial Times and am frequently cited in print and online media. I often brief senior UN and government officials, and have twice testified (in Thai) before parliamentary committees in Bangkok.

In 2010, I was awarded an honorary doctorate in Thai Studies by Mahasarakham University. The following year I was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. From 2013 to 2017, I was the elected President of the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS). Among my past fellowships and residencies are: Asia Research Institute (NUS); Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center; Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship; and Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Recent appearances have included: a keynote address in Kyushu, conference presentations in Toronto and New York, a series of lectures in Indonesia and Thailand, two research seminars in Shanghai, and a Columbia alumni event in Tokyo.

I am probably best known for my agenda-setting contributions to current debates on the politics of Thailand, but my work is centrally concerned with the nature of power. How do entrenched elites seek to retain power in the face of challenges from new political forces? How do challengers to state power try to undermine the legitimacy of existing regimes? These interests have led me to study questions relating to the uses of media, sub-national conflicts, and the politics of justice, among other issues.

My work on the politics of contemporary Thailand has covered issues such as Buddhism, political reform, electoral politics, the media, the role of the military and the Southern conflict. My original arguments about Thailand’s ‘network monarchy’ have helped reshape both academic and popular understandings of royal power. I have an interest in several other Southeast Asian countries, and continue to write on Cambodia.

My broader intellectual agenda includes problematizing the role of the media, which I see as a political actor in its own right; and studying the emergence of what I term ‘urbanized villagers’ – people who straddle the troublesome divide between urban and rural. I am currently working on understanding the politics behind military coups; I am also interested in critiques of transitional justice and legalism, and in the recent revival of notions of treason.

I currently hold a grant from the United States Institute of Peace to examine peace messaging in the 2019 Thai elections.


Potseng Chen, PhD student, University of Salamanca.

Legislative evolution and industrial analysis of audiovisual sector in Taiwan 2000~2016: the case of animation industry.

My name is Potseng Chen, from Taiwan. I am elaborating my doctoral thesis in the Doctoral Program "Constitutional State and its governance" of the University of Salamanca (USAL, Spain). I am also working as a lecturer and internship tutor in the Eastern Asia Studies master program of USAL. My topic is to find out factors that influence value chain of the Taiwanese animation motives from point of view of the political economy of communication.

Gendered Dimensions of Welfare in China and the Nordic Region. Feminist transformations, visions and recommendations

Gendered Dimensions of Welfare in China and the Nordic Region. Feminist transformations, visions and recommendations
-    A Sino-Nordic Gender Studies Network report

In the report Gendered Dimensions of Welfare in China and the Nordic Region. Feminist transformations, visions and recommendations gender studies scholars based at universities in China and the Nordic countries provide recommendations that qualify and expand knowledge on the relationship between gender and welfare solutions in China and the Nordic countries. They also identify areas where further study is recommended and participants may collaborate in order to develop further knowledge on Sino-Nordic welfare issues.

The report is an outcome of the workshop Exploring Gendered Dimensions of Welfare in China and the Nordic Region held by the Sino-Nordic Gender Studies Network and NIAS at the Danish Cultural Center in Beijing in March 2019. The occasion was the collaboration agreement signed in May 2017 between the People’s Republic of China and the Nordic countries. The aim of the workshop was to support and develop the commitment to gender equality and social justice in relation to the Sino-Nordic exchange, with a particular focus on one of the five areas of the collaboration agreement, namely welfare solutions.

The specific topics of the recommendations are:

Parenting, family policy and gender
by Lisa Eklund, Anne Lise Ellingsæter, Xuan Li, Lin Huilin, Kalle Berggren

Feminist Activism
by Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen, Di Wang, Olga Sasunkevich, Xiong Jing

Welfare State and Feminist Transnational Knowledge Production
by Liu Xin, Katarina Leppänen, Elina Oinas, Yan Zhao, Lily Yu, Trude Sundberg

The report is also available at