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Research Theme | Nordic Institute of Asian Studies

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Research Theme

Mapping the Human Landscapes of EurAsia. Dealing with Cultural Differences in a Globalized World.


The ambition of the research theme at NIAS is to establish and more closely connect related research projects. We also aim to coordinate our efforts to create a vibrant research environment and reach out internationally to expand NIAS' research capacity.

The rationale behind establishing a theme-based approach in 2010 was to allow both different projects and the institute as a whole to work together towards a common goal, and thus be able to seek a higher level of funding. The same year, we received network funding from NordForsk to organize workshops and establish research groups under the institute's research theme.

The Idea

Globalization has enabled new forms of interaction but has also raised new challenges. It has brought diverse people together but it has not always increased mutual understanding; on the contrary, proximity often accentuates cultural differences between groups.

By confronting and exploring this paradox, the goal of the projects within the Mapping theme is to study the interactions now commonplace in Asian and European societies. The project aims to develop tools to creatively manage inter-cultural relations and to transform differences into mutual advantage. To further this aim, we engage in interdisciplinary comparative research via partnerships between scholars in Europe and Asia.

The concept "EurAsia" emphasizes togetherness rather than division. This theme highlights a new reality where the importance of geographical distance and political differences diminishes while a new relationship between Europe and Asia is under construction.

The Networks

Asia in the West has been studied from various perspectives and with different research tools since the advent of academic work, while Asia has been less focused on Europe. What has been neglected is a truly comparative approach that includes scholarly communities from Europe and Asia in a common endeavour to develop mutual understanding. Attitudes are changing however, and we now see a growing interest among Asian scholars in studying European societies.

The Mapping the Two Corners of EurAsia in Comparative Ideas, Society and Politics network is a Nordic-North East Asian network based at NIAS in Copenhagen and at Yonsei University in Seoul, established with the aim of conducting cooperative research projects focusing on education, welfare, security and other societal aspects.

In 2011, a new research consortium was established with participants from East and South Asia as well as from Northern Europe, and a research project involving among other things intercultural communication, knowledge transfer and the impact of culture on socio-political developments - all in the EurAsian setting - is in preparation.