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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

A New Generation of Sino-Nordic Gender Matters

Senior Researcher Cecilia Milwertz has resigned and will be leaving NIAS at the end of June. Her final piece of academic writing is the position paper  ‘A New Generation of Sino-Nordic Gender Matters’

The paper was published in NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research Volume 26, 2018 in a theme issue - Issue 4: Gender and Generation in China today which is the outcome of the 2017 6th Sino-Nordic Gender Studies Network Conference.

NIAS is currently planning the 7th network conference that will be hosted by the National Central Library in Taiwan in Taipei late October 2020.

In future the network will be coordinated by Dušica Ristivojević, Kone Bold Initiatives Researcher at Helsinki University and Sarah Swider, the Department of Sociology, the University of Copenhagen.

30 år efter massakren på den Himmelske Fredsplads

30 år efter massakren på Den Himmelske Freds Plads: Er Kina en trussel mod Vesten?

”Der er mange grunde til at distancere sig fra Xi Jinpings autoritære regime, som stadig på systematisk vis undertrykker sin egen befolkning”, skriver Andreas Bøje Forsby i en kronik i Politiken på 30 års dagen for massakren på Den Himmelske Fredsplads. ”Men i takt med at Kina-dæmoniseringen intensiveres, og stormagtsrivaliseringen dominerer Washingtons udenrigspolitiske dagsorden, skal især USA’s partnere og allierede være påpasselige med at lade sig spænde for den amerikanske vogn. Kina udfordrer ikke den eksisterende ordens kerneinstitutioner og kan ’kun’ i snæver forstand betragtes som en revisionist magt.”

Kronik af Post Doc Researcher Andreas Forsby, læs mere her:

Læs også vedhæftede artikel i Ræson om forholdet mellem USA og Kina.


Kamma Winther Kestner, MA, University of Amsterdam.

Hidden informality in housing in two cities in the Global North

My background is mixed as I have a Humanistic BA from Roskilde University in cultural studies and urban planning, but for the Master’s I went hardcore social science as I am completing the Research Master of Urban Studies at University of Amsterdam. I have lived in Copenhagen most of my life, but moved to Amsterdam two years ago, where I am planning to stay until new opportunities arise. As part of my thesis, I spent five months in Hong Kong, conducting fieldwork and studying at Hong Kong University.

In my thesis, I compare the emergence of informal housing arrangements in Hong Kong and Amsterdam, Netherlands, in order to study how living informally can be seen as a tactic (DeCerteau, 1984) to live close to urban opportunities even in less affordable housing markets. I analyse existent policies, policy evaluations, government reports and media articles in order to engage in a discussion on the power relations reproduced and embedded in the definition of informality – on the level of institutions, academia and from a residential point of view. With this study, I hope to deepen the understanding of the emergence of informal housing in cities of the Global North. And how policy makers can be inspired rather than frustrated by the way people find housing in alternative ways in order to amend or make new policies in the housing field.


Yang Yang, PhD, Wuhan University.


“Can ‘One-Language-Two-Scripts’ be a Viable Future Solution in China: From Comparative Perspective of Norwegian Experience”.

I am a Ph.D. researcher at Wuhan University, China, and a lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen. I was also a guest researcher at the University of Bergen, Norway from 2015 to 2018. My research interests are language planning and policies, and language education.

My current research is a multidimensional analysis and comparison of the written language planning and policies in China and Norway from socio-political-historical perspectives. China and Norway, although linguistically and socio-politically far apart from each other, face the very similar dilemmas when it comes to written language practice. This study attempts to uncover the socio-political-historical factors that lead to the difference of written language policies in the two countries.



Asia in Focus - Issue 7

New issue of Asia in Focus 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 7
‘Joining the Club’: The place of a Chinese School in the global IR academy
Thøger Kersting Christensen
Right-wing nationalism or just plain fun?: Japanese history in the game Kantai Collection and its audience interpretation
Valtteri Vuorikoski
Chinese Science Fiction Literature: Can it do for China what K-Pop and Manga do for Korea and Japan?
Nicklas Junker
Finding a New Narrative of Chinese Business Leadership by Giving Voice to Chinese Millennials
Suvi Kurki
Book Review: Van Norden, Bryan W. (2017) Taking Back Philosophy – A Multicultural Manifesto
Lisa Lindkvist Zhang
For full-text access please visit!