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News from NIAS

Current SUPRA students at NIAS

Iris Chan, University of Turku
Topic: Hong Kong identity in the Hong Kong City-State Autonomy Movement

Nguyen Thanh, University of Oslo
Topic: Health Insurance for the Near poor in Vietnam

Louise Lykke Hvam workplace Student at NIAS

Louise has been a workplace student at NIAS since February.

I am writing my master's thesis on India's Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), a large welfare programme to ensure food security among India's poorest households. Through empirical studies I delve into the lifeworlds of programme beneficiaries and seek to understand the role played by TPDS in providing food security and reducing vulnerability at the household level. I also enter the debate on the future of India's food policies and explore the case for replacing TPDS entirely with a direct cash transfer scheme.

Current SUPRA students at NIAS

Angelaka Eva, Lund University
Topic: Barbies and Snow Whites:  Contrasting Identities in Modern Japan”: an ethnography

Valeriya Gazizova, PhD, University of Oslo
Topic: The relationship between institutionalized Buddhism and “folk religion” in the process of religious revival in contemporary Kalmykia

Min Dongchao new researcher at NIAS

Professor Min Dongchao, director of the Centre for Gender and Culture Studies at Shanghai University, has received a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship to work with senior researcher Cecilia Milwertz at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies for two years from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2015.

Professor Min’s project, ‘Cross-Cultural Encounters — The Travels of Gender Theory and Practice to China and the Nordic Countries,’ is concerned with the cross-cultural translation of knowledge and practices that may or may not take place when different cultures interact, and the resulting production of new knowledge. Taking the travelling routes of gender theory and practices to, and also between, China and the Nordic countries as the empirical object of study, the project will focus on the crucial questions of why and how knowledge travels or fails to.
See interview with Professor Min

Two years on

Today we remember the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan two years ago and led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. No doubt most of us have seen the horror images (especially the video record) from that time. These are unforgetable but distance and the passing of time leaches away their impact. It is another matter for the people on the ground, actually having to cope with the aftermath, even now.

The latest Economist notes that today:
... marks the second anniversary of the tsunami that killed 18,500 people in Japan. Good news is scant. Almost 315,000 evacuees still live in cramped temporary housing, and need new homes.
That assessment perhaps is a little unfair. In the last two years, the Japanese authorities have had to cope with the immediate aftermath of an immense catastrophe. If that weren’t enough, also the country’s leadership has had to rethink huge swathes of public policy – not least for energy, climate change, food security, agriculture and the economy – amidst political turmoil at home and with a roller-coaster economic crisis and a deteriorating international security situation impacting from abroad.
The magnitude of this situation is captured in a new book just published by NIAS Press, After the Great East Japan Earthquake: Political and Policy Change in Post-Fukushima Japan, edited by Dominic Al-Badri and Gijs Berends. This book is a little unusual, being written (rather carefully, let’s be frank) by diplomats and policy experts at European embassies to Japan. Rather than simply chronicle the triple disaster, it also explores subsequent shifts in Japanese politics and policy-making to see if the disaster has led to a transformation of the country, a shift in how Japan functions.
The book is now available in Europe and Japan, with copies arriving elsewhere soon.

SASNET meeting with collaboration partners at NIAS in Copenhagen

 From left to right Lars Eklund, Inga-Lill Blomkvist, Jonathan Stoltz, Bernd Wunsch and
 Asger Juel Hansen.

On Friday 15 February 2013, SASNET deputy director Lars Eklund and assistant webmaster Jonathan Stoltz visited the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) in its new premises beautifully located within Copenhagen University’s City Campus at Øster Farimagsgade 5, with a view over the lakes. The aim of the visit was to discuss the continued technical collaboration between SASNET and NIAS in the field of web site management. Lars and Jonathan had a fruitful meeting with NIAS Chief Librarian Asger Juel Hansen and his colleagues Inga-Lill Blomkvist and Bernd Wunsch, to discuss common technical problems and find solutions.

The SASNET–NIAS collaboration consists both of organising joint conferences (the Falsterbo conferences for young Nordic researchers), and joint technical issues like synchronizing and exchanging web based information.
The collaboration was formally initiated in 2011, when SASNET launched its current Drupal CMS system based website, completely redesigned and restructured by Julia Velkova at SASNET, with full assistance from Bernd Wunsch at NIAS. Since then NIAS hosts the SASNET website, and recently a new maintenance agreement for 2013 was signed by the two directors, Dr. Geir Helgesen at NIAS, and Dr. Anna Lindberg at SASNET.

NIAS   has existed for more than 40 years, and is nowadays hosted by and integrated into the University of Copenhagen, but is still mainly funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers under a contract with the institute. NIAS emphasizes research-based knowledge and information on Asia and the institute contributes to the international recognition of and respect for Nordic Asia research. Furthermore, the institute coordinates a Nordic, networked research school, The Asian Century Research School and the NIAS SUPRA Programme for Nordic Master and PhD students.

More information about NIAS.

Street Photography: China twenty years ago

Monday, March 11, 2013 - 08:00 to Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 23:00

For the next three months NIAS exhibits photos from 1994 by the Danish photographer Kirstine Theilgaard in our new exhibition room at the Social Sciences Faculty Library in Copenhagen. The photos captures central themes in a China transforming from a planned economy into a capitalistic market economy and provides an impression of what China looked like after some ten years of economic reforms.

In the picture you see the NIAS staff preparing the exhibition.

Venue: Gothersgade 140 on the 1 fl of the Faculty Library of the Social Sciences, Copenhagen University

Current SUPRA students at NIAS

Malte Benjamins, Lund University
Topic: The Reasonable State: Controversial Project Siting in Contemporary China

Yen Yin, University of Oslo
Topic: Overseas Chinese in Norway:The history of Chinese immigrants in Norway

Japan’s Arctic Policy

Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 15:30 to 17:00
Dr. Aki Tonami
Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), University of Copenhagen
The Arctic region is a possible source of scientific research, new shipping routes and natural resources. Japan is one of the non-Arctic states that have applied for the Permanent Observer Status at the Arctic Council, yet its Arctic policy is not widely known outside of Japan's Arctic community. In this seminar, Dr. Aki Tonami will provide a background and analysis of Japan’s Arctic Policy. What are Japan’s interests in the Arctic region and how will they be secured in the future?
Aki Tonami is Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS),
University of Copenhagen. She has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from Kyoto University (2008). Her main research areas include Japan's international relations and environmental governance, particularly environmental aid.
The seminar will be moderated by Dr. Akihiro Ogawa.
Venue: Ohlinrummet, 5th floor, Stockholm School of Economics, Sveavägen 65
Se also enclosed invitation.

2nd Call for Abstracts : Growth: Critical perspectives from Asia

Over the past fifty years we have witnessed phenomenal economic growth in Asia, lifting millions of people out of poverty, and propelling many Asian nations to premier ranks in the global order, but as the social and ecological costs become more apparent, economic and demographic growth looms as both promise and peril.
The concept of growth has not only been central to economic theory and ecological critique, but also to social and cultural theories of societal and civilizational trans-formation that increasingly challenges universalizing Western notions of modernity. This conference critically examines the notion of growth and the ways in which it is shaping social-political landscapes in Asia. We define and question growth in this very broad sense, implying that quantitative changes are inevitably accompanied by qualitative transformations, and paying equal attention to the intricate interconnectedness of naturally occurring growth and human interference as well as to its limitations, stagnation, decline and renewal. Understood in this extended sense, the term and related concepts can be fruitfully used to explore social, economic and cultural processes across time and space within the macro-region of Asia (and beyond) from cross-disciplinary perspectives. 
Based on this notion of growth not as an autonomous, self-determined entity but as the outcome of close and constant interaction between nature and purposeful human action, at this conference we propose to rethink and scrutinize this concept from an Asian perspective and from multi-disciplinary vantage points – cultural, economic and social.
15 January 2013                Deadline for submitting abstracts
15 February 2013              Notification of acceptance
27 May 2013                       Deadline for submitting paper
Please visit the conference website for more information and the full call for abstracts
Abstracts including title, name and affiliation should be sent to