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News from NIAS

Travel report by Nicol Foulkes

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 11:00
In January I made a two week field trip to the Indian cities Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The primary purpose of the trip was to re-connect with networking groups, informants and the cities themselves as they too have undergone a lot of change in the two and a half years since I was there last.

“Workers’ History Prize” for Bo Ærenlund Sørensen, NIAS Affiliate

Bo Ærenlund Sørensen, who has his workplace at NIAS, has won this year’s “Workers’ History Prize” for his MA thesis about Chinese labor mobilization 2000-2010. The prize is awarded annually by The Danish Workers’ Museum and The Society for Research in the History of the Labour Movement for the best thesis or dissertation pertaining to labour affairs. In addition to a reward of 15,000 DKK, the prize involves giving a lecture and publishing an article in the Workers’ History journal. Bo is now applying for a PhD position with a project that explores the importance of social media and communications technologies for the Chinese labour movement.

One Year On: A Symposium Commemorating '311', the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011

Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 13:00 to 16:00

A year has almost passed since what Japanese call ‘311’ - or the Great East Japan Earthquake of 11 March 2011 – a tsunami and nuclear disaster that shocked the world. As people in Japan prepare to commemorate the first anniversary of the event, Danish scholars studying Japan and their Japanese counterparts studying in Copenhagen have decided to join together to hold a three-part symposium dedicated to 311. This symposium intends to ask - What challenges have the Japanese faced over the past year? How are they coping with and responding to them? What did they learn? What insights and implications can they share with us, and what can we share with them?

The three-part symposium consists of:

  • Key note speech: “Reflecting on a year since 311: what we did and what we learned” by Professor Chiharu Takenaka, Rikkyo University (Tokyo, Japan), who will talk about activities that she undertook in the year since the earthquake by involving students, NGOs, journalists, and afflicted local communities in providing support to the disaster victims and developing a healing and learning process for all involved.
  • Panel discussion #1: “Civil engineering dimension of 311” by Dr. Anni Greve (Roskilde University) & Dr. Kazuyoshi Nishijima (DTU) will explore issues on city planning, debate about safety regulations of buildings and nuclear plants, and challenges of the conceptualization of risks.
  • Panel discussion #2: “Civil society dimension of 311” by  Dr. Annette Hansen (Aarhus University) & Dr. Aki Tonami (NIAS) will examine mobilization of support for the disaster victims through social media, international aid and collaboration, and the evolution of voluntary groups in Japanese society since the Kobe earthquake in 1995.

Throughout the symposium, time is set aside for discussion among the panellists and with the floor. We cordially invite all those who are able to gather with us to reflect and learn, as well as to commemorate the anniversary of the disaster that took lives of so many people.
The symposium is organized and hosted by the Copenhagen 311 Committee (Chair: Professor Takashi Suganuma, Rikkyo University & Roskilde University), with close support from NIAS -  Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Asia Research Centre of Copenhagen Business School, Roskilde University Department of Society & Globalization, and NIHONJINKAI / Den Japanske Forening i Danmark.
Participation is free of charge, but registration is required.
Please write to Katrine Herold <> no later than Wednesday, 7 March 2012 at 12.00 noon.
Time: 13:00 – 16:00, Thursday, 8 March 2012
Venue: Alexandersalen, Copenhagen University
             Bispetorvet 1-3, 1167 Copenhagen

Coffee, tea and snacks will be served prior to the event.

Aung San Suu Kyi praises NIAS Press book

Sean Turnell’s Fiery Dragons – has been making its mark in other ways. Not only has this critically acclaimed study now been listed as recommended reading in the latest edition of the Lonely Planet guide to Myanmar/Burma but also, at a recent meeting with the author, Aung San Suu Kyi praised the book and declared the author to be her ‘favourite economist’. In a note to the Press, he commented wryly, ‘given the standing of the profession, that might not mean a lot!’
Read more

New workplace students at NIAS

From January NIAS has the pleasure to welcome two new workplace students.

Natalie Jane Wheeler from the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Natalie's thesis is focusing on Lobbying in China.

Jakob Friis Larsen from the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Jakob is working on his thesis entitled: Contesting Malay Ethnicity: Culture, Identity and Nationalism.

Professor Chung-in Moon visits Copenhagen

Professor Chung-in Moon, a political scientist from Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, will arrive in Copenhagen Sunday, January 29. Moon has been one of the main architects behind the earlier South Korean engagement policy with North Korea. He will meet with politicians, foreign ministry representatives, and people from the media, and he will also meet with leaders from the business community. These meetings will take place at NIAS. On Tuesday, January 31 Moon will attend a lunch meeting at the Asia House organized by the House and Asia Business Forum.

4th Annual Asian Dynamics Initiative Conference "Rising Asia - Anxious Europe"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 to Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rising Asia, Anxious Europe
International conference, 2-3 May 2012, University of Copenhagen

The dramatic ‘rise' of Asia appears to Europeans as a double-edged sword, perched between allure and anxiety. "Rising Asia, Anxious Europe", a two-day conference organised by the Asian Dynamics Initiative (ADI), will explore how European states, corporations and individuals are beginning to forge a ‘new' relationship with Asia.

Conference opening:
• Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Villy Søvndal               
• Prorector Thomas Bjørnholm, University of Copenhagen

Keynote talks by:
• Prof. Ulrich Beck: "World at Risk: are Asia and Europe chasing the same dream or nightmare?"
• Isabel Hilton: "Future green superpowers: Chinese competition or cooperation?"
• Prof. Peter van der Veer: "Coping with Diversity in Europe, India and China"
• Prof. Wang Gungwu: "The China Effect in Asia and Europe"
• Prof. Aihwa Ong: "Science as the Heart of 'World-Class' Cities in Asia"

Panel sessions on business, security, resource competition, values and more.

Kindly register at:

Hip-hop Japan: Creativity and Identity within Cultural Globalisation

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 13:15 to 14:30

Guest lecture by Kiku Day, Ph.d., music ethnology at SOAS, University of London.
Hip-hop went global and hit Japan during the 1980s and 90s with break dancers, graffiti artists and singers spending money on their dread locks and in tanning salons in order to darken the skin. This was criticised as a superficial imitation and misappropriation of black culture and music. However, as in other parts of the world, hip-hop in Japan has taken root as a local genre. Using an American musical genre as a vehicle, Japanese hip-hopers creatively use this musical style to express their own concerns, political opinions and to criticise the society they live in. Thus the inherent politics of hip-hop changes when crossing cultural and national boundaries. This paper will follow how identity is constructed and enacted locally in case of Japan in a global musical context.
Venue: NIAS, Leifsgade 33, 3rd floor Organizers: NIAS & ADI

Brief Bio
Kiku Day (BA, London; MFA, Mills; PhD, London) is currently a Teaching Fellow in ethnomusicology at SOAS, University of London and teaching at the Japanese Studies section at Aarhus University. Her research has in particularly been focusing on Japanese music and performance based research. Presently she is pursuing a research project on how Zen Buddhism is disseminated through the use of the shakuhachi and new media such as the Internet – an interdisciplinary project between ethnomusicology, anthropology, globalization studies and the sociology of religion.


What should we Learn from China?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 13:15 to 15:00

Guest lecture by Associate Professor Josef Gregory Mahoney, East China Normal University

Firstly, as a matter of epistemological analysis, we begin by examining the “China model” and other contemporary Sinocentric or Chinese-inspired developments as possibly indicating the emergence of a new, alternative discourse, with implications for theories and practices of political economy in China and around the world. Although it is still too early to conclude confidently that a viable, contemporary, future-oriented “Chinese” alternative has formed, it is clear that both local and global conditions for such change are ripe, insomuch as international crises have eroded confidence in and exposed fault lines in Western models, which again, we assess in epistemological terms. Secondly, we examine in particular the “rational kernel in the mystical shell,” and argue that an understanding of Chinese Marxist dialectics remains a key to understanding China politically and ideologically, which we demonstrate in part through brief analyses of Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, Jiang Zemin’s “Three Represents,” Hu Jintao’s “Scientific Development Concept” and “Harmonious Society” campaign and associated policymaking praxes. Thirdly, returning to our titular concern, we reflect on the relative absence of dialectics in the Western epistemological tradition, particularly in the modern period. We suggest that a century of blending Chinese and Western thinking has given China an edge—especially over the course of reform and opening up, when these two epistemological traditions reached a synthesizing highpoint.

Venue: NIAS, Leifsgade 33, 3rd floor Organizers: NIAS & ADI

Alexandra Kent receives grant from Riksbanken

One of our external research colleagues, Alexandra Kent, just received a grant from the Swedish Riksbankens Jubileumsfond to carry out research in Cambodia. Alexandra, who is an anthropologist working from Gothenburg University, is a prominent scholar on Cambodia and South East Asia, and we are proud that she has chosen NIAS as her host institution for this project. The project will bring Alexandra to NIAS for shorter and longer periods in the years to come, and this will certainly strengthen our South East Asian research profile.