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News from NIAS

The Nordic Asia Podcast

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a podcast series co-hosted by Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) in Copenhagen and Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the University of Turku. 
Experts join us in every episode to share their insights about timely topics within Asian Studies.

The inaugural episode was a discussion of the South Korean elections on April 15th with Sabine Burghart from CEAS and Duncan McCargo, Director of NIAS. 

In the second episode NIAS Post Doc Researcher Andreas Bøje Forsby joins Duncan McCargo for a conversation on China-Denmark relations.

Listen here.

Message from the Director of NIAS, Duncan McCargo

Welcome to the NIAS website.  

Our greetings during this very difficult period: we are all facing unprecedented challenges because of the COVID-19 virus that is having so many adverse impacts on our personal and professional lives.

Following instructions from the Danish government NIAS had to cease physical operations, along with our host institution the University of Copenhagen, on 12 March. However, NIAS remains very much alive and well. We are continuing to offer our online resources through the AsiaPortal ( - do take a look if you have not visited lately) and to work on publishing, grant applications and other projects. We also recently relaunched our InFocus blog feature on the AsiaPortal – please send your ideas or contributions to

We are, of course, not currently able to host academic visitors or guest speakers on campus. However, starting from the week beginning 20 April, we will be hosting regular virtual events, and launching a new Nordic Asia podcast series in collaboration with the Centre of East Asian Studies at the University of Turku in Finland. 

Please keep in touch – we welcome your feedback, ideas and suggestions.

All the best


Ny Ræson artikel af Andreas Bøje Forsby

Er Kina en revisionistisk stat, der forsøger at nedbryde den eksisterende internationale orden med henblik på at opbygge en alternativ orden centreret om Riget i Midten? Nej, svarer NIAS-forsker Andreas Bøje Forsby i det seneste nummer af RÆSON-magasinet. Men Beijing forfølger i dag sine kerneinteresser på en mere selvhævdende måde end tidligere. I artiklen analyserer han først omfanget af Kinas institutionelle, politiske, økonomiske og geopolitiske revisionisme og ser dernæst nærmere på, hvordan Kinas ekspanderende kerneinteresser går hånd i hånd med en mere selvhævdende udenrigspolitik.

Læs hele artiklen i det vedhæftede.

Corona Virus prevention: NIAS is closed from 13 March

Friday, March 13, 2020 to Monday, March 23, 2020

In order to mitigate the spread of the Corona virus the Danish government has decided that students and staff at all higher education institutions in Denmark are not to turn up at the University for studying or working from 13 March onwards. University of Copenhagen and with it NIAS will therefore be closed down for a period of at least a fortnight and we will carry on our work from home. You can reach us on our emails, please see our staff list.

Read more about the closure at University of Copenhagen

Call for chapter proposals

Reframing Transnational Researcher Positionalities:
Decolonial Resistance and Cross-Border Dynamics of Knowing and Unknowing


This call for chapter proposals seeks empirical as well as theoretical contributions which explore one or several of the below-mentioned questions:

  1. How are transnational researcher positions situationally constructed and institutionally conditioned? Which sets of power relations are at stake in such positionings and how do they operate both within and beyond the frameworks of coloniality and neo-liberalist knowledge regimes (Cannella & Koro-Lungberg 2017; Kuokkanen 2011; Mohanty 2013)?

  2. What does having and/or claiming transnational positionality entail in accounting for the ways power systems inform and influence our research practices? What are the related methodological consequences/implications for knowledge production as abyssal (De Sousa Santos 2007) and/or interwoven situated (Haraway 1999) practices?

  3. What can critical engagement with knowledge production regimes as situated through transnational researcher and participant positionalities offer in rethinking/framing the politics of knowledge as a decolonizing project that imagines alternative destinations for all kinds of social, material, scholarly and artistic capital?

    We seek contributions that shed light on the shifting directions of migration and mobility flows, and the many conditioning transnational experiences that are involved in research practices. We also welcome contributions from different disciplinary, theoretical and thematic lines of inquiry, but particularly invite scholars of feminist, post-colonial/decolonial, indigenous and migration studies to contribute.

    Interested authors are invited to send an abstract (two versions: one extended abstract of maximum 750-1000 words and one shorter version of approx. 300 words) of the proposed chapter to Yan Zhao, Magdalena Nowicka and Marie Lovrod before May 15th, 2020.

    The abstract must clearly state the title, question(s) for discussion within the framework of the book, theoretical or/and empirical ground, alongside with short bio(s) of up to 75 words per author.

    Read the full call for chapter proposals here.


Phoungvyna Sangva, MA, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg
I am working on a master dissertation related to an ethnographic study that aims to identify and explore local people’s experiences and perspectives toward an influx of Chinese migrants and investments in their everyday lives in Shihanoukville, Cambodia. It also aims to understand how economic relations influence social life, having bearing on health, trust, working condition, emotions, and landscape in the city as a whole. During my field study, I spent four weeks observing and conducting interviews with local people in Shihanoukville. Currently, I am analyzing the data from my field studies and finding the main aspect from the materials.


Heidi Alexandra Darvell, MA, Center for Peace Studies, University of Norway
I’m currently a Master student in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies, Center for Peace Studies at UiT, the Artic University of Norway, Norway. I took my Bachelor’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, Faculty of Culture and Society, Malmö University, Sweden. I’m interested in studying the conceptualization of peace, peacebuilding from a theoretical and practical point of views, in informal and formal formations. I’m current working on my Master Project where I’m researching the UN PBF’s peacebuilding projects in Kyrgyzstan and it’s change in focus from inter-ethnic conflicts to prevention of violent extremism.


Desatová and McCargo quoted in BBC News and TIME Magazine

Friday, 21 February, the Future Forward Party in Thailand was dissolved, after the country's Constitutional Court ruled it violated campaign financing rules.

Director at NIAS, Professor Duncan McCargo, comments to TIME Magazine that the ruling is a disappointing development in Thai Politics. “Six million people voted for that party,” he says. “A lot of those people already felt disenfranchised and alienated, and now they’re going to feel more so.” See the full article here.

Post Doc Researcher at NIAS, Petra Desatová, has likewise commented on the situation to BBC News Thailand, in which she argues that the party’s dissolution reflects that Thai politics is still in the hands of small elite. "Thailand remains just as divided (if not more) than it was ahead of the 2014 coup," she says. See the full article here (in Thai).

NIAS Director Duncan McCargo has two new publications

Duncan McCargo’s book Fighting for Virtue: Justice and Politics in Thailand is just out from Cornell University Press. Based on a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship that funded him to conduct a year’s fieldwork in Bangkok, it explores the role of judges and examines a number of politically-related court cases that have helped shape Thailand’s recent politics. The book draws upon hundreds of hours of political ethnography conducted in Thai courts and police stations, as well as dozens of interviews. McCargo argues that legalistic ‘solutions’ to Thailand’s complex political problems have made matters worse, raising questions about the value of legalism more generally.




Duncan McCargo’s latest article, in the journal Conflict, Security & Development, co-authored with Colombo-based scholar Dishani Senaratne, explores parallels between the politics of memorialization in southern Thailand and Sri Lanka. The authors argue that the way government and anti-government combatants are memorialized – or not – speaks volumes about the real nature of peace in post-conflict societies.

The article draws upon on a fieldtrip McCargo made to the North of Sri Lanka in the summer of 2017 (see, as part of an ESRC-funded collaborative project on illiberal peacebuilding in Asia (  

Reference: Duncan McCargo and Dishani Senaratne, ‘Victor’s Memory: Sri Lanka’s post-war memoryscape in comparative perspective’, Conflict, Security & Development, 20, 1, 2020: 97–113.


Sonja Irene Åman, PhD, University of Oslo
My name is Sonja Åman and I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo. My background is in political ecology and I am currently part of a research group called ‘Whales of Power’. My thesis focuses on human-whale relationships and the practice and policies of indigenous subsistence whaling and whale-watching. My aim is to trace how local indigenous knowledge interacts with the national and global policies and public narratives in the case of whaling among the Makah tribe in the US, and the Maori-led whale-watching in New Zealand’s South Island.


Ihntaek Hwang, PhD, Tampere Peace Research Institute, Tampere University
Ihntaek Hwang is doctoral researcher at Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI), Tampere University. He used to work for the Republic of Korea Air Force as political education officer. He is currently researching on how we imagine national security. His case is the conscientious objectors to military service in South Korea, who have long been criminalised by both the government and the public for jeopardising national security. He is interested in travelling between the micro and the macro through body politic, aesthetics and arts, and the subliminal/subterritorial.



Taeho Kim, MA, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Turku
My name is Taeho Kim from South Korea. I grew up in Thailand and studied International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. I am currently undergoing a Master's Degree Programme in East Asian Studies at the Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the University of Turku, Finland. My research topic will be looking at South Korean perception of the Nordic Welfare State Model. Despite South Korea's rapid industrialization and ascension in stature as a global economic powerhouse, there also seem to be growing demands and increasing challenges calling for better social security, social stability and quality of life. In light of these issues, the Nordic Model is frequently brought up as a trendy and attractive alternative to addressing social issues in South Korea. As someone who has experienced these cultures, I thought it would be interesting to explore the South Korean perception of the Nordic Model.