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Call for papers: Asia in Focus Issue 6

Asia in Focus is a peer-reviewed journal published online twice a year by NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. Asia in Focus provides Master students and Ph.D. students affiliated to a European institution a widely accessible and transnational forum to publish their findings. The focal point of the journal is the modern Asian societies viewed from the standpoints of social science and humanities. The geographical focus is the Asian countries from Central Asia to Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand. We aim at a high academic level in a concise, focused and readable form, and publish both academic essays and academic articles.

We are seeking full papers (approx. 3500 words) for the next issue of Asia in Focus. The papers which may take an academic article or academic essay format, should pertain to contemporary issues in modern Asia and be rooted in the social sciences or humanities.

We are also accepting book reviews of no more than 1000 words. Choose a title of your own choice that fits with the focus of the journal, or choose from the NIAS Press titles here:

The deadline for submissions is 1 February 2018 and accepted papers will be published spring/summer 2018.

See the attached documents for more information and visit for more detailed instructions about submission

Please contact us by  writing to


Tullia Jack PhD Candidate, Sociology, Lund University 
Cleanliness and consumption: changing everyday practices in Mysore
While visiting NIAS, Tullia is exploring empirical material from a recent field trip to Mysore, India. This data set consists of interviews, photos from inside supermarkets and notes from trips to laundromats and washing locales. Tullia is hoping to use this material to; understand how cleanliness norms are changing, and consider changing norms’ potential impacts on water and energy consumption.
Otso Harju, PhD candidate, Gender studies, The University of Helsinki
Political Daughterhood – Feminist middle-class daughters and intra-family
political conflicts in Delhi, India
My article Feminist conflicts and resistance in Indian family WhatsApp groups documents gendered conflicts in the microcosmos of family WhatsApp groups. In urban
middle-to-upper class India, families often have their own chat groups on the popular messaging application.
A tool for creating kinship, extended networks of relatives are often included. Crystallizing (and sometimes
intensifying) familial issues seen in the outside world, topics discussed in the chat groups can range from
gossip and dinner invitations to religion, money and “appropriate” behavior. Taken together, these
discussions uphold social norms and construct truths around what is desirable in terms of family, gender,
class and caste. Individual group members often do not have a real choice in participating, as leaving the
conversation would be shameful, too transgressive, or simply mean risking being out of touch with one’s
Among young Delhi feminists, family chat groups are a recurring topic of criticism, moral headaches,
and dark humour. The groups give rise to new and interesting forms of political conflict and everyday
feminist resistance. Analysing co-creating forms of identity (family vs. feminist), my article looks at how
radical young women perceive and engage with the chat groups they themselves are part of. Based on
in-depth interviews, it studies how feminists play along with, disapprove of, fight, or ignore the sexism,
classism and casteism expressed by family members.
The outlined article is a part his doctoral work titled “Political Daughterhood – Feminist middle-class daughters and intra-family political conflicts in Delhi, India”. Before joining the PhD programme, Otso has lived some three years in metropolitan India and done his master’s in Asian studies from Lund University, Sweden.



Natalia Moskaleva, PhD student, St. Petersburg State University

Tibetan History Telling on the Indo-Chinese Border: a Case Study of The Tibet Mirror (1949-1959)
The Tibet Mirror is popularly believed to be the first newspaper in the Tibetan language established and issued by the editor of Tibetan origin. The newspaper came out in Kalimpong, the city located on the main Indo-Tibetan trade route and renowned for its transcultural mixture of people and ideas. After the major Tibetan uprising in 1959 the Tibetans coming from China were either passing Kalimpong on their way into exile or settling there. Thus, the editor of The Tibet Mirror Dorje Tharchin had an advantage to get first hand news from Tibet and to compile contemporaneous chronicles of events in Tibet in his newspaper.
A number of aspects of modern Tibetan history present a venue for interpretation and discussions, especially the history of Tibet under the Chinese communist rule. Contending stories of pro-Tibetan and pro-Chinese authors clash and collide and it seems particularly interesting to see what Dorje Tharchin had to say and what kind of policy he followed in The Tibet Mirror. Despite the changes in the Indo-Chinese relations, Tharchin had his own stance and did collaborate neither with the Chinese communists nor with the Indian government.

YiTing Lee, MA student, University of Oslo

Women fleeing from Tibet: cause, exiled experience and future
YiTing Lee is from Taiwan. She did her bachelor in the department of public administration of political science. She is now studying gender studies at University of Oslo in Norway, doing a thesis related to Tibet and gender.

Interessant og krævende studenterjob på CSS campus

NIAS – Nordisk Institut for Asienstudier, et center under Institut for Statskundskab, søger en ny studerende til NIAS’ administration/service og bibliotek. Opgaverne inkluderer assistance ved events på NIAS og ved modtagelse af nordiske gæstestuderende. Opdatering af NIAS’ websites og nyhedsbreve. Derudover kommer hjælp til diverse forefaldende administrative og praktiske opgaver. 
Det ville være en fordel, hvis du har 
  • Gode engelskkundskaber og evnen til klar og fejlfri skriftlig kommunikation  
  • En udadvendt karakter og evnen til at arbejde selvstændigt og struktureret  
  • En studiebaggrund fra Asienstudier er en fordel, men ikke et krav 
Jobbet udføres i tæt samarbejde med centerleder og den øvrige stab, som inklusive gæster udgør cirka 30 personer.  
Vi tilbyder
  • Et interessant og Asien-fokuseret miljø, hvor tingene ind i mellem skal gå stærkt 
  • Et alsidigt job med afveksling i opgaverne 
  • Rare og engagerede kolleger 
  • Fleksibilitet i forhold til arbejdstiden i eksamensperioder 
Løn og ansættelse 
Ugentlig arbejdstid 15 timer.  
Ansøgningsfrist er den 27. oktober 2017. Tiltrædelse hurtigst muligt. 
Yderligere oplysninger 
om stillingen kan fås ved henvendelse til centeradministrator Katrine Herold, 3532 9504, mailto:


The Carlsberg Foundation Nomad Research Project

Cultural anthropologist Ida Nicolaisen, Senior Researcher at NIAS, has successfully completed a major research initiative: The Carlsberg Foundation Nomad Research Project with the publication of Mongol Herders (2017). The book is by Christel Braae and the fifteenth and last volume in a series of major publications, which is the outcome of the research effort. It is  the third among these about the Mongols, the other volumes being Martha Boyer: Mongol Jewelry (1995), and Henny Harald Hansen: Mongol Costumes (1993). Denmark has a century old scholarly tradition of studying pastoral nomads in the wide belt of deserts and steppes, which reach from Mauretania, across the Sahara and Middle East through Central Asia and into China.  Many of these research endeavors brought back huge collections of documents,  photos,  recordings of oral histories and music,  thousands of ethnographic specimen: tents, clothing, jewelry and utensils now in Danish museums as well as data on pastoral histories, subsistence patterns, trade, craftsmanship, cultures and social life. In view of the fact, that continued fieldwork among nomadic peoples in Afghanistan and Chad had in fact become impossible by the 1980s, that a huge amount of  valuable cultural and social anthropological research from various pastoral peoples nomads  was largely unpublished, and that the ethnographic collections had not been scientifically described, the research project was launched in 1986. In 1992 Ida Nicolaisen was appointed Editor-in- Chief of the publications,  initially planned as seven volumes, but over time the publications grew to more than the double to cope with the huge amount of scientific material. Ida Nicolaisen has authored three of the volumes herself: The Pastoral Tuareg I-II, (1997)(with J. Nicolaisen) and Elusive Hunters. The Haddad of Kanem and the Bahr-el-Ghazal (2007). Besides these, she has edited the other volumes in the series including Esther Fihl: Exploring Central Asia I-II (2002), which describes Ole Olufsen’s travels in Turkmenistan,  Kirghizstan and the Pamirs; four volumes on Afghan pastoral nomads:  Birthe Frederiksen: Caravans and Trade in Afghanistan( 1995); Gorm Pedersen: Afghan Nomads (1994); Asta Olesen: Afghan Craftsmen (1994); and  Klaus Ferdinand: Afghan Nomads(2006). Included is also Schuyler Jones: Tibetan Nomads (1996), which describes Prince Peter’s impressive ethnographic collection from Tibet; Inge Demant Mortensen: Nomads of Luristan (1993); and Klaus Ferdinand: Bedouins of Qatar 1993).

Read more about the Danish Nomad research project



Bryndís Ólafsdóttir, PhD student, University of Iceland

Network relations and internationalization of smaller Nordic firms exporting to the Japanese market
I am a second-year Ph.D. student at the School of Business, University of Iceland. My research interests are internationalization and entry-mode research, network relations and the role of trade intermediaries, specifically in relation to Icelandic, Danish and Swedish small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) exporting to the Japanese market. This is a qualitative research with in-depth interviews with managers and trade agents. The theoretical basis of the research is predominately from the Uppsala Internationalization process model.

Sofie Lyder Andersen, MA student, Sino-Danish Center in Beijing (programme managed by CBS)

Sino-Danish Cooperation: Cultural Barriers in Knowledge Sharing Processes
The purpose of my thesis project is to investigate the national cultural differences between Danish and Chinese partners in government-to-government cooperation projects that constitute barriers to the knowledge sharing process. The methodology applied is a qualitative approach inspired by the critical incident methodology techniques of studying intercultural encounters and communication through a combination of observation studies and semi-structured interviews. The main finding of this thesis is that the cultural difference in power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and time orientation makes knowledge sharing processes between Danish and Chinese partners difficult. 

1st NEWDAY summer course completed

From July 4th to 14th, 42 participants, with 19 from the Nordic countries and 23 from Asia, together with 18 lecturers and speakers, joined the first Nansen East-West Dialogue Academy (NEWDAY) at Nansen Academy, Lillehammer, Norway. NEWDAY was initiated and co-organized by the Fudan-European Centre for China Studies, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), and Nansen Academy.
Aiming to promote mutual understanding and foster harmonious relations between people East and West and between our future leaders, participants  were brought together to engage in dialogues, debates, workshops, and lectures through the competent guidance of high profile guest speakers and lecturers, including a broad range of international scholars from a variety of disciplines, people from NIAS and the Fudan Centre, and many others.
The topics discussed included some of the pressing challenges of today’s world such as the Korean Peninsula, new media and political populism, and climate change, as well as other topics such as education, the Nordic model, and cross-cultural communication. Furthermore, the program featured a number of excursions and artistic performances.
The program was structured as below:
Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: Grand Challenges
Day 3: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Day 4: Traditional and New Media
Day 5: Animosities in International Politics
Day 6 & 7: Green Agenda in a Good Society (a two day excursion)
Day 8: Science, Education and Society
Day 9: Memory and Identity
Day 10: Unity with Diversity
NIAS felt privileged to take part in facilitating the first NEWDAY summer course. NEWDAY was supported by a range of scholars from institutions in the East Asian region, specifically Fudan University, Tsinghua University and Shandong University in China; Kyoto University and Tokai University in Japan; and Yonsei University and Korea University in Korea. In the Nordic region, NIAS and the Fudan-European Centre for China Studies  at the University of Copenhagen representing a consortium of 27 Nordic universities, was the leading coordinator of the project, together with the Nansen Academy.
NEWDAY was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM), the Fudan-European Centre for China Studies, and the Nansen Academy with support from the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS).
For more information on NEWDAY, please go to NEWDAY's official website.
Read a full report of the NEWDAY summer course 2017 here.


Elena Samonova is a PhD Student from University of Helsinki, and her project is titled:

Agricultural bonded labour in Nepal and India: human rights based approach to sustainable social change

In my PhD project I am looking at the human rights as a tool of social resistance and liberation and seek to answer the question how the human rights discourse is able to enhance sustainable social change and support the liberation of the most oppressed groups of people. In particular, I study the impacts of the rights-based programs for bondage labourers among Tharu people in Nepal and Sahariya people in India. In both cases, debt bondage is closely connected with the historical dispossession and oppression of the indigenous population. It was found that human rights discourse is able to contribute to the creation of new spaces for resistance and support redistribution of power at the micro level. However, such rights-based programs seem to have little impact at the macro level of power relations and can not effectively challenge structural inequality embedded in the society. 

Lise Bjerke is a Master Student from University of Oslo, and her project is titled:

Migrants on the margins of the city: Food security rights among internal migrants in Bangalore, India 

Why is India failing to achieve food security for all despite its democratic institutions, social programmes and economic growth? This MA thesis hopes to add a small piece to the answer by focusing on the access to food security rights among internal, rural-to-urban migrants living in the informal slums of Bangalore. The first part of the thesis explores linkages between migration and access to food in an urban setting.The second part focuses on the relationship and the 'blurred boundaries' between the state, civil society and the migrant households and how this affects the realization of food security rights. More specifically, the thesis compares the implementation of one targeted and two universal social support programmes aimed at improving food security and nutrition in India: the Public Distribution System (PDS), the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDM) and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).


Muhammad Ahsan Qureshi has a Master's Degree in Global and Transnational Sociology from University of Tampere and is currently working on his PhD proposal with the title:

Mosques in a Transcultural Europe: an enterprise of compromises

Proposed PhD research examines how competing narratives in a ‘transcultural space’ blend to form new realities. The proposed Islamic Oasis Complex in Helsinki will be used as a case study. Discourse both in support and opposition of the project will be analyzed via the bottom-up approach of epistemic governance. The analysis will have an actor-centred approach, highlighting how the contributions made at this level influence the general narratives. The drawn analysis will highlight the impact of the general discourse on a) the democratic policy making infrastructure of Finland, and b) the composition of the Finnish-Muslim identity in both short-run and long-run.

Johanna Saviniemi is a Master Student from University of Helsinki, and her project is titled:

Born This Way Lah! - Gender Recognition and Gender Expression of Malaysian Transwomen

I am a Social and Cultural Anthropology major from University of Helsinki, currently doing my MA thesis. My study is about Malaysia’s intensifying anti-LGBT+ politics with a focus on its affects to the most visible part of LGBT+ community, male-to-female transgender people. The study evaluates how transgender women of Kuala Lumpur find the space to express their gender identities in surroundings where non-binary gender is legally unrecognized. The study is based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in city of Kuala Lumpur between April and August 2017.


Sini Häyrynen, MA student, University of Helsinki

Negotiating Identity, Agency, and Social Pressures in Tongzhi Lives  -  Rural and Small Town Chinese LGBTQ + in First Tier Cities

The research project focuses on the lived experiences of Chinese tongzhi (by western terminology, queers) who have migrated to the cosmopolitan "first tier" cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen from rural areas or small cities. The focus of the study is how these individuals experience social pressures, their own identities, and how they negotiate the presumably wide gap between their big city lives and the family life in their hometowns.


Seyeon Huh, MA student, University of Turku

Perception of contemporary history in South Korea: the formation of the contested legacy of Syngman Rhee

I am researching about how major reputation of historical figures has been formed through Syngman Rhee’s case. There are always controversies about some historical figures. Rhee is one of them. Evaluations about Rhee’s political activities and his administration vary depending on scholars. Largely two groups exist. One group is focusing on Rhee’s anti-communist actions and diplomatic skills, while the other is focusing on repression to development of democracy. Even though two groups are in confrontation with each other, it seems like among young people, Rhee is regarded as a negative figure rather than a positive one. It intrigued me to study how people make opinions about historical figures or even events. As Rhee’s case can be extened to a larger context of Korean contemporary history, I am trying to use him as an example of controversial historical figures.