Leiden University hosts several projects which deal with Central Asia in various periods and dimensions.


The Leiden University Buddhist Studies Network

A virtual meeting place, open to all (prospective) Buddhist Studies students and staff of Leiden University. A great place to get connected and stay in the loop.

Cambridge Shahnama Project

This site brings you a comprehensive collection of manuscripts of the Shahnama, the Persian epic 'Book of Kings', completed by the poet Firdausi in AD 1010, together with a display of the miniature paintings in each one.

Research Consortium Eurasia

In order to advance the study of the post-Soviet area (Eurasia), specialists on the region from Cambridge University, the University of Bremen, and Leiden University have formed a research consortium in 2013.

The initial aim of the consortium is to organize three workshops. The first workshop, on the concept of ‘Eurasianism’, took place at Cambridge University in January 2014. A second workshop will take place in on 11-12 July 2014 at the University of Bremen, on political competition between Europe and Russia in the Eurasian region. The third workshop is scheduled to take place at Leiden University in February 2015.The Leiden workshop will discuss current political developments in the countries of Central Asia, with a focus on the historical dimension of political change in the region.

The consortium considers further collaborative efforts, which may include future applications for European grants. Considering that Leiden University is home to a broad range of specialists on the Eurasia region (including historians, cultural researchers, and social scientists), we are interested in exploring opportunities for collaboration towards the organization of the third consortium workshop. In order to bridge the gap between different disciplines, we suggest to focus at our third workshop on the impact of historical legacies on contemporary developments in the region. We are open to suggestions.

André Gerrits
Max Bader
Russian Studies / International Studies

The Oyu Tolgoi mine

Prof. dr. Willem Willems was recently involved in the publication of a report concerning cultural heritage in the southern Gobi desert. A heritage plan is developed within a large project around the exploitation of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, one of the world's largest undeveloped copper-gold resources. A heritage program is one of the means to respect the significance of the rich cultural heritage of local communities that have traditional ownership of, historical connections to, and cultural traditions associated with the region in which our operations are located.

The aims are to minimise, mitigate, understand and manage cultural heritage impacts through the development and implementation of a Cultural Heritage programme. The program identifies sites of historic/ archaeological importance, material objects, artistic traditions, spiritual practices, knowledge and oral histories, strategies related to using natural resources and maintaining livelihood. The program encompasses intangible elements of culture such as values, perspectives, and aspects of individual/ group identity.

Click here for more details

Buddhism and Social Justice

The NWO project ‘Buddhism and Social Justice’ explores key aspects of the historical roots and present-day situations of Buddhism and historically Buddhist societies in Asia through the lens of social justice, precisely through questions of the relation between Buddhist ideas and ideals on the one hand, and the realities we discover in Buddhist societies on the other.

Eurasion Empires

What holds people together, what makes them willing to fit within larger political structures? Our project looks at answers provided by the practices of dynastic rulership in Eurasian empires ca. 1300-1800. These loose structures accommodated numerous groups under their rule and some showed remarkable resilience over time. We study patterns of compliance and resistance, mostly from the perspective of the dynastic centre. In the process, we reassess age-old images of Asia and Europe. While we focus on the key question of integration and identity, our project also takes into account the global connections and conjunctures increasingly manifest from the thirteenth century onwards.
See also: Eurasion Empires

Last Modified: 26-03-2014