Research news

New Book | Hajj: Global Interactions through Pilgrimage

Every year, in the last month of the Islamic calendar, millions of Muslims from around the world come together in Mecca to perform the Hajj, the pilgrimage that all capable Muslims should perform at least once in their lives. In 2013, the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden organised the exhibition Longing for Mecca. The Pilgrim’s Journey. The chapters in this volume are the outcome of the two-day symposium on the Hajj, which was held at the museum in connection to the exhibition.


Questions surrounding China’s political history

Has the Chinese Empire always been, as is claimed, truly a single nation since its foundation? Leiden Professor of Chinese History Hilde de Weerdt will devote her inaugural lecture on Friday 7 November to this question, that remains a sensitive issue in China to this day.


Using an ERC grant to study languages with beans and millet

Japanologist and linguist Martine Robbeets is going to use her newly acquired ERC Consolidator Grant to study the origins and spread of Trans-Eurasian languages, which include Japanese and Turkish. With it, she’s tackling one of the most controversial subjects in language history.


Is the mining industry the route to influence North Korea?

North Korean detention camps are no different from Nazi prison camps. But as long as the country remains economically isolated, international criticism will be ineffective, writes North Korea expert Remco Breuker in the opinion section of Dutch newspaper NRC on 21 February. Breuker advocates using the mining industry to gain influence.  


Asiascape: Digital Asia

The academic journal 'Asiascape: Digital Asia' is now out and Brill offers open access to individual users until the end of 2015.


Review of the Asiascape: Digital Asia Conference 2014

Like any interdisciplinary endeavour, studying digital communication in Asia can be challenging: not only does such work have to convince area specialists, it also has to connect with research across different disciplines, such as anthropology, economics, political science, media studies, or the computer sciences. Florian Schneider on the The Digital Turn in Asian Studies.


NWO Free Competition Grant for Al-Jallad and Akkermans

Dr. Ahmad Al-Jallad and Prof.dr. Peter Akkermans have been awarded with the NWO Free Competition Grant for their researchproject 'Landscapes of Survival: Pastoralist Societies, Rock Art and Literacy in Jordan's Black Desert, c. 1000 BC to 500 AD'. Together, they research settlements, burials and inscriptions.


Regime Change, Democracy and Islam | The Case of Indonesia

The IRP Jakarta research project is executed by the Training Indonesia Young Leaders Programme, which forms part of the Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS). The project started in 2010 and was completed in December 2012 and aims to analyze religious trends in contemporary Indonesian society specifically looking at developments related to the role of Islam in political, cultural and socio-legal contexts. The first research theme is Sharia-based legislation in Indonesia, focusing on a comparison between international treaties and local practice with regard to the position of women and children. The second theme is developments related to Islam in Aceh. The third theme studies developments within organizations and parties with Islam as their basis, focusing on the impact of Muslim organizations and the ulama group on political parties.


What soy sauce can teach us about the history of South Korea

‘Three books published within a year – that happens only once in a lifetime!’ This was the reaction of Katarzyna Cwiertka, Professor of Modern Japan Studies at Leiden University, on the publication of Cuisine, Colonialism and Cold War, one of her three new books. The book sketches the colonisation of Korea by Japan, through the medium of food.


VICI winner Cwiertka: ‘I am contrary by nature’

Katarzyna Cwiertka, Leiden Professor of Modern Japan Studies, was already the recipient of a VENI and a VIDI grant. Now she has also been granted a VICI, worth 1.5 million euro, for her research project Garbage Matters: A Comparative History of Waste in East Asia . ‘I want to do something that hasn’t been done before.’


The Great Umar Khayyam

No medieval non-European was as influential on western poetry as the Persian poet, philosopher, and mathematician Umar Khayyam (1048 - 1131). Asghar Seyed-Gohrab, senior lecturer in Persian language and literature, published 'The Great Umar Khayyam', discussing the reception of Khayyam's 'Rubaiyat'.


New Kikkoman chair

The Kikkoman Chair for the study of Asia-Europe intercultural dynamics, with special attention to material culture, art and human development, is being funded by the Kikkoman Foundation and Society of the Friends of Asian Art (Vereniging van Vrienden van de Aziatische Kunst).