Research projects

Research projects of the School of Asian Studies.

Reasoning using anecdotes

Duration: 3 years
Nature: NWO Veni
Project leader: Paul van Els

Abstract: Thinkers in Ancient China who wanted to influence those in power, often referred to events from the past. Historic anecdotes were consequently remarkably important in political-philosophical argumentation. This research studies the rhetorical function and cultural significance of such anecdotes. 

Warrior Ethics in Japan – Bushidô as intellectual history

Duration: 2 years
Nature: NWO
Project members: Goto-Jones

This projects aims to provide an intellectual history of the field of ‘bushidô’ (warrior ethics) in Japan, with a focus on modern Japan, and with a comparative orientation.  It aspires to produce a second, more explicitly comparative project on warrior ethics East & West.

Asiascape – Contemporary East Asia Media Centre

Duration: 3 years
Nature: NWO (Internationalization) and IIAS and Toshiba International Foundation
Project members: Chris Goto-Jones, Ivo Smits, Kasia Cwiertka (Leiden); Thomas Lamarre (McGill); Susan Napier (Tufts); Lockyer (SOAS); Williams (Leeds); Takayuki (Keio)

 This project aims to create a research hub for the study of East Asian technoculture, particularly with a focus on politics and philosophy.  It is explicitly engaged in building an international network to organise this new field and to place Leiden at its hub.

European Academic Network in Modern Japan Studies

Duration: 3 years
Nature: Japan Foundation
Project members: Goto-Jones (Leiden); Hook (Sheffield); Williams (Leeds); Waldenburger (Munich)

This project is designed to conduct a survey of the ‘state of the field’ in modern Japan Studies in Europe, to highlight areas in need of further investment, and to build new networked institutions (on a European basis) to meet those needs.

Beyond Utopia – New Politics, the Politics of Knowledge, and the Science Fictional Field of Japan

Duration: 2009-2014
Nature: NWO Vici
Project leader: Chris Goto-Jones
Project members: Goto-Jones plus 3 AiOs and 2 Post-docs (plus additional AiO, funded by IIAS)

Recognizing that, since the end of the Cold War, political theorists around the world have embarked upon a deliberate quest for difference and innovation in their discipline, triggered by the apparently ‘world historic’ victory of liberal capitalism, this project aims to uncover a series of sites of difference and innovation.  In particular, it locates itself in two kinds of distancing: geo-cultural (ie. in the non-European space of Japan) and medial (ie. in innovative expressive media).  Utilizing the ‘techno-media’ of anime, manga and videogames, and focusing on the radical potentials of the genre of speculative science fiction, this project aims to analyze and model a series of political visions as potential alternatives to liberal capitalism, hence contributing to the field of political thought.

Furthermore, acknowledging that these widely popular techno-medial products utilize different grammars of expression from conventional, text-based media, this project seeks to formulate a research methodology for scholars to employ for critical interventions into these fields.  Accepting that the dimensions of the public sphere change with time and technological developments, and hypothesizing that the public sphere in many contemporary societies is now informed by this techno-politics, at stake is the ability of scholars to remain in touch with (and persuasive in) political realities: new forms of literacy are required if scholars seek to remain involved in the new public sphere.  This project attempts to outline those forms of literacy, as implied by the rapidly globalizing force of Japanese anime, manga and videogames.

Early-modern, intellectual confrontations with ‘commercial society’

Duration: 2 years
Nature: NWO (Rubicon)
Project members: Goto-Jones ( Leiden) David Mervart (Tokyo)

Abstract: “My main interest is the history of 18th-century intellectual confrontation with the workings of countrywide and global markets, or the rise of the “commercial society”, and its moral and political consequences. From this perspective, I have tried to bring together the enquiries into the history of thought of early modern Japan and Europe. That is potentially a vast project and my current dissertation can at best lay the groundwork for more exploration. I believe such comparative perspective not only furthers our understanding of things Japanese and Asian and renders it more relevant, but significantly contributes to the fields of history of political ideas and intellectual history in general. It also provides an insight into one important phase of the ongoing story of the complex relations between one particular set of political notions, which originated at the western tip of Eurasia and with the global modernity gradually embraced the whole planet, and other political discourses which remained local, often despite their high sophistication and universalist appeal.” (Mervart)

Modern East Asia Research Centre (MEARC)

Duration: 3 years initially (2006-2008) - extended till at least end 2009
Nature: LU Board of Directors through Faculty of Humanities
Project leader: Goto-Jones ( Leiden), A. Schneider (Leiden)

Abstract: The aim of MEARC is to become the European hub of genuinely disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research on East Asia, in order to build bridges between the so-called ‘Area Studies’ and conventional disciplines such as Politics, History and Philosophy. It will achieve this through (support of) lectures, workshops, conferences, and publication of peer-reviewed books and articles and by the provision of research grants.

Taiwan in Comparative East Asian Perspective

Duration: 3 years (2007-2009)
Nature: BICER, Ministry of Education, Taiwan
Project leader: MEARC directors (Goto-Jones & Schneider)

Abstract: This project, linked directly to MEARC, is designed to support, showcase and stimulate comparative research in the disciplines of politics, history and philosophy on Taiwan since the beginning of the nineteenth century till today.

In Search of the Japanese Family: Modernity, Social Change, and Women's Lives in Contemporary Japan

Duration: January-December 2009
Nature: NWO Replacement (Vervangings) Subsidy
Project leader: Mw.Dr. Aya Ezawa

Abstract: This book project explores the changing dynamics of marriage and family life in postwar Japan based on an examination of the life histories of single mothers. Using an interdisciplinary approach, my project seeks to contribute to an understanding of the processes which have shaped family life in twentieth century Japan, and thereby extend existing theories of the modern family. To explore these processes, my analysis relies on life history interviews I conducted with divorced and unmarried single mothers in Tokyo.

Single mothers provide unique insight into the changing dynamics of family life in Japan, as women who have to the most part directly experienced marriage and the normative ideal of family as married wives and mothers, but who have also been marginalized by the same ideal as single mothers. Their stories allow us to see the pressures women face in getting married and becoming a mother, and how women's lives are shaped by family norms. Their personal experiences and perspectives also allow insight into the ways in which women respond to, resist and reinterpret the meaning of family in contemporary Japan.

In examining both the character and operation of family norms, as well as their negotiation in everyday life, I hope to contribute to an understanding of the complex interactions between family, modernity and social change in contemporary Japan.

Sustaining Total War: Militarisation, Economic Mobilisation and Social Change in Japan and Korea (1931-1953)

Duration: 2008-2013
Nature: NWO Vidi
Project leader: Kasia Cwiertka
Project members: -

Abstract: This project deals with the question as to how the Asian-Pacific War (1931-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953) influenced the Japanese and Korean societies, by studying the production, distribution, preparing and consumption of food during these periods, assuming that changes in these processes also brought about changes in the social environment.

Reconceptualizing Northeast Asia: World History through the Lens of Koryo and the Liao

Duration: Start in 2008
Nature: NWO Veni
Project leader: Remco Breuker

Historical Consciousness and the Future of Modern China and Japan: Conservatism, Revisionism, and National Identity

Duration: ~2009
Nature: NWO Vici
Project leader: Axel Schneider and Rikki Kersten
Project members: The principal researchers are Prof. dr. Rikki Kersten and Prof. dr. Axel Schneider. They lead a team of comparative scholars, including three Ph.D candidates and two postdoctoral researchers

Abstract: This project seeks to deliver a study of the conservative and revisionist reinterpretation of tradition and its impact on the creation of national and political identity in modern China and Japan. It is a comparative study, and as such, one that promises to enhance our knowledge not only of historical thought and ideas about history in these two countries, but also, how thinking in each country about the past has influenced that phenomenon in the other country. The main outcome will be a monograph on Historical Consciousness in Modern China and Japan, co-authored by the principle researchers. In addition to the workshop and conference proceedings, there will be three PhDs (from the AIOs) and two draft monographs (from the Postdocs). The most exciting outcome will be the development of a cohort of comparative scholars, who are able to engage in the comparative study of modern China and modern Japan.

Culture, Identity, and History: The Critical Review and Conservatism in Modern China, 1922-1933

Nature: NWO Bezoekersbeurs
Project leader: Axel Schneider
Project members: Kuo Ya-pei (affiliated with IIAS)

The Political Economy of Rent Seeking and Economic Privilege in China

Duration: 3 years, since 1 March 2006 (still ongoing due to some delays because of the Sichuan earthquake and Beijing olympics)
Nature: KNAW China Exchange Programme
Project leader: Tak-Wing Ngo  (also member of the "KNAW Coordinating Committee for Scientific and Educational Exchanges with China" since 2004; and a member of the Scientific Evaluation Committee of NWO-KNAW CO-REACH (Social Science Collaborative Research Programme between Europe and China) programme)
Project members: Yi-wen Cheng, Song Chunli (Dutch members); Wu Yongping (Chinese leader), Yin Cunyi, Chen Yilin, Jin Biao, Zhang Lin (Chinese members)

Abstract: The project seeks to study rent seeking practices in present day China. We ask what kinds of institutional and structural factors that create rent and thereafter give rise to widespread rent seeking. We hypothesise that rent seeking is shaped by state configuration, government-business relations, industrial structure, and social ordering of exchange. Five industries are selected in several localities for comparison purpose. This is the first cross-industry study undertaken to categorise the socio-political parameters which determine rent seeking practices in China.

Comparative research on Regulatory law Enforcement in China and the EU

Duration: 2009-2011
Nature: NWO/KNAW EU Co-Reach Programme
Project leader: Benjamin van Rooij (Leiden), Zhou Hanhua (CASS, Bridget Hutter (LSE)
Project members: Benjamin van Rooij (Leiden), Zhou Hanhua (CASS, Bridget Hutter (LSE)

Abstract: The research will focus on a comparative analysis of regulatory enforcement in China, the Netherlands and the UK. It aims to understand two questions: 1 How can European theories and experiences with regulatory law enforcement be adapted and used to contribute to analyze and improve regulatory law enforcement in China? 2 What are the implications of Chinese experiences with regulatory enforcement for current regulatory theory that is largely based on Western case studies?

Citizens’ Perceptions of Rural Industrial Pollution and Its Effects on Health

Duration: 2009
Nature: US Social Science Research Council
Project leader: Zhang Yiyun (YDRA)
Project members: Anna Lora Wainwright ( Oxford), Wang Qiliang (Yunnan University) Benjamin van Rooij (Leiden)

Abstract: This project examines how rural citizens’ perceptions of the effects of industrial pollution on their health affect their responses to such pollution. The study is carried out through fieldwork in rural Yunnan continuing earlier work there on state pollution enforcement.

Chinese Views of Europe

Duration: March 2009 - February 2012
Nature: 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission (FP-7)
Project members: Principle Investigator: Zhengxu Wang (University of Nottingham); Co-PIs: Daniela Stockmann, (Department of Political Science, Leiden), Christian Welzel (Jakobs University Bremen), Lisheng Dong (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Long Sun (Renmin University of China), Gareth Price (The Royal Institute of International Affairs).

Abstract: In 2007, China overtook Germany as the world’s largest exporter. Its trade surplus with the EU is rising at $20 million an hour. China makes up one-third of the annual increase in world oil demand, and emits the most greenhouse gases. Engaging a rapidly rising China is a great challenge for the EU. To do this more effectively, the EU needs a comprehensive understanding of China, especially of how the EU and its China initiatives and strategies are perceived in China itself. Through surveys, interviews, and focus groups, this study looks into how the EU is perceived by the Chinese general public, government officials, intellectuals, business and civil society. It will produce a comprehensive picture of how Chinese people see the EU: how China views its opportunities and challenges in dealing with the EU, how different government agencies view the EU, how government views differ from those of business and civil society, and how opinion in Beijing differs from that in the provinces.

Advertising Politics: Rationales, Content, and Effects of Public Service Advertising in the Chinese Media

Duration: July 2008 - June 2011
Nature: KNAW joint research project, China Exchange Programme"
Project members: Daniela Stockmann (Department of Political Science, Leiden), Liu Linqing (Advertising School, Communication University of China, Zhang Jie (Center for Strategic Research, Communication University of China); application in progress to add the following researchers: Stefan Landsberger (Sinological Institute, Leiden), Ashley Esarey (Fairbank Center, Harvard University).

Abstract: Public service advertising did not exist in China until only recently. During the reform era the Chinese state has modernized the way in which politics is communicated to citizens. Today, the government focuses on public service advertising on television to actively shape people‘s attitudes and behavior on such issues as environmental protection and legal reform. More broadly, public service advertising is aimed at holding an increasingly diverse and fragmented society together. This joint research project relies on multiple methods to study the policy rationale behind public service advertising, its production and content, as well as its societal effects.  As the first systematic study of the trend towards public service advertising in the Chinese media this research contributes to our understanding of the relationship between the Chinese state and society and has practical implications for its further development in China.

Drawing Modernity: the Role of French Academic Training and the Parisian Experience in the Practice of Chinese Modern Painting

Duration: 2009-2010
Nature: Hulséwe-Wazsnieski Foundation
Project members: Francesca Dal Lago

Abstract: The project focuses on the completion of a manuscript resulting from previous research. The manuscript researches the conditions and processes that allowed Academic Realism and Western style painting, particularly oil painting, to be introduced to China during the early decades of the 20th century. It discusses the major centers of artistic education (Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing) and their connections with Paris through the figures of several major artists and art educators. More specifically, the project analyses the intellectual conditions that generated the need and facilitated the possibilty for realist painting practice to be adopted as a major constitutent of the modern  curriculum of Chinese artistic education.

The Performance of Identity in Chinese Popular Music

Duration: 2005-2009
Nature: Hulsewé-Wazniewski Foundation
Project leader: Maghiel van Crevel
Project members: Jeroen Groenewegen

Abstract: Investigation of the performance of identity in contemporary Cantonese and Mandarin pop, sinified rock and Chinese urban folk music.

Wandering Saints: Chan Eccentrics in the Art of the Song and Yuan China

Duration: 2004-2009
Nature: NWO Mozaïek PhD grant
Project leader: Oliver Moore and Maghiel van Crevel
Project members: Paramita Paul

Abstract: An investigation of visual portraiture and other art forms in Chan (Zen) Buddhism, with reference to the broader discourse on Chinese figure painting and Chinese art and visual culture in general.

Elites and their children. A study in the historical anthropology of medieval China, 500-1000 AD.

Duration: 2004-2009
Nature: Chiang-ching Kuo Foundation, Center of Chinese Studies
Project leader: Barend ter Haar and Oliver Moore
Project members: Annika Pissin

Abstract: An analysis of children's life in as it was depicted by male elite authors between 500 and 1000 AD in China.

History as social process: Unconventional historiographies of Korea

Duration: 2009-2014
Nature: Academy of Koren Studies
Project leader: Boudewijn Walraven
Project members: Boudewijn Walraven de Ceuster, Breuker 2 PhD candidates, 1 postdoc

Abstract: The project researches historical representations of history, created not only by professional historians but also by novelist, media, etc., both “high” and “low history”.

The Three Pillars of Bon’: Doctrine, ‘Location’ & Founder—Historiographical Strategies and their Contexts in Bon Religious Historical Literature.

Duration: January 2005 ~ January 2010
Nature: NWO Vidi
Project leader: Henk Blezer

Abstract: The aim of the proposed project is to understand the process of formation of Bon religious identity in Tibet at the turn of the first millennium AD. The process is defined by the presence in the area of rather successfully competing Buddhist sects, at a time when these started to arise and Tibetan Buddhism was undergoing a renaissance. The main working hypotheses are that Bon religion contrary to its claims to high antiquity, traced its sectarian contours no earlier than the 10th–11th c. AD and that imprints of that crucial formative period in Tibetan religious history are visible in its historical narratives. Based on historical philological methods, tools are developed for analysing religious historical narratives, both engaging history of ideas and submitting it to systematic reflection.

Through examination of the three main ‘pillars’ of Bon identity—doctrine (earlier project), ‘location’ of origin, and founder—in the light of the lacunal and paradoxical nature of Bon history, this project intends to contribute toward a deeper analytical understanding of the process of construction of Bon religious historical identity. Investigated are: the creation of the myth of the Zhang zhung Empire of the Bon po-s (the Zhang zhung royal myth and the ‘location’ of Zhang zhung culture) and the development of the myth of the founder of Bon, Ston pa gShen rab(s) mi bo. The project will result in a series of three books, each covering one pillar of Bon (one pertains to an earlier project) and an edited volume based on papers at an international workshop, which will have substantial input from the disciplines covered by the visiting fellows. The project will make a significant contribution toward putting Bon and Bon Zhang zhung indelibly on the academic map and future research agendas and toward opening the topic to a wider audience.

State and economy in modern Indonesia's change of regimes

Nature: NWO
Project members: Dr. J.Th. Lindblad, Prof. Leonard Blussé, 2 AIOs, international advisors

Abstract: This research programme focuses on key changes of regime in Indonesia during the twnetieth century, the construction of the late colonial state and the process of decolonization. It consists of two PhD research projects concerning respecitvely 'State performance and political culture in Indonesia' and 'The political economy of transition in Indonesia', both covering the period 1910s-1960. The output will consist of two PhD dissertations and the proceedings of an international conference to be held in 2011.

Economics, politics and culture in post-Independence Indonesia

Duration: Oct. 2007 - Oct. 2010
Nature: N.W.O. + ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project members: Participants: Dr. J.Th. Lindblad ( Leiden), Prof. Robert Cribb (Australian National University, Canberra), Prof. Bambang Purwanto (Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta)

Abstract: This project examines economic, political and social stresses in Indonesia immediately after the end of the independence struggle, in particular the 1950s. Plans embrace three international conferences in respectively Leiden (2008), Yogyakarta (2009) and Canberra (2010) as well as the construction of a website

Becoming a nation of readers in East Timor: Language policy and adult literacy development in a multilingual context (Also at LUCL)

Duration: 2009-2012
Nature: NWO integrated programmes
Project members: Tilburg University: Danielle Boon,Estevão Cabral, Edegar da Conceição Savio, Sjaak Kroon, Jeanne Kurvers ; Leiden University: Aone van Engelenhoven; Birmingham University:Marylin Martin-Jones; Universidade National de Timor-Leste: Benjamim de Ajaúro e Côrte-Real

Abstract: Literacy development in East-Timor, taking into account the country’s language and literacy policies.

Documentation and Archiving oral Traditions: Research and Interdisciplinary Approaches (Also at LUCL)

Duration: 2009-2011
Project members: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:Yin hubin; Finish Literature Society: Lauri Harvilahti; Leiden University: Aone van Engelenhoven

Abstract: Beijing/Helsinki/Leiden cooperation on oral traditions.

Cultural Negotiation as Core Heritage in Timor-Leste Project (Also at LUCL)

Duration: 2006-2010
Nature: Fundação Para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
Project members: Universidade Fernando Pessoa: Paulo Castro Seixas; Leiden University: Aone van Engelenhoven; Universidade de Brasília: Kelly C. Silva; Universidade de  Paz: Dionísio Babó Soares

Abstract: Translation as a core element in the cultures of East Timor.

Fataluku Bible Translation Project (Also at LUCL)

Duration: 2005-2010 (new application pending)
Nature: United Bible Societies
Project members: Leiden university: Aone van Engelenhoven; United Bible Societies: Stephen Pattemore

Abstract: Bible translation in Fataluku and Fataluku literacy

Alor-Pantar languages: origins and theoretical impact (Also at LUCL)

Duration: 2009-2012
Nature: ESF Eurocores program (EuroBabel) (contribution by NWO 215,000; contribution by AHRC 485,000; contribution by NSF 235,000)
Project members: Leiden Individual project: M. Klamer (Project leader) & 1 postdoc (to be assigned) (contribution by NWO 215,000); Surrey Individual project: Prof. G. Corbett, dr. D. Brown, & 1 postdoc (to be assigned) (contribution by AHRC 485,000); Alaska Individual project: Dr. Gary Holton & 1 postdoc (to be assigned) (contribution by NSF 235,000)

Abstract: Nog maar kort geleden hoorden de 15-20 talen van Alor en Pantar in Zuidoost Indonesie tot de minst bekende ter wereld, en alle worden ze met uitsterven bedreigd. Intensief veldwerkonderzoek gedurende de afgelopen jaren (o.a. binnen het NWO project Linguistic variation in Eastern Indonesia: The Alor and Pantar project) bracht een rijkdom aan nieuwe gegevens aan het licht. Het EuroBabel Collaborative Research Project Alor-Pantar bouwt hierop voort en onderzoekt de implicaties voor de genetische classificatie van deze talen, de migratiepatronen van sprekers, en de morfosyntactische en semantische typologie. Het project heeft een totaal budget van E 935.000

Linguistic Variation in Eastern Indonesia: The Alor and Pantar project (Also at LUCL)

Duration: 2002-2008
Nature: NWO Vernieuwingsimpuls
Project members: Dr M. Klamer, Dr. L. Baird, Drs. F. Kratochvil (defended his PhD in 2007 and is thus now Dr.)

Abstract: The research in this project concerns an initial survey of the linguistic situation on the islands Alor and Pantar where an estimated 15-20 languages are spoken, as well as in-depth description of four of these languages: Abui, Teiwa, Alorese, and Klon. In this project we combine the urgent need to document these languages with a comparative and theoretical analysis of a specific set of their structural characteristics. The cross-linguistic comparisons will have a genetic, areal, as well as a typological angle. The project has a budget of E 650,000.

Last Modified: 09-12-2015