Cultivating the Humanities and Social Sciences and Supporting Under-represented Scholars of Asia: Sweden Awards the Association for Asian Studies $2.68 Million

With support from Sweden, the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) will coordinate a new $2.68-million project to support scholars located in economically disadvantaged regions of South and Southeast Asia. The project will focus on support for scholars from conflict areas and post-conflict countries, and particularly on junior faculty, graduate students, senior and independent scholars, women, and ethnic minority groups.

“Cultivating the Humanities and Social Sciences and Supporting Under-represented Scholars of Asia” is a four-year transnational initiative that will enhance the research capabilities of scholars and universities in select South and Southeast Asian countries to help reduce the vulnerabilities of low and lower-middle income countries in the region. The grant to AAS is part of Sweden’s regional development cooperation in low income countries and regions of Asia to support local research and research capacities of relevance for poverty reduction and sustainable and inclusive societies.

This collaborative endeavor will pursue its objectives through cooperation, exchange, and the creation of a “network of networks” centered on four main partners located in different parts of the region. These include two universities in Southeast Asia (Thailand and Cambodia) and two in South Asia (India and Pakistan). In South Asia, AAS will be working with the Faculty of Humanities at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) in India and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). In Southeast Asia AAS will be working with The Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD) at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Chiang Mai University and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at The Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP).

The four partners will function as the project’s “regional hubs” to help identify and build the capacity of other, under-resourced universities that are located away from the largest cities in their respective region. In addition, the AAS will work with an East-Timorese institutional partner to continue fostering the field of Timor-Leste studies.

“At AAS, we have been expanding our links with scholarly communities in Asia through collaboration and academic exchange, notably the AAS-in-Asia Conference. The new award from Sweden allows AAS to further expand its goals of reciprocally working with and learning from universities in South and Southeast Asia,” said Kamran Asdar Ali, AAS President. “The project’s spirit is inclusive and democratic and it will focus on supporting scholars from disadvantaged regions and from marginalized and minority communities.”

This project has four components directed to enhancing individual and institutional research capacity:

  • Short- and longer-term research grants, including graduate student awards and fellowships for Scholars in Residence for members of under-represented and vulnerable groups;
  • Research capacity-building for scholars located in conflict and post-conflict affected countries;
  • AAS-in-Asia Conferences and transregional workshops;
  • Special academic publications.

According to AAS Executive Director Hilary Finchum-Sung, “this project aligns with the AAS strategic planning project, which includes development of global initiatives aimed at building stronger connections with and support for global communities of Asianists. This timely funding from Sweden facilitates the accomplishments of these strategic goals.”

Further information about research grants, fellowships and awards will be available mid-year when applications open.