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Aki Tonami at the ISA Asia-Pacific conference in Hong Kong

This conference, hosted by the Asia-Pacific Region of the International Studies Association, will investigate the ways in which IR (as both practice and theory) is being transformed in the Asia-Pacific.

The rise to political and economic prominence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and India, along with other members of the BRICS, has constituted a powerful challenge to the dominance of Western powers and ideas in world politics. However, both Asian superpowers - like Japan and the East Asian ‘Tiger’ economies before them - have as yet been unable to re-shape International Relations (IR) theory and practice. The rise of Asia more generally has led to a proliferation of national schools of IR (such as the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Indian) which have attempted to challenge the hegemony of Western ideas and theories in the discipline yet have left the traditional ontology of IR intact. The region is also characterised by a complex of people-centred non-traditional insecurities and vulnerabilities including human insecurities, people movements, environmental degradation, the politics of identity and democratisation which together challenge orthodox state and market centric approaches to the study and practice of International Relations.

Aki Tonami will be a chair/presenter at the panel “Asia at the poles”.

Chair Aki Tonami (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen)
Disc. Elizabeth Wishnick (Montclair State University)

  • Asia and the Antarctic Regime Complex, Marcus Haward (University of Tasmania)
  • Japan’s Achilles heel? Japan’s Polar engagement and the role of scientific whaling, Aki Tonami (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen)
  • The rise of China in the Arctic? Domestic motives, actors and international context, Martin Kossa (City University of Hong Kong)

For more on the conference please click here

Asia in Focus Issue 3 is out!

We are pleased to announce that Issue 3 of Asia in Focus is out!  Geographically we cover China, Japan and India this time. The content embraces diverse analytical frameworks that have not been taken up in previous issues such as literary analysis and analysis of popular culture, film and media. We also offer a unique insight into the classroom and teaching practices in China and address the opportunities and challenge of using humour in international professional settings.

For the first time we include two book reviews and we look forward to receiving more proposals for future issues. On that note, we shall shortly be presenting recent titles from NIAS press our website, which we invite early career scholars to review, and submit their review for prospective publication in Asia in Focus.

You will notice a new layout, design and logo which we thought fitting to mark the progress of the journal which now has an International Standard Serial Number. We now also have an effective blind peer-review process. All of these developments are good for the journal and good for the authors we publish.

Call for articles for Asia in Focus, Issue 4

Friday, August 5, 2016
Asia in Focus is a Nordic journal on Asia published by NIAS - Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and is freely available online. 
We kindly invite Master students and Ph.D. students from the humanities and social sciences, who are affiliated to a Nordic institution, to submit an academic essay, academic article, or a book review on a subject involving one or more Asian countries (from Central Asia to Oceania, excluding Australia and New Zealand) for Issue 3. 
We welcome article submissions all year round. 
More detailed information can be found in the attached Call for Articles and on the journal website Please feel free to share the announcement with your colleagues, students, departments and networks.
Important Dates for publication in Issue 4
Deadline for submission: 5 August, 2016
Publication date: 19 December, 2016
For further enquiries, email the Editorial Team at

We Welcome Two New SUPRA Students at NIAS!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Olga Medvedeva, University of Bergen, is working on her PhD;

'Internationalisation of China in transnational perspective: prosopographical study on Norwegian employees of China’s Customs Service, 1890-1927.’

The ambition of my study is to show how the life stories of 279 representatives of a small nation like Norway can broaden the view on the customs history and reveal the complexity of the foreign presence in China during the late 19th – early 20th centuries.



Gaoming Zheng is a doctoral candidate at the Higher Education Group (HEG), School of Management, University of Tampere, Finland.

Currently she is working on her doctoral research on quality assurance of doctoral education collaboration between Europe and China. She is also involved in ‘EU-China Doctoral Education Project’, funded by European Union, and ‘Quality assurance of Finnish-Chinese Educational Collaboration Project’, funded by the CIMO (The Centre for International Mobility of Finland).


Annual Meeting of the European Alliance for Asian Studies

Last week, The European Alliance for Asian Studies (EA) held its annual meeting at the Institut d’Asia Orientale, University of Lyon. The Alliance is growing and being consolidated. Of the items discussed we agreed on finalizing an Alliance website, which has been designed and developed over the past year, with the aim of establishing an electronic meeting-space and information channel for Asian studies in Europe, more on this later. New at the meeting was a half day with short paper presentations, which gave us an impressive sample of current European scholarship on Asia.

Shanghai Forum 2016

Once again NIAS director Geir Helgesen, together with Chairman of the Board Lars Bo Kaspersen, and Chunrong Liu Executive Vice Director of the Fudan center are on their way to the Shanghai Forum, taking place on May 27 to 29. The Nordic region is moreover strongly represented by Dagfinn Høybråten of Nordic Coucil of Ministers (NCM).

NIAS is also joining a meeting between NCM and Trilateral Cooperation Committee (TCS) in Seoul, Korea, a cooperation organ between Japan, Korea and China. It is hoped that this second meeting between the two regional organizations will result in some form of formal agreement regarding region to region cooperation.

NIAS Administration

NIAS Project Coordinator/Centre Administrator Katrine Herold is back from maternity leave, welcome.
Natalie Wheeler, coming from a coordinator position at the Nordic Center Fudan, made up for the loss a whole year, before following in Katrine’s footsteps. “We” have produced two Nordic babies! Congratulation to the mothers. After Natalie two student assistants shared the job as NIAS’ outward face and voice, Camilla and Xenia, also thanks a lot to them. They will remain with us as student assistants.

We welcome two new SUPRA Students at NIAS!

The next two weeks we have the pleasure of welcoming Lasse and Karoline at NIAS.

Lasse Lehtonen

I'm a PhD candidate from the University of Helsinki and currently working on my thesis on the Japanese composer group Shinkō sakkyokuka renmei (active from 1930 to 1940). My research includes both cultural viewpoints as well as musical analysis and aims at shedding more light on a topic and musical world that is extremely interesting and versatile but rather rarely studied in the West.



Karoline Opåsen

I am currently working on my master's thesis in social anthropology at the University of Bergen and Christian Michelsen Institute. My thesis base on five months of fieldwork on the outskirts of Delhi, India, and is an ethnographic study of what may happen when a non-governmental organization intervenes in a complex, local reality to create change building on the concepts and ideology of waged work and “women empowerment.”


Seminar: Your smartphone kills workers in China

Friday, June 17, 2016 - 12:15 to 14:15

Your smartphone and many of your household items are produced in China. We all know this and we know that it is a consequence of globalisation - of companies from the global North, including Denmark, moving their production to China. We've come to know China as ‘the factory of the world’. But few are aware of the staggering numbers of workers employed in this factory – more than 270 million people! That is half the population EU. We know even less about their working conditions, their life aspirations, sorrows and joys. Nevertheless, we carry around and use on a daily basis the products that they produce.

This seminar – which mixes state-of–the–art research and insights from China's factory floors with readings of workers’ songs and poems – is concerned with the lives of workers in China and discusses how consumers in Denmark may relate to the life of people who produce our smartphones.

The seminar is free and open to the public. For logistical purposes, however, registration is required.

Register for 'Your smartphone kills workers in China' (deadline: June 15).

Questions? Martin Bech ( / +45 5130 2557).

See programme, abstracts of the presentations and short bios of the speakers/presenters in the attached document below:

We welcome two new SUPRA Students at NIAS!

Liisa Turunen, MA, University of Helsinki

Working title: "Japaneseness in the Variety TV Show Wafu Sohonke." 

Project description: In brief, the aim of my thesis is to find out what kind of image of Japaneseness does the variety TV show Wafu Sohonke create and with what means. Wafu Sohonke is a television series that focuses on different aspects of Japanese culture, and in my research I examine things such as national identity and nationalism.


Xi Yang, MA, University of Oslo

Project description: Xi Yang's master thesis aims to use the case of the car ownership restriction policy implementation variations in Chinese cities to illustrate the existence of a highly heterogenous implementation of the national policies at the subnational level in an authoritarian political system.

Based on intensive fieldwork in five research sites in urban China, a conceptual framework has been developed to analyse how the motivations, behaviours and mechanisms of local bureaucrats has been affected by political risk and interests generated by the Chinese political system. The research finds that policy implementation in autocracies at the local level can also be more dependent on the local leadership than the central leadership. Further, although the autonomy of the local states still exists, the degree of the local autonomy has been greatly reduced as more political pressures has been imposed upon local bureaucrats through party disciplines. In this light, the findings presents a complementary insights for the workings of the authoritarian environmentalism at the local level in China.