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Erling Agøy, Ph.D. candidate, University of Oslo.

Historical Climate Change in the Jiāngnán Region in the Late Míng and Early Qīng periods (1600-1700): Perceptions, Effects and Adaptation.

I am currently doing a Ph.D. researching on the human side of historical climate change, with a focus on the Jiāngnán region of Eastern China in the 17th century. This includes  the effect on climate change on society, how climate change was perceived by local societies and which measures were taken to counter it. I will approach this topic through the use of contemporary historical sources, and especially local gazetteers. My Ph.D. is a part of the research project Airborne at the University of Oslo. 

My background is in Chinese and East Asian studies at the University of Oslo, including exchange programs in China and Taiwan and a traineeship at the Norwegian Embassy in Beijing. My MA thesis focused on Chinese perceptions of foreigners in a historical perspective. I am confident that that my stay at NIAS, including consultations with researchers here and use of available resources, will be most beneficial to my Ph.D. project. ​


Cyrus Gearhart Sie, MA Student, University of Tampere

Perceptions of Peace and Renewed Conflict on the Korean Peninsula: Views from the Toronto-based community of North Korean defectors on Kim Jong-un’s Diplomacy

With wide-ranged interests spanning diverse subjects and experiences to match, Cyrus landed on a topic that threads all these aspects and ties them together. Taking his interests in international relations, security, and the movement and distribution of people and societies that he realized through his BA at the University of British Columbia, adding in his initial exposure to North Korean defectors at the One Young World Summit in Bangkok as well as his experience working first-hand as a service-provider to asylum-seekers and refugees in Malta, and combining them with his present MA Peace, Mediation and Conflict Resolution programme and additional credit in East Asian topics, Cyrus endeavours to make his contribution to the literature on North Korea. With the Hermit Kingdom being front and centre of the international news cycle but with little information available on it, interactions with the country is a lesson in trial and error. His thesis hopes to pull back some of the veil of mystery by interviewing members of the Toronto-based community of defectors from the regime and gathering their invaluable insight on the prospects of peace and renewed conflict with the regime of Kim Jong-un, using recent diplomatic events as data points.



Kaisa Tolvanen, MA Student, University of Tampere.

Tibetan Buddhism in Finland from 1970’s to 1980’s.

My name is Kaisa and I come from the University of Tampere, Finland. As a history MA student I am examine how Tibetan Buddhism come to Finland in 1970's. I ask what kind of mentality in society as well as individuals' lives allowed Buddhism to spread to Finland. My main sources are the interviews I have made but I am also looking at new papers and television programs from that time as well as people's own personal archives, such as photographs and diaries.    

I applied SURPA scholarship because Denmark plays a role in a scene - first Tibetan lamas come to Finland through Denmark.  Here in Copenhagen I have set a task to myself to get to know better one of these lamas, called Tarab Tulku.
I am also a mother of three children, so this opportunity to come here and have a peaceful time to write means a lot to me.

Yue song, MA Student, University of Oslo.

The Challenges and Potentials for the Revival of Cycling in China

I am currently doing my master in the Centre for development and environment at University of Oslo. I got my bachelor degree in Resources Environment and Management of urban and rural planning and minor in finance at Sun Yet-sen University, Guangzhou China. I am interested in sustainable city development and planning, especially sustainable transport system. I am greatly impressed by the recently bikeshare wave in China. Although bike sharing is not a new concept globally, what differs in China is its “dockless” operating system and the fierce market share competition among different companies. In my thesis, I want to explore: does contemporary popularity of sharebikes bring a possibility of the revival cycling in China? The potentials and challenges towards a more sustainable travelling practice.





Shubhomoy Haque, MA student, University of Gothenburg.

Human Rights or Hegemony? H&M’s Fair Living Wage Initiative and Workers’ Wage Concerns in Bangladesh Ready-made Garment Industry.

Shubhomoy Haque is attending the ‘Erasmus Mundus Human Rights Policy and Practice MA’ at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He also studied at the University of Roehampton in United Kingdom and at University of Deusto in Spain in the same programme. Previously, he worked at the ‘Programme, Policy and Campaigns’ unit of ActionAid in Bangladesh. Working within the civil society for the last five years, he has been involved in research and policy advocacy on labour rights and industrial governance issues in the garments and clothing industry in Bangladesh. ‘Business and human rights’ is the key area of his academic and professional interest. His research interest includes the issues of social movements, transnational advocacy networks and transnational labour solidarity, among others. His Master’s thesis is a qualitative research project which attempts to examine the relevance of H&M’s Fair Living Wage initiative to the worker’s wage concerns in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh, drawing on Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony.


Loan Pham, MA student, University of Gothenburg.

Land grabs for development projects and human rights’ implications on Vietnamese peasants.

I am currently studying for a Master’s degree in Human Rights Policy and Practice at the University of Gothenburg, University of Deusto and University of Roehampton in Sweden, Spain and the UK (Erasmus Mundus). My main fields of interest are workers and peasants’ rights.

My dissertation looks at the problem of a domestic land grabbing case in Vietnam: the expropriation of agricultural land from farmers for development purposes without sufficient compensation, which appears to serve the benefit of private investors and at the expense of rural communities. Land in Vietnam has become a de factor commodity to sell and buy in the market. However, it is still owned and managed under the state perception of collective ownership, which belongs to the whole people. This has created growing struggles and social unrests in Vietnam society. By looking through the human rights perspective, the thesis shall reveal impacts of agricultural land appropriation on the human rights enjoyment of Vietnamese peasants. Due to the lack of a specific international human rights of peasants in the current discourse, this thesis also discusses on what human right would be appropriate to protect farmers in the context of Vietnam.


SUPRA Nordic Scholarship for MA and PhD students Fall 2018

Thursday, April 12, 2018

If you are working on a MA or PhD thesis during Fall 2018 and need some inspiration, literature or simply just time to write on your thesis, then NIAS has something to offer: the Nordic Scholarship!

The Nordic Scholarship covers inexpensive travel to Copenhagen, two weeks board and accommodation plus a working place at NIAS! A perfect chance to concentrate on your thesis, have inspirational talks with our researchers or access material from Northern Europe's most comprehensive Asian studies library.

More information about SUPRA students' experiences at NIAS and practical information as well as application form.

NB: SUPRA scholarships are primarily for students from NNC member institutions.

Deadline for application: 1 June 2018

For more information, please contact



Yejee Choi, MA Student, University of Turku

Social Suffering and Memory Movement on South Korea’s Sewol Ferry Disaster

I am a master’s degree student at the Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku in Finland. I am interested in the Asian anthropology, which is deeply influenced by my lifetime spent in China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. Particularly, my interest is on the understanding of social memories, movements, and suffering in contemporary South Korea. I did my Bachelor’s at Waseda University and produced a thesis on the analysis of Sewol Ferry Disaster occurred in 2014. My master’s thesis also deals with the same topic, but through a different framework. It is based on my ethnographic fieldwork at the Gwanghwamun Yellow Ribbon Workshop, which is established by personal funds of South Korean citizens to remember about the disaster. I aim to explain how this space and citizenry movement can tell about collective experiences on and responses to post-disaster suffering. Also, the impact of the disaster on everyday life and subjectivity will be examined via participant observation at the workshop. I hope my research provides an alternative perspective on making sense of the disaster – through social and personal arenas of experience.


Diogo Da Silva, MA Student, Lund University

Strategic Narratives in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Dispute

I am currently in the final semester of my Masters at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies in Lund University. My bachelor degree was Chinese-Portuguese Translation, and as such I spent two years studying in Portugal, two years studying in China (one year in Macau, one year in Beijing). After graduating, I spent three years working in China as a Portuguese teacher in the Hainan Foreign Language College of Professional Education, and during that period I took the chance to visit most of East and Southeast Asia. I then began my Masters in Asian Studies in Lund University, and I spent roughly equal time focusing on China and Japan. I chose the Japanese Studies course for my second semester (plus one month doing field research in Tokyo's Waseda University), and I spent my third semester in an exchange program in China's Xiamen University.  In my thesis, I am making use of the concept of "strategic narratives" (which in the context of International Relations can be shortly described as the kind of narratives state and non-state actors form and project to advance a specific goal or a series of general goals) and analyzing their application in Sino-Japanese relations, specifically in the time period between August and October of 2012, when the Senkaku/Diaoyu territorial dispute between China and Japan escalated with the Japanese government's decision to officially nationalize the islands. For that purpose, I am doing a qualitative content analysis of the articles that four major Chinese and Japanese newspapers wrote in 2012 in regards to that dispute, hoping that the results will contribute to a better understanding of the nature of strategic narratives (particularly the way they are deployed in times of international conflict) as well as Sino-Japanese relations.



Nadine Plachta, PhD student, University of Bern.

Himalayan Borderland Communities: Identity, Belonging, and Place Among the Tsumpa

Nadine Plachta is a PhD student enrolled in the Global Studies Doctoral Program at the Graduate School of Humanities of the University of Bern in Switzerland. In her dissertation, she explores how the Tsumpa, a community of roughly 3000 in Nepal’s northern Gorkha District, strategically make us of identity and indigeneity for asserting group distinctiveness and recognition within the Nepalese state. The dissertation focuses on the lived experiences and historical narratives of members of the Tsum community that initially had formed in a state adverse place but have gradually been incorporated into the domains of Nepal through the nation-building processes of an expanding state power. By analyzing the interconnections of identity, belonging, and place from a bottom-up perspective, this dissertation delves into the practices in which the state is imposed, invoked, or ignored at its borderlands. It thus also reconsiders the notion of borderlands that are often thought of as provincial regions at the margins of states as centers on the periphery.

Loui Halse, Ma student, Lund University.

Racial stereotypes in Japan seen through popular cultural media.

I am a master student from the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University expected to finish my Masters thesis and graduate in June of 2018. My academic background consist of a bachelor degree from Copenhagen University where I studied one semester abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, which is where I started taking an interest in contemporary East Asian societies. Since then I have lived briefly in Asia on two other occasions; first in Taipei, Taiwan doing an internship at the Danish Trade Office and later in Tokyo, Japan collecting data for my thesis with the help of Prof. Toru Shinoda at Waseda University. In my thesis, I am using media semiotics to analyze contemporary Japanese cinema with the intention of finding out what they can tell us about how Japanese people perceive foreigners of Western origins. My interest in this topic comes from my own experience in East Asia where I sometimes have felt that I received preferential treatment due to my Caucasian appearance and by using recent movies I will try to document if such a positive bias do exist.  


Open Call: Asia in Focus is introducing Themed Sections








We are very pleased to share that Asia in Focus is introducing Themed Sections to the journal.
The idea is to devote part of an issue to a theme that highlights a singular cutting-edge research
problem or idea. Each Themed Section will have a Guest Editor who is an expert in the field.


  • Proposals for Themed Sections should include a brief statement (max 800 words) explaining the aims of the Themed Section
  • and its particular contribution to the journal.
  • A Themed Section should consist of 3 to 5 manuscripts of approximately 3500 words.
  • A Themed Section will be edited by a Guest Editor who holds a PhD (or equivalent) and is an expert in the field .
Review Process
  • The Guest Editor shall be responsible for selecting the manuscripts that will enter the standard Asia in Focus double-blind
  • peer review process.
  • The Asia in Focus Editorial Committee shall be responsible for selecting the peer reviewers and for managing the review
  • process. They may, where appropriate, consult the Guest Editor for suggestions of reviewers.
  • Manuscripts submitted for a Themed Section may be rejected, either with or without an invitation to resubmit.
  • The Guest Editor makes the final decision as to whether the manuscripts that have successfully gone through the review
  • process will be published in the Themed Section.
  • The Guest Editor should provide an introduction/guest editorial to introduce the overarching theme (max 1000 words).
  • In the event that fewer than 3 manuscripts are accepted, the manuscripts will not be published as a Themed Section and will
  • instead be published individually.
Nicol Foulkes Savinetti



Soumi Banerjee, MS Global Studies, Lund University, Sweden.
Gendering Nationalism: Construction of "self" and "other" in the narratives of Partition of India.

Soumi Banerjee from the Department of Global Studies, Lund University, is pursuing her final year of her Masters programme. She has previous experience of working as a Research assistant at the Department of Political science with the project on Crisis and Trauma: gender violence post-disaster in Pakistan, and currently she is working as a Teaching assistant in SASNET (South Asian Studies Network) in Lund University. She completed her bachelors with a major in Political science, from Presidency University, Kolkata, and in her bachelor’s project she did extensive study on the Indo-Pak Relations from a political discourse shaping identity relations. was For her master’s thesis, she is inspired by the Ontological security theory and will be exploring the origin of recent wave of Hindu nationalism in India through studying its post-colonial past in order to conceptualize the politics of hatred, emotions and memories of trauma as a device to reawaken race pride among the Hindus.



Netta Lagus, MA Student, East-Asian studies at Helsinki University.
North Korea's role in world politics and who has the right to own nuclear weapons.

I am a master student from Helsinki University, Finland, majoring in East-Asian Studies. I have a bachelor degree in Asian studies, have spent some time studying aboard (Japan) and done secondary studies in Cognitive Science and Strategy, which I studied in Finnish National Defence University. I am currently working on my thesis about North Korea's role in world politics, which is intertwined with the nuclear weapons issues these days. In my thesis, I try to find out how North Korea became such a country it is today, how other nations' pressure or aid have influenced its development, and what role nuclear weapons have played in this. 

New workplace students at NIAS

We are happy to welcome Anna Silvia Petrignano and Astrid Askehave Henriksen to NIAS.

Silvia writes:

I am an Italian Master’s student of Development and International Relations at Aalborg University, Denmark. I did my Bachelor’s in Languages and Cultures with a major in Chinese area studies at University of Carlo Bo’ in Pesaro, Italy.

My MA thesis aims to analyze the current regional security architecture in the Asia-Pacific by framing the role and rise of China in the region. The study of Asia-Pacific regionalism requires a comprehensive, multidimensional and multidisciplinary perspective that encompasses different regional facets including economic, business, politico-security and socio-cultural dimension. My attempt is to set a lens on the security matter by firstly conveying the regional identity process, the theoretical approach and, then, the security dilemma by tracing the actual threats in the region. Taking China as a case study, it is essential to understand its strategy in order to cope with the geopolitical setting and how this could affect neighboring countries. In the view of what has been said, I will try to investigate whether or not the Asia-Pacific is going to be moving toward a deeper integration, also whether China’s policies are going to foster such regional phenomenon.

Astrid Writes:

I have a bachelor in Chinese business, language and culture from Copenhagen Business School. After my bachelor I moved to Beijing to pursue a Master’s degree in Innovation Management at Sino Danish Center. I am back in Denmark now to finish my degree and write my master thesis.

I am writing on Open Innovation and Crowd Sourcing. Two vital elements in today’s fast-moving business world. Many Chinese companies are embracing this new approach to R&D and are already benefiting greatly. Companies such as Haier and Huawei have already built open platform ecosystems, where stakeholders, the companies themselves and consumers can meet and innovate, exploring tomorrows business ideas. A lot of research has been done on innovative production companies as Haier and Huawei, but Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing in public institutions is yet to be researched. With my thesis I want to research how successes of Open Innovation and stakeholder/consumer involvement in production companies can be transferred to public institutions. This will be done by looking into the already established public data platforms monitored by Copenhagen Solutions Lab under Copenhagen Municipality. Researching if simply making data available to the public is enough to achieve innovation, or if Copenhagen Municipality should look towards companies such as Haier, and adopt their successful strategic take on Open Innovation and Crowd Sourcing.


Andrea Bulletti, MA Student, Stockholm University.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Economic and Geopolitical ambitions.
I am a master degree student and I am currently attending my Master degree in Asian Studies at Stockholm University. Previously, I got my bachelor’s degree in Language, culture, and society of Asia and Mediterranean Africa at Ca’Foscari University in Venice, during the academic year 2016-2017 I studied at Hunan University in Changsha (Hunan province, China).
My project will focus on bilateral relations as it looks into the China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) - a comprehensive infrastructural project for a total worth of $ 62billion – as a case study. CPEC is located where the “Silk Road Economic Belt” (絲綢之路經濟帶) and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” (21世紀海上絲綢之路) meet. My research attempts to find answers, taking a critical approach, to the major political and economic issues concerning this project.
Jana Fleischer, MA Student, Aalborg University.
China's soft security policies in Afghanistan in the light of the One Belt One Road initiative.
I am a master student at Aalborg University, Denmark, currently enrolled in the study of 'Development and International Relations' with a specialisation in China Area Studies. I have been interested in China for a really long time and after completing my bachelor in sinology and the focus on history, language and culture, I was ready for a more current approach towards this country. 
In my master thesis I will analyse the different approaches China and Denmark use in order to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and why they are interested in a stable Afghanistan in the first place. The aim is to see if these approaches are complementary and possibly be used in the stabilisation process of Afghanistan or if the differ in such a grave way that they will harm that process rather than contributing to it.