Opening keynote lecture

Transnational Asian Studies: Implementing an Agenda for Our Times

Prof. Dr. Claudia Derichs

Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, HU-Berlin


Transnational, transregional, and cross-area studies are nowadays covering a significant space on the map of Area Studies. Their prominence is yet a rather recent phenomenon, given the decades of scholarship on regions and countries whose demarcation seemed to be carved in stone: Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, Korean Studies, South Asian Studies, Southeast Asian, East Asian and Central Asian Studies mirror the perception of Asia and its scalar components. This segmentation is, until today, reflected in academic study programs, centres and departments in institutions of higher education. Implementing transnational and transregional studies is thus a task that requires stronger efforts than establishing a couple of new modules or putting together a fresh syllabus. The lecture reflects on what it means to conceptualize Transnational Asian Studies (TAS), what methodological challenges are to be met, and what role individual as well as collective scholarship may play in living up to TAS. It touches upon current discursive strands that articulate the demand for epistemic decolonization and a true commitment to the principle of “working with” rather than “working on” colleagues in and from Asia. It concludes with some nascent suggestions for a pro-active contribution of networks and associations such as DGA for the advancement of TAS in theory and practice.

Short Bio

Claudia Derichs, PhD, is professor of Transregional Southeast Asian Studies at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany. She has studied Japanese and Arabic in Bonn, Tokyo and Cairo, and holds a PhD in Japanology (1994, University of Bonn, Germany). She is a member of various editorial boards, advisory boards, selection and evaluation committees, and was awarded a Heisenberg scholarship by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Her research covers political transition in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, as well as gender and development politics in Asia and the Middle East. She specializes in transregional studies and works towards new orientations in Area Studies.