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Second Anthropology of Asia at Leiden Update well attended

On November 17, the Leiden Anthropology of Asia Network held its second Anthropology of Asia at Leiden Update. At Leiden University, anthropologists are not at all confined to the Institute Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (CADS). Rather, it is likely that there are nowadays even more anthropologists at institutes other than CADS.

This goes to show how much anthropological conceptual knowledge and methodological skills have found application across a broad range of disciplinary fields. The Update was meant to create and deepen connections among junior and senior scholars based at Leiden University. It also allowed to learn from each other’s engagement with research communities in Asia, many of which are increasing facing severe challenges when it comes to academic freedom and funding.

To give a few examples: Mies Grijns, a PhD researcher of VVI, introduced her research on marriages among (underage) adolescents in Indonesia. Aditya Kiran Kakati, a Postdoctoral fellow at IIAS, discussed his research on the legacies of war in Asian frontier regions. James McGrail, a PhD researcher at CADS, talked about his PhD project on the proliferation of AI in Muslim Southeast Asia. And Elena Burgos Martinez, a faculty at LIAS, pitched her research in Indonesia which is at the interstices of ecofeminism, political ecology and environmental anthropology.

Following these individual pitches, several more elaborate institutional pitches were given, in which representatives of the institutes attending introduced the research agendas of their institutes. Adrian Bedner discussed the processual approach of law making that is central to the research programmes of the VVI. Laura Erber introduced the research agenda of IIAS, aimed at reimagining Asia studies by extending these to Africa and Latin America. And Bart Barendregt, in a concluding presentation, highlighted how CADS is reshaping its involvement with area studies to foreground new overarching academic concerns that have hitherto remained underexposed. The Update also allowed for informal conversations, enabling ample time for networking among the researchers attending.

This was the first Update that could be held in person, the previous one in 2021 being held online due to the restrictions imposed by the covid-19 pandemic at the time. Organised by the Research Cluster Asia of CADS, some twenty-five anthropologists located across distinct faculties of Leiden University drew attention to their current research projects in short, inspirational pitches. The presenters included anthropologists affiliated with the Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), the Royal Institute for Languages and Linguistics    (KITLV), the Van Vollenhoven Institute (VVI), the International Institute for Asia Studies   (IIAS) and of course the Institute Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (CADS).

Text: Erik de Maaker
Photos: Daantje Gutker de Geus

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