CAS Among Founders of Baltic Alliance for Asian Studies


VMU Centre for Asian Studies (CAS) has become one of the five founding institutions to establish the Baltic Alliance for Asian Studies (BAAS). The centre and four other Baltic institutions dealing with Asian studies signed the BAAS Charter on 5 April at Vilnius University.

During the meeting, the future agenda of the alliance was discussed. There was a mutual agreement that one of the most important aims of the BAAS is to develop a competitive infrastructure for regional research of Asian studies in the Baltics. Naturally, this requires closer cooperation between its stakeholders, including the universities, policy makers and the professional community. The board also agreed upon having student research section as a part of  the alliance’s conferences in the future. During the meeting, the Centre for Oriental Studies at the Univerity of Tartu was appointed as the chairing institution of the Alliance for the next two years.

The Baltic Alliance for Asian Studies is a co-operative framework of institutions (academic institutes, departments, and programmes) in the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) specializing in Asian studies. The founding institutions of the alliance are the departments or centres of Asian Studies at Tallinn University, University of Latvia, University of Tartu, Vilnius University and Vytautas Magnus University. The alliance implies the establishment of a coordinated framework for joint planning and for pooling resources in preparation of various joint projects. It seeks to foster interaction between scholars and students active in Asian studies in the Baltic countries; promote high-quality co-operative research; establish a competitive regional infrastructure for research of Asian studies; and stimulate international awareness of Asian studies in the Baltic countries. The activities of the BAAS comprise support for research, networks and education; provision of expert information, resources and services; scientific publishing; acquisition of research funding; dissemination of research; academic exchange and networks.

On 3–4 April, the first conference of the BAAS was held in Vilnius by the Centre of Oriental Studies at Vilnius University. Scholars from all over the world presented 50 papers and participated in 10 thematic panels. Plenary papers were presented by Tallinn University’s former rector Prof. Rein Raud from the University of Helsinki and Prof. Viktoria Lysenko from the Institute of Philosophy at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The themes of the panels spanned a wide range of Asian research conducted at the universities in the three Baltic countries. Presentations focused on the poetry and painting under Tang and Song dynasties, interpretations and re-interpretations of Buddhist texts, linguistic traditions and other traditional systems of knowledge in Asia, identity in arts and visual cultures of Asia, images, perceptions and representations of Asian countries in Europe, contemporary philosophical issues from East Asian perspective, translations and responses of Asian literary texts in the Baltic countries, religious diversity of Turkic speaking peoples in Eastern Europe, Islamic political discourse in Greater Central Asia, anthropological field research from Asia.

The second BAAS conference will be hosted by the University of Tartu in 2016.

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