Our Ambition

The Centre for Inter-Asian Research aims to bring together scholars and practitioners to work towards imagining what the inter-Asian century might be like. The imagination would span modes of everyday living and doing, modes of organizing, creation of institutions and networks, development and deployment of technology, economic and social choice-making, re-imagining political and economic structures, and experimenting with diverse artistic forms.

The Centre’s mandate would be to move beyond the timeworn comparisons between the ‘East’ and the ‘West’, and to generate fresh and relevant frameworks for analysis and practice. This will be a University-wide centre, promoting inter-disciplinary research and teaching across the Schools even as it engages with collaborators across India and Asia.

Why Inter-Asian Research

More than 60% of the world’s population today lives in Asia, but relationships between Asian nations are plagued by ignorance about each other’s cultures and societies. The lack of knowledge is alarming in a context where the big regional problems – whether political, economic, cultural, or social – require mutual understanding and co-operation. India is one of the most prominent nations in Asia and has one of the largest educational systems. But strangely, there is no research centre in India that focuses on Asia as a whole. Creating intellectual leadership in this field is an urgent and necessary task, not just for India but also for the region.


Research on contemporary Asia is typically confronted by a number of challenges:

  • Research problems are formulated along national lines, and thus both the analyses and the solutions restrict themselves to national boundaries;
  • Consequently, when tracing the histories of the present, scholars fail to grasp the inter-connections between peoples, communities and geographies that precede and continue to impact the contemporary world;
  • Even while thinking regionally, conventional combinations drawn from old colonial forms of governance (South, East, West, Central, or SE Asia) come into play, resulting in the continued use of twentieth century Cold War perspectives;
  • The vast bulk of the contemporary discussions about Asian societies is addressed conventionally only through the lens of International Relations, resulting in a narrow set of concerns about how governments deal with one another.

In light of these challenges, the Centre for Inter-Asian Research aims to

  • Put forward supple and innovative ideas about ‘region’ and ‘neighbourhood’;
  • Promote inter-disciplinary work that will foreground new axes of connection, past and present;
  • Set up flexible platforms and partnerships between scholars and practitioners in the inter-Asia region.
  • Build a knowledge base in India to understand and advance our relationship with other Asian societies.

By these means, the Centre will support the development of forms of knowledge relevant to the 21 st century, to provide insights into the forms of life that are taking shape in this populous region.