Since its inception in 2010, the Contemporary India Area Studies (INDAS) program at the National Institute for the Humanities (NIHU) has aimed to foster a comprehensive understanding of the dynamism of contemporary India and South Asia and to establish academic perspectives and methodologies that can provide a vision for the future. INDAS has also sought to develop an academic network and environment that enables researchers to conduct nation-wide and cross-border collaborative research program through a network of six centres: Kyoto University (the central hub), the University of Tokyo, the National Museum of Ethnology, Hiroshima University, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, and Ryukoku University. The program began its second phase in April 2015, building on the success of the first phase.
In April 2016, the second phase was re-initiated as a six-year project under the title of INDAS-South Asia (Integrated Area Studies on South Asia) project. The revised title reflects that research conducted under the aegis of INDAS (Contemporary India Area Studies) has come to focus formally on the entire region of South Asia, including the countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives, in addition to India. As such, the INDAS-South Asia project will focus South Asia in both name and content.
The INDAS-South Asia project will promote the following key activities, succeeding the second phase of INDAS. First, now that domestic structures have been established―more or less―to enable networked, collaborative research projects, the next step will be to invest more energy in strengthening international linkages, conveying information abroad more actively and improving bi-directional communication. Accordingly, activities will start with the goal of establishing a consortium with the various South Asian research centres spread throughout the world, especially in Asia. In addition, the National Museum of Ethnology will become an ancillary hub in charge of enhancing international collaborations.
Second, while the project will continue to promote comprehensive understanding of the South Asian region it will take a further step in encouraging solution-oriented approaches to the real-world problems, based on the integrated, wide-ranging, and deep insights attained by area specialists. The South Asian region is currently undergoing significant transformation due to rapid economic development and changes, which aggravates a range of existing socio-cultural, economic, and political problems while also giving rise to new ones. International tensions between countries within the region and beyond are also increasing. In the context of accelerated globalization, countries, including Japan, cannot ignore such tensions; finding appropriate solutions is increasingly important. The theme of the INDAS-South Asia project ‘Structural Transformation in Globalizing South Asia: Integrated Area Studies for Sustainable, Inclusive, and Peaceful Development’ was determined because of its priority in promoting solution-oriented research.
Of course, the importance of historical perspective in helping to understand the current issues cannot be overemphasized. It is impossible to solve actual problems in the real world without having deep insight into their origins and context. The INDAS-South Asia project will therefore continue, as it has in the past, to emphasize research that links historical studies to the contemporary studies.
The project will also focus more on collaboration between the natural sciences, the humanities and the social sciences. By incorporating natural science perspectives more explicitly, which is the good tradition of the area studies in Japan, we believe that a real-sense of integrated understanding of South Asia can be attained more easily.
Finally, as we inaugurate the six-year INDAS-South Asia project, there is another important point to note. The first four years of the project will be devoted largely to research activities, succeeding the second phase of the INDAS program, while the priority for the final two years will be on activities that seek to capitalize on the research outcomes achieved up until that point.
We are grateful for the cooperation of all who have participated in the INDAS program, and we would like to invite even more individuals and institutions to take part in the INDAS-South Asia project. At the same time, we look forward to receiving increased support from a broad section of society beyond academia.
Kyoto University (KINDAS) Central Hub
The Center for South Asian Studies at Kyoto University (KINDAS) will serve as the central hub, organising and coordinating the collaborative research activities of the INDAS-South Asia network. We will cooperate with the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS) at Kyoto University, and will actively foster younger researchers in South Asian studies.
In order to achieve these purposes, Kyoto University has organized two research groups under the general theme, ‘Environment and Politics in South Asia’, while setting up a convener’s office to provide overall coordination for INDAS-South Asia activities. The first research group, which focuses on ‘Population, Resources, and Environment in South Asia’, aims to understand the interrelationships between nature and ecosystems, society and culture, and politics and economics, and how they have changed historically, employing a comprehensive, long-term perspective. The second research group, which concentrates on ‘Democratic Politics and International Relations of South Asia’, examines the nature of democratic politics in South Asia as a whole, and also promotes research on South Asia’s international relations.
Director: Tatsuro, Fujikura (Professor, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University)
Research Theme: Environment and Politics in South Asia
National Museum of Ethonology (MINDAS) Secondary Hub
The Centre for South Asian Studies at the National Museum of Ethnology (MINDAS) will function as a supporting hub for this network project, advancing the international activities of INDAS-South Asia. Our missions include organising international symposiums, promoting English language publications on the achievements of the whole project, and arranging and supporting international academic exchange. We are also planning to construct a consortium of South Asian research centres around the world.
Through this research agenda, we will attempt to define characteristically South Asian forms of social resilience by understanding the dynamics of the global circulation of people, cultures, and South Asian values, as well as by analysing the particular characteristics of South Asian social relationships that have been maintained amidst rapid social change. Through this research, we intend to contribute to the academic and social discourse on the social risks resulting from meteoric globalization.
Our research results will be published as articles and books in both Japanese and English. Information will also be shared on the Internet, and we plan to make our database of digitalized research resources available to the public. In addition, we will use our centre at the National Museum of Ethnology to collect and exhibit socio-cultural materials relating to South Asian Studies. We will foster young South Asian Studies scholars researching socio-cultural anthropology and other relevant disciplines by encouraging early-career academics to participate in our collaborative research.
Director: Minoru Mio (Associate Professor, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka)
Research Theme: Culture and Society in South Asia
The University of Tokyo (TINDAS)
The Center for the Study of Contemporary India at the University of Tokyo (TINDAS) will collect and analyse basic documents related to the economy and associated historical changes in South Asia, while organizing and sharing analytical achievements at international conferences, to which we will invite overseas researchers engaged in leading research in other parts of the world.
Another goal is to build a database and to create a research infrastructure.
All members will participate and make contributions to a research group focusing on the theme, ‘Economic Development and Historical Change in South Asia’. By analysing data from a wide range of angles, TINDAS will examine the social changes associated with economic growth over a long period of time, in order to create a vision of future socio-economic development.
We aim to establish a permanent research base by creating a research infrastructure that many individuals can use even after this project is completed. For example, we plan to contribute historical records and map data groups to the University’s Asian Library, now under construction.
Director: Tsukasa Mizushima（Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, The University of Tokyo）
Research Theme: Economic Development and Historical Change in South Asia
Hiroshima University (HINDAS)
The Center for Contemporary India Studies at Hiroshima University (HINDAS) will promote research into the drastically changing spatial structures of contemporary South Asia in relation to economic growth and related developmental issues. This research will focus on and explore the impact of various types of development (including economic, resource, urban, rural, and social development) on the transformation of spatial structures. Through these studies, HINDAS will also contribute to an agenda of inclusive development and social sustainability by offering interpretations of issues from multiple perspectives.
Over the last half century, Hiroshima University has been continuously engaged in research on South Asia, particularly, India. Through the activities of the Research Center for Regional Geography (April 1986–March 2006) and the Center for Contemporary India Studies (since April 2010), we have now become one of Japan’s major repositories of research and data on South Asia. To leverage this strength, the center will contribute towards building a network of international and national researchers, organising collaborative projects and training young researchers in cooperation with Hiroshima University’s Leading Graduate Education Program (the ‘Taoyaka’ Program), which aims to improve the level of education and research on South Asia.
Director: Kazuo Tomozawa (Professor, Hiroshima University)
Research Theme: Spatial Structure and Developmental Issues in South Asia
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (FINDAS)
The Center for South Asian Studies at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (FINDAS) aims to integrate literature studies with historical, political, and social analyses of social movements that have become increasingly multi-layered and diversified. Using gender perspective as the axis, we aim to deepen our understanding of structural changes in contemporary South Asia.
How are people building social ties within social movements, and how have those social ties changed? How does literature reflect social movements? Exploring even emotion and affection, we will try to get to the heart of structural change in South Asia. To advance these purposes, we will take full advantage of our University’s unique strengths. These include not only the teaching of various South Asian languages, such as Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali, but also our long tradition of South Asian area studies since the Meiji Period. We boast of one of the largest collections of books written in various South Asian languages in Japan, as well as documents and historical materials related to South Asia.
While systematically enhancing these collections of documents and historical materials, we aim to become one of the national centers of South Asian Area Studies, with world-class research resources. In addition to organizing collaborative studies within our network of national and international researchers, we aim to strengthen South Asian area studies by nurturing young researchers.
Director: Toshie Awaya (Professor, Institute of Global Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
Research Theme: Literature, Social Movements, and Gender Issues in South Asia
Ryukoku University (RINDAS)
The Center for South Asian Studies at Ryukoku University (RINDAS) will promote research that integrates philosophy and religion, as well as norms, values, and social change in South Asia.
Focusing on the rise of the Dalits, other low-caste groups, and religious minorities, we will conduct fieldwork to study aspects of social change embedded in people’s living conditions, awareness, and sense of values, relating these to a wider framework of philosophical and religious history. Through these studies, we will try to identify the ideational and social forces of change in South Asian societies.
In addition, through international collaborations, we will strengthen our links with universities and research institutions based not only in South Asia, but also in Europe, the United States, and other Asian countries. Through relationships we have built with a great variety of academic institutions and organizations, we will further enhance the quality and scope of our network, and act as a center to collect and organize relevant publications and information.
Director: Mitsuya Dake (Professor, Ryukoku University)
Research Theme: Fundamental Changes in Thought and Values in South Asia