UCLA International Institute
Asia Pacific Center

Advancing collaborative, interdisciplinary research on Asia worldwide

Asia in the Humanities/Humanities in Asia

A Research Initiative of the UCLA Asia Institute

Asia has played a key role in the transformation of the humanities in the past two decades, most visibly in the areas of cultural, historical, and literary studies. The humanities occupy a space within Asian universities that simultaneously draws upon models of scholarship and education imported from Western contexts and affirms local beliefs in the broad relevance of the humanities to scholarship and universities more generally. Understanding the position, organization and content of the humanities in Asia creates fresh perspectives from which to understand the position of humanities in American academic and social settings.

The Humanities in Asia/Asia in the Humanities initiative brings together scholars from the fields of history, literature, religion, and the arts working across time periods and Asian spaces to develop new frames of research and pedagogy. A key element of the initiative is collaboration and scholarly exchange between UCLA and scholars in Asia.

In implementing the initiative the Asia Institute has entered into a partnership with the Research Institute for the Humanities (RIH) at the Chinese University of Hong Kong with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2011. Led by R. Bin Wong, Director of the Asia Institute, and Ping-chen Hsiung, Director of RIH, our institutes look forward fostering joint workshops, faculty and student exchanges, and innovative research collaborations in this exciting area.


The Asia Institute is a member of the Consortium of Humanities Institutes and Centers (CHCI).


Classical Civilizations and Comparative Religion

A collaborative project on comparative antiquities of China and Europe, organized by Mu-chou Poo, Centre for the Comparative Study of Antiquity at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and visiting scholar at the UCLA Cotsen Institute, and Robert Gurval, Associate Professor of Classics at UCLA. The initiative will be launched with a joint workshop on Old Society, New Faith: Religious Encounter and Cultural Identity in Early Medieval China and Europe, on December 1, 2012.

Rethinking Ritual and Performance in Asia

The UCLA Rethinking Ritual faculty working group is exploring interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives on the relationships between ritual and religion, performance and traditional culture, and native (historical) and global (modern) art forms in various Asian traditions (South Asian, Japanese, regional Chinese cultures).  The project will host an international meeting in summer 2013 on "Rethinking Ritual: Chinese Performance in Asian Historical and Comparative Contexts," supported by a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International and Scholarly Exchange.