Universität Bonn

BOAS insights

About the Journal

The idea of launching an academic journal for Asian and Oriental Studies was born out of the International Peer Group of the Bonn International Graduate School for Oriental and Asian Studies (BIGS-OAS). The International Peer Group had been initiated by Professor Bethany Walker (head of the Islamic Archaeology Department) to support international students settling into German academia. Its range of activities quickly reached beyond that scope, providing a base for workshopping conference papers, developing syllabi and addressing a variety of matters generally connected to academic life.

The BIGS-OAS integrates the broad regional and thematic scope of the University of Bonn’s Oriental and Asian based social sciences and humanities, which incorporates such diverse departments as Asian and Islamic Art History, Islamic Studies and Near Eastern Languages, Japanese Studies and Korean Studies, Mongolian and Tibetan Studies, Religious Studies, Sinology, South Asian Studies and Southeast Asian Studies. We are mindful of the loaded legacy of “Oriental Studies” and the complicity of European orientalists in the Western colonial project. We are especially aware of the problematic nature of geographic terms like “Middle East” and “Near East”, as well as debates around the use of the term “Islamic” in academic versus popular settings. We continue to discuss these issues in the context of our journal and respective fields. We also appreciate the development of related academic disciplines has sometimes worked to continue this legacy, and much of our interest in developing a journal was to move beyond institutional constructs and instead try to bridge gaps and connect themes within this broad range of specializations.

Considering the range of disciplines, languages, regions, and time periods included within our graduate school, we have learned to keep an open mind when listening to presentations and research of others. Discovering common interests and striving towards the creative energy that can evolve once multidisciplinary dots are being connected to form an interdisciplinary network is equally important – a lesson we were happy to learn (and are still learning) together. Many of us have had the possibility to publish within discipline or area-specific journals, but these frequently create deeply specialized fields which stifles collaboration across themes and regions. Hence, the idea of an English language academic journal that would serve as an interdisciplinary home base for all of our interests and fields surfaced. A handful of people willing to dedicate their time and energy stepped up to turn this idea into reality (for more information about our team and research interests, click here). While the institute we operate from still bears a name that reminds us of a history of exploitation and of asymmetrical knowledge production concerning many of the people and places we study, we do not wish to conceal this history but aim to address it through the research we publish and through our academic practice. As one of our basic prerequisites we look for research that relies on native language sources and we encourage submissions by Black, Indigenous and authors of Color.

Our network of academic professionals and established peers guarantee the publication quality of our journal. Our common goal is to connect topics and themes across Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean including, but not limited to, those that deal with the contemporary and classical languages, literature, religions, politics, material culture and visual arts of those regions as well as with their former and contemporary communities and networks, thus providing a platform that is new and unique in its approach.

We are extremely excited about this new kind of academic collaboration and are looking forward to meeting and working with other scholars interested in crossing disciplinary lines and connecting the diverse fields of Asian and Oriental Studies!

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