Universität Bonn

BOAS insights

Volume 1 (2021)


The impetus for establishing a new academic journal may stem from a lacunae of particular studies in a field, the lack of a periodical devoted to a specialized sub-field, or perhaps the need for a venue to present the findings of new kinds of research. The idea of launching a new academic journal for Asian and Orien­tal Studies was born not from the need of something new, but out of the desire to build on the momentum of an international peer group’s collaborative activities.

The International Peer Group of the Bonn International Graduate School -Oriental and Asian Studies (BIGS-OAS) was initiated by Prof. Dr. Bethany Walker (head of the Islamic Archaeology Department) to support the integra­tion of international students into German academic life. Our commitment to providing new studies to the fields of Asian and Oriental studies stems from the kind of the collaboration we experienced when working closely with col­leagues from different backgrounds, who spoke different languages and who brought a wealth of different kinds of experiences. We found common ground in our collaborative activities: discussing, thinking and writing together, and we wanted to bridge deeply specialized or secluded circles of scholarship within our connected fields. This was the genesis. This kind of multidiscipli­nary synergy seemed replicable, and we aimed to bring this collaborative and interdisciplinary mindset to our journal.

We are aware of the loaded past of our field of Area Studies called ‘Oriental Studies’ and the complicity of European orientalists in the Western colonial project. The institute we operate from still bears a name that reminds us of this history of exploitation and of asymmetrical knowledge production concerning our regions of 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 encourage submissions by Black, Indigenous and authors of Color.

Getting a new journal off its feet in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic was no small task. We strive to cross boundaries between disciplines, but we could not cross national boundaries to meet in conferences or conduct field­work. We look for diverse, international cooperation at a time when we have been staying at home and staying inside. But it is our belief that this could not be a more important time to keep working towards more multidisciplinary col­laboration, to strive to make connections that transcend traditional bound­aries, models, or institutional divisions. To facilitate this kind of research and collaboration, our journal is entirely online and open-access, both free for read­ers and authors of articles and reviews. The journal operates out of the Oriental and Asian Studies Department at the University of Bonn and includes a board of senior faculty members. We could not have reached this point without the support of our advisory board, and we thank them for their guidance and con­sultation. In particular, we thank Prof. Walker and Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler for getting this project off its feet in the earliest stages.

Our network of academic professionals and established peers guarantee the publication quality of our journal in the field of Asian and Oriental Studies. This inaugural issue would not have been possible without the contributions of our peer reviewers, and we thank them for their service. We would also like to thank Jan Kenter and Dr. Daniel Rudolf from Bonn University and State Library for their assistance with the publication process.

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, providing a platform that is unique in its approach. A number of former team members helped us towards that goal since our journal’s inception. We thank Amna Gillani, Shabnam Surita and Doro­thée Kreuzer for their contributions.

Thus, we are most grateful for the opportunity to publish our inaugural is­sue, even in the midst of these trying times all across the world. Our first issue includes an article which investigates Mongolian communities living in Los Angeles by tracing men engaged in long distance trucking, exploring this diaspora community in the context of modern industry and capitalist conceptions of time. Our second article brings to light only recently published survey data from 1970’s Iran. Pulling from media and film studies, the article challenges pre-conceived notions and status-quo interpretations of Iranian national iden­tity creation through a greater consideration of the influences of radio, televi­sion, and cinema. Our review of new works includes a review of a German translation of the Turkish novel Madonna’nın Son Hayali / Madonnas letzter Traum (Madonna’s Last Dream) and the first post-Yazidi-Kurdish work of fiction in German, Die Sommer (The Summers) by Ronya Othmann.

As we enter a new year, we stay committed to our goals and hope to expand on the steps we have taken, to look for new connections which offer alternative perspectives, to promote underrepresented studies and to search out scholars engaged in research which crosses disciplinary lines in order to better inte­grate the diverse fields of Asian and Oriental Studies. Any author willing to be a part of this collaborative endeavor is most welcome to submit their manu­script to us.

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