Engaging in global networks and mobilities has become an inescapable condition to the reinforcement of the quality and attractivity of European research on Asia, in a context of increasing globalization of Higher education and the notable breakthrough of Asian academic institutions in recent world rankings (more than 25 among the top 200 in 2018). European academia has a long tradition in Asian studies: from its early ‘orientalist’ tradition during colonial rules, it evolved into a renewed field of Asian studies or as a significant constituent of Social Sciences and Humanities disciplines. Through its multiple networks of universities and research units, it was able to build longstanding partnerships with numerous Asian institutions and mobility programs for Asian and European students and scholars. Whilst the governments of many Asian countries consider Higher education and Research a priority in their development agenda, for the next decades, these networks are undeniably a chance to reinforce strong academic cooperation in the Social Sciences and Humanities between Europe and Asia.
In this context, the network of French research institutes abroad (Umifre) in Asia (Maison franco-japonaise Tokyo, French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), French center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC, Hong Kong, Taipei and Pekin), Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities (CSH New Delhi) et Institute of Research of Contemporary Southeast Asia (Irasec Bangkok) plays a unique role: in the last decades, it has supported numerous French researchers and students working on Asia. Anchored in Asia, the Asian Umifres seek to become an enlarged platform associating other European and Asian institutions in ambitious new programs of research in key shared topics such as Heritage and Identity, Global and local economy, work mobilities and migrations, Democracy and citizenship; Social and Religious Transformation, Societies and environment, Connectivity; Rethinking Education and knowledge; Mediascapes.... The CNRS-supported initiative “Sustain Asia”, which associates the Asian Umifres and their Asian partners is an example of this new perspective.
The roundtable intends to introduce the work of the French research institutes in Asia, past and present while it welcomes Asian and European institutions to think together on how they can reinforce Asia/Europe partnerships as well as joint initiatives to support researchers and students in new innovative field research projects.