Asian Studies in Africa Roundtable

9 - 11 November 2012. Chisamba, Zambia

What is the state of Asian studies in Africa? What are the linkages between Asia and Africa? What is the current research being undertaken on Asia in Africa? These were the preliminary questions raised by scholars during the Asian Studies in Africa conference that took place on 9th-11th November 2012. The roundtable was jointly organized by the University of Zambia (UNZA), the South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development (SEPHIS), Manila and the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) at Leiden University, the Netherlands. It was a first attempt to take stock of the state of Asian studies in the continent, with the view of seeking means by which such studies could be strengthened, and where they do not exist, to come up with suggestions and possible strategies that could be used to build a solid knowledge infrastructure in African academic institutions.

The rationale behind this initiative was the realisation that though the countries and peoples of Africa and Asia have, over several centuries, been intimately connected, there is an urgent call for systematic scholarly engagements with the past and present of Asian and African realities. Informed by years of experience in Asia and Africa, the initiative also recognizes the need to strengthen a solid and critical infrastructure of humanities and social science knowledge dissemination and research, of which a focus on Asian Studies in African institutions is an essential part.

The meeting was attended by scholars of a diverse range of expertise and experiences. They represented 21 nationalities and travelled from five continents. The purpose of the meeting was twofold: first, to outline the current state of Asian studies in Africa, as well as the issues and challenges such studies face; second, to identify a way forward for the future of Asian studies on the African continent.

As a result of the conference, the Association of Asian Studies in Africa (A-ASIA) was created. Headed by a committee of scholars from Africa, Asia, and Europe, it is dedicated to the capacity enhancement of institutions, programmes, and scholars. A-ASIA’s first conference, which would be held in September 2015 in Accra, Ghana, was also proposed during the roundtable. For more information, please read the full report of the roundtable, accessible here.