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BIGS-OAS Summer School 2017

Northeast Asia in History, Politics, Culture and Economics
         24th – 28th July 2017 – venue: Bonn International Graduate School – Oriental and Asian Studies, Brühler Straße 7, Bonn, Germany

Northeast Asia is a world region currently distinguished by strong social, economic and cultural innovations as well as a volatile political setting. The region consists of a growing industrial giant in the People’s Republic of China, a stagnating economic power in Japan, the fragile state of Taiwan, a vibrant and resourceful South Korea, a North Korea which is perceived as a threat by some of its neighbours, a newly self-conscious Mongolia, and finally the Russian Far East, attracted by these dynamics but reluctant to become involved. Thus it is a region with many opportunities and common perspectives, but also one with considerable challenges and dangers, which culminate in the estimation of observers that the Cold War is not over in Northeast Asia.

The concept of Northeast Asia has been referred to in recent discussions, since the use of the term ‘East Asia’ was adopted as a collective naming of the whole Far East (including Indochina, insular Southeast Asia up to Kamchatka). But a restricted observation and conceptualizing of the northern sphere of East Asia has its benefits. In this region a number of shared heritages prevail, which mainly go back to, or got great impulses by, China as the geographical centre of the region. Most important from early history until today is the Chinese writing system, which was applied in all countries of the region or at least had to be understood. This is similar for forms of public administration, coinage, religion, many aspects of agriculture, military affairs, literature and scholarship. This dominant role of China had temporarily been challenged by the Mongols and the Manchu, but stayed a historical constant until the eve of modernity, when China dropped behind and Japan took the part of the leading power in the region. Many of the current advances, as well as the tensions in the region, are due to the revival of China not only as a regional power, but also as a global one.

The BIGS-OAS summer school 2017 provides the participants with basic insights into the political as well as social and cultural history of Northeast Asia. Its main focus is on the current situation, i.e. the development of the 20th century up to the present. The students shall come to an understanding of the present state of affairs, which gives rise to great hopes and serious concerns. In order to do this we will look deeper into political, social and economic developments, primarily in China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia. Increasingly, the countries within the region have had a growing cultural influence on each other. We will refer to these developments by looking on the mutual influences in popular culture (mainly film and music) as well as in the culture of knowledge and the political environment. In doing so we hope to present the expertise on Northeast Asia at Bonn University in a focused and entertaining manner.

BIGS-OAS will cover travel expenses and accommodation costs for applicants who are currently enrolled at universities within the EU (except for Germany) or Asia.


MONDAY (July 24th)

  • 9:00 – 12:00 An Introduction to the Study of Northeast Asia: Fields, Frameworks and Questions (Günther Distelrath)
  • 14:00 – 17:00 Northeast Asia in the History of China (N.N.)


TUESDAY (July 25th)

  • 9:00 – 12:00 Problems of Cultural Anthropology in Northeast Asia (H. Ölschleger)
  • 14:00 – 17:00 “Storm over Asia”. Staging Conflict in Northeast Asia (Film) (Ulrike Gonzales, Meimei Xu)
  • 19:00 – 21:00 A Bird’s-eye View of the Northeast Asian Linguistic Landscape -Language Families, Linguistic Areas, Typological and Sociolinguistic Issues (Stefan Georg)


WEDNESDAY (July 26th)

  • 9:00 – 12:00 Transnational Memory Cultures, Cold War and Reconciliation (Ines Stolpe)
  • Afternoon Excursion and Joint Dinner


THURSDAY (July 27th)

  • 9:00 – 12:00 Pop Culture in Northeast Asia (Reinhard Zöllner)
  • 14:00 – 17:00 An Introduction to Manchu Studies (Britta-Maria Gruber)


FRIDAY (July 28th)

  • 9:00 – 12:00 Demographic Transition and Labour Markets in Northeast Asia – Common Challenges, Shared Chances (Alexander Witzke)
  • 14:00 – 17:00 National Economies and Economic Integration in Northeast Asia (Günther Distelrath)

promoted by the German Academic Exchange Service and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research

BIGS-OAS Summer School 2017