International Institute for Asian Studies
Asian Heritages - IIAS addresses the variety of definitions associated with heritage and their implication for social agency, including those currently questioned of 'national heritage' or 'shared heritage' | Read more
Asian Heritages close

The Asian heritages cluster focuses on the politics of culture and cultural heritages in Asia. It addresses the variety of definitions associated with heritage and their implications for social agency.

In particular it explores the notion of heritage as it has evolved from a European originated concept associated with architecture and monumental archaeology to incorporate a broader diversity of cultural forms and values. This includes the contested distinctions of 'tangible' and 'intangible' heritages, and the importance of cultural heritage in defining one's own identity or identities vis-à-vis those of others.

In Asia, the notion of cultural heritage is often associated with the construction of post-independence nation-state models, the definition of national 'traditions' and 'authenticity' and the idea of a pre/post-colonial historical national continuity. The cluster engages with a broad range of related concepts, and more generally, with issues pertaining to the political economy of heritage. It also focuses on the dangers involved in the commoditization of perceived endangered local cultures/heritages, including languages, religious practices, crafts and art forms, as well as forms of material vernacular heritage – issues increasingly prevalent in Asia's fast transforming social landscapes. Other areas of exploration include the practise of heritage conservation in Asia and Europe and urban revitalisation through cultural heritage preservation.

'Heritage' includes the process in which heritage is produced. The cluster recognises that in addition to governments and institutions a larger set of stakeholders are involved in the field of heritage, with a role for local communities in defining and preserving their own heritage.

summer School 2014Critical Heritage Studiesikay weaving as heritage

Urban Heritage in Taipeisummer Programme 2011Heritages in Asia and Europe

Asian Heritages Updates

Summer Workshop on Lanna Weaving and Dyeing
6 July 2017

Summer Workshop on Lanna Weaving and Dyeing in Chiang Mai, Thailand

IIAS Lunch Lecture
2 May 2017

In February 2011, thieves invaded the Pipala Mata temple in Osian, a small village in the Jodhpur District of Rajasthan. They had come to steal the gods—more specifically, the massive 8th century stone sculptures of Kubera, Ganesha and Durga venerated as the tutelary deities of the Pipala community. Before they could be sold to black-market antiquities dealers, however, the thieves were apprehended and the stolen images recovered by police.


Kathmandu Triennale is Nepal’s premier platform for global contemporary arts. It is the latest iteration of the pioneering Kathmandu International Art Festival. Like the precursory Festivals, whose 2009 and 2012 editions centered on the themes ‘Status of Women’ and ‘Earth|Body|Mind’, the...


The redesigned Historical Photographs of China web site ( was formally launched in January 2017, showcasing over 10,500 images, including 1,400 recently added images from nine new collections.


Reviewed title:

Michael Dylan Foster. 2015
The Book of Yōkai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore
Berkeley: University of California Press
ISBN 9780520271029


The Indian Himalayan state of Sikkim, which separates Nepal to the west and Bhutan to the east, emerges into the historical record with the establishment of the Namgyal dynasty in the 1640s. As a Buddhist kingdom Sikkim's closest cultural links were with their northern neighbour Tibet, but...


During the period of the East India Company’s authority in Bengal, the Company stationed a ‘Collector’ in Rangpur (now in northern Bangladesh). The Collectors, of whom the most famous was Warren Hasting's envoy to Bhutan and Tibet, George Bogle (1746-81), were responsible for the Company's...