The International Institute for Asian Studies

IIAS is situated right in the heart of historic Leiden

  • IIAS is a global humanities and social sciences research institute and knowledge exchange platform that supports programmes which engage Asian and other international partners.
  • IIAS aims to contribute to a better and more integrated understanding of present-day Asian realities as well as to rethink 'Asian Studies' in a changing global context. 
  • IIAS works to encourage dialogue and link expertise, involving scholars and other experts from all around the world in its activities. IIAS thus acts as a global mediator, bringing together academic and non-academic institutes in Asia and other parts of the world, including cultural, societal and policy organisations.
  • IIAS is located in Leiden, the Netherlands. Originally established (1993) by the Dutch Ministry of Education as an inter-university institute, IIAS today is based at Leiden University, where it works as a globally oriented interdisciplinary institute with strong connections throughout the Netherlands, Europe, Asia and beyond. 

Research clusters

IIAS adopts a thematic approach to the study of Asia, involving scholars and experts from different disciplines and regions in its activities. IIAS works together with academic and non-academic partners, including cultural, political and social organisations.  While we remain open to other possible avenues of knowledge, our current thematic and interconnected research clusters are 'Cities', ‘Global Asia’ and the 'Politics of Culture' (previously named 'Asian Heritages').

These clusters' activities are all built around the notion of social agency. They address questions relevant to present-day Asian societies while paying attention to their cultural and historical contexts.


  • Collaboration

    Almost all of the IIAS activities – from research to conferences to master classes – are based on international cooperation. Most relevant to all the activities is the continued collaboration with Asian partners to further anchor IIAS and our network at the core of knowledge-making in and on Asia.

    The Institute’s fundamentally collaborative and inclusive nature has allowed IIAS to become the most global research-led meeting ground in the field of Asian Studies. The Institute moreover enjoys an open mandate, enabling it to freely shape its own research agenda and activity programme.
  • Thematic multi-sectoral approach

    IIAS adopts a thematic approach to the study of Asia, fostering research that transcends disciplinary and regional boundaries. The Institute moreover works together with academic as well as non-academic partners, including cultural, political and societal organisations. Bringing together scholars and practitioners, IIAS aims to act as a trans-cultural interface, linking academic expertise with practitioners’ experience. 
  • Programmatic instruments

    Over time, IIAS has developed a number of effective programmatic instruments: 

    In addition to supporting various types of (research) networks and programmes, IIAS organises different types of academic events throughout the year, many of them in Asia. In addition to international conferences, workshops and seminars, IIAS also organises thematic roundtables that act as focused interactive think-tanks for a diversity of scholars and expert practitioners. 
    The IIAS fellowship programme is aimed at aspiring as well as experienced scholars from around the world. In addition, the Institute hosts a number of visiting professorship positions as part of agreements with external funding organisations. 
    The IIAS publication programme helps fellows and other scholars to publish their work efficiently and for a global scholarly audience.
  • Communication instruments

    As a clearinghouse of information and knowledge, IIAS has developed a range of communication instruments serving thousands of academics and professionals. Most notable is ‘The Newsletter’, the IIAS periodical on Asian Studies. The Newsletter gives its contributors an exceptional opportunity to share their work with academic colleagues and others interested in Asia. With a broad readership of 50,000 worldwide, it is the largest periodical on Asian Studies.


The permanent staff of IIAS is responsible for the coordination, organisation and administration of all activities of IIAS. The overall management of the Institute is handled by a Management Team consisting of the Director, the Deputy Director and the Controller.

The Director answers to the IIAS Board. An Academic Committee advises the Director in respect to the Institute’s fellowship programme and is responsible for the selection of affiliate research fellows. Both the IIAS Board and Academic Committee consist of experts in the field of Asian Studies and other relevant disciplines.


IIAS is located at Rapenburg 59 in Leiden, the Netherlands.

The Institute was established in 1993 by the Ministry of Education, originally as a joint cooperation between the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and three Dutch universities, with the objective to encourage the interdisciplinary study of Asia and to promote national and international cooperation.

Today, IIAS is based at Leiden University, where it works as an outwardly oriented interdisciplinary institute with strong connections within the university as well as throughout the Netherlands, Europe, Asia and beyond.