The Newsletter: farewell Sonja, welcome Paramita and Benjamin

21 July 2021

After ten years of serving as managing editor of The Newsletter, Sonja Zweegers has decided it is time to explore new challenges. We wish her all the best!

Paramita Paul takes over as the new Chief Editor of The Newsletter. We also welcome Benjamin Linder as Assistant Editor of The Newsletter & Newbooks.Asia.

A hearty farewell to Sonja Zweegers, Managing Editor of The Newsletter (2011-2021)

It has been already a decade since Sonja joined the IIAS to take on the task of managing the institute’s flagship The Newsletter. During her tenure, Sonja managed to considerably reinforce the periodical, not only by considerably expanding its readership - now above 60,000, with two-thirds online - but also by strengthening its editorial portfolio through a number of regular sections that make The Newsletter an essential vector of exchanges and scholarship in the realm of Asia Studies.

I would like to draw attention to one point in particular, for which I worked with Sonja, namely, the journal's capacity to host works from other players in the field by enabling regular contributions from partner institutions in different regions of Asia, and beyond, to promote work by local scholars there. Sometimes translated from other languages than English, these thematic dossiers have contributed significantly to IIAS's public service sense of mission 'beyond borders', coming from Southeast Asia with the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies; from North-East Asia with Seoul National University Asia Centre; from China with New York University Shanghai and Fudan University; from Oceania with the University of Melbourne; or, more recently, from our partners in the European Alliance for Asian Studies. Sonja was very diligent in maintaining close personal connections with the partners, ensuring a steady flow of subjects being discussed in every issue.

Sonja helped transform The Newsletter into the highly professional specialised periodical it is today. She can confidently contemplate a new phase in her already rich career. Thank you and good luck Sonja!

- Philippe Peycam, Director

A warm welcome to Paramita Paul and Benjamin Linder

Paramita Paul takes over from Sonja and is assisted by Benjamin Linder, also new at IIAS. 

Paramita Paul, Chief Editor of The Newsletter from July 2021

Paramita Paul is a Sinologist and art historian and holds a PhD (2009) from Leiden University. Her dissertation, entitled ‘Wandering Saints: Chan Eccentrics in the Art and Culture of Song and Yuan China’, was completed on a full scholarship from the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO). Her research interests include premodern and modern Zen and Buddhist art and issues of art, heritage, and cultural identity.

Prior to joining IIAS, Paramita taught courses in language, art history and visual culture at Leiden University, Leiden University College the Hague, and Amsterdam University College. She has worked for cultural organisations, including the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. She will continue to serve as a member of the Editorial Board of Aziatische Kunst, the journal of the Royal Asian Art Society in the Netherlands (KVVAK).

As Chief Editor, and in collaboration with the editorial team, Paramita is excited about further developing The Newsletter into a more hybrid platform in order to enhance its role as an essential site for the Asian Studies community. What are Asian Studies today? How do we define the field? And who is the Asianist? With these questions in mind, she is looking forward to cooperating with current and prospective authors. 

Benjamin Linder, Assistant Editor of The Newsletter and NewBooks.Asia from June 2021

Benjamin Linder is an anthropologist by training, with particular interests in cultural geography, urbanism, cosmopolitanism, and mobilities in South Asia. In 2019, he completed his PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he also received MA degrees in Anthropology (2013) and Environmental & Urban Geography (2018). His dissertation research focused on place-making, identity performance, and transnationalism in the urban enclave of Thamel (Kathmandu, Nepal). In October 2020, he moved to Leiden as a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), and he is very pleased to continue on as a member of the IIAS staff.

As Assistant Editor, Benjamin will primarily work on The Newsletter under the guidance of its new Chief Editor, Paramita Paul. He will also focus on book reviews for NewBooks.Asia, which will soon be merged and integrated with the IIAS website. Additionally, Benjamin is exploring the possibility of launching a podcast series for the institute in an effort to expand the reach and reception of our various programs. In his free time, he will continue to write and publish academically. Currently, he is working on two edited volumes as well as a monograph based on his dissertation.

Other editors

The two other editors involved in The Newsletter are Sandra Dehue, who, as editor of the Network Pages, takes care of the news about the initiatives of IIAS, and Thomas Voorter, editor of The Newsletter online.