Dual Degree in Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe

The international, post-graduate Dual Degree in ‘Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe’ is an initiative of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), which for some years has been promoting the field of Critical Heritage Studies through courses, workshops, conferences, and publications. 

The Dual Degree forms part of a broader ambition to decentralise the production of knowledge about Asia by establishing a platform for continuing dialogues between universities located in Asia and beyond. The present institutions involved in the Dual Degree − IIAS, Leiden University, National Taiwan University, and Yonsei University − have already established a fruitful collaboration in research and teaching. Currently, talks are underway with several universities in Indonesia and North Africa.

    The Dual Degree

    Over the last years, IIAS has been intensively engaged with the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) and targeted Asian partners in the development of a special master’s (and PhD) track in the field of Critical Heritage Studies. Thanks to the fruitful cooperation between all the institutes involved, the MA in Leiden is now combined with a parallel series of courses at a number of Asian universities, enabling students to obtain a 'dual degree' at the end of their studies.

    The Dual Degree programme offers selected graduate students from the participating universities the opportunity to obtain two MA degrees – one from Leiden University and one from a partner university in Asia – and a Certificate for the Dual Degree in Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe, issued by IIAS.

    The programme will prepare the students to work in academic research, spatial planning, museum management, tourism industries, and heritage conservation across Europe and Asia. They will study heritage as a means of rethinking relations between Asia and Europe in terms of mutual respect and exchange and explore the creative potential of cultural forms and practices. 

    The Politics of Heritage

    “There is, really, no such thing as heritage”, states Laurajane Smith in her acclaimed book The Uses of Heritage (2006). According to her, heritage is an “inherently political and discordant” practice used by different interest groups with varying degrees of legitimacy

    The process of heritage-making thus entails various forms of conflict over the definition, ownership, and use of cultural attributes. Originally a concept coined by the nation-state, heritage has become the object of intellectual reclamation by academics, activists and associations worldwide. Institutional and non-institutional social actors in Asia and Europe are increasingly involved in debating the legitimacy as well as the need to ‘safeguard’ different expressions of heritage. Furthermore, heritage is being used as a marketable commodity for the sake of tourism.

    The Institutions involved in the Dual Degree programme consider Asia as a fertile source of both theoretical and methodological insights into the highly contested area of heritage. Since colonial times, European-based concepts and technical approaches to conservation have dominated the understanding of heritage in Asia, in most cases through the top-down imposition of ideas and processes.

    It is this hegemonic discourse, usually promoted by developmentalist states in Asia and elsewhere, as well as various processes of indigenous response, that the Dual Degree programme intends to highlight. The programme focuses in particular on the politics of heritage and the questions of its legitimacy. Who controls heritage? What is the role of heritage in the constructed narratives of nationalism? How is heritage being used as a cultural practice to shape the discourses on nation-building and nation-branding?

    Partner Institutions

    The current partner institutions in the Dual Degree programme are Leiden University, National Taiwan University, Yonsei University, and IIAS.


    The Dual Degree programme is supervised by Dr Elena Paskaleva (IIAS and Leiden University Institute for Area Studies), working closely together with Prof. Michael Herzfeld (Harvard), who is Senior Advisor to the Critical Heritage Studies Initiative of IIAS.

    Elena Paskaleva is also the coordinator of the Leiden MA specialisation in Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe, and the teacher of the Leiden course Critical Approaches to Heritages Studies, together with prof. Michael Herzfeld.


    The Newsletter Articles

    The Newsletter 92 Summer 2022
    ‘Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe’ to include course on the Politics of Heritage in the Middle East

    The Newsletter 88 Spring 2021
    The Double Degree in Critical Heritage Studies. A most rewarding challenge

    The Newsletter 85 Spring 2020
    Double Degree Programme in ‘Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe’


    Partner Institutions

    Leiden University: Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) in cooperation with the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) 

    The Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) comprises the School of Asian Studies with well-developed programmes focusing on China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and South Asia. The research and education of the Institute rely on a dynamic synthesis of area expertise and disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

    LIAS offers a one-year Leiden MA curriculum of Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe.  An in-depth description of the curriculum is available in the University's e-Prospectus. The MA heritages specialisation is assisted by Prof Michael Herzfeld (Harvard), who is a guest teacher and the Senior Advisor to the Critical Heritage Studies Initiative of IIAS. The programme is supervised by Dr Elena Paskaleva (IIAS/LIAS), also the teacher of the course Critical Approaches to Heritages Studies together with Michael Herzfeld. 

    National Taiwan University, Taiwan: Department of Anthropology (College of Liberal Arts)

    The Department of Anthropology at the College of Liberal Arts, National Taiwan University, has its origins in a ‘course on foreign peoples’, set up in 1928 as part of the curriculum of Taipei Imperial University, since renamed National Taiwan University (NTU).

    The Department of Anthropology offers a full programme of anthropological study from undergraduate to PhD level, including a two-year MA curriculum in Heritage Studies.

    National Taiwan University, Taiwan: Graduate Institute of Building and Planning (College of Engineering)

    The Graduate Institute of Building and Planning was established as an independent graduate institute in 1988. It offers professional education based on the concept of ‘core knowledge’, which includes the process of urban and rural space, and the process of spatial planning and design. In addition to its academic programmes, staff are engaged in applied urban research, through – among others – the Research Centre for Globalising Cities and the Institute’s studios for community planning and design, and gender and space respectively.

    The Graduate Institute offers a two-year MA curriculum in Heritage Studies.

    Yonsei University, South Korea: Graduate School of International Studies

    Yonsei GSIS is Korea’s leading professional graduate school of international studies. The dynamic and rigorous curriculum equips students with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary to excel globally, in the private and public sectors.

    The Graduate School offers a two-year curriculum in Heritage Studies.



    Programme coordination & development


    Dr Elena Paskaleva (IIAS/LIAS)
    Coordinator, Dual Degree Programme in Critical Heritages of Asia and Europe 


    Contacts for students 

    Please contact the coordinator at your home institution for the procedures that apply to your institution. They can issue you with an extensive roadmap with all the administrative details.

    Leiden University
    Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS)

    Dr Elena PASKALEVA
    Assistant Professor Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe

    National Taiwan University
    Graduate Institute of Building & Planning

    Prof. Liling HUANG
    Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of Building and Planning

    National Taiwan University
    Department of Anthropology, College of Liberal Art

    Prof. Maa-ling CHEN
    Department Chair

    Yonsei University
    Graduate School of International Studies

    Prof. Sukhee HAN
    Dean, Chair of International Cooperation Program