Urban Knowledge Network Asia (UKNA)

The first 'Cities' network established at IIAS, in 2012, was the Urban Knowledge Network Asia (UKNA), the largest global academic network on Asian cities of its kind. Today, UKNA functions as an inclusive network that brings together concerned scholars and practitioners engaged in collaborative research and events about Asian cities from an international perspective.

UKNA was formed in 2012 with core support from the European Union’s Marie Curie Actions International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES) mobility scheme, bringing together urban scholars from universities in Europe, China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore for staff exchanges. Since EU/IRSES funding ended in 2016, UKNA has continued and expanded as a network with funding from IIAS and co-funding from additional institutional partners in East-, Southeast-, and South Asia, Europe and the United States.  

UKNA has since evolved into an 'umbrella' network for scholars and professionals from many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences who are interested in urbanism in Asia and Asian cities from an international perspective. IIAS functions as the secretariat and hub of UKNA, but the network’s strength comprises its partners and partnerships across Asia and beyond. 

Between 2016 (the year when European Commission IRSES funding ended) and 2022, UKNA has organised, on average, one symposium or roundtable discussion per year in cities across Asia, the output of which is typically a publication that provides UKNA scholars an opportunity to disseminate their research. These events are co-funded by IIAS and local partner institutions. Additional UKNA activities include regular 'urban speaker series' talks and discussions—both physical, at IIAS in Leiden, and online—whereby invited scholars speak on a wide range of urban issues in Asia.