The Newsletter 96 Autumn 2023

30 Years of IIAS, 30 Years Supporting Asian Studies

Inge Klompmakers

It was in my third year at Leiden University that I learned that close to the Japan Studies faculty, a new institute for Asian Studies would be opened: the International Institute for Asian Studies, or IIAS. As a 20-year old, still having to graduate, I did not pay so much attention to IIAS’s activities, and I could not know then that 30 years later, this new institute would have evolved into a highly acclaimed and flourishing institute, known to many Asian Studies scholars from all over the world.

I most certainly could not have imagined that, in 2023, I would collaborate with IIAS in my day-to-day work as a publisher. My career started in the art trade at a Japanese art gallery and auction house, followed by a period at an art book publishing house. It was in 2006 that I entered the world of academic publishing. Since then, IIAS reappeared on my radar, through The Newsletter and through its many organized activities.

Today, in my role as Commissioning Editor Asian Studies at Amsterdam University Press (AUP), I have the pleasure to work closely with IIAS’s Publications Officer Mary Lynn van Dijk on four book series launched by IIAS: Asian Heritages, Asian Cities, Global Asia, and Humanities Across Borders.

Mary Lynn’s enthusiasm and hard work for the series deserve mentioning, as they are instrumental in making the manuscripts into real publications. Moreover, I should add that the book series could not exist without the scholarly work of many erudite and passionate authors. We are able to graciously benefit from the expertise of our editorial boards and reviewers as well, when evaluating the book proposals and the complete manuscripts.

AUP is grateful for the opportunity to partner with IIAS on these series – which help us to better understand today’s Asia – and we share the goal in making the scholarship available to a wide audience.

As a publisher, I intensely like the personal meetings and talks with scholars at conferences, learning about interesting research projects, and brainstorming together about AUP’s ideas on how to contribute to the field with new book series and journals. Those personal encounters motivate me to create the best possible circumstances for our authors to publish their research, and being part of the team behind the IIAS-AUP book series is, therefore, truly rewarding.

If I would only praise IIAS for its vision to launch its book series program, I would not do the institute justice. IIAS is strong in bringing scholars together, and building their communities. The institute facilitates new research and stimulates the exchange of ideas and knowledge on Asia. Other important IIAS initiatives that help materializing this mission are of course IIAS’s Fellowship Program, the ICAS conferences, and The Newsletter.

In a period of 30 years, many fellows have found their way to IIAS, in Leiden, and have become ambassadors of IIAS’s mission to promote Asian Studies. IIAS, with its welcoming and warm atmosphere, is a place where new working relationships and friendships originate. The many encounters of scholars at the twelve ICAS conferences have, in turn, resulted in numerous new collaborations and new publications.

While the academic world and the world of academic publishing are changing, IIAS is continuously looking for new ways to support the field of Asian Studies. One major change that should be noted concerns the ICAS Book Prizes (IBP), wherein the organizers are to be applauded for including books in languages other than English.

Another recent development in the context of the IIAS-AUP book series is that IIAS, where possible, supports publication in Open Access. This makes the scholars’ research even more widely accessible, also to audiences beyond academia, and this perfectly suits IIAS’s ambitions in terms of outreach activities. A wide range of activities, such as workshops and lunch lectures are organized, and I myself have good memories of a series of lectures, held in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, which brought Asian art scholars and curators to the Netherlands for inspiring talks.

Let me conclude by wishing IIAS a prosperous future in supporting Asian Studies. As a publisher, it is a joy to work with an institute like IIAS, which has a clear vision on how to stimulate new research and how to move scholarship forward. At AUP, we therefore look forward to continuing our pleasant collaboration and to publishing many new volumes together in the IIAS book series program.

Inge Klompmakers, Amsterdam University Press, The Netherlands