The Newsletter 96 Autumn 2023

Book Series as a Global Currency: the IIAS Publications File 1993-2023

Paul van der Velde

From its inception in 1993 to the present, IIAS has published a wide variety of  academic publications but also ancillary publications such as guides, year reports, yearbooks, lecture series, promotional material of all kinds, and of course The Newsletter (formerly IIAS Newsletter). For now, let’s zoom in on the more than 100 books that IIAS has published in the past thirty years.

Needless to say, an academic institute should be active in publishing its own and others’ academic output. In the beginning stages we concentrated on what our fellows were working on, which resulted in two IIAS Yearbooks (1994-95). Furthermore, we mounted an IIAS Lecture Series (1993-1998) containing the speeches of politicians and Asia scholars held at IIAS. Furthermore, to get an idea of who was doing what in the field of Asian Studies, IIAS as a facilitating institute published the Guide to Asian Studies in the Netherlands, the IIAS Guide to Asian Collections in the Netherlands, the Guide to Asian Studies in Europe and also the IIAS Internet Guide to Asian Studies. The latter, published in 1996, gave an overview of this then-only-emerging new setting. We even produced a mouse-pad with the IIAS logo as a giveaway!

Two early IIAS publications: IIAS Internet Guide to Asian Studies (1996) and the IIAS Guide to Asian Collections in the Netherlands (1997).


London and Singapore-based Publishers

These were all in-house publications, with their own ISBN numbers making IIAS into a publishing house. We realized that this was not an ideal situation. Therefore, we contacted several publishers. We choose Kegan Paul International (KPI) in London, a publisher with a global distribution network. Thus, the “Studies from the International Institute for Asian Studies” series came into being (1996-1999) and ultimately comprised eight volumes. After KPI, Curzon became our new publisher. The “Curzon-IIAS Asian Studies Series” (2001-2005) was set up and subsequently released 13 volumes. Also together with the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore, the “IIAS/ISEAS Series on Asia” (2003-2010) was set up. Seven volumes were published.

The IIAS and ICAS Publications Series

After working with a number of different publishers, we thought the time was ripe to concentrate our publications program. Amsterdam University Press (AUP) fully embraced our idea of two series primarily on contemporary Asia. That its books were distributed in the United States by the University of Chicago Press and that AUP also had a distribution network in Asia was clearly a plus. This was the beginning of the “IIAS Publications Series” (2007-2013) and the “ICAS Publications Series” (2006-2012), both consisting of monographs and edited volumes. The “IIAS Publications Series” remained very much a channel of publication for the many fellows visiting IIAS. The topics of the books reflected the kinds of research being done at IIAS during those years. Looking back on that time, we find monographs and edited volumes on gender, art, urban studies, migration, politics, and economics. In all, 18 books were published with an average of four books per year.

Cover of The Eurasian Space: Far More Than Two Continents, published in 2004 by IIAS and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore (ISEAS).


The idea for the “ICAS Publications Series” was born out of a demand from participants of ICAS to have their contributions published as a kind of proceedings. Because we had seen too many ragbag proceedings, we started thinking of another way of publishing a selection of the more than 500 articles flooding our desks, which had been presented at ICAS 4 (2005) and ICAS 5 (2007). After a thorough selection, we came up with eight possible edited volume titles; on average, each contained ten articles. From the contributors we chose one senior scholar and one junior scholar to edit the volume. We asked them to mail all articles to every contributor, who in turn had to return all their comments to the editors, thus establishing an internal review process. The outcome was eight book titles, which were all launched in one session at ICAS 6 (2009) in Daejon, South Korea. Around 50 editors and contributors to the books were present at the session. In all, 23 monographs and edited volumes were published in the series. In view of the workload, this approach was discontinued, but recently around 100 papers on a variety of topics presented at ICAS 12 were published as pre-publications in Open Access by Amsterdam University Press as an experiment which might be continued in the future.

Ongoing Series: Asian Cities, Asian Heritages, Global Asia, and Humanities Across Borders

In 2013 the series were streamlined along the lines of IIAS's research themes: Asian Cities, Asian Heritages, and Global Asia, whereas Humanities Across Borders is a recent addition that adds a long overdue pedagogical and methodological dimension. Including these four IIAS series, AUP now publishes 15 Asian Studies series. This means that we almost never have to reject book proposals because if they do not fit in one of ours, then they often find their way into one of the other series. We are able to guarantee, if all deadlines are met, that a book after submission of the manuscript will be published within a year, an exceptionally short time span in comparison to other publishers. This includes the reviewing process.

So far, 40 volumes (an average of four per year) have been published, with 15 more books in various stages of production. Also not unimportant is the fact that titles from all of our publications series have not only been reviewed in The Newsletter, but also in major Asian Studies journals worldwide. We hope that in the future all IIAS series will be available in Open Access (there are signs pointing in this direction), which will make IIAS’s research available to all for free: from in-house publications with hardly any impact to Open Access publishing with a potential global readership. The more than 100 books published by IIAS in the past three decades are part and parcel of the Asian Studies world, in which book series form the global currency and backbone of the academic community.

Paul van der Velde, IIAS, The Netherlands