In 2016, I received an email from Philippe regarding an IIAS-co-organised conference I’d applied for. He asked for a revision of my abstract and, as I find out later, that he had pushed for my paper to be included in the programme.
Philippe might have just been following a hunch, but the opportunity to participate in that conference in Leiden changed the trajectory of my academic life. There, I felt heard as a junior, affirming my drive to speak and write for a cause. I met ‘partners-in-crime’ who I still work with closely today. Subsequently, ICAS became a “good ol’ stomping ground.” From Chiang Mai to Leiden, every convention felt like a homecoming of sorts: the strong academic atmosphere was mentally refreshing while the familiar faces, laughters, and bear hugs were spiritually warming.
IIAS will always have a special place in my heart not only for its inclusivity, heart, and warmth, but also for its unwavering and staunch support towards facilitating progress and dialogue in all matters concerning Asia and its diverse cultures and inhabitants. The Institute’s genuine devotion to championing intellectual freedom and opening new ways of understanding Asia’s past, present, and future resiliency has inspired individuals like me to pluck up the courage to think, speak, and write about Asia – its cities, peoples, and creatures – through more critical lenses.
To Philippe and the entire IIAS team: congratulations on thirty years! I look forward to witnessing many more milestones. Mabuhay!
Catherine Chan, University of Macau