The Newsletter 96 Autumn 2023

Fostering New Communities and Perspectives

Jean-Thomas Martelli

IIAS is an institution instrumental in bringing together scholars from different horizons. Usually, what 'binds' a group intellectually is either a common disciplinary focus or a similar geographical interest. The IIAS is neither of those: its originality is to connect researchers on the basis of different specializations tied together by a larger areal cohesiveness that goes far beyond traditional decoupages of Asia: China, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia …

As a result, I learned about parallel and divergent political processes beyond the traditional 'referent' of the West. Although I sometimes disagreed with my colleagues on what the substantive nature of a de-colonial practice was, I thought that intra-Asia comparisons carried the potential of such de. By toning down compulsory references to socio-political processes in Europe and North America, our discussions asserted the standing of our Global South-centered fieldworks and artistic practices. Notwithstanding that some 'Asian' realities are in part derivatives of what happens elsewhere, our scholarly engagements converged and humbly contributed to establishing the primacy of a de-Western perspective.

I thank the IIAS for providing researchers with the resources they need to transition into more stable academic jobs. The IIAS is a beacon of hope for a more sensible approach to trans-disciplinary studies grounded in Asian spaces, and I am confident that through the diverse and impactful publications of your fellows you will continue to make significant contributions in that direction. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.