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Asien-Orient-Institut UFSP Asien und Europa (2006–2017)

A Great Accomplishment

Dr. Inge Ammering, executive manager of the URPP Asia and Europe, has left the URPP to take up a new position at the newly established Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies. Dr. Ammering has been the moving spirit of the URPP Asia and Europe for eight years, helping to create a flourishing research institution with international reputation.

Angelika Malinar and Wolfgang Behr

From the beginning of the URPP Asia and Europe, Dr. Ammering has been involved in turning an envisioned project into a full-fledged, flourishing research institution. Since her appointment as executive manager in January 2006 she was engaged in setting up and shaping the institutional structures indispensable for successful research activities. First of all Dr. Ammering set up the head office to support the URPP Asia and Europe’s first academic director, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Rudolph, and the organizational as well as research activities of the then participating eighteen professors. In March 2006, fifteen junior researchers joined the URPP and began working on their individual projects. In spring term of 2006, the by-now time-honored institution of the interdisciplinary colloquium saw the light of the day, bringing together participating professors and junior researchers for an intense and open exchange of ideas and perspectives.

Establishing an attractive curriculum

Right from the beginning, Dr. Ammering maintained a policy of close collaboration with all people involved in the URPP. The door to her office was never closed to junior researchers looking for her advice in questions concerning their research projects or with regard to financial support enabling them to participate in academic workshops and conferences abroad. Even at short notice, she almost always found a way to help realizing projects, workshops, or conference trips.

In 2009, due to the increasing number of members, the structures of the URPP Asia and Europe had to be adapted in order to meet changing communication and collaboration needs. In close co-operation with academic directors Prof. Dr. Andrea Büchler and Prof. Dr. Christoph Uehlinger, Dr. Ammering took care of the reorganization of the URPP. This resulted in the creation of three research fields—Concepts and Taxonomies, Entangled Histories, and Norms and Social Order(s)—each managed by one of the participating professors. In the same year, the interdisciplinary doctoral program Asia and Europe was established, which fostered the URPP’s embedding into the university teaching curricula as well as the chances of academic career development at the URPP. As the coordinator of the doctoral program over the coming years, Dr. Ammering had the lion’s share in elaborating an attractive curriculum and organizing the corresponding courses. The improved structures as well as the work accomplished during the first research phase (2006–2009) convinced the executive board of the University of Zurich to extend the funding of the URPP for another four years. In 2010 the URPP moved from the increasingly confined premises at Scheuchzerstrasse to an office building at Wiesenstrasse, which provided more work space to doctoral students and postdocs.

Broad international cooperation

In the second phase of the URPP (2010–2013), the established institutional structures proved to be a sound basis for its further development. As a result, the number of completed doctoral theses (14) and habilitations (3) steadily increased. The cooperation with research partners in Europe and Asia helped to promote the exchange not only between disciplines but also between different academic cultures. The conference Transcultural Bodies – Transboundary Biographies: Border crossings in Asia and Europe held in New Delhi (February 2010) may illustrate the URPP’s activities in the field of international collaboration. With great vigor, Dr. Ammering also dedicated herself to academic outreach activities. She organized several panel discussions about contemporary issues, such as on the political situation in the Arab world (2011) or the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster (2012).

A highly esteemed engagement

In 2011, academic director Prof. Dr. Andrea Riemenschnitter and Dr. Ammering made the necessary preparations to apply for funding a third research phase, preparations that were crowned with success. In April 2012, the university’s executive board granted another extension for four years (2014–2017). When in 2013 current URPP directors Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Behr and Prof. Dr. Angelika Malinar took over they were very much looking forward to collaborating with Dr. Ammering. After a productive year they now have to continue without the highly esteemed engagement of Dr. Ammering as she accepted the offer to become the first executive manager of the recently established Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, which cooperates closely with the URPP.

All of us—participating professors, junior researchers, and others involved in the research institution—would very much like to thank Inge for her outstanding work during the last eight years as well as for her ability to create an atmosphere of scientific curiosity, helpfulness and mutual respect.

(Asia & Europe Bulletin, 3/2014, p. 22)