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


Dear Readers,

You hold in your hands the sixth and final issue of the Asia & Europe Bulletin. It went to press a few months later than its predecessors. The delay had to do not with problems in content or production, but rather with the fact that the URPP Asia and Europe terminated its main activities in late August 2017, so we wanted to include all organized events in this final issue.

Founded in 2006, the URPP has reached, according to plan, the end of its allotted twelve years. University Research Priority Programs are an instrument of the University of Zurich to strengthen its research profile by selecting and supporting some of its excellent research fields for a limited period. Provided positive evaluations, a URPP can reach a maximum life cycle of twelve years. That is what the URPP Asia and Europe has achieved. By looking back on these twelve years, we can show impressive results. Our publication record includes about 100 books, 300 articles in scientific journals, and another 300 articles in edited volumes. And of course, even after the end of our URPP, the output of publications that are the fruits of its endeavors will continue. At this point, we should mention the forthcoming edited volume Asia and Europe – Interconnected: Agents, Concepts, and Things that includes contributions of many URPP members and, to some extent, documents the URPP. Also in the interest of supporting young scientists, the URPP can point to thirty-two PhD theses and seven habilitations that have already been completed. This number of academic qualification works by young researchers who have benefited from the URPP is set to increase even more so in the coming years. Along these lines, we are especially proud that, among former junior URPP members, eight have already been appointed to professorships all over the world from Basel to Paris to Edmonton.

This last bulletin gives a good insight into the dynamism and diversity of our URPP through its reports on the major activities of 2016 and 2017. Among these activities, we would especially like to mention three events. First, the 2016 URPP annual conference “Human : Non-Human,” which was planned out and realized by Bettina Dennerlein, Angelika Malinar, and Andrea Riemenschnitter. Second, in 2017 and with support from many URPP members, Yasmine Berriane, Natalie Böhler, and Simone Müller organized the series “Grenzgänger – Grenzenlos: Asien und Europa,” consisting of documentary and feature movies for the general public in cooperation with the Filmpodium Zurich, where the films were shown. Third, thanks to the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich that acted as host, we had a splendid URPP farewell day with many academic, artistic and culinary events.

We sincerely thank all those who made the URPP Asia and Europe possible. The University of Zurich and its managing body fully trusted and accompanied our scientific endeavors over all of these years and provided the URPP with generous financial and administrative support. Still, without all the foundations and institutions that were likewise willing to support our projects financially, the URPP would not have enjoyed the success that it has. Over the years, we successfully raised more than 11 million Swiss Francs via third-party funding. Our most important external donors were the Gebert Rüf Stiftung and the Humer Foundation for Academic Talent, to whom we are especially grateful for their generous support. Unfortunately, there is not enough space here to thank all the people who contributed in crucial ways to the URPP’s success story. Suffice it to say that, without the circle of founders; the academic directors; the various speakers of research fields; the director of the PhD program; the advisory board; the URPP assistant professors; the senior research fellows; the head office and its executive managers; and the postdoc and PhD students, the URPP would simply not have been what it was.

This moment is indeed bittersweet, but there is reason to look optimistically toward the future. Although c’est la fin, finito, aus und vorbei for our URPP, it will have a lasting impact on the University of Zurich. A major structural outcome of the URPP was the foundation of the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, which will eventually guarantee an international reach for Asia-related research at the University of Zurich. The thriving PhD program of the URPP will continue, thanks to Bologna II/III funding and thanks to the funding we were able to secure from swissuniversities. The URPP allowed us to build strong cooperation within the University of Zurich, as well as a large international network, which will also be of major import for research and teaching.

Prof. Dr. David Chiavacci and Prof. Dr. Raji C. Steineck