190121, Saint Petersburg,
Soyuza Pechatnikov str., 16
The Department of Asian and African Studies was established in 2014 with the mission to foster high quality interdisciplinary research of Asian and African countries. It is based on two pillars: long and distinctive tradition of Asian and African Studies in St. Petersburg and interdisciplinary approach to education promoted by the Higher School of Economics. The goal of the Department is to provide students with a broad knowledge and understanding of specific regions of Asia and Africa, to promote communication and cooperation among all scholars interested in these areas at the Higher School of Economics and to encourage international academic exchange.
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On November 10th and 11th, 2015, the First Youth International Academic Conference ‘Hard Science Methods in Asian Studies’ took place at HSE in St. Petersburg. It was organized by the Centre for Asian and African Studies together with the Department of Asian and African Studies. The event attracted Russian and international researchers from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Armenia, and Germany, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate students from Russian and international universities.
Participants of the plenary session ‘Hard Sciences in Oriental Studies: Methods and Approaches’ discussed the specifics and problems of applying hard science methods to various areas of social studies. The discussion was moderated by Evgeny Zelenev, Head of the Department of Asian and African Studies and Director of the Centre for Asian and African Studies, and Olessia Koltsova, Head of the Internet Studies Lab. Tatiana Alexeeva and Elena Kudryashova, researchers from the HSE Department of Applied Mathematics and Business Informatics in St. Petersburg, presented a paper on the theory of dynamic systems in social studies, which was prepared together with Gennady Leonov, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics at St. Petersburg State University (SPbSU), and Nikolay Kuznetsov, Associate Professor at SPbSU. Alexander Zheltov, Head of the SPbSU Faculty of Asian and African Studies Department of African Studies, spoke about the application of hard science in language studies.
Two master classes were held as part of the plenary session. The first one was given by A. Gorodetsky and V. Zinyakov, researchers from the RAS Institute of Problems of Mechanical Engineering and St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University. It was based on a study of mathematical methods and software to detect 2D images with partially missing fragments on tangible media in Asian cultural heritage. The second master class, prepared by Sergey Koltsov and Olessia Koltsova from the HSE Internet Studies Lab, was dedicated to the automated analysis of texts in Asian studies, using the examples of Chinese and Arabic languages.
The audience and participants of the session ‘Hard Science Methods and Data Analysis in the Web Space in the Context of Rare Languages Use’ learned more about current corpus studies through the example of Asian languages, about the opportunities offered by computer processing of text information, and its application in various studies. Young researchers presented their papers on the application of hard science methods to historical research, the study of archaeological artifacts, paintings and folklore, as part of the session ‘Hard Science Methods in the Study of History and Culture of Asian and African Peoples’.
Conference participants were impressed by the relevance and practical importance of the collaboration between hard sciences and Asian studies in the context of cultural and historical processes, as well as the large number of joint papers prepared by social and natural scientists.