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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The Director of HSE St Petersburg, Sergey Kadochnikov gave a welcoming address at the openning ceremony. At the plenary session Professors Alexander Poddiakov, Leonid Ionin, Evgeny Zelenev from the HSE and Gerrit Olivier, Professor at the Department of Political Science (University of Pretoria), discussed theoretical and practical approaches to the study of racial, ethnic, religious and other minorities, and conflicts developed within sociology, psychology, philosophy and political science.
During the next session titled ‘Small Social Groups in Multicultural Societies’ the participants learned about the current status of minorities and their participation in the political and socio-economic life of several countries in Asia – the Kurds in Turkey, the Zaidi in Yemen, the Yazidis in Iraq and Koreans in Japan.
Professors from South Africa Gerrit Olivier and Deon Geldenhuys, made presentations about racial and ethnic discrimination after the end of Apartheid and discussed the possibility of establishing cultural autonomy in South Africa. Professor Sang Chul Park delivered a talk on the role of migrants workers in Korea and respective govermental policies. Professor Vahe Boyajian from the Armenian National Academy of Sciences presented the results of his field work research of ethnic minorities in Iranian Balochistan. Moreover, Islamic State and events of Arab Spring were among the most discussed topics at the conference, in particular tools of population mobilization, such as religious ideas and the Arabic language. The theme of the conference corresponds to the research project of the Centre of Asian and African Studies “Minority vs. Majority in the Historic and Cultural Continuum of Asia and Africa”. The Centre plans to publish a selection of papers presented at the conference in the nearest future.