News & Events

About the Central Asia Initiative

The Central Asia Initiative is funded by the Leiden research profile area Asian Modernities and Traditions with the purpose to establish Central Asian Studies at Leiden University. Throughout Feb 2015-December 2018, we will create a platform for the study of Central Asia in its broadest sense, by uniting and consolidating existing expertise and initiating new international collaboration resulting in joint applications for research funding. Key issues are cultural space, identity formation, geopolitics and heritage. New course modules on Central Asia will be developed and a series of outreach events will be organized.


Round November 2017: Central Asia Fieldwork Grants for Leiden MA/MA Research Students

In 2017 the Central Asia Initiative at Leiden University offers several fieldwork grants to a max of 7,500 EUR. Only MA or MA Research students enrolled at Leiden University are eligible. The fieldwork should be carried out in one of the Central Asia countries by the end of 2018. The money can be used to fund research related to your MA thesis or to develop a PhD proposal related to Central Asia. Application deadline: 15 November 2017.


Charles Melville will be the Central Asia Visiting Professor in November 2017

Charles Melville, Professor of Persian History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Pembroke College, will be the Central Asia Visiting Professor from 20 November until 28 November 2017. Charles Melville will deliver a guest lecture on Thursday, 23 November, co-organized with LUCIS, and a masterclass on Monday, 27 November within the Central Asia Initiative at Leiden University.


12 September-22 December: TRC exhibition Dressing the "Stans": Textiles, dress and jewellery from Central Asia

On 12 September the new TRC Gallery exhibition 'Dressing the Stans: Textiles, dress and jewellery from Central Asia' was opened by the famous Oxford scholar, Dr. Peter Frankopan, the author of the widely acclaimed book The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (2015). The exhibition is co-funded by the Central Asia Initiative at Leiden University and will run until 22 December.


Two courses on Central Asia in 2017-2018 at Leiden University

Two courses on Central Asia will be offered within the Leiden Central Asia Initiative, funded by the research profile area Asian Modernities and Traditions. 'History of Central Asia & Afghanistan' will be open to BA students of Middle Eastern Studies and 'Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia' to MA and MA research students of Asian Studies and Middle Eastern Studies.


Yusen Yu wins MEM Graduate Student Prize

Yusen Yu wins the prestigious Graduate Student Prize of the Middle East Medievalists (MEM) with his article "Chinese Gold-decorated Paper and the Persianate Book Arts". The paper was presented at the Timurid conference in Leiden in May 2016.


Strengthening the Central Asia Collection at Leiden University Library

The Central Asia project, funded by Asian Modernities and Traditions, has engaged in strengthening the Leiden University library collection in the areas of material culture, history, languages and geopolitics in Central Asia. UNESCO International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) and the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the Netherlands have recently donated books.


Gabrielle van den Berg receives a prestigious VICI grant

Dr. Gabrielle van den Berg receives a prestigious VICI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for her project "Turks, texts and territory: Imperial ideology and cultural production in Central Eurasia". Turkish nomadic rulers established large empires in the Middle East and Asia between the 11th and 14th centuries. This project will explain the link between their new political ideology and the production of art and literature, via the cultural heritage of five cities along the Silk Road: Kashgar, Samarkand, Ghazna, Tabriz and Konya. The grant application was also submitted as part of the Central Asia project, funded by Asian Modernities and Traditions.


New book: Spirited performance: the Manas epic and society in Kyrgyzstan

The book explores the meaning of the Manas epic in Kyrzyg society. Based on extended periods of anthropological fieldwork between 1996 and 2000, the author Nienke van der Heide, analyses the calling of its performers, describes the transformations of the oral tradition in printed media and other forms of art, and examines its use as a key symbol for identity politics. The book is published by Rozenberg EHV Academic Press.


Ron Sela will be the Central Asia Visiting Professor in May 2017

Ron Sela, Associate Professor of Central Asian History in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University – Bloomington, will be the Central Asia Visiting Professor from 19 until 25 May 2017. Ron Sela will deliver a guest lecture on Monday, 22 May and a masterclass on Tuesday, 23 May within the Central Asia Initiative at Leiden University.


2 PhD Vacancies in Central Asian / Middle Eastern Studies

Faculty of Humanities, Leiden Institute for Area Studies is looking for two PhD candidates in Central Asian / Middle Eastern Studies (2 PhD’s x 1.0 fte) Vacancy number 17-050. Applications must be received no later than 30 April 2017, with the interviews with shortlisted candidates scheduled for the end of May 2017.