AMT Central Asia Project

The Central Asia Initiative in Leiden was launched by the Leiden research area Asia Modernities and Traditions (AMT) in February 2015. The project, part of AMT 2 (2015-2018), will run until February 2017.

Contact the project post-doc: Elena Paskaleva at

12-20 March: Central Asia Week

Golden Horde Project

The Golden Horde Project was initiated by Dr. Marie Favereau and Dr. Gabrielle van den Berg. The initiative is funded by Asian Modernities and Traditions (AMT) and Leiden Global Interactions (LGI) research profile areas.

As a result of this joint initiative of LIAS, the Institute for History and the European University at St Petersburg, researchers in archeology, history and numismatics will convene to debate and exchange theoretical issues about nomadism, empire and Islam, recent archaeological results, as well as the modern perception of the Tatar imperial legacy.

For the first time in Europe, an international conference dedicated to the study of the Golden Horde will be held in Leiden in May 2015.

7-8 May: The Golden Horde in a Global Perspective: Imperial strategies

Gabrielle van den Berg (LIAS)
Marie Favereau (Oxford University – Leiden University, Institute for History)
Alfrid Bustanov (European University at St Petersburg)

Eurasian Empires Project

The Eurasian Empires Project looks at the practices of dynastic rulership in Eurasian empires ca. 1300-1800. These loose structures showed remarkable resilience over time, providing a strong focus for the numerous groups under their rule. The project propose to study Eurasian dynastic centres in continental empires outside the set perspectives of the ‘rise of the West’ and ‘European expansion’. The analysis of patterns of identity formation and compliance around the dynastic centre will reassess age-old images contrasting Asia and Europe. While this comparative perspective focuses on the key question of integration and identity, it takes into account the global connections and conjunctures increasingly manifest from the thirteenth century onwards.

The program brings together a team of senior researchers based in three Dutch universities: Leiden, Amsterdam (UvA) and Nijmegen. Together they coach eight researchers who each focus on a specific project within the program’s overall scope, covering Europe, West Asia, South Asia and East Asia.


VICI Project: Buddhism and Social Justice

Buddhism has a reputation in the modern West as a tradition of peace and justice. It is this romantic prejudice that leads to consternation when confronted with vivid, inescapable scenes of Singhalese Buddhists making war on Tamils, the Burmese junta shooting down monks, or Thai families selling their daughters into sexual slavery. We understand such things as injustices, just as we see racial or gender discrimination as unjust. And as we struggle to understand how such actions could coexist with Buddhist ideals, we wonder what our incomprehension says about our ability to understand historically Buddhist societies of Asia.

The current NWO project explores key aspects of the historical roots and present-day situations of Buddhism and historically Buddhist societies in Asia through the lens of social justice, precisely through questions of the relation between Buddhist ideas and ideals on the one hand, and the realities we discover in Buddhist societies on the other. In these societies, inequalities, prejudicial discrimination and exploitation are every bit as present as they are anywhere else. Therefore, it is not a serious scholarly question to ask why Buddhists do not uphold the ideals of their tradition. What is interesting, however, is the question of how the dynamic tension between ideal and practice is negotiated in historically Buddhist societies, that is, in Asian cultures heir to the legacy of Buddhist teachings and practices.

Last Modified: 05-03-2015