Research projects – University of Copenhagen

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Asian Dynamics Initiative > Research > Research projects

Collective research projects with a focus on Asia

An increasing number of exciting collective projects relating to Asia are unfolding at the University of Copenhagen. Visit the project websites below and learn more about ongoing Asia research at the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

The Faculty of Humanities

Department of Arts and Cultural Studies

ROCA: Robot Culture and Aesthetics 
What is a robot, and how do we imagine the future relationship between humans and robots? The ROCA project aims at uniting cultural and aesthetic theories with practice-based insights in order to imagine, theorize, and create new types of human-technology interaction.

Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies

Buddhism, Business and Believers
(Danish Research Council for Independent Research Ɩ Humanities (FKK), Trine Brox, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies)
The aim of this research project is to gain novel insights into the manner that Buddhism mediates value within the exchanges of materiality and spirituality, opening up a new field of research approaching the correlation between religion and economics through triangulating the concepts of exchange, value and materiality.

Emerging worlds: Explorations in New South-South Connections
(Danish Research Council for Independent Research Ɩ Humanities (FKK), 2014-2018, Ravinder Kaur, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies)
The ‘Emerging Worlds’ research program embarks upon a collective enquiry into the yet unfolding, and accelerated phenomenon of south-south connections between Asia, Africa and Latin America. Through grounded ethnographies in a number of locations within Asia and Africa, the project seeks to rethink the idea of the Global South and the ways in which it presents itself as a political-economic force in the 21st century.

Escalations: A Comparative Ethnographic Study of Accelerating Change
(FKK, Danish Research Council for Independent Research Ɩ Humanities, Lars Højer, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies)
The project’s aim is to understand and theorize escalating processes from an anthropological perspective. Through a comparison of different ethnographic settings, it will examine the shared features of contemporary escalations, defined as accelerating and unpredictable changes that involve ripple effects, transformations of scale and intense imaginations of past and future.

Moral Economies of Food in Contemporary China: An Ethnographic Investigation of Relational Ethics through Foodstuffs
(Danish Research Council for Independent Research Ɩ Humanities (FKK), 2016, Mikkel Bunkenborg, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies)

Yiwu - Trust, Global Traders, and Commodities in a Chinese International City
(ERC Advanced Grant, PI Professor Magnus Marsden, University of Sussex)
Sub-project on on the activities of Russian and Ukrainian traders in Yiwu, as well as the changing nature of trading structures in their home countries by Vera Skvirskaja, Associate Professor, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies.

Tranquebar Initiativet
Internationalt research initiative with around 20 ongoing research projects about cultural exchange - then and now - in the former Danich colony Tranquebar in Tamilnadu, South India. 
PI for the entire initiative: Professor, dr.phil. Esther Fihl , Centre for Comaparative Culture Studies, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
Projects within the Tranquebar initiative include: 

  • Danish colonialism in India: The encounter with Indian commercial and agrarian traditions
  • The fishermen in Tanquebar – socio-economic transformation processes

Saxo Institute

Colonial Policing, Law and Penal Practices: Rationalities, Technics and Subjects
Three interrelated late 19th and early 20th century case-studies in the colonies of Danish West Indies (Rasmus Sielemann, PhD), Greenland (Søren Rud, PostDoc) and semi-colonial Siam (Søren Ivarsson, Associate Professor)
The project is funded by The Danish Council for Independent Research | Humanities (FKK).

Natural Goods? Processing Raw Materials in Global Times (2013-2016)
(Danish Council for Independent Research, Sapere Aude Programme, Frida Hastrup, Saxo Institute)
This project generates a comparative ethnography of natural resources. Combining ethnology, anthropology and cultural history, the project explores how people across different times and places process specific and widely distributed raw materials. 

The Faculty of Social Sciences

Department of Anthropology

Global Europe: Constituting Europe from the outside in through artefacts
(Sapere Aude Advanced Grant, Oscar Salemink, Professor, Dept. of Anthropology)
The project explores how the collection, circulation, classification and museum exhibition of objects define Europe from the outside in during Europe’s present loss of global hegemony – especially in relation to Japan and four non-European BRICS countries (Brazil, China, India, South Africa), in comparison with the early modern period of European ascendancy.

The Impact of Violence on Reproductive Health in Tanzania and Vietnam
The overall project aim is to enhance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living in low-income settings through enhanced health sector responses to intimate partner violence. The project runs from 2013-2017 and is funded by FFU (Minstry of Foreign Affairs). Tine Gammeltoft, Professor, Dept. of Anthropology

VITAL. The Vitality of Disease - Quality of Life in the Making
(ERC Starting Grant, 
Ayo Wahlberg, 2015-2020)
More people than ever before are living with (especially chronic) diseases. As a consequence, sustained efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality rates have been joined by systematised efforts to improve the lives – the quality of life – of those living with disease in ways that are measurable and auditable. The VITAL project will empirically investigate and analyse the making of ‘quality of life’.

NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies

Asia in a Changing Arctic
With support from the Nordic Council of Ministers, NIAS has been researching Asian objectives and ambitions in the Arctic under the project title “Asia in a changing Arctic”. Although there has been some media interest in Asia’s role in the Arctic, this often relies on easy assumptions about Asian foreign policies. This project digs deeper into the origins and creation of the Asian Arctic policies and provides a platform for Asian scholars working on Arctic affairs.
Geir Helgesen, Director of NIAS and senior researcher
Aki Tonami, Researcher at NIAS

Mapping the Human Landscapes of EurAsia. Dealing with Cultural Differences in a Globalized World.
The ambition of the research theme at NIAS is to establish and more closely connect related research projects. We also aim to coordinate our efforts to create a vibrant research environment and reach out internationally to expand NIAS' research capacity.

Current projects under the theme:

Interdisciplinary - Cross-Faculty Projects

Changing Disasters – Understanding Societies through Disasters
(collaborative project, 2013-2016)
The project is organised in three thematic clusters that cut across the traditional grid of scientific disciplines: (1) Imaginations addresses the social, political, technical, and cultural aspects of interpreting disasters, (2) Interventions investigates the trans-disciplinary and creative aspects of responding to disaster scenarios, and (3) Transformations sets out to cover the trans-disciplinary aspects of the technical, institutional and social transformations in societies, initiated by disasters on a short- as well as a long-term basis.