Official start of the Crossroads Asia project in Berlin

April 13, 2011.  



The research project and competence network Crossroads Asia officially started with a large opening ceremony in the premises of the Parliamentary Association in Berlin on April 7, 2011. About 150 scientists, politicians, journalists and media representatives attended.


In his welcome address, Dietrich Nelle of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) called the competence network Crossroads Asia the "flagship" of the Ministry’s funding program for enhancing area studies. The BMBF has allocated four million Euros to Crossroads Asia, which is the largest and most ambitious project in this program. Within the four years, its members – seven German universities and research institutions – aim to develop a novel post-area studies approach. The Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn, is providing conceptual and administrative oversight to the project, including hosting the project office.


Ingeborg Baldauf of the Berlin Humboldt University presented the concept of the competence network in her key note address. Crossroads Asia comprises in geographical terms the region extending from eastern Iran to western China and from the Aral Sea to northern India. This space is characterized by a high mobility of people, ideas and goods crossing territorial and social boundaries. Whereas the usual area studies approach focuses on a clearly defined geographic area, this interdisciplinary project focuses on the actions, perceptions and social networks of its inhabitants which can even transcend Crossroads Asia.


In the first of two lectures, Bert Fragner of the Austrian Academy of Sciences emphasized the historical importance of mobility – the guiding idea behind the network – in Crossroads Asia. In the second lecture, Magnus Marsden of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London illustrated the concept of Crossroads Asia with recent examples of everyday trans-boundary interactions from across Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.


The network is constituted by around twenty-five researchers organised within three working groups – development, migration, conflict – who will undertake empirical research within the project’s over-arching paradigm of mobility. Hereby the researchers will intensify their collaboration cutting across institutional and disciplinary boundaries.



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Conrad Schetter

PD Dr. Conrad Schetter