Crossroads Asia


Area studies, conflict, development, figuration, migration, mobility, networks


Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan


How should scholarship across cultural boundaries be conducted in a globalized 21st century, without limiting its inquiries to fixed territorial ‘containers’? Crossroads Asia, a research consortium funded by the BMBF and coordinated at ZEF, tries to generate novel perspectives on inter-disciplinary Area Studies research. The network also aims to further an understanding of the everyday interactions of individuals with a connection to places from eastern Iran to western China and from the Aral Sea to northern India.

In early 2015 the network began to synthesize the extensive empirical research it has been gathering since the launch of Crossroads Asia in 2011. Across seven different sub-projects each anchored at one of the partner institutes, the network is investigating the social construction of spatial realities. Spaces – which emerge through the movement of people, goods and ideas – can also enable and constrain mobility. The network is aiming to collectively elaborate a non-prescriptive Crossroads Perspective for understanding complex webs of ties and their spatial dimensions, in order to further the debate on rethinking Area Studies scholarship.

In addition to producing scholarly work within and beyond the network, Crossroads Asia’s researchers aim to meet the high demand among the general public for information on the regions studied. Findings of the project feed into academic publications and teaching as well as public relations efforts.


Social-sciences: network analysis; participatory observations; qualitative interviews, multisited-ethnogtaphy

Main Cooperation Partners

  • Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC)
  • Institut für Ethnologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • Institut für Orient- und Asienwissenschaften (IOA), Universität Bonn
  • Zentralasien-Seminar, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Centre for Development Studies (ZELF), Freie Universität Berlin
  • Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO)
Main Funding Partners


Duration of the Project

01/2011 – 12/2016

Project Homepage


Dr. Claus Bech Hansen


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