Division of South and Central Asian Studies, Department of
Oriental Languages; Stockholm University
Postal address: Avdelningen för
Syd- och Centralasienstudier, Stockholms
universitet, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden Visiting address: Kräftriket, hus 4 A (formerly Roslagsvägen
101) Fax: +46 (0)8 15 54 64
Since 2006, the Division of South and Central Asian Studies within the Dept. of
Oriental Languages exists, consisting of two separate subjects; Indology, and Central Asian Studies.
has been a subject at Stockholm University since 1960. Dr Siegfried Lienhard was
Professor at the department from 1967 till his retirement in 1990. In April 2004 the Indology section was evaluated (along with other Swedish departments
engaged in teaching and research on Oriental and African Languages, Indology
and Middle Eastern Studies) by the Swedish National Agency for Higher
Education. The evaluation report (No
2004:9) includes findings giving recommendations for the future. Read
the report (in Swedish only, as a pdf-file). More information about the Indology section below.
on Central Asian languages was initiated at the Dept. of Oriental Languages in 1993. A few years later a Forum for
Central Asian Studies (FoCAS) was formed. More information about the Central Asian studies section below
The Department of Oriental Languages introduced a new two-year 120 ECTS credits Masters Programme in Asian Studies from the Fall semester 2010. The programme has two branches, one focusing on East Asia, and another focusing on Central and South Asia. Students who wish to join the programme are required to have a BA including at least 60 ECTS credits from Asian language studies (for students to the South Asia branch this means Hindi, Urdu or Bengali), and to have written an Asia related BA thesis. Full information on the Masters programme (in Swedish only).
Contact person: Johan Fresk In connection with the inauguration of Stockholm University’s new Masters programme in Asian Studies, Dr. Börje Ljunggren held a seminar on ”Asiens växande betydelse och hur vi möter denna förändring” (The growing importance of Asia, and how do we encounter this change) on Tuesday 31 August 2010.
Börje Ljunggren has been Swedish ambassador to China (2002-06) and Vietnam (1994-97). Over the years he has served in a number of countries in Asia and has also been the head of the Asia Department of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Director General of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Besides, he holds a PhD in Political Science and has published a number of books and articles on Asia. His book ”Asien: vår tids drama” (Asia: the Drama of Time) was published in the spring of 2008.
Contact person: Director of Studies Mats
Lindberg , phone:
+46 (0)8 16 36 19.
Mats Lindberg also teaches Sanskrit at the department.
Every year, the Section for Indology runs educational courses on
the ancient as well as modern languages and cultures of
South Asia, with special emphasis on India, up to the level
of Bachelors and Masters degrees. The Indology
courses are separated into one track specialized
on Ancient and Medieval India – with Sanskrit studies, and another
track specialized on Modern India –
with Hindi studies. During the Spring 2009, only the first course was running. More
information on the courses. Besides, a 15 ECTS credits basic course in Practical Hindi was taught during the Spring 2009. The teacher was Jasmin Mandani.
For some years, the section has also regularly organised 7.5 ECTS credits summer courses, one basic course in Hindi, with Jasmin Mandani as the teacher (see the course plan). This course is however cancelled for the summer 2009.
In the Fall 2009, the Department of
Oriental Languages introduced an entirely new 30 ECTS credits Hindi course. The course is based on Internet distance learning, and has attracted 70 students. The teachers are Roberto Menkes and Mirja Juntunen. More information.
Another regular summer programme has been a course on Modern South Asia, with the journalist and writer Bo Kage Carlsson as teacher.
From the fall semester 2011, the Nordic Centre in India university consortium (NCI) runs a full semester Hindi Study Programme in Varanasi, India. The course has been developed by Senior Lecturer Mirja Juntunen, who is the NCI coordinator. The programme is organised in collaboration with the Gandhian Institute of Studies, and is held from 29th August till 2nd December 2011. This first full semester course has participants from Aarhus University, Denmark; University of Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm University. It is tailor-made for the Advanced Hindi students from the Nordic countries.
The course will again be given in the Fall 2012, and is open for applicants from the NCI Nordic member universities.More information. The Department of Oriental Languages is co-organising a two-week workshop on 'Conducting Fieldwork in Asia', being held in Kolkata, India, 5–16 September 2011. The workshop is organised in collaboration with the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (MAKAIAS) in Kolkata at its premises: IB 166, Salt Lake Sector III, Kolkata. More information.
Ongoing research connected to South Asia
Professor Claus Oetke works mainly on ancient Indian Buddhist texts. Among his production are
found the books Die aus dem Chinesischen übersetzten tibetischen
Versionen des Suvarnaprabhasasutra. Philologische und linguistische Beiträge
zur klassifizierenden Charakterisierung übersetzter Texte
(Wiesbaden 1977); Studies on the Doctrine of Trairupya
(Wien 1994); and the article Nihilist and non-nihilist
interpretations of Madhyamaka in Acta Orientalia 1996.
In recent years Professor Oetke has studied Prasannapadâ by Chandrakirti,
an important Sanskrit text of the Mâdhyamika school of Buddhism.
In 2003 he published an article on ”Prasannapadâ 19.3-7
and Its Context” in Vienna
Journal of South Asian Studies, Band XLVII. In 2006, Prof. Oetke
published a book titled ”Logic matters in
the Prasannapada: a study on reasoning and proof in metaphysics”
in the publication series Stockholm Oriental Studies (and distributed
by (Almqvist & Wiksell International).
During the Spring 2007, Prof. Oetke organises
a number of extracurricular courses (studiegrupper) for students
within the department. They include introductory courses to the classical
Pali Language, and the modern South Indian Malayalam
language, but also a course on ”Newspaper
articles in Hindi and Urdu” and a course on ”Sanskrit
Texts on the Existence of the Soul/Atman”.
Senior Lecturer Mirja
Juntunen (photo to the right) defended her doctoral
Town Plan of Jaipur: Its Sources and Narrations” successfully
on Friday 10 September 2004, The dissertation deals with the origins of
the town plan of Jaipur, a textual and cartographical study based on archive
studies at Jaipur (the documents written in Sanskrit, Rajasthani, Persian
and Hindi). The Faculty opponent was Prof. Nalini Balbir, Université
de Paris-III (UFR Orient), France. More
information on the dissertation, including abstract.
As a post-doc Mirja Juntunen proceeded with a research project
on “The Buddhist-Modernist Thinker Rahul Sankrtyayan
and his Influence on Contemporary Indian Writing”. In August
2004 she received SEK 65.000 as a SASNET planning
grant for this project. Project abstract: In early 20th Century Indian writers
focused on India’s past for the purpose of showing the hegemony
of times prior to that of Muslim and European colonizers. In order to
put additional emphasis on the struggle for independence, literature containing
political messages became prevalent among certain intellectuals. Some
writers of historical fiction were inspired by the Brahmanical Hindu traditions,
others by Buddhist tradition. The writer Rahul Sankrtyayan (1893-1963)
went even firther. Born in an orthodox Hindu family he converted to Buddhism
and later became a propagator for Marxism. In his historical novels, he
tried to show that ancient Indian Buddhist societies were organized in
a manner smilar to Ur-Communist societies. Thus he placed himself in the
category of Indian Buddhist-modernist literature.
Dr. Juntunen carried out field work for the project in 2005. She established
contacts with several Indian scholars working on Sankrtyayan’s
literature and philosophy, among them Munakar
Mule (about the state of Hindi literature in India during
the first half of the twentieth century and the role that Sankrtyayan
played in that); Manik Bacchavat at the Literary Magazine Samkalin
Srjan (Contemporary Writing) about
the notions of modernity and traditionalism in Indian literature; Virendra
Singh about Sankrtyayans philosophical outlook; Prof. Vidhyarti who has
done research on Sankrtyayan’s
Buddhist outlook; and Brajesh Kumar
Srivastav at Harisingh Gaur University in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh (who
has conducted research on Rahul Sankrtyayan’s historical works.
During the visit to India, Mirja collected additional research material
and met with scholars who have been conducting research on Sankrtyayan.
project was actually initiated already in September 2003, and incorporated
in the research programme ”Asian Roots to
Modernity and Beyond”, connected to the Forum for South
and Central Asian Studies (ForSCASS) at Stockholm University. In February
2005 she organized a seminar on the notion of modernity at Stockholm
University (within the framework of the Stockholm Research Environment
for Asian Studies).
In 2006, Dr. Juntunen published a follow-up study of her doctoral thesis,
and presented it as a new report in the Asian Cultures and Modernity
Research Reports Series published by ForSCASS. The report was titled
”Mughal Culture and Imperial Politics.
the Formation of the Jaipur State and the Making of Kacchwaha Identity”. More
information about her work with the Forum for South and Central Asian
Mirja Juntunen and the Sanskrit teacher Roberto
Menkes (still at the department) along with Bengt
Ingeland published a text book on Sanskrit, Läsebok
i Sanskrit. Med originaltext, ordlista, kommentarer och översättningar
in 1997 (Stockholm Oriental Textbook Series, No 2). In autumn 2006 and spring 2007, Roberto
Menkes and Prof. William L. Smith from Uppsala, with funds from Uppsala University's Faculty of Languages, created a long-distance course on cultural history of ancient India. This long-distance course, taught by Mr. Menkes, became a regular 7,5 credits course, entitled 'The Religions, History and Cultural History of India'. The course has been taught fully in English.
PhD Candidate Yasmin
Mandani is doing research on Modern
Indian Literature with special reference to the partition of British
India. She has
Masters dgrees from the Kakatiya University in Warangal, India, and
the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Over
the years, she has also carried out a large number of translation
works from Hindi to Swedish for Swedish Television and different
film companies. Read
Yasmin Mandani teaches Hindi at the department.
PhD candidate Leif
Asplund is working on a dissertation project on the Structure
of Avadana stories in Nepal, and Newari influences on the Sanskrit
versions of these. This requires studies of Nepalese manuscripts and Tibetan
block prints. He was admitted to the department already in 1985 but made
a long break before coming back to complete his research project.
PhD candidate Eleonor
Kohli-Bakshi was admitted to the department in 1995.
Her research project deals with the Wedding Hymns
in Rigveda and Atharvaveda. Abstract of project: The great Vedic wedding-hymn, the
so called Surya-hymn, deals with the union between the Sun
and the Moon. It has almost unanimously been accepted by the scholars
as included in the Rigvedic sacrificial collection of hymns for the purpose
of serving as a divine model for human weddings. The thesis questions
this interpretation, and suggests that the hymn was included originally
– i.e. at the time of the first complete collection of the
Rigvedic hymns – as part of a public religious event rather than
as a model for the common man.
During the academic year 2010-11, Dr. Christina Nygren is a Visiting Research Fellow at the department. She is carrying out a resarch project in Sundarbans region of Bangladesh.
Dr. Nygren has been previously been connected to the Dept. of Musicology and Performance Studies,
Stockholm University, for many years. More information about her South Asia related research.
Dr. David Cashin (now at the Columbia
Institute of Muslim Studies, Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.) defended
his doctoral dissertation at the department on Middle
Bengali Sufi Literature and the Fakirs of Bengal on 25 September 1995. The thesis deals with the Islam of Bengal, which has the second largest Muslim population in the world – concentrated mainly in the eastern delta comprising present-day Bangladesh, and how it is characterized by flexibility, adaptability, and accommodation to local traditions. David Cashin has studied Bengali Sufi esoteric literature dating from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. This highly abstruse literature, composed by some of the most distinguished authors of medieval Bengal, including the late-sixteenth-century epic poet Saiyid Sultan, was influenced by the beliefs and practices of Bengali Tantric yogic traditions. More information about Dr. Cashin.
Lorenz defended a BA level thesison ”Mahidasa
Aitreya in the work of Madhva” on Tuesday 10 June 2003. The
opponent was Asst. Prof Erik af Edholm from the Dept
of Comparative Religion, Stockholm University. After that, Lorenz worked on an MA thesis project titled ”Brahmatarka, literary features
of Madhva's most important fictitious source title”. Abstract of project: Bramatarka is the name of a fictitious
work which is quoted most frequently, and often at considerable length,
in the Sanskrit commentaries of Madhva (CE 1238-1317), the founder of
the Dvaita school of Vedanta. Some Indology scholars, and of course the
entire Madhvaite community, believe that Brahmatarka is a genuine ancient
work, now lost. There is, however, good and ample evidence that this work
never existed, but was used as a source by Madhva, who claimed that it
was an ancient text, like the Veda, authored by Vyasa, and therefore ultimately
authoritative in philosophical debates. The verses that Madhva ascribes
to the Brahmatarka, are all his own compositions.
In September 2004, the Forum for
Central Asian Studies (FoCAS) was officially inaugurated as
a separate division within the Dept. of Oriental Languages.
From the start,
FoCAS perspectives stretched over a wide region covering a
large part of Asia (over the years studies on Mongolia, Korea and
Afghanistan as well as about the countries in the former Soviet
Union have been carried out), and in close collaboration with other
departments at Stockholm University such as the Dept.
of Political Science and the Dept. of
Chinese Studies. An
outcome of this pan-Asian research has been the Asian
Cultures and Modernity Research Group, connected to FoCAS.
It has consisted of a number of scholars from different departments,
and originally developed out of a graduate course entitled ”Borders
and Boundaries in Asia from a Socio-Cultural Perspective” that
was organised by FoCAS in the year 2000 and held at the Center
for Pacific Asia Studies (CPAS) in collaboration with the Dept.
of Oriental Languages and the Dept.
of Political Science.
In 2006 FoCAS widened the focus for its studies,
also to include South Asia. Accordingly, the name was changed
into ForSCASS, Forum for South and Central
Asian Studies at Stockholm University. ForSCASS aimed at facilitating interdisciplinary dialogues
between scholars conducting research on previous and current sociocultural
processes in the South and Central Asian regions. Within the present
framework of research projects connected to the Forum, societies
and cultural patterns are studied from a linguistic and literary
as well as a religio-ethnological and historical point of view.
research focuses on language change and language development due
to social factors, official language policies, language activism
and other phenomena relevant to the emergence and maintenance of
linguistic cultures. In the field of literature, modern literary
trends and their sociopolitical implications are analysed with
reference to features in the sphere of epic traditions and belief
systems, so far mainly Buddhist, Shamanistic, Hindu, and Islamic
paradigms. The above-mentioned research activities constitute an
invaluable cultural-historical background for deeper studies of
civil societies and the interpretation of contemporary political
processes (democracy, good governance, etc.) by people living in
this vast part of Asia.
Ongoing research connected to South Asia
Birgit Schlyter is involved in a research project
titled ”The Political Dialectics of
Ethnicity in the Context of Modern State-Building in Asia”,
a project run in collaboration with Associate Professor Ishtiaq
Ahmed, Dept. of Political Science; and Ooi
Kee Beng, Dept. of Chinese
Studies. This project has resulted in several reports, being published
in the Asian Cultures and Modernity Research Reports Series, e
• Ooi Kee Beng: The Political Origins of Ethnicity: An Asian Perspective,
• Ishtiaq Ahmed: Muslim Nationalism,
Pakistan and the Rise of Fundamentalism, February 2003.
about Dr. Ahmed’s research)
Another ongoing project of Birgit Schlyter relates
to ”Language Policies in Central Asia”.
Fredholm is a lecturer at the Section for Central Asian Studies, who is also
a defence analyst working for the Swedish government. He has written
extensively on history, defence and security policies of Eurasia,
not the least Afghanistan. In the very first report in the Asian
Cultures and Modernity Research Reports Series, Michael Fredholm
wrote about ”Afghanistan and Central
Asian Security” (No. 1, March 2002).
Michael Fredholm also published another two reports in the series,
titled ”The Great Game in Inner Asia over
Two Centuries, (No. 7,
2004); and ”Islamic Extremism as a Political
Force in Central Asia: A Comparative Study of Central Asian Islamic
(No. 12, 2006).
Juntunen (more information above) has also been engaged as a lecturer
at the the Section for Central Asian Studies. In 1999, she wrote a book together with Birgit
Schlyter, titled ”Nordic Central Asia research:
Past, Present, Future” (Kegan Paul Int., London).
In 2006, Dr. Juntunen published a follow-up study of her doctoral
thesis, and presented it as a new report in the Asian
Cultures and Modernity Research Reports Series. The report was titled
”Mughal Culture and Imperial Politics.
the Formation of the Jaipur State and the Making of Kacchwaha Identity”.
Mirja is currently working as Director for the Nordic
Centre in India (NCI) consortium. More information.
Hammar defended his doctoral
dissertation thesis on ”Studies in
the Kalacakra Tantra: A History of the Kalacakra in Tibet and a Study
of the Concept of Adibuddha, the Fourth Body of the Buddha and the Supreme
Unchanging”, at the Division
of Comparative Religion, Department of Ethnology, Comparative Religion
and Gender Studies, Stockholm University, in 2005. More information.
Dr. Hammar is now connected to the the Section for Central Asian Studies, where he teaches Tibetan.