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.
• Indology 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.
• Studies 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
n 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.

Section for Indology

Web page: http://www.orient.su.se/pub/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=12008

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 Indiawith 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.
HindiBesides, 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. new

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. new
NCI LogoThe 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. new

Ongoing research connected to South Asia

Claus OetkeProfessor 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 dissertation called ”The 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.
The 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 Studies, below.

NCIBesides doing research Mirja Jununen has also for some years been teaching Hindi at Uppsala University (at the Section for Asian and African Languages and Cultures; Department of Linguistics and Philology.
She has also been involved in collaboration with the researcher Christina Nygren from the Dept. of Musicology and Theatre Studies, Stockholm University. Mirja has translated Bengali texts into Swedish for Dr. Nygren’s book ”Brokiga Bengalen” that was published in late 2006. More information.
Since September 2006, Dr. Juntunen has been working as Director on 50 % basis for the Nordic Centre in India consortium, NCI, first based at Uppsala University, but from 2010 based at the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition/Unit of Public Health, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio campus. More information. new

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.

Yasmin MandaniPhD 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 her CV.
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. new
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.

Previous research connected to South Asia

William SmithProfessor William Smith taught Hindi, Bengali and Cultural history at the department for many years. He defended his doctoral dissertation titled ”The Myth of Manasa. A Study in the Popular Hinduism of Medieval Bengal” in 1976. It was later published as a book titled ”The One-Eyed Goddess: A Study of the Manasa Mangal” (read a 1982 review of this book by Tarapada Mukherjee in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies).
From October 2004 William Smith worked as professor of South Asian languages and cultures at the Section for Asian and African Languages and Cultures; Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University. More information about his activities at Uppsala University.
– Prof. Smith passed away on 19th December 2009.new

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.

Ekkehard Lorenz defended a BA level thesis on ”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.

Section for Central Asian Studies

Web page: http://www.orient.su.se/pub/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=12007

Contact person: Director Birgit Schlyter , phone: +46 (0)8 163 119
Birgit Schlyter is also a Research Fellow at the Swedish Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (Kungl. Vitterhetsakademien).

ForSCASSIn 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.
Linguistic 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 SchlyterBirgit 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 g:
Ooi Kee Beng: The Political Origins of Ethnicity: An Asian Perspective, October 2002.
Ishtiaq Ahmed: Muslim Nationalism, Pakistan and the Rise of Fundamentalism, February 2003.
(More information about Dr. Ahmed’s research)

Another ongoing project of Birgit Schlyter relates to ”Language Policies in Central Asia”.

Michael 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 Extremist Movements” (No. 12, 2006).

Mirja 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.

Urban 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.

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Last updated 2011-08-31