Takashi Shiraishi

Area Studies at Kyoto University

Photo of Shiraishi

Takashi Shiraishi

Born in 1950.
Graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo
Ph.D., Cornell University
Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Kyoto University
URL Center for Southeast Asian Studies Kyoto University (External Link)

"We hope to create a place where all sorts ofscholars can gather."

Prof. Shiraishi says he feels particularly comfortable at Kyoto University. The main reason is the worldclass library collections of the CSEAS and ASAFAS. He believes that all that is required is well-equipped research facilities that are used effectively. Plans call for the launch in March of an Internet journal to be called Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, and in autumn a large-scale international symposium is to be held.

Kyoto University has two area studies institutions, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) and the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS). They have a combined faculty of 57 members, and its joint library which is now acquiring more than 20,000 books a year, is expected to build one of the best Asian and African collections in the world in a few years with the funding of the Center of Excellence (COE) grant. They publish their own area studies journals, Tonan Ajia Kenkyu (Southeast Asian Studies) and Ajia Afurika Chiiki Kenkyu (Asian and African Area Studies) respectively, and a new internet journal, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, designed to introduce Japanese and Southeast Asian language works on Southeast Asia in English.

Since the CSEAS and ASAFAS are multi-disciplinary institutions and their faculty members carry out tens of research projects from medical and ecological to religious to studies on contemporary politics and economies in Asia and Africa, I would like to explain some of the research activities in which I am directly involved to provide some idea about research activities at Kyoto University.


The JSPS-NRCT Workshop held in March 2000
at Thammasat University, Bangkok on the theme
"TheFuture of Southeast Asian Studies.

One is an international joint research project on the formation of the East Asian regional system. The project examines the rise of East Asia as a world region, from the creation of Free Asia under American hegemony in the 1950s and 1960s, the regionalization in the 1980s and 1990s, the financial crisis in the late 1990s and the current attempts at regionalism. The project is funded by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and its participants include leading Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian and Filipino as well as Japanese social scientists both at Kyoto University and at other institutions.

Another is a study of Indonesian elite. I have worked on Indonesian military elite for more than ten years, closely looking at organizational and personnel changes in the Indonesian military to understand the civil military relations and intra-military politics. As part of the project, I have accumulated files of more than 6,000 military officers, their birth dates, places of birth, their ethnic backgrounds, their education, their military careers and so on. Building on this project and in view of the increasing importance of the parliament, both national and local, we have started to examine the sociological profiles of parliamentary members and party politicians to understand Indonesia's democratization and decentralization.

While these projects are basically social scientific in orientation, the two decribed below are more broadly multi-disciplinary, the kind of research projects only do-able at institutions such as the CSEAS and ASAFAS. One is a study of ageing in Southeast Asia. This project started in 2001 with the participation of medical scientists, anthropologists, ecologists, economists and political scientists from the CSEAS. Ageing is a serious problem in Japan, and it is expected that South Korea and China, and then Southeast Asian countries above all Thailand are going to face this problem of ageing in the not too distant future. And yet we have hardly any systematic,comparative data on ageing. This is the reason we have started seminars and workshops on this question, and if we get funding from the government, we are planning to start in-depth field research in 2002.

The other is a "Beyond-the-Border" research project, titled Everyday Life and Policing in Maritime Southeast Asia, funded by the government research grant. In this project we look at the ways people go and interact beyond borders in maritime Asia and how the states in the region police their borders and control the movement of people, goods, and money. This project also has a strong educational component, because it is designed in such a way that Ph.D. candidates of the ASAFAS can participate in the project and do their own dissertation research under the supervision of their advisers in the field.

As these examples hopefully show, many different inter- and multi-disciplinary research projects are carried out at Kyoto University, often in collaboration with scholars in Asia and Africa, making Kyoto University one of the foremost centers in area studies in the world.