NordForsk Grant

From 2010 to 2013 NordForsk provided a grant to the network in order to strengthen research in the combined field of Asia studies and gender studies in the social sciences and humanities in the Nordic countries.

Main experiences and main scientific outcomes:

  • Three workshops and three working groups formed the core of activities. The main and absolutely invaluable contribution of the network was to support each individual member’s ongoing work by providing a space for academic communication, inspiration, reflection and challenges through face-to-face exchanges.
  • Joint publications and joint research project applications resulted from the network.
  • Smaller working group meetings had various formats and the possibility of allocating funds to cover needs as they evolved during the course of the network time period was valuable.
  • Inspiration was gained from invited international keynote speakers and international networking facilitated.
  • Especially PhD student members benefitted from opportunities to present and discuss their work with fellow gender/Asia studies scholars.
  • The combination of senior scholars working with PhD students was valuable. PhD students were given the opportunity to publish with senior scholars, and to be included in research applications led by senior scholars.
  • The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies served as a solid and useful basis for Nordic network activities.


Activities: conferences, workshops, group meetings

Two conferences, three workshops and a series of smaller group meetings in which members met on a face-to-face basis were convened.

Network activities were launched at a workshop held in 2010 in connection with the convening of the Fourth Gendering Asia Network Conference. The network was established in 2005 and an invitation to join NordForsk funded network activities was extended to all network members. The workshop marked the initiation of a new stage of Gendering Asia Network (GAN) activity. At the GAN conferences held in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010 participants presented and discussed their work. The 2010 workshop was somewhat different as twenty-nine Nordic scholars and PhD students came together to present their work as the basis for defining areas of common interest that led to the establishment of five working groups. By the time of the second workshop three core working groups had consolidated themselves.

At the second workshop held in 2012 in Reykjavik and the third workshop held in Trondheim in 2013 activities took place in plenum and in each of these three working groups. Work was done on joint publications, research applications and on enhancing the work of each individual scholar. Invited international keynote speakers have spoken at the workshops, thus bringing in new knowledge and inspiration to the Nordic gender/Asia studies community and opening opportunities for networking with scholars from other parts of the world. In between the workshops the three working groups have held smaller working group meetings. These have had various formats, with either a few members, or all group members attending.

Activities concluded with a final conference and the opening up of the network to general participation again.

The three core working groups:

  1. Post-colonial cultural trauma and violence/gender and the politics of memory
  2. Gendered Mobility in Asia
  3. Communication and Intra-action

The workshops for all three groups, and the smaller group meetings, held in between these two conferences, have enabled participants to engage in exchange that has led to joint publications and research project applications. Research training for PhD students has taken place in the form of interaction with peers: participant presentations of papers and discussions of methodology and theory with a view to developing joint publications and/or research projects. Within the sparse and scattered area of Nordic Asia/gender studies in which regular dialogue and discussion with peers is practically non-existent for most scholars and students this is an extremely simple, but, nonetheless, vitally important form of research training


General scientific outcome:

The main and absolutely invaluable contribution of the NordForsk supported activities was to support each individual member’s ongoing work by providing academic inspiration and challenges through face-to-face exchanges.

The importance of face-to-face exchanges at conferences and workshops in a supportive and challenging, but not competitive, environment was extremely important. This was not least the case for members who were the only ones in their home academic environment engaged in gender/Asia research. Moreover, especially PhD student members benefitted from opportunities to present and discuss their work to fellow gender/Asia studies scholars. Some students were given the opportunity to publish with senior scholars, and to be included in research applications led by senior scholars. Especially younger members saw the network as a source of information on conferences, courses and publication opportunities.

Dr Yee Yee Swe, NTNU, Norway who successfully defended her dissertation in January 2014, expressed her experience as follows:

”I got exposed to Gender and Asia in an international context, which was not otherwise possible for me like a home-based PhD student; I got a lot of valuable experiences, and input for my own study; and finally I was inspired by the works of network members and that led me to complete my thesis.”

(email to Cecilia Milwertz , 16 January 2015)

The scientific achievement of the network is described succinctly by anthropologist Wil Burghoorn, Gothenburg University, who was one of the initiators of the field of gender/Asia studies in the Nordic countries:

“I was invited to give my personal reflections on Gender/Asia Studies in the Nordic countries at the Gendering Asia Network conference in Reykjavik 13-17 October 2015. The invitation was for me a great opportunity to reflect on my experience of over 30 years of teaching and research on Gender/Asia.

It has been a long journey which started in mid 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, academic position and profile of Gender/Asia Studies benefitted from strengthening commitments related to economic and political interest in the area. Support weakened this century, one of the reasons was the questioning of the rationale for area studies and the increasing tension between discipline-based and area focused study. The general ascendency of the former weakened the funding for interdisciplinary work in area studies.

The fragile nature of Institutional Gender/Asia Studies is a difficulty, another one, is the small size of the research units. The latter can be faced with research and teaching cooperation in professional associations, such as the Gendering Asia Network. In my opinion, the Gendering Asia Network, has proven to be very important for lone Gender/Asia researchers in the Nordic countries to define concerns and approaches with aid from other regional expertise in the network. I am convinced that those of us who have had a long-standing commitment to Gender/Asia Studies in the Nordic countries, readily acknowledge the influence and contribution of the network for collaborative research.”

(email sent to Cecilia Milwertz, 26 January 2015)


Specific scientific outcome:

The main measurable network outcome was

  • joint publications
  • joint research project proposals and one individual research proposal made to the EU.

Moreover, and less measurably, the network made an impact on the publications of individual network members.

An important experience is that while network participation has greatly benefitted PhD students and young scholar members, as well as senior scholars, the work on joint publications and research project proposals has drawn heavily on the contributions of senior scholars.



The network was led by a steering group with members from all five Nordic countries


For further information, please contact: Cecilia Milwertz

Senior researcher, the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies

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