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April 2008
Features and Significance of the Afrasian Centre
Director: Pauline Kent

@In the age of globalisation, Asia and Africa are experiencing dramatic economic development alongside frequent wars and armed conflict. At the Afrasian Centre for Peace and Development Studies, we aim to carry out interdisciplinary research in the area of conflict resolution as a key to comprehensively understanding, and practically solving, conflict situations. This practical research is underpinned by Ryukoku Universityfs long traditions of cultural and religious research; Inter-Civic Studies; Asian and African Studies; intercultural understanding; and academic exchanges with both domestic and foreign research institutes. Our four research teams carry out research into the following areas; 1) conflict resolution: nations & international relations, 2) environments & resources, 3) culture & networks, and 4) poverty & development. Research findings are presented at international symposia, workshops, team research meetings and in published working papers.

Conflict Resolution & Interdisciplinary Research

@Within the discipline of International Relations, the understanding of conflict resolution has primarily been undertaken from a western perspective. However, this project aims to harness knowledge and values in Asia and Africa that can be applied to conflict resolution in these areas. With this in mind, the project takes an interdisciplinary approach and bases its findings within regional and area studies.

Understanding the Role of Culture

@In this era of globalisation and ever-increasing movement of money, goods and people, prevention of conflict that results from different values, cultures and religions is an important issue that needs to be addressed. By examining the identity and networks of immigrants, and the role that cultural perspectives take within the interaction between those from different cultures, the project aims to understand cultural mechanisms that promote sustainable peace and prevent conflict.

Japanese Society from a Multi-cultural Perspective

@Japan is presently undergoing rapid social change and faces a number of social issues with the advent of ageing and fewer children. A growing number of non-Japanese are now expected to make greater contributions to Japanese society. Our project conducts collaborative research between Japanese and non-Japanese researchers in order to examine ways Japan can function as a host society to non-Japanese people without creating unnecessary tension. Already our research on Philipine carers in Japan has had a considerable social impact.

A New Perspective on Resources and the Environment

@The problems of water resources and energy in Asia and Africa directly correlate with the problem of survival in developing countries. By trying to understand these problems within the context of the communities we have begun to take an innovative and more comprehensive approach to solving such problems.

Nurturing Young Researchers

@The project activley promotes the involvement of younger researchers by employing post-doctoral researchers and research assistants. Such researchers, whilst being directly involved in management of the project, are also encouraged to present their findings in our research meetings and publications. The project also endevours to link research with education, especially at the graduate level.

May 2005
Afrasian Centre for Peace and Development Studies
Director: Nobuko Nagasaki

   As globalization proceeds, Asia and Africa diverges into two polarized worlds. While some Asian countries continue to achieve economic development, many countries in Africa, as well as some in Asia, remain poor and suffer from frequent occurrence of violent conflicts. Although the economic globalization and polarization of the world into rich and poor are closely interconnected, existing disciplines including economics, politics, international relations, and even area studies have so far failed to analyze the complex causes of conflicts and to propose a guideline to mediate the conflicts and bring peace. Additionally the Japanese government has not clearly defined its role in resolving conflicts in the world. A new holistic approach is needed to find mechanisms and institutions inherent to each society that can be useful and effective in managing and resolving conflicts.
    We have set up a five-year joint research project at Ryukoku University in Kyoto and Shiga, Japan in order to fill this gap and pursue a new holistic approach to the conflict studies in Asia and Africa. Our project is identified as an Academic Frontier Centre (AFC) research project initiated and funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Ryukoku University established the Afrasian Centre for Peace and Development Studies as a central academic institute to engage in this joint research project.
    The strength and uniqueness of our research project includes the following five unique features. Meaningful academic results are expected on these features.

Tradition of Religious and Cultural Studies

    As illustrated in Kashmir, Afghanistan, and Iraq, religion and culture occupy an important dimension in many cases of contemporary conflicts. Ryukoku University, where the Afrasian Centre is based, has a long-standing research tradition of religious studies. Ryukoku University has recognized that an essential character of the contemporary period lies in religious pluralism and pursuing religious and cultural studies based on the understanding of the importance of religious tolerance and diversity. The Afrasian Centre hopes to embark on multi-disciplinary research on conflict resolution in Asia and Africa based on this long-standing tradition of religious and cultural studies at Ryukoku University.

Experiences of Participatory Research and People-centred Approach

    Ryukoku University also has abundant experiences and experts of participatory research in the process of conflict resolution in Asia. One example is a joint research project with JICA on the establishment of a participatory rural development method in Sri Lanka, which was conducted in collaboration with the University of Colombo from 1998 to 2001. The Afrasian Centre will utilize the knowledge of new methods of development derived from this joint project and try to unearth local mechanisms for conflict resolution that are deeply buried in each society in Asia and Africa. This process will in turn highlight the possible new role for Japan in resolving conflicts in Asia and Africa. In particular we will seek to identify what kind of role Japanese citizens could and should play in that process.

Asian and African Specialists

   In recent times, Ryukoku University has provided an institutional base for numerous area studies projects on South-west Asia, Indian Ocean and Africa. For instance we organized a research project titled gStructural Change and Networking in South Asia | in Pursuit of A Developmental Model for Plural Societyh in which more than 120 South Asian specialists participated between 1998 and 2001. The project was funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, and research findings were published by the University of Tokyo Press in six volumes of books titled Contemporary South Asia. It was the first publication of systematic research on South Asia in Japan. African Studies is also very active at Ryukoku University where the Africanist researchers hosted an African policy research conference that aimed to conduct a systematic analysis of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and to draft concrete proposals for the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD). Learning lessons from these previous experiences and developing further research and knowledge, our new project at the Afrasian Centre attempts to construct an effective model for conflict resolution in Asia and Africa.

Intercultural Communication Studies
| A New Approach to gInter-culturalh Understandings in Japan

    One of the recent developments at Ryukoku University is an increasing number of foreign researchers from Europe, North America and various parts of Asia. Led by the Faculty of Intercultural Communication, many foreign academics joined as faculty members and they are increasingly participating in research and higher education at Ryukoku University. Through the daily interaction between Japanese researchers and foreign researchers at these faculties, new understandings of gnation-stateh and ginter-culturalh and gmulti-religioush co-existence are developing. Our experiences and efforts are moving towards the construction of new academic discipline called Intercultural Communication Studies and resulted in the establishment of the Japan Association of Intercultural Communication Studies. Many members of our research project at the Afrasia Centre are leading figures in this association. The new developing academic discipline called Intercultural Communication Studies aims to visualize the multi-layeredness of contemporary world and discover the existence of transnational networks as an important actor in defining historical change. The development of this new discipline is based on our own experiences of managing faculties with multi-national staff at Ryukoku University. Our research project at the Afrasian Centre hopes to find a new method for conflict resolution in simultaneous development with this new academic discipline.

Effective Networks with Various Research Institutions Within and Outside Japan

    The Afrasian Centre has established cooperative working relationships with various academic institutions both within and outside Japan. Many of these institutions, including Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, Hasanuding University in Indonesia and KwaZulu-Natal University in South Africa, have been important bases for Asian and African Studies. Our cooperative research network also includes academic establishments in Europe and North America such as Harvard University, Cornell University, and University of London. The Afrasian Centre aims to form a linkage between universities in Asia and Africa and universities in Europe and North America, based on the existing cooperative relationship with these individual research institutions. In this way, we hope to go beyond the limit of area studies which have often tended to focus on a specific region narrowly, and promote the comparative analysis between different regions as well as within a region. We also hope to produce unique and outstanding research findings and share our new knowledge with various researchers based in different parts of the world.