1. Comparative Study on Globalization in Asia, the Middle East and Africa
Carrying on and developing further the “Towards Area-Based Global Studies” COE project that was led by Institute Fellows of IAAMES (completed in March 2007), joint research is conducted with a combination of macro-perspectives on issues that accompany globalization and micro-perspectives as typified by demonstrative research in local communities. Specifically, research has focused on local interview surveys about reconstruction initiatives for foreign residents affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and about changes in religious practices brought about by globalization. An example of the results of this research is a publication of IAAMES entitled A Comparative Research on Environment and Development in Asia: Within the Context of the Evolution of Information Technology and Globalization (2004).
2. Study on Cultural Heritage
Based on the results of the “Cultural Heritage in the Resurgence of Nationalism” project sponsored by the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools in Japan (completed in March 2011), studies have been continued in collaboration with both university and external researchers from related fields on cultural heritage in Japan and other parts of Asia. Researches are conducted on issues such as the formation of the concept of cultural heritage, the political nature of cultural heritage, interface between government’s policy towards cultural heritage and local residents around cultural heritage sites, archaeological and historical research dealing with cultural heritage sites, and issues relating to the preservation and use of various forms of cultural heritage such as archaeological sites, craft works, arts, and manuscripts. The results of this research are shared on a global level and specific advice is provided on practical issues involving cultural heritage.
Major recent publications include a special issue “Sophia Cambodia Studies” of The Journal of Sophia Asian Studies 28 (2010), and Cultural Heritage in the Resurgence of Nationalism: A Comparative Study of the Re-structuring of Identity in Asia and Africa” (edited by Kisaichi Masatoshi, 2011).
3. Comparative Studies on Historical Development and Nationalism in Asia, the Middle-East, and Africa
The diverse nations and regions that comprise Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa have each a lengthy history of traditions, from which have sprouted unique socio-political systems and ideologies, cultures, and political and social movements. By the latter half of the 19th century however many of these countries and regions were observed to have been transformed into colonies or semi-colonies, subject to the whims of the imperialist powers, and yet, due to hardships experienced by their people during the colonial days, a spirit of nationalism too gradually made its appearance in most of them.
This project focuses on the nations and regions that constitute the four areas mentioned above, and it involves comparative research, which includes the accumulation of indigenous historical data through fieldwork, detailed study of historical traditions prior to the colonial era, and an upfront scrutiny of the process of resistance to colonialism. Studies are also conducted on the status of religious and ethnic minorities, in post independence modern nation-states and peoples. In order to share our research achievements with the public, we intend not only to hold academic meetings and lectures, but also to publish in stages the outcome of our research.
Publications based on the research on these themes include a special issue “The Iranian World and its Neighboring Areas - Formation and Development” of The Journal of Sophia Asian Studies 25, “Burma Studies in Japan: History, Culture and Religion" of The Journalof Sophia Asian Studies 32, Karen and Thakins under the Japanese Occupation in Burma, 1942-1945: History and Historiography of the Myaunmya Incident and the Karen Battalion in the Thakin-led Uprising(Monograph Series No. 11; by IKEDA Kazuto; in Japanese; 2012), The “White Man,s Burden” and the Islamic Movement in the Philippines: The Petition of Zamboanga Muslim Leaders to the Ottoman Empire in 1912 (Monograph Series No. 17; by KAWASHIMA Midori; 2014), and Zaigai Birumajin Community no Keisei to Kadai -Nihon to Kankoku wo Jireini-(In Japanese) (Occasional Papers No. 20; by NEMOTO Kei(Ed.), KAJIMURA Miki and SUN Wonsuk; 2016).
4. Research on Inter-religious Dialogue and Peace Building
Religious conflict today is by no means limited to Southeast Asia, South Asia, or the Middle East. Rather, it has developed into a phenomenon pervading the entire globe. Hence in order to tackle issues of discord and friction and to offer practical aid towards their resolution, it is vital that we acquire a precise grasp of the world's current situation. Consequently, examining the world's religions, their values rooted in society, and the bonds existing between them, are all activities that have now been transformed into issues of vital significance. Inter-religious dialogue has now moved to center stage, as a means to enhance mutual tolerance and care. This project utilizes a dual approach, comprising methodologies based on area studies and social movements, in order to tackle the issue of conflict and cooperation between dissimilar religious groups. Taking into consideration Sophia's identity as a Catholic University, we seek to carry out our activities by utilizing seminars and symposiums, as forums for campus-wide discussion.
The Journal of Sophia Asian Studies Number 29 (2011) is a special issue based on South Asia of the 21st century. This issue contains articles linked to the results of our project's activities.
5. Studies on Modern Middle East
This program was launched through a project involving the National Institute for the Humanities (NIHU) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), as SIAC was designated as one of the organizations to form the base of Islamic area studies in Japan. Many researchers from both within and outside the university have participated in this program as joint researchers.
Publications that have been produced based on this project include the entire issues of SOIAS Working Paper Series, the special features “Muslim Networks and Movements in Asia” and “New Horizon of Maghreb Studies in Japan” of The Journal of Sophia Asian Studies 27 (2009) and 30 (2012), respectively.