Who Funds Asian Studies? The Impact of East Asian State Funding on Research and Teaching

In the 1960s, American scholars and graduate students criticized the close relationship between  Asian Studies programs and United States government agencies such as the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. The Michigan State University Vietnam Advisory Group (MSUG), the Center for Vietnamese Studies at Southern Illinois University, and the East-West Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa (established in 1961 with funding from the US State Department), are some among several such programs that were scrutinized.  

In the current era of university restructuring and budget cuts, more and more tertiary institutions in North America, Europe, and Australia have turned to country-specific sources for funding Asian Studies programs. The Korea Foundation, the Japan Foundation, Taiwan’s Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and the Chinese government’s Confucius Institute network all provide funds for the study of their respective countries. Yet there has been little discussion about the potential ramifications on teaching and scholarship when universities accept money from a foreign government to fund research on that very government’s society – except in the case of the PRC’s funding of Confucius Institutes. Should we assume that when the Korean, Japanese, and Taiwan governments provide financial support to universities, these are gifts that transcend the reciprocal demands sketched out by Marcel Mauss in his seminal work, The Gift? There are no pure gifts, as Mauss so eloquently showed: an expectation always accompanies these.

Join us at the 2019 Association for Asian Studies (AAS) annual meeting at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel on Friday, March 22nd, 1.30-3.15 pm for a CAS roundtable on the politics and impact of East Asian state funding on Asian Studies.


Dr. Jeffrey Kingston, Director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan.

Jenny Town, SAIS and the Stimson Center, Editor of 38 North,

Dr. John Lie, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Edward McCord, Professor of History and international Affairs, the George Washington University.

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