Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

Summer Schools


Glocalization in Vietnam (2018)

HU Berlin, Vietnam National University

In Vietnam and especially its capital Hanoi, the societal changes since the politics of renovation (Đổi Mới) were introduced in the mid-1980s are clearly visible. Through the influence of global transformations, most notably in economic and cultural contexts, public space and the circumstances of urban living have rapidly changed. New condominiums and shopping malls have been erected, in which modern lifestyles informed by global consumption patterns are expressed. At the same time, however, there has been a strengthening of local consciousness with an orientation towards established family and religious values. Street trade and small businesses continue to play an important role, and people are increasingly taking part in religious festivities. How these two forces – globalization and localization – are mutually dependent and influence each other can be investigated at specific sites within the city.

The first week contains numerous lectures by contributors from Germany, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. As the Summer School begins, project groups of mixed nationalities are formed, while each group is assigned a specific site within the city. Groups prepare for their field research throughout the first week and then explore and research their sites during the second week. Participants are encouraged to try out and make use of various research methods such as conducting interviews with employees and locals on-site. Subsequently, the groups evaluate their collected data and present their findings on the final day of the Summer School. After the program has ended, students will document their results in the form of a written research report.



IAAW Buriram Project (2014–2019)

HU Berlin, Buriram Technical College

The “IAAW-Buriram_Project@HU-Berlin” was initiated by Benjamin Baumann (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Naree Inram (Buriram Technical College). The MoU between the Institute of Asian and African Studies and Buriram’s Technical College grew out of Benjamin’s anthropological fieldwork in Buriram Province. Every summer semester break, the project offers up to six of our students who are learning Thai the chance to do an internship in Thailand. For a period of two months (from mid-July to mid-September) our BA and MA students work at Buriram’s Technical College and assist Thai English teachers with their English classes, engage in extra-curricular activities, and most importantly experience local Thai culture. The students live as a group in their own house on the College campus and will develop their own teaching projects prior to their departure. The project aims at enhancing our students' Thai and inter-cultural communication skills. The partnership of our seminar with a Technical College in Thailand is thought of as a complement to Humboldt's other MoUs with Thai universities.

Until recently, Buriram, located in Thailand’s lower Northeast, was one of the nation’s poorest and least developed provinces and thus remains rather rural in its outlook. However, one should not be misled by this rural image and keep in mind that societal transformations are ocurring in this province at an accelerated pace. The project thus offers a unique opportunity to experience local Thai culture and society beyond touristic tracks. The project is coordinated by Benjamin Baumann and Martin Schalbruch in Berlin as well as Naree Inram in Buriram.

Project photos and impressions



The Return of the Past: Memory Making and Heritage in Southeast Asia (2014–2016)

HU Berlin, Universitas Gajah Mada, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Post-colonial states in the Southeast Asian region have been described as being strongly oriented towards the future, prioritizing modernization and development. In recent years however, the past seems to have taken on a renewed relevance. This intensive two-week course brings experts from Berlin, Penang and Yogyakarta together to discuss memory and its transmission as a social, cultural and political phenomenon. Hegemonic state-centred narratives about the past are compared with bottom-up popular memories in order to understand how multiple identities are formed, contested and modified.

In the first week of the summer school, lecturers of various disciplinary backgrounds (history, political science, anthropology) introduced students to some of the main theories on memory and heritage and give them insights into important research that has been done on these issues in Southeast Asia. During the second week, participants formed small groups and visited various pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary memory sites in the Yogyakarta region and spoke with people connected to these sites. Each group presented their findings on the final day of the summer school.

The lecturers who taught in this program included Prof. Dr. Vincent Houben,  Prof. Dr. Bambang Purwanto, Dr. Soon Chuan Yean, Dr. Sri Margana, Dr. Olivia Killias, Dr. Lye Tuck Po, Dr. Budiawan, Rosa Cordillera Castillo, Aleah Connley and Uji Nugroho Winardi.



(In)congruities between Nation, State and Civil Society (2011–2013)

HU Berlin, Universiti Sains Malaysia

In the context of the cooperation between Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) and University Sains Malaysia (USM) an annual joint summer school program has been established in 2011. Each year in late February / early March, lecturers and students from the two partner universities and beyond are teaching, studying and doing research together in the framework of a compact two-week course that addresses the congruities and incongruities between nation, state and civil society that have shaped the countries in Southeast Asia.

By taking into consideration macro- as well as micro-perspectives, the complex relation between nation(building), state and civil society are examined from various theoretical standpoints and disciplinary perspectives. More specifically, the participants are exposed to looking at how non-government organizations (NGOs), in the context of social movements in Southeast Asia, play important roles in developing civil society structures with limited participatory possibilities. Countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia or the Philippines show the possibilities, boundaries and responses of this engagement with the states in Southeast Asia.

In the first week of the summer school, lecturers of various disciplinary backgrounds (history, political science, psychology and anthropology) introduce the students to some of the main theories on nation, state and civil society and give them insights into important research that has been carried out on these issues in Southeast Asia – from political patronage in a Filipino village to the role of transnational Islam as a civil society movement, to the systematic exclusion of indigenous populations from the nation-state projects. Participants are expected to read the assigned literature beforehand. During the summer school, students are encouraged to interact with fellow students from USM and Humboldt-Universität on these matters, to share and exchange ideas and experiences as well as on what it actually means to do “area studies” – both in/from Asian and Europe.

During the second week, participants have the opportunity to engage in discussions with local NGOs, covering a range of topics such as environmental, women's and human rights as well as religious, arts and culture matters, and to ask how these are translated into practice by the respective actors. Here, the participants can focus on areas of their own interest; they are given the opportunity to formulate ideas and questions they can later on use for their own research, for instance in the context of their coursework.

The list of lecturers who have taught in this program so far includes scholars such as Ahmad Fauzi, Azeem Farouk, Azmil Tayeb, Frederik Holst, Vincent Houben, Olivia Killias, Francis Loh, Lye Tuck Po, Noraida Endut, Norzarina Zaharim, Saskia Schäfer, Shakila Abdul Manan and Soon Chuan Yean.