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In cooperation and with the support of IZO, the Sinology department will offer an exceptional calligraphy class taught by Mr. Hu CHANG, an experienced professional calligrapher, in the winter semesters 2022/23.

The course will be taught in a biweekly format on Friday, 12-14 on Campus Westend. All material will be provided free of charge.

More information is available on the QIS course page.


Oct 6 2022

IZO Annual Report 2021/22

Our annual bilingual report for the academic year 2021/22 has just been published and is freely available for download.

The difficult situation at the time of the pandemic has not prevented the IZO from continuing research and activities - albeit virtually - and the Center can look back on an eventful year. The following pages will give you an insight into the activities of the center under the difficult conditions of the pandemic.

In the course of 2021-22, the first steps have been taken at IZO towards a hopefully 'post-pandemic' future. Teaching is largely face-to-face again, and events organized by IZO have gradually been transferred back into the 'real' world.

A first high point, as early as October, was a discussion of experts with the economist Barry Naughton on the present state of the Chinese economy. This event, which took place under the auspices of the guest professorship funded by the Deutsche Bank Stiftung in the summer of 2021, was held at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg. It was complemented by a meeting organized by the Early Career Researchers Network in which junior academics had an opportunity to speak to Professor Naughton and exchange their views on the future of Chinese and Asian Studies and on their own career perspectives.

Another major event in the year under review was the lecture on 'The Moral Duties of Art' with Yang Lian, the Chinese writer in exile and first laureate of the newly established IZO Fellowship (see below the poem he wrote in Frankfurt), and the writer Yan Geling. With an audience of 160 and the subsequent broadcasting of the video recording, this event reached an audience well beyond the boundaries of Frankfurt.

On the administrative level we have completely revised the IZO website, giving it a more modern appearance. It is now more up to date and highlights our research activities. Also, IZO has begun to significantly expand the sponsorship available to young researchers. We are pleased to announce that, in addition to the existing individual sponsorships, the newly created ECR Fund will offer up to 10.000 Euro per year to subsidise the independently organised activities of young researchers. This will also help to raise the profile of the University in the area of East Asia Studies.

In April 2022 another evaluation of IZO took place, the third since its inception. It is not yet known what the results and consequences will be. IZO continues to be committed to the study of the history of East Asia. In these turbulent times it also offers frameworks of reference and orientation in present-day East Asia. The most recent instance was a notable panel discussion in July of this year on Chinese-Russian relations in the context of the war in Ukraine.


May 2 2022

IZO Fellowship

The IZO welcomes YANG Lian as the new IZO Fellow

In May 2022, the IZO is proud to host YANG Lian 杨炼 as a fellow who will enrich the centre's ongoing work on canonisation and innovation in East Asia. Born in 1955 in Bern, Yang began writing when he was sent to the countryside in the 1970s. In the 1980s, hebecame well-known inside and outside of China as a member of the now canonized “Misty"School of poetry. He was invited to visit Australia
and New Zealand in 1988 and next year, he became a poet in exile and started his globaljourney. Throughout the years, his literary writing, as well as his outspoken voice, has been calledas a highly individual voice in world literature, politics and culture. His poems have been translated into more than twenty languages and have won dozens of international prizes. 

Image Credits: Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 


Mar 7 2022

IZO Third-Party Funded Project

QuaMaFA Summer School Open for Applications

The IZO joint project QuaMaFA (Qualification and Skill in the Migration Process of Foreign Workers in Asia) hosts a graduate student summer school on “Innovative Research Designs and Methods in Asian Migration Research” from 18 to 19 July 2022 at Goethe University Frankfurt. This summer school targets early PhD students and late MA students (who can demonstrate their plan of pursuing a PhD), who examine methodological issues related to migration, mobility and ethnic diversity in Asia. This summer school aims to bring together these challenges and offers a platform to jointly discuss new opportunities and constraints that arise in a rapidly digitalizing, pandemic-struck world.

The deadline for abstract (250–300 words) and short-bio (100–150 words) is 15 April 2022 (via email to Once your abstract is accepted, please submit a short paper (1500–3000 words) describing your methodological concerns or fieldwork challenges by 15 June 2022. The summer school will be held in person, but depending on the situations of travel restrictions, it may be switched to online. Costs for transportation and accommodation during the event are fully covered by the organizer of the summer school .

For further information, check out our website (


Yonson Ahn received the 2020 ALSA Distinguished Article Award for her article, "Traumatic bonding between Korean 'comfort women' and Japanese soldiers during World War II". European Journal of Women's Studies, Volume 26 issue 4: November, 2019.

This work analyses the complex and contentious issues of mutual affection and codependency in relationships between Korean 'comfort women' and Japanese soldiers during World War II. Drawing on a combination of interviews and published resources, it explores the groups' perceptions of one another within the framework of 'traumatic bonding'. Despite traumatic violence and stark inequalities, this article finds nuanced contributions from the parties involved. For the soldiers, the relationships provided a form of emotional relief from the violence of war and from the oppression they themselves were subjected to by those of superior rank within the military hierarchy, while the women often sought kindness and protection from the military men with whom they had formed relationships. However, underneath the yearning for human connection, these relationships were highly complex and deeply affected by the overarching power dynamics of gender and the racialised colonial hierarchy.

Source: Yonson Ahn, "Traumatic bonding between Korean 'comfort women' and Japanese soldiers during World War II". European Journal of Women's Studies, Volume 26 issue 4: November, 2019, pp.360-374.


Feb 21 2022

IZO Fellowship

IZO Fellow Prof. Stefan Gruber

During his tenure as IZO fellow, Professor Gruber works within the framework of IZO’s research initiative on “Canonization and Innovation in East Asia”. His contribution to the research initiative explores the usage of canonization to delineate and dominate discourse and narratives and establish authority in favour of governments and other ruling groups in cultural heritage protection law, policy, and initiatives in East Asia. As cultural heritage is in many cases a highly contested and political concept, the ability to create canon is a very powerful tool. This applies particularly in culturally and politically diverse countries and regions, as it allows the dominant class to exclude the voices from other communities by defining what constitutes cultural heritage, establishing a dominant narrative, and hence influencing how the cultural and political landscape will be shaped in the future based on a selective perspective of the past. Such canon can then be moulded into law and policy to ensure its prevalence. Examples of such phenomena are drawn from several East Asian jurisdictions.


Dr Stefan Gruber is a law professor and is affiliated as a researcher with the Hakubi Center for Advanced Research at Kyoto University and the Institute for Advanced Social Sciences of Waseda University in Tokyo. Previously, he was a member of the Faculty of Law of the University of Sydney and continues to teach and research at universities in China and across the Asia-Pacific. He is further active as a legal practitioner and consultant to governmental, non-governmental, and international organisations, and is a member of the World Commission on Environmental Law. He was educated at the Universities of Sydney, Frankfurt, Mainz, and at Harvard Law School, and holds degrees in law, philosophy, and political science. His current research concentrates on cultural heritage protection, sustainable development and environmental law, public international law and politics, the illicit trafficking of cultural property and other forms of art crime, Asian law and society, and human rights. Prior to his current fellowship, Professor Gruber was the Goethe Law Visiting Professor in 2019 and a fellow at IZO as part of the “Protecting the Weak” project in 2016. 


Check out the new project website at for current insights into the IZO joint research project Cultural Entrepreneurship and Digital Transformation in Africa and Asia.

In addition to detailed reports on the two major Events to date - the Opening Conference in July and the Methods Workshop in October 2021 - the website features extensive information on the four research areas as well as the individual projects carried out in Frankfurt, Mainz and Lagos (Research). Moreover, the Methods section presents the different methodological approaches employed by the participating researchers to study the concept of Cultural Entrepreneurship especially in Korea and Nigeria

In the course of the now beginning (field) research, regular updates on individual research activities can be found in the News section. Most recently, CEDITRAA researcher Artemis Saleh reports on her first CEDITRAA field trip to Lagos and her meeting with the project partners from Pan-Atlantic University.


The project Cultural Entrepreneurship and Digital Transformation in Africa and Asia (CEDITRAA), jointly organised by Goethe University Frankfurt and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, has received funding by BMBF since April 1st 2021. Despite restrictions due to the pandemic the research team can look back on a first year of great activity.

The opening conference was organised primarily by Prof. Matthias Krings (Ethnology) and Prof. Tom Simmert, both University of Mainz. The subject of Cultural Entrepreneurship was approached from various angles, for instance in a talk given by the renowned institutionalist Michael Lounsbury from the University of Alberta.

A digital workshop, organised by Prof. Cornelia Storz in cooperation with Egbert Amoncio and the IZO Academic Coordinator Bertram Lang on 4 and 5 October, brought together experts from Europe, Asia and the United States who presented and discussed innovative methods of using digital sources. On Day One the focus was on machine learning and computer-assisted image and video analysis. On Day Two the emphasis was on digital and hybrid ethnography.

Alongside these main events the team of academics from the universities of Frankfurt and Mainz and colleagues from the Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos came together regularly at the virtual CEDITRAA Friday Meetings, which facilitate the general exchange of ideas among researchers and the presentation of one sub-project at a time, thus highlighting the many different methodical approaches to the East Asian and African cultural industries. 


The time has come! The IZO is pleased to present the activity report of the academic year 2020/21 as an online version.

The difficult situation at the time of the pandemic has not prevented the IZO from continuing research and activities - albeit virtually - and the Center can look back on an eventful year. The following pages will give you an insight into the activities of the center under the difficult conditions of the pandemic.

The complete report in German and English can be downloaded here:


Policy consultation and direct public interaction with political decision makers play an important role in foregrounding the social relevance of Chinese and Asian Studies. It is for this reason that the IZO's Academic Coordinator, Bertram Lang, makes regular contributions to policy journals and to studies conducted by NGOs and public institutions.

When a controversial passage about non-profit organisations in the draft EU-China investment agreement became public in March 2021, the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament commissioned Bertram Lang to submit a study on the role of civil society in Europe's policy on China. In this study Mr Lang takes a critical look at the position of the European Commission and the European member states and makes specific suggestions on how expert knowledge in civil societies might be better integrated into European foreign and trade policy, so as to emphasize the European interest in an international order endorsed by a multiplicity of actors and to stress European values.

In a webinar chaired by Christina Sadeler on 8 December 2021, Bertram Lang and Reinhard Bütikofer, Member of the European Parliament and China expert of the Green Party, discussed the study's central arguments as well as options for future action with regard to the investment agreement which is currently on halt.

Addendum: The webinar is now freely accessible here.

Download link to the study: