Merchants, scholars, travelers, warriors –people- moved across the Silk Road and established the Eurasian region through economic, cultural and institutional networks and interactions. A millennium later, Asia is still connected, but now by different kinds of forces of globalization– neoliberal capitalism, international normative regimes, spread of pop culture, transnational flows of workers, refugees, expats and students. While the people landscape of Asia attracts increasing attention in the scholarship at the global and subnational level, the Asian state is often regarded as an object of curiosity in this historical journey with regards to their relations with the forces of production and their citizens as well as with the international system.
More than half of the world population lives in the East and South Asian countries that hosted the most ancient civilizations in the world. Besides, half of this population lives in the South Asian region consisting of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Today, East and South Asian regions, primarily China, Korea, Japan and India, have been developing very rapidly, and playing a distinct and important role in world economy and politics. Particularly, the East Asian countries have been increasing their dominance at the global level and presenting new experience and models to other regions in the world by improving their regional economic cooperation steadily. On the other hand, China and India become the dominant political actors in world politics and beyond that they play a direct role on the future of Eurasian countries that came to the forefront with respect to primarily energy and security issues, which are of great significance for Turkey. Finally, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which was developed via regional initiatives, is the most successful regional cooperation organization apart from Europe.
The recognition and examination of the cultural, historical, economic and political characteristics of the East and South Asian countries and the formation of perspectives towards the development of relations with these states are of indispensable significance for many institutions and stakeholders. These institutions and stakeholders range from art circles to sports world and from media to non-governmental organizations. Especially, entrepreneurial circles and institutions that participate in the formulation and implementation of Turkish foreign policy benefit from increasing knowledge in Asian studies in order to develop economic cooperation through trade, investments and technological change. Thus, Middle East Technical University launched the Masters' program in Asian Studies to fill the existing huge gap in this context.
METU is one of the top universities in Turkey which has taken the lead in many fields and, interdisciplinary area studies is one such field. Following the first and still the largest Center for European Studies, the Center for Eurasian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, METU added East Asian Studies and Latin American Studies programs to its interdisciplinary area studies repertoire. With the East Asian Studies program also supported by the Confucius Institute, which METU hosts on-campus, METU aims to be a hub for East Asian studies in Turkey.
The Asian Studies program of METU aims at supporting people with different career paths by stimulating the accumulation of knowledge in various fields as much as developing academic and research facilities on South and East Asia. This goal is attained through the creation of an effective network of communication and cooperation among the stakeholders (scientists, entrepreneurs, political arena, non-governmental actors and members of the press) having diverse interest areas. Therefore, the Asian Studies Program is carried out in close cooperation with the business world and various institutions, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only by this way, the program could contribute to the realms of culture, art, business, media and politics. Through an inter-disciplinary perspective, the program seeks to utilize the existing data accumulation and diverse methodologies in various social sciences such as history, sociology, political science, international relations, economy and social policy. Our diverse profile of faculty, students and alumni as well as the wide range of fields our courses cover reflect the truly interdisciplinary nature of Asian Studies Program at METU.