Summer School - Contested Geographies: Old and New Connections Between the Middle Kingdom and Its Neighbours, 6 – 11June 2016, Czech Republic

Publish Date: Apr 18, 2016

Deadline: May 22, 2016

Event Dates: from Jun 06, 2016 12:00 to Jun 11, 2016 12:00

Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic, would like to invite you to its international summer school, titled: “Contested geographies: old and new connections between the Middle Kingdom and its neighbours”

The aim of this one-week summer school is to introduce students into the complex web of relations that China has had with its neighbours throughout the history. It introduces students into the complex relationships that China has with its neighbours, its difficulties and intricacies. Also, a goal of this summer school is to show that, beyond the contemporary international relations of China, there is a cultural and social component in the interactions between China and its neighbours that should not be neglected. Changes of perspectives between China and its neighbours give place to reflections on “contested geographies”: how space and place are constructed and elaborated by contemporary and historical actors. How “Chinese” is a Uighur laghman? Does China share political philosophies with its neighbours and, if not, how China´s approach differs from the ones of its neighbours’? Is the presence of Chinese people in the neighbouring states intensifying or testing the relationship between China and its neighbours? In a way, the continuities and discontinuities of contested geographies give clues in the reflections of what “China” and “the neighbours” are supposed to be.


  • 16 sessions/lectures (90 minutes each)
  • Monday afternoon guided city tour
  • Optional Saturday field trip
  • Program: TBA

Lectures by honored guests:

  • Prof. Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania)
    • Professor Mair has been teaching at the University of Pennsylvania since 1979. He specializes in Buddhist popular literature as well as the vernacular tradition of Chinese fiction and the performing arts. Throughout the 1990’s, Professor Mair organized an interdisciplinary research project on the Bronze Age and Iron Age mummies of Eastern Central Asia. Among other results of his efforts during this period were three documentaries for television (Scientific American, NOVA and Discovery Channel), a major international conference, numerous articles, and a book, “The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West” (Thames and Hudson, 2000). Victor H. Mair received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1976. He also holds an M.Phil. degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London).
  • Dr. Olaf Günther (Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic)
    • Olaf Guenther studied Central Asian Studies at the Humboldt University in Berlin, teached Ethnology at the University of Leipzig and has substantial field work experience in China and its neighboring countries in the west (Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan, Afghanistan) and south of China (Pakistan, Bangladesh). He will introduce the relationhips China established with Afghanistan, Tadjikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • Dr. Soledad Jiménez Tovar (Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic)
    • Soledad Jiménez Tovar, PhD. Has a BA in Latin American Studies (Mexico), a MA in Chinese Studies (Mexico) and a PhD in Social Anthropology (Germany). Over the last decade she has been doing research on Central Asia, mainly Xinjiang (PRC), Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The topic of her PhD research was preservation of culture among Dungans, as Sinophone Muslims are known in Central Asia. Since February, 2016, she joined Palacky University as a research fellow in the framework of a project on how people in Central Asia look at China. She just published the paper “Limits of diaspority in Central Asia: contextualizing Dungan’s multiple belongings” in the journal Central Asian Survey.
  • Dr. Mária Strašáková (MUP, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic)
    • Maria Strasakova, Ph.D., is the  Deputy Head of the Department of Asian Studies at Metropolitan University Prague, where she also oversees the activities of the research Center for Indo-Pacific Studies. She also teaches at the Department of Asian Studies at Palacký University Olomouc. Her research interests include Vietnamese history and culture of the 20th century as well as current security issues in the Asia Pacific, with special emphasis on the South China Sea dispute.
  • Fan Zhang (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany)
    • Fan Zhang has a BA in Art Studies and Sociology (Beijing University), MA in Anthropology (Peking University), and a MA in Social Sciences (University of Chicago). Currently, she is writing her PhD thesis at Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology with a project entitled: “Manjusri’s Gift: the establishment of Qing imperial order in Tibet, 1652-1793”. Her latest publications include “Local and Trans-local beings: the cult of Guandi in Tibet” (2015), “Grass-root Official in the Ideological Battlefield: Revaluation of the Study of the amban in Tibet” (2014), and 仪式:从社会理论到天下理论(Ritual: from Social Theory to the Theory of “Tianxia (All Under Heaven)”) (2009).

How to apply:

Please fill in the registration form no later than May 22, 2016. Participants selected will be informed by May 25, 2016.

Evaluation methods:

Student will be asked to write 5-10 pages “take-home” essay on one of the given topics and submit it by July 6, 2016. Essays will be evaluated and marked and successful participants will obtain certificate of participation and transcript of record.


This summer school is accredited by the Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts Palacký University Olomouc and students can receive four credits for successful participation. However, these credits are not ECTS Credits. Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and we will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Tuition fee:

Tuition for the whole week is free of charge. Participants will however need to cover all their personal costs, including transportation, accommodation, visa, trips etc.

Travel expenses and accommodation:

We are not able to cover your accommodation and travel expenses. However, we can assist you by providing a list of recommended accommodation in various price categories.

Recommended budget accommodation in Olomouc:

  1. Ubytovna Marie (approx. 11 EUR) –
  2. Cosy Corner Hostel (approx. 12-27 EUR) –
  3. Palacký University Dormitory  (approx.10 EUR) – Link

More information about accommodation and travelling to Olomouc can be found here.

About Palacký University and Olomouc

Palacký University Olomouc is the second oldest university in the Czech Republic and one of the oldest in Central Europe. Drawing on more than 400-year tradition of higher education it is nowadays a renowned centre for teaching and research.

Olomouc is the capital of the region of Central Moravia and belongs to the oldest cities in the Czech Republic. The city dates back to the ninth century, when it was a power centre of the Great Moravian Kingdom, the oldest Slavonic state. The Holy Trinity Column on the town square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today Olomouc has above 100,000 inhabitants and the second largest urban historic preservation area after Prague. Its long history makes it one of the most beautiful cities in the Czech Republic.

For more information about the summer school and for other inquiries, please contact Mr. Martin Lavička, e-mail:

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