Oriental Institute, ASCR
The Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic is a research institution founded in 1922, specialising in the field of Asian|Oriental studies. Oriental Institute is one of the oldest institutions dedicated to the study of Oriental cultures in Central and Eastern Europe. Since 1992, it falls administratively under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, an umbrella research institution similar in function to its counterparts in continental Europe, such as the CNRS in France. The Institute collaborates with Czech universities providing teaching of relevant subjects, training junior researchers and taking part in post-graduate doctoral programmes.
The Oriental Institute of Prague was founded under the Act No. 27/1922 passed by the Czechoslovak parliament on January 25, 1922. According to the act, the aim of the Institute was “to cultivate and build up scientific and economic relations with the Orient”. The establishment of the Institute was supported by the first Czechoslovak President T. G. Masaryk, who gave it both moral and financial backing. On November 25, 1927, the President nominated the first 34 members of the Institute. In 1929, the first issue of the scholarly journal Archiv orientální (published by the Institute) appeared. In May 1931, the library of the Institute was opened. In 1945, the Institute started publishing the Czech language journal Nový Orient.
In 1952, the Oriental Institute was incorporated into the newly formed Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. Forty years later, in 1992, shortly before the partition of Czechoslovakia, the Institute became a constituent part of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.
The Institute aims to adopt a complex and dynamic approach in its research programmes. In the area of historical research, the Institute focuses on China, India and other countries of South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Arab world, and the Ancient Near East. Another important part of the Institute's research activities is the study of philosophies and religions of the Orient, namely Islam (in the context of recent and contemporary history of the Near East), Buddhism (in Southeast Asia, the Himalayan region, Tibet and Mongolia), Hinduism, Taoism and Confucianism, and of the religions of the Ancient Near East. The relevance of religions and religious beliefs to modern societies is also studied, including the interaction of religion and political ideologies (Islamic reformism, fundamentalism, Hindu nationalism and communalism, Buddhist dimension of Southeast Asian politics).
Research of Asian and African languages focuses on quantitative linguistics, Chinese phonetics, and Hindi lexicography. Research in literature is done mainly in Hindi literature. Further research activities of the Institute include a study in theoretical and cultural foundations of the Traditional Chinese medicine, based on primary Chinese sources.