The European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS) seeks to support the study of Central Asia — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and adjacent regions of the Caucasus, Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran. Its main activity is a biennial conference hosted in one of the European countries or in Central Asia.

To Keep Up-to-date on ESCAS Activities

E-mail contact: escastudies@protonmail.com

For current information about ESCAS activities, see these pages:
— The ESCAS page on Facebook

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A Brief History of ESCAS

In 1985 a group of scholars from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Great Britain, and Denmark, working within Central Asian Studies decided to establish informal cooperation with the purpose of promoting joint research and interdisciplinary studies among European scholars on Central Asia.

The Department of Oriental Languages and Cultures of the University of Utrecht took the initiative to organise the first and founding conference of what was then called the “European Seminar for Central Asian Studies,” inviting also scholars from Central Asia.

The immediate purpose of the conference was to define the geographic area of Central Asia which would be dealt with. It was agreed to include the Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as well as adjacent areas of Mongolia, Northern Iran, Northern Afghanistan and Northwestern China. A primary reason for establishing ESCAS was to give Central Asian Studies the status of a separate research field in its own right, independent of Soviet and Eastern European studies, to establish research links with disciplines working within the same historical and cultural continuum in adjacent areas, and to create opportunities for direct cooperation between scholars of the former Soviet Central Asia and scholars in adjacent areas. It was agreed to hold conferences in order to maintain and develop European research cooperation and the exchange of information.

In 1995, at the Fifth ESCAS Conference in Copenhagen, ESCAS was formally established as a scholarly association under the name “European Society for Central Asian Studies,” with Dr. Ewa Chylinski as its first President.  In 2002, Dr. Gabriele Rasuly-Paleczek, the Vice-President of ESCAS, published a brief overview of ESCAS’s activities and history.  Additional historical information about ESCAS can be found on archived versions of its website: 1997-2002, 2006-2011, and 2011-2015.

Past ESCAS Conferences

In all, the following conferences have taken place (the early conferences each resulted in a publication):

ESCAS I, Utrecht (1985), convened by the Dept. of Oriental Languages and Cultures at the University of Utrecht.

ESCAS II, London (1987), convened by the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

ESCAS III, Paris (1989), convened by Centre de Recherches Scientifiques en Sciences Sociales et Politiques, Paris.

ESCAS IV, Bamberg (1991), convened by the Department of Oriental Studies, University of Bamberg.

ESCAS V, Copenhagen (1995), convened by the Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near-Oriental Studies, University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS).

ESCAS VI, Venice (1998), convened by “Universitaa Ca Foscari di Venezia” in Venice, Italy.

ESCAS VII, Vienna (2000), convened by the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna.

ESCAS VIII, Bordeaux (2002), convened by the Maison des sciences de l’homme Aquitaine and Institut français d’Etudes sur l’Asie centrale (IFEAC).

ESCAS IX, Krakow (2005), convened by Jagiellonian University, Institute of Oriental Philology.

ESCAS X, Ankara (2007), convened by the Center for Black Sea and Central Asia at the Middle East Technical University.

ESCAS XI, Budapest (2009), convened by the Asia Research Initiative at the Central European University.

ESCAS XII, Cambridge (2011), convened by the Cambridge Central Asia Forum.

ESCAS XIII, Astana (2013), convened by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nazarbayev University.

ESCAS XIV, Zurich (2015), convened by the Centre for the Anthropological Study of Central Asia (CASCA) and the Cluster of Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Social Integration” (University of Konstanz) at the Dept. for Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Zurich.

ESCAS XV, Bishkek (2017), organized jointly with the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS), was hosted by the Central Asian Studies Institute (CASI) at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA).

ESCAS XVI, Exeter (2019), was hosted by the University of Exeter.

ESCAS XVII, Tashkent (2021, postponed for 2022 due to COVID), organized jointly with the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS), was hosted by the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent.