Asian Studies are rapidly becoming one of the most thriving fields in faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences throughout Israel. From a modest start of the Department of Chinese and Japanese Studies established at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the early 1960s, the field has dramatically expanded over the past 15 years to include three major departments of Asian (or East Asian) Studies at the universities of Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa, and an increasing number of Asian Studies programs offered by other universities and colleges throughout Israel. Extraordinarily high enrollment figures in these departments and programs testify to their unprecedented popularity among young Israelis; and this popularity is matched by the ever growing interest in the culture, politics, economy and social life of China, India, Japan, Korea, Mongolia and countries of Central and Southeast Asia, both within the academy and in the society at large.

The biennial conferences of Asian Studies in Israel were launched in 2001 to address the needs of the growing community of scholars and research students in the field. Our initial goal was to facilitate exchange of ideas among Israeli scholars but soon enough the conferences were transformed into international bilingual events, reflecting thereby the intensification of ties between the Israeli academic community and colleagues from Asia, Europe and North America. The forthcoming 14th Conference of Asian Studies in Israel (ASI18), to be held at Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on May 23-24, is due to become the largest event of this kind. With over 200 participants from all over the world, and 49 panels covering multiple fields – from China’s beauty industry to Jews in Central Asia, from Esoteric Buddhism to North Korean foreign policy from migration in Southeast Asia to the legacy of the Mongol Empire, from Japanese warrior culture to post-colonial India, contemporary China and much more…

The conference’s concluding panel will be a roundtable titled Asia is Here! Asia in the Israeli Experience. Featuring four experts on Asian business, tourism, spiritual teachings and food culture, this panel brings together academy and practice to analyze the place of Asian cultures in contemporary Israeli society.

The Conference’s organizers –  the Department of Asian Studies and the Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – are proud to host this event and welcome friends and colleagues from Israel and abroad. We hope that the ASI18 Conference will be an intellectually engaging event that will contribute to the mutually enriching exchange within the Israeli academy and between Israeli scholars and their foreign colleagues. We are confident that it will further bolster interest in Asian Studies among the Israeli public, and welcome guests from within and outside the academia.