Research interests

Research interests of staff and graduate students at Asia Institute are broad, spanning a wide range disciplines as well the various language and area specialisations.

The following general areas of research expertise are representative of the issues that concern staff across the various programs in the Institute. A number of research and interest groups at the University focus on areas of Asia, including the Chinese Studies Research Group and the Indonesia Forum.

Applied Linguistics and Linguistics

Many staff members at Asia Institute have a strong interest in Applied Linguistics, including such areas as second language education, translation, computer assisted language learning (CALL), curriculum design, bilingualism and translation.

Japanese Other areas Diactology, pragmatics and sociolinguistics
Dr Claire Maree
Dr Etsuko Toyoda
Dr Du Liping
Assoc. Professor Gao Jia
Dr Michael Ewing
Dr Christina Mayer
Assoc. Professor Yongxian Luo
Dr Jun Ohashi

Endangered Languages

The Asia Pacific region hosts an immense variety of languages and dialects, many of which are losing prominence in the face of increasing globalization. The study of these languages is crucial to create a record for these endangered groups. This research also provides an opportunity for scholarly analysis of a variety of issues - political alliances, ethnic identity and historical contact - that are embedded in the language. Staff with interests in this area are Assoc. Professor Yongxian Luo and Dr Michael Ewing.


Gender is a key approach to the understanding of Asian cultures and society. A number of Asia Institute staff have made important contributions to the study of differences and meanings of gender roles in Indonesia, China, Japan and Thailand.Gender is studied through literature, popular culture, social institutions, medical systems, workplace practices and language. Staff with interests in this area include Dr Claire Maree, Dr Christina Mayer, Assoc. Professor Nana Oishi, and Dr Ana Dragojlovic.

Health systems

The study of traditional and modern health systems in Asia is a particular strength in Asia Institute, with publications on traditional Chinese medicine, maternal and child health care in Japan and abortion policy in Thailand as the cornerstones of this emerging area. Staff with interests in this area are Dr Liping Du and Dr Ana Dragojlovic, who has a particular interest in health issues in Asian diaspora (colonial, contemporary and also with adult adoptees born in Asia).

Historical Studies

The history of Asian cultures and societies is the foundation for understanding any contemporary phenomenon in Asia. Staff members in Asia Institute specialize in Japanese art and architectural history, Australia-Japan relations, Modern Japanese History, and the social, cultural and legal history of China. Staff with interests in this area are Dr Lewis Mayo and Dr Ken Setiawan (whose particular focus is Indonesia and Malaysia, and to some extent the rest of Southeast Asia).


Several academics across Asia Institute are currrently researching issues involving modern Islamic thought as well as various dimensions of Muslim societies. Their research relates to contemporary Islamic thought, philosophy, literature and gender. Staff who have interests in this area are Dr Muhammad Kamal, Dr Abdullah Saeed and Dr Christina Mayer.

Political analysis

Many Asia Institute staff research interests centre on the analysis of current and historical political affairs. Development, economic policy, diplomacy, postcolonialism and nation-building are all examined under this rubric. International relations between Asian countries and Australia are of particular interest to many Asia Institute scholars and their postgraduate students. Particular attention is given to ethnic and religious tensions in SE Asia. Staff with interests in this area are Dr Dave McRae, Dr Sow Keat Tok, Dr Ken Setiawan and Dr Abdullah Saeed.

Popular culture

Asian popular culture is one of the most vibrant production and consumer industries in the world. Popular culture provides a window into many aspects of Asia: art and aesthetics, theatre, literature, gender roles, economic activity and consumerism, globalization and national identity. Staff with interests in this area are Dr Michael Ewing, Professor Anne Mclaren, Dr Claire Maree and Dr Shaoming Zhou.

Social geography

Social geography is a multidisciplinary field which combines Human geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Ecology, and Cultural Studies. The examination of minority groups and demographic movement (migration) in Asia is an area of strength in Asia Institute. Staff with interests in this area are Assoc. Professor Gao Jia.