Islamic Area Studies is a new field of research that seeks to build a framework of empirical knowledge on Islam and Islamic civilization, emphasizing both comparative regional studies and an historical approach to contemporary issues.
The Institute of Islamic Area Studies was established in 2006 as one of the Project Research Institutions administrated by Waseda University Comprehensive Research Organization. Their activities include research seminars, international workshops, overseas research, public lectures, and bringing overseas researchers to participate in these activities. The Organization for Islamic Area Studies (OIAS) was established in 2008 to expand and enhance these international joint research activities.
The more than a dozen OIAS researchers, some working full-time at the OIAS and others working from a number of departments within Waseda University, specialize in various geographic regions, from Europe to China. The similarly wide range of disciplines they represent, including history, politics, architecture, cultural anthropology, education, and sociology, makes possible our multi-disciplinary studies of Islamic areas. In 2008, the Japanese Ministry of Education formally accredited our organization as a Joint Usage/Research Center, where scholars from across the nation are encouraged to conduct research. The OIAS has thereby become the premiere organization for Islamic Area Studies, not only at Waseda University, but throughout Japan.
The OIAS also provides a central office for Japan Islamic Area Studies joint research network (IAS), consisting of five research centers located at the University of Tokyo, Sophia University, Kyoto University, the Toyo Bunko (the Oriental Library), and Waseda University. The five centers in this network function in close collaboration with one another under the auspices of two concurrent national research programs, the "NIHU Program: Islamic Area Studies" program funded by the National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU), and the "Promotion of Joint Research Facilities in Humanities and Social Science" program funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
The OIAS also emphasizes international collaboration that engages researchers from Europe, America, the Middle East, and Asia in fieldwork, source materials collection, and international workshops. We are proud to have held a major international conference last year in Kuala Lumpur, and have a similar conference scheduled for this year in Cairo. We are committed to developing next-generation scholars through these brisk and diverse research activities.