Established in 1997, the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) is a global platform enabling individuals and institutions from different parts of the world to come together to exchange views on a variety of issues pertaining to Asia. Its Secretariat is hosted by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), based in Leiden, the Netherlands. IIAS operates as a network-based, research-driven organisation supporting the study of Asia informed by a humanistic agenda.
ICAS is an active accelerator of research. It is organised by local hosts (universities, organisations and cities) in cooperation with the ICAS Secretariat. ICAS offers the organising host a unique opportunity to profile itself in the global framework of Asian studies. ICAS also connects in a dynamic way to the host city and attracts participants from all continents to engage in transsectoral dialogues on Asia that transcend boundaries between academic disciplines and geographic regions.
Since 1998, ICAS has brought more than 20,000 academics, civil society representatives, administrators and artists together at 10 conventions. Publishers, institutes and NGOs converge to display their products, services and research outcomes in the ICAS exhibition hall. The ICAS Book and Dissertation Carousel offers (future) authors a platform to launch their publications, and the ICAS Book Prize celebrates the vast wealth of Asia-related publications in the Social Sciences and Humanities published across the world. With all these activities ICAS is contributing to the decentring of Asian studies by including more ‘Asian voices’ while successfully convening a global space in which Asia scholars and social and cultural actors from the whole world can directly interact.
From 2013 onwards, ICAS has benefitted from the input of an International Council composed of well-known academicians and representatives from civil society, which has no doubt also widened its global reach. An illustration of this is the co-organisation with the Association of Asian Studies in Africa (A-ASIA) of its inaugural conference at the University of Ghana in Accra in September 2015; the conference will have a follow-up at the University of Dar es Salaam in 2018. In the same vein the workshop “Perspectives on Asian Studies in Latin America”, held in November 2016, has given birth to a new Latin America network on Asian studies and an inaugural conference is planned for 2019. In true ICAS spirit, these pan-African and pan-Latin American conferences on Asian studies set out to bring together a diversified range of individuals and institutions with a shared focus on Asia and Asia-Africa and Asia-Latin America intellectual relations.