Asian Studies

Understanding Asian culture and its growing impact on the world


Asia is home to two-thirds of the world's population and some of the most dynamic and fascinating societies on the planet. It’s also an economic powerhouse that is vital to Australia's future prosperity and security. 

Whether you aim to work in government, business or as a professional, a familiarity with Asia and knowledge of an Asian language will give you a distinct edge in the job market in the decades to come. 

 Our staff teach about the subjects of their research: the cultures, societies and politics of contemporary Asia. We are especially strong in the areas of popular culture, gender, cultural sociology, environmental politics, political history and social movements. 

 In Asian Studies you also have an opportunity to learn the languages and cultures of China, Japan, Indonesia and Korea, either as a complete beginner or as a more advanced student. The lead for the Discipline of Asian Studies is Dr Nicola Fraschini

Research strengths

Asian Languages
The interconnections between language and social and cultural institutions and practices in Asian societies, and among diasporic Asian communities in Australia, is an area of research focus within Asian Studies.
Australia in the Context of Asia

The socioeconomic, political and cultural interconnections between Australia and societies in Asia, both historically and in the contemporary, is a thematic research underpinning of the discipline.

Bagan Myanmar

Culture, Media and Politics

‘Culture’ refers to many aspects of a given society and is an important element of research on ethnic and national identity, as well as cultural heritage and globalisation. The place of media in Asian societies is another focus for research among staff. They explore ways in which the media – including the ‘old media’ of literature, print and broadcasting, and the ‘new media’ of the internet, mobile technologies and social networking – both shape representations of identity, ethnicity, social class and gender, and are used by different social agents for various agendas. In all of these studies, the role of politics plays a crucial role and is another focus of research.

Chinese Lanterns

Environmental Issues

Environmental issues are both a teaching and research area for staff and postgraduate students in Asian Studies. Research is conducted on topics such as ecotourism in China, natural disasters in Indonesia, media representation of the environment, and we have a large project on environmental education and environmentalism in Indonesia.


Modern History of Asia

This stream of research in Asian Studies focuses on the historical foundations of contemporary Asia. Interactions with colonial and Cold War powers played a crucial part in the political, ideological and economic development of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Singapore skyline

Social Change, Identity and Gender

Our research approaches are typically collaborative and highly interdisciplinary. We engage with a broad range of topics from environmentalism and gender in Asia, to social constructions of intimate relationships, gendered identities in corporate context, and the ways in which cosmetic surgery practices and the technologies of the body are utilised by individuals in contemporary Asia.

Kowloon women's market

Project highlights

Beyond the Family: Intimate Relationships in Contemporary Japan

This project examines the roles that relationships outside of marriage, particularly friendships, play for Japanese women and men in light of broad cultural changes.

Contact Laura Dales.

A group of friends spend time together
Education for a Tolerant and Multicultural Indonesia

Partnered with Universiti Brunei Darassalm and Universitas Islam Negeri Sultan Syarif Kasim Riau, this project shows how education can create tolerant, multicultural citizens in Indonesia.

Contact Professor Lyn Parker.

Monks reading

Fostering Pro-Environment Consciousness and Practice: Environmentalism, Environmentality and Environmental Education in Indonesia

In partnership with the University of Newcastle and Universitas Indonesia, this ARC Discovery grant investigates how education can foster environmental consciousness and pro-environment action in Indonesia.

Contact Professor Lyn Parker.

Children recycling

Man Made Beautiful: A Qualitative Study of the Social Meanings Attached to Every Day Beauty Practices by Middle Aged Korean Men

This project examines the role that physical attractiveness, grooming and presentation plays in the lives and social interactions of middle-aged urban Korean men.

Contact Assoc/Prof Joanna Elfving-Hwang.

Man trying on tie forlornly

Religious Life of the Chinese Community in Contemporary Australia

This project, funded by the Australia Chinese Workers’ Association, aims to provide a rigorous and up-to-date account of the religious profile of the Chinese community in Australia through a systematic investigation into the latest Australian census data.

Contact Dr Yu Tao.


Understanding Social, Economic and Health Vulnerabilities in Indonesia

Partnered with Universitas Gajah Mada, University of Queensland, University of Southampton, Somerville College and Oxford University, this project will identify key vulnerable groups in the population of Indonesia and the factors and conditions contributing to their vulnerability.

Contact Professor Lyn Parker.

Rice farmer


Contact the School of Social Sciences

man-user copy Created with Sketch.


School Operations, ARTS:G.41

man-user copy Created with Sketch.


Weekdays 8.00am—4.00pm