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Inaugural Issue of CATSarena online

The inaugural issue of CATSarena, the newsletter of the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS), is now online. It is focused on the topic of social distancing in Asia. Contributions range from on-site experiences of the Corona-pandemic in different parts of Asia, to essays on the cultural connotations of specific concepts of hygiene and historical considerations about how to wear masks.

The Inaugural Issue of CATSarena (download PDF and open for an ideal reading experience, or view PDF online) sheds light on one of the most distressing impacts of the current Corona pandemic: social distancing. Traditional forms of greeting and their new found significance in this time of crisis are reconsidered as models for the world: we feature the Indian Anjali gesture, and discuss how the gong shou gesture has been revived in China and Taiwan after being replaced by the European handshake more than a century ago. One article in this issue critically examines the claim that social distancing was a traditional Hindu measure of hygiene and health, another considers the effects of contemporary face masks by way of a study of masks worn in Japanese theater, and another deliberates whether the apparent insufficiency of European approaches at handling the pandemic could and should have been avoided if only Asian Corona-policies had been considered with less prejudice. Students, visiting fellows, musicians, and artists collaborate with CATS members to share their first-hand impressions about social distancing from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, China, and Taiwan in word and image.

Each issue of CATSarena will include a changing focal topic, as well as articles about current research projects at CATS. This issue features projects on Nepal’s cultural heritage, Mahāyāna Buddhism in Europe, Korean transnational mobility, and religion and medicine in premodern East Asia. Last but not least, each of the four CATS institutions and the CATS library share their news, including their latest publications, exhibitions, lecture series, concerts, digital platforms, and more—thereby presenting some highlights from a great variety of activity in research and teaching, which has continued to take place at CATS even during this time of crisis.

CATSarena is the new, bi-annual newsletter of the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies. To subscribe to the newsletter, please follow this link. CATS opened in summer 2019 and houses the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS), the Institute of Anthropology (IfE), the South Asia Institute (SAI) and the Centre for East Asian Studies (ZO), as well as their libraries and media collections in the central CATS Library. As the two founding directors of CATS, Axel Michaels and Barbara Mittler, with the help of two generous designers, Susann Henker and Jennifer Landes, have served as editors for this inaugural issue of CATSarena.

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Latest Revision: 2020-12-21
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