Asian Studies Summer School 2014: Concepts of ‘human’ and ‘humanness’ in Asian civilizations: from premodern to postmodern

Graduate course of the Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts

Asian Studies Summer School 2014:
Concepts of ‘human’ and ‘humanness’ in Asian civilizations: from premodern to postmodern

18-20 July 2014

Võsu, Estonia

Hosting Institution: Tallinn University; University of Tartu; Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts (GSCSA)

Supporters: European Union Structural Funds

Program Director:

Margus Ott (Tallinn University)


The role of a human has been understood slightly differently in every culture and epoch. The aim of the summer school is to discuss what has been considered to be characteristic of ‘humanness’ in various Asian civilizations (Middle East, India, China, Japan), and how this concept has changed in dialogue with other cultures. For instance in the Far East two major changes took place, first in correlation with the arrival of Buddhism, second due to the contacts with Western culture. At the same time such junctures are always bridged by some continuities. The summer school focuses upon the transformations in the discourse revolving around the concept of ‘human’, and attempts to map the past, present, and possible future developments of this notion.


The summer school programme consists of lectures, group discussions and participants’ presentations.


Rein Raud (University of Helsinki, Tallinn University) “Being human in classical Japanese culture”
Märt Läänemets (University of Tartu) “On the concepts of human and humanity in Buddhism”
Vladimir Sazonov (University of Tartu, Estonian National Defence College) “Man and man’s role in Mesopotamia 3000-500 BC”
Margus Ott (Tallinn University) “The place of man in the Chinese tradition”
Alari Allik (Tallinn University) TBA
Laur Järv (University of Tartu) “Man in the Buddhist universe”

To earn academic credit points students must give a presentation, or submit a topical essay after the school.


The summer school will be held in English and Estonian. According to the preliminary plan Friday and Saturday will have lectures in English, group discussions in two groups (English and Estonian), participant presentations in English or in two parallel panels (English nad Estonian). Sunday programme would be in Estonian.

In the case all participants have a command of Estonian, the school will be held in Estonian.

Place and transport

The summer school takes place at Männisalu holiday centre, in Lahemaa National Park, Estonia (see the map).

On Friday noon a free bus will pick up the summer school participants from Tallinn city centre and drive to Võsu, similarly there will be a free bus back to Tallinn on Sunday afternoon.


To take part in the summer school, please submit the registration form. Due to the logistical limitations it may not be possible to grant participation or presentation possibility to all applicants. Deadline for registration is 16 June 2014, confirmation about participation and presentation acceptance will be sent in early July, at latest.

Participation fee, encompassing all school expenses, including lectures, accommodation, meals, transport from Tallinn or Tartu and back, is the following

for GSCSA members the summer school is free (c.f. the GSCSA page about joining);
for participants, who give a presentation, the summer school is free;.
for students (and academic staff members) ,who do not give a presentation — 15 EUR;
for non-academic participants the fee is 35 EUR.

Principal : Margus Ott,, + 372 56238082

Secretary : Laur Järv,, +372 53416324