Asian Languages and Cultures

College of Letters & Science
HomeGraduate ProgramsAsian Languages and Cultures

Graduate Program in Asian Languages & Cultures

Graduate student doing research in Thailand.

The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures offers new interdisciplinary M.A. and Ph.D. programs. Students may also design their own courses of study that take advantage of the many opportunities on campus to do in-depth research on Asia from multiple disciplinary perspectives and across the traditional area studies divisions of East, South, and Southeast Asia. Students may also choose to focus their studies in a thematic track, such as; Asian Religions, Asian Medical and Health Humanities, and Asian Rights, Violence, and Law. Initially working with two co-advisors, each student will craft a program of coursework that combines Asia-focused courses with disciplinary study in and beyond the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. This may include linkages with other departments as well as UW-Madison’s rich array of centers and programs, including the Center for Healthy Minds, Center for Visual CulturesHuman Rights Program, Religious Studies Program, and the Center for East Asian Studies, the Center for South Asia, and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

We welcome applications from a wide range of students compelled to work transregionally, transdisciplinarily, or both. This includes students with a traditional background in Asian Studies and related academic fields as well as practitioners whose path to studying Asia has been through professional work. 

The Department of Asian Languages and Cultures anticipates the formation of a lively intellectual community around Transasian Studies and looks forward to supporting student-led seminars, reading groups, workshops and other events. 

Asian Medical and Health Humanities Track
The M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Languages and Cultures welcomes students interested to do interdisciplinary research that employs theories and methods in medicine and health humanities to probe questions in Asian societies and histories about healthcare, patienthood, embodiment, and psychology. Students may work in a transasian perspective and will be encouraged to work across multiple disciplines, including anthropology, history of science, literature, cognitive science and religious studies. Drawing on the  resources in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and across the UW-Madison campus, students may examine such things as the imperial, cultural, and structural-economic matrixes that impact human flourishing and suffering in Asian societies; the spread of biomedicine in Asia and Cold War politics; the appropriation of traditional modalities and contemplative practices such as mindfulness and yoga into contemporary medical contexts; links between western biomedicine and the politics of nation building under and after colonialism in Asia; and the entwined histories of religion, politics, and medicine in premodern Asian societies. 
Core Faculty: BuhnemannCerulliDunne

Asian Religions Track
The M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Languages and Cultures welcomes students interested to do interdisciplinary research on the numerous religious traditions of East Asia, the Himalayan region, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Students may focus on one or more traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism. Study of such traditions, whether in their past or present forms, using a combination of approaches, such as philology, history, ethnography and philosophy, is generally conducted with faculty members in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures as well as affiliates in other units on campus, including Religious Studies, Art History, History, Comparative Literature, the Center for Healthy Minds, and UW-Madison's area studies centers. 
Core Faculty: BuhnemannCerulliDunne

Asian Rights, Violence and Law Track
How are rights, law and justice understood and experienced comparatively in and beyond Asia? How are rights violated and promoted by states and citizens? How does violence – regional, state, communal – and its memory reshape societies and nations? What are the manifestations of the rule of law and its opposites? What representations and metaphors for justice are found in art, film, and literature?  The M.A. and Ph.D. program in Transasian Studies particularly welcomes students who would like to answer these and other questions comparatively, either across multiple countries, and/or drawing on more than one disciplinary approach, including history, literature, law, political science, art, and anthropology.
Core Faculty: Haberkorn Affiliate Faculty: McCoy

Affiliate Faculty Members
Students are encouraged to work with faculty in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, and affiliate faculty from across campus in different departments. These faculty have indicated their interest in working with ALC students:

Katherine Bowie (Anthropology)
Shelly Chan (History)
Preeti Chopra (Art History)
Joe Dennis (History)
Anna Gade (Nelson Institute)
Anne Hansen (History)
Charles Kim (History)
J. Mark Kenoyer (Anthropology)
Nam Kim (Anthropology)
Judd Kinzley (History)
Yuhang Li (Art History)
Alfred McCoy (History)
Viren Murthy (History)
Sarah Thal (History)


Students are encouraged to reach out to faculty members that match their academic and research interests. All other general questions can be directed to Rachel Weiss, Graduate Program Coordinator.