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UPDATED: SRIFIAS Lecture Series and the Future of SRIFIAS

Doctor Edward Lazzerini gave a presentation on January 16th, 2015 on the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (SRIFIAS). Dr. Lazzerini, the director of SRIFIAS, began by talking about the many resources available within the SRIFIAS library. A non-lending institution, the SRIFIAS library contains thousands of texts relevant to the region, including rare manuscripts and imprints. The Institute also contains microfilm copies of Central Eurasian manuscripts that are otherwise unavailable outside of Central Asia. Beyond its library, the SRIFIAS also boasts numerous archives, ranging from the work and personal papers of Denis Sinor to collections of ethnographic data taken from Chinese historical texts.

Dr. Lazzerini noted that in the past, the SRIFIAS served as a center for scholarly publication for graduate students, a position that he hoped that it would soon reclaim. In the past, the Institute published multiple scholarly journals, as well as the Uralic and Altaic Book Series. In particular, he expressed excitement for the upcoming publication of Ad Fontes, a journal for translations of primary texts, through SRIFIAS. Of the issues of Ad Fontes prepared for publishing, the majority feature work by graduate and doctoral students. Dr. Lazzerini noted that SRIFIAS was also planning to offer skill development opportunities for graduate students in academic journal preparation and historical cartography.

However, with the planned move of CEUS from Goodbody Hall to the Global and International Studies Building in the near future, the fate of the SRIFIAS is unclear.

There are several initiatives presently active to maintain the integrity of the collection, most of them being spearheaded by CEUS students Jaime Bue and Jonathan McClure. Over the past few months, the two have been organizing petitions among student groups and faculty, meeting with administrators at the SGIS, and raising awareness among students about the benefits of the SRIFIAS.

Speaking with the two of them, Bue and McClure emphasized the utility of SRIFIAS for graduate and undergraduate students. They explained that, beyond its use as a library and a premier center of research on Central Eurasia, the SRIFIAS also serves important functions within the department. Professors frequently make use of the Institute’s library to the practical application of research methodology theories. The Institute also offers, or will offer, a variety of opportunities for professionalization, such as publishing through Ad Fontes and graduate assistantships.

They also emphasized the importance of SRIFIAS for the SGIS and its mission of providing students with historical perspective, language proficiency, and cultural competency. The learning facilitated through SRIFIAS gives students an intimate knowledge of historical and contemporary sources. In short, SRIFIAS is not just a location for books, but an important place for research and collaboration for budding and established scholars.

The administrators at the SGIS have been receptive to the Bue and McClure’s arguments, and are currently working to find a way to ensure the continuing viability of SRIFIAS as an institute and an academic resource for students.


UPDATE: On May 27th, 2015, in response to an online peition by the organization Friends of SRIFIAS, Dr. Lee Feinstein, Dean of the School of Global and International Studies, sent a letter  regarding the fate of SRIFIAS in the coming years. Below is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Friends of SRIFIAS:

It has been impressive to see the outpouring of support among students and scholars for the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (SRIFIAS) and its renowned library. The SRIFIAS is among the finest of Indiana University’s area studies institutes and centers and, as part of the internationally-respected Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS), its future in the School of Global and International Studies (SGIS) is secure. Its 12,000-volume collection will be open to students, faculty, and other researchers this coming Fall and for years to come.

In April, after review and recommendation by CEUS, SRIFIAS director Edward Lazzerini was reappointed for a new three-year term starting in July 2015. At that time, funding for the SRIFIAS, including resources for two graduate assistants and an hourly employee, were reauthorized as well.

CEUS will move in early Fall into the new Global and International Studies Building, just steps from the main Wells Library. In April, SGIS requested and the SRIFIAS provided a detailed report on space needs for its library and research facilities. Based on that report, SGIS has been working with the campus to secure an appropriate location where the SRIFIAS and its library can be curated, with ample facilities for research and expansion. In the meantime, the SRIFIAS will remain open in Goodbody Hall until its relocation later this year. 

Indiana University remains committed to the intellectual and pedagogical missions of the SRIFIAS. We are delighted that you are too. Please consider supporting the fundraising campaign for SRIFIAS, which will help establish an endowment for its collections and research. You may show your support for the SRIFIAS library and research institute by donating at this link: Please indicate in the “write in gift area” that your donation is for SRIFIAS.

Sincerely yours, 

Lee Feinstein
Dean, School of Global and International Studies