Prague 2008

From March 6 to 9 2008, the 21st European Conference took place in Prague on the topic: "When Asia Encounters the Occident".

Urgent and challenging issues arise in this context.

More than 150 attendees gathered to discuss the following questions with renowned experts from all around the world:


  • What is the place of South, East and Southeast Asia in the emerging global system? Does the future lie with the great economic powers of Japan, China, Korea and India?
  • What are the lessons that we can learn from the rise of Asian countries, as major players in the economic world, compared to the lower economic performance of countries in Africa, Latin America, and parts of the Middle East, that are still regarded as "less-developed"? Is the "Asian miracle" a result of smart government policies or should it be attributed to some cultural determinants? Are the economic policies the same in the various advanced countries of Asia? Do these countries share common cultural traits? Is there such a cultural entity that can be called "Asia"? Are the future political and economic rivalries of the world going to be between East and West, or are they going to remain rivalries between different Easts and different Wests?
  •  Are there modes of political activity that are unique to Asia, that might serve as models for Western states?
  •  What are the points of congruence between the religions of India, Tibet, China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia on the one hand and the Judeo-Christian-Islamic systems of belief on the other?
  •  Has the Gandhian ideal of non-violent protest gone out of fashion in the Indian sub-continent, or does it still retain something of its emotional, motivating power? Might it have implications for peace work in other parts of the world?
  •  Could Israel play any role in mediating and stimulating the developing conversation between East and West?


Why the Hebrew University of Jerusalem?

Israel is placed at the meeting point of East and West, and is uniquely open to both worlds. The Jewish people have for many centuries excelled in understanding different cultures and in acting in a multicultural environment. Jewish scholars have played a remarkable role in the study of Eastern civilizations, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem today is a vibrant area for Asian studies and one of the world's academic leading centers in this field.

A festive opening reception was held in the evening, hosted by Prague Mayor Pavel Bém, at the magnificent Lord Mayor’s representative residence and a gala event took place at the Rudolfinum, one of the most important neo-renaissance buildings in Prague. Musical entertainment was provided by the violinist Michaël Guttman and his ensemble.