The Center for Integrated Area Studies (CIAS) in Kyoto University was established in April 2006 to promote and conduct area studies. As an interdisciplinary field of research and scholarship, Area Studies aims to reconstruct holistic images of particular geographical, national, or cultural regions; that is, Area Studies requires comparative research and informatics to accumulate, integrate, and analyze various research resources and knowledge from particular areas and then share them to academic communities and societies.
Integrated Area Research is expected to reconstruct holistic images of areas. It comprises comparative studies that attempt to shed light on contemporary issues in particular areas by examining phenomena across boundaries of areas and research domains. To carry out Integrated Area Research, CIAS supports the various collaborative projects by researchers in various fields from other institutions. These projects focus on two aspects of Integrated Area Research, namely, methodologies and selected crucial issues.
The field of Area Informatics refers to the use of information science/technologies to integrate and share research resources and knowledge on areas. CIAS hosts a variety of databases on area studies, using Resource Sharing System to integrate these databases with other databases on the Web. CIAS has also developed a number of information tools, such as a database builder, which supports researchers in constructing databases; spatiotemporal tools, which can be used to visualize and analyze data from the Resource Sharing System; and application programming interfaces (APIs) , through which researchers can create their own applications for parsing CIAS databases. Recently, CIAS introduced Web semantic technologies to realize advanced data integration and analysis. These databases, tools, and technologies contribute to the promotion of integrated area research.
CIAS has developed and promoted unique area studies by closely using integrated area research and area informatics, achieving remarkable results. Examples include the Aceh Tsunami Mobile Museum, which is an application of the database builder in disaster management research, and Grid City, which is a multimedia scholarly book that links texts with related images in the database using API.
CIAS has carried out its mission with the indispensable support of the network of researchers engaged in collaborative projects as well as the network of information systems; we are grateful for the support and hope to continue receiving such support in the coming years.
HARA, Shoichiro (Ph.D.)
Director and Professor
Center for Integrated Area Studies, Kyoto University