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A brief history of SASNET

In 1998, a Swedish government working group was established to "intensify Swedish relations with Asia" and to take stock of existing research and education on Asia in Sweden. Based on its findings, the group recommended that a national academic institute be established. The task of the new institute would be to develop research on South Asia.

The Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry's Asia Strategy made the same recommendation. In June 1999, SIDA invited Gothenburg University, Lund University, and Uppsala University to submit statements of interest describing how each university envisioned developing research on South Asia. After consulting with researchers in the field, Lund University developed a statement that was submitted to SIDA in September 1999. In May 2000, SIDA selected Lund University to host the new institute, which became known as the Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET). Initially, SASNET was funded mainly by SIDA and partly by Lund University. In 2010, Lund University became the sole source of funding for SASNET.

Once selected, Lund University established a working group to develop a national network South Asian studies. In October 2000, over 70 Swedish South Asian researchers gathered at a conference in Lund to discuss the formation of the new network. After the conference, a modified plan for the development of SASNET was submitted to SIDA, and in November 2000, SIDA decided to fund activities for 2001 and 2002. SASNET formally started its activities in January 2001.

SASNET was initially based in Gamla Kirurgen and Staffan Lindberg was announced as its first director. It set up its website in 2001 after Lars Eklund was hired as webmaster. The Vice Chancellor of Lund University issued guidelines for SASNET in June 2001. The first board of SASNET was elected for the period 2001-2003.

In 2007, Anna Lindberg was appointed new director of SASNET. Her immediate task was to secure funding for SASNET after SIDA decided to withdraw funding by the end of 2009. Lindberg successfully convinced Lund University that research on South Asia, particularly India, was critical. As a result, SASNET was fully funded by Lund University from 2010.

As director, one of Lindberg's main concerns was to bring South Asian students and researchers to Sweden. Lindberg led a successful application for a 4-year Erasmus Mundus grant. This grant enabled Lund University and other Swedish universities to welcome large numbers of Indian students and researchers to Sweden for the first time (and later to other South Asian countries) and to provide them with financial support. In addition, SASNET hosted high-level visiting professors every year from 2010 to 2014 through an agreement between the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Lund University. Several other visiting professors from South Asia have continued to visit SASNET since 2014.

Since 2010, SASNET's mission has been expanded to promote and develop research on South Asia at Lund University. In 2015, SASNET began to focus its activities entirely on research. Andreas Johansson, a historian of religion, was hired for this purpose. Both Lindberg and Eklund left SASNET in 2016. Johansson became SASNET's new director in November 2016. One of Johansson's main goals was to secure permanent funding for SASNET from Lund University. This goal was achieved in January 2018.