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A brief history of SASNET

In 1998, a Swedish government working group was set up to “intensify Swedish relations with Asia” and make an inventory of existing research and education on Asia in Sweden. Based on their findings, the group recommended that a national academic institute should be created. The mission of the new institute would be to develop research on South Asia.

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affair´s  Asia strategy voiced the same recommendation. In 2000, following a process of selection by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Lund University was selected to house the new institute, which became known as the Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET). Initially SASNET was mainly funded by SIDA and partially by Lund University. In 2010 Lund University became the sole funding source for SASNET.

In June 1999 SIDA invited Gothenburg University, Lund University and the University of Uppsala to send in declarations of interest, describing how each university envisions the development of research on South Asia. After consulting researchers in the field, Lund University developed a declaration, which which was submitted to SIDA in September 1999. In May 2000, SIDA selected Lund University as the host organization for the South Asian Studies institute. 

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

SASNET was first housed in Gamla Kirurgen. It established its web site in 2001 after Lars Eklund had been employed as webmaster. The Vice-Chancellor of Lund University issued directions for SASNET in June 2001. SASNET's first executive board was elected for the period 2001-2003.

In 2007, Anna Lindberg was appointed as Director of SASNET. Her immediate task was to secure SASNET's funding following SIDA's decision to withdraw funding by the end of 2009. Lindberg successfully persuaded Lund University that research on South Asia, in particular India, was of critical importance. As a result, starting in 2010 SASNET became entirely funded by Lund University.

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

Since 2010, SASNET's mission was expanded to promote and develop research on South Asia at Lund University.

In 2010 SASNET formed the South Asian Students Association (SASA) at Lund University. SASA is a student organization that organizes lectures and cultural events. 

In 2015, SASNET began to focus its activities on research. It did so by hiring Andreas Johansson, a historian of religion. Both Lindberg and Eklund retired from SASNET in 2016. Johansson became the new Director of SASNET 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.