Director of the IOA

Prof. Dr. Harald Meyer

Tel.: +49 228 73 7223

Deputy Director

Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler

Tel.: +49 228 73 8439


Dr. Gabriele Reifenrath

Tel.: +49 228 73 7287

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Director's Secretariat

Edith Wilhelms
Tel.: +49 228 73 7223
Email: [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]

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Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies (IOA)

Oriental and Asian Studies at Bonn University: Closer Contact to a Distant Culture

Oriental and Asian Studies have a long-standing tradition at Bonn University. In 1818, the founding year of Bonn University, the Indologist, August Wilhelm Schlegel, was appointed to a professorship at Bonn. One year later, Georg Wilhelm Freytag, a specialist in oriental languages, began his professorship. These disciplines were not formally recognized until 1913 when the Oriental Seminar was founded under its first director, Carl Heinrich Becker. In 1939, Paul Kahle, Becker’s successor, had to emigrate to England in challenging circumstances. In the early days of the Oriental Seminar the focus was mainly on Jewish studies, indology and oriental studies. Chinese and Japanese studies were added during the 1920s. The Religious Studies Seminar was founded in 1920 when Carl Clemen became its first director.

In the post-war era, various branches of the Oriental Seminar were set up as independent institutes, for instance, the Indological Institute in 1955, the Institute for Chinese Studies in 1964 and the Institute for Japanese Studies in 1966. In 1964 the Institute for Central Asian Linguistics and Area Studies was established and, subsequently, in 1981 the Institute for Oriental Art History was set up as an independent centre.

In 1959, the Centre for Oriental Languages was established at Bonn as a successor to the similarly named institute, originally founded in 1897 in Berlin. After various interim stages, the centre was finally integrated into the Philosophy Faculty.

As part of the reorganization of teaching and research at the Philosophy Faculty, initially, a relatively loose research association was formed as a “Centre for Asian Studies”. By 2005, this had evolved into the Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies (IOA).

The IOA formally comprises a total of eight departments that emerged from former institutes. The IOA now has approximately 1,700 students overall. Students are either enrolled on new degree programmes or courses currently being phased out. 15 professors and over 30 associate professors teach the academic study programme.  

The IOA’s eight departments are located on four neighbouring sites in central Bonn: at Regina-Pacis-Weg 7, Nassestrasse 2, Adenauerallee 4-6 and Adenauerallee 10. 

Library holdings are available to all students at the individual departmental libraries and comprise 200,000 books and subscriptions to about 600 journals.