Asia Major, whose venturesome title surely entitled it to a better fate, has had one of the more eventful careers among major Sinological journals.
It was founded as a family enterprise in Germany by Bruno Schindler, the son of a German Jewish businessman and a student of Conrady at Leipzig. Its first series, largely underwritten by Schindler and published from a dedicated press (Verlag der Asia Major) which he founded for the purpose, began with an unnumbered Friedrich Hirth anniversary issue. AM, "the old AM," with its international tone (many articles were in English) and its high standards, emphasizing philological rigor, quickly became the leading German Sinological journal. It came to an abrupt end in 1933 when the German law against Jews in academe caused the departure of the Schindlers to England, leaving AM v10 pt2 in proof but not in print. A revival at Schindler's alma mater (Leipzig) was attempted in 1944, but came to nothing.
It was revived instead in 1949 and in England, at first not only under Schindler's editorship but with his substantial financial backing. A crisis was soon reached with the inability to get ns v4 pt2 out the door, and AM shifted to a new publisher (Lund Humphries) with financial support arranged by Gustav Haloun, another displaced German scholar, from his own Cambridge plus Oxford and London, and with an editorial board from those three institutions. Schindler died in 1965, having seen almost through the press the issue (ns v11 pt2) which became the Bruno Schindler Memorial Number, and which contained his obituary by Walter Simon, his successor as Editor.
The British Asia Major ran out of steam in 1974, after 25 years, as one casualty of financial stringencies in British universities at this time. Many British scholars left the island for positions in American, and Asia Major did likewise. Under the leadership of Denis Twitchett, AM ser3 was inaugurated at Princeton, with a new focus on China rather than all of East Asia.
This lasted until 1998 for only 15 years, when financial troubles again overtook AM. With the support of Tu Cheng-sheng, Director of the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica, the journal moved to Taiwan, where it is currently based. There was no gap in publication, and the current series is thus still the 3rd. Asia Major has also maintained its policy of focusing on China. Its editorial board now includes a global range of scholars, and AM has entered the 21st century reconfigured as an international journal of Chinese studies, published from a Chinese institution, but with full awareness of international Sinological traditions. It thus greets the 21st century in an admirable position to represent a now international discipline, realizing the international spirit which, from the beginning, Bruno Schindler had breathed into it.
We are sure he would be pleased.
- Walter Simon. Obituary of Bruno Schindler. AM ns v11 pt2 (1965) 93-95
Past articles may be printed out from the above links.
4 Aug 2004 / Contact The Project / Exit to Sinology Page