Since it was established in 2001 under the Directorship of Tony Reid, ARI has matured into one of the world’s foremost research centres on Asia. With close to 100 scholars working across the social sciences and humanities, it is well placed to undertake innovative, inter-disciplinary research on the Asian region. Unusually, ARI is housed under one roof, permitting the cross-disciplinary engagements and conversations that are vital to the research that ARI encourages and provokes. The location of ARI at NUS, one of the Asia-Pacific’s premier universities, and NUS itself in Singapore, a historical and contemporary crossroads, provides the Institute with an incomparable institutional and geographical home for research on Asia.

ARI’s modus operandi is to bring the finest scholars, both early career and more established, to Singapore to work in inter-disciplinary teams in an environment that encourages innovative thinking and supports research excellence. Research at ARI is structured into seven cross-disciplinary research clusters: Asian migration, Asian urbanisms, Changing family in Asia, Inter-Asia enagagements, Religion and globalisation, Science, technology and society and, most recently established, Asian identities. Each is led by a senior scholar. These clusters hold regular seminars, workshops, reading groups and conferences, providing the settings for critical engagements and exchanges between scholars with allied intellectual interests but different disciplinary pedigrees and methodological inclinations.

The Institute maintains close working relationships with departments across the University. In 2016 we moved back from the Bukit Timah campus to a new building on the main campus, enabling ARI to deepen its working relationships with the disciplinary departments. ARI also draws on a rich network of international associations and collaborations, within Asia and beyond.

ARI is a research institute, not a think tank or a policy centre. We do seek however to bring our research to bear in terms of the key practical challenges facing Asia, from religion and development, to migration and poverty reduction, and the governance of disasters. Many of these research initiatives are supported and extended with grants from national and international funding bodies.

Our cluster leaders have joint appointments with one of the University’s disciplinary departments. But the majority of our academic staff are early career postdoctoral fellows and mid-career research fellows and senior research fellows. They are attached to one – sometimes two – of our research clusters. The Institute also benefits from the intellectual vitality brought by short-term visiting fellows from across the globe as well as numerous other visitors. This mixture of permanent NUS staff, dedicated postdoctoral researchers, more established fellows, researchers linked to projects, as well as short-term visitors provides the stimulating mix of scholars that makes ARI unique as a centre for research on Asia.