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Presentation of the Unit

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Presentation of the Research Unit

Founded in 2006, the East Asian Civilisations Research Centre (CRCAO) is a Joint Research Unit of the CNRS, under the Supervisory authority of the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE), the Collège de France and Paris Diderot University.
Formerly named “Research Centre on Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan Civilisations”, the Research Unit changed its title to “East Asia Civilisations Research Centre” (CRCAO) in order to emphasise its integration of all of Asia within its scope, and to develop a transnational set of issues.

CRCAO’s research activities cover all the countries of East Asia, and are structured into three teams according to region :

- Chinese Civilisation Research Team
- Japanese Civilisation Research Team
- Tibet, Bhutan and Tibetan Culture Area Team (TBACT)

Research on each of these areas remains at the heart of its activities.

Supervisory authorities

The CRCAO is under the aegis of four institutions :

- The French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
- The École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE)
- The Collège de France
- Paris Diderot University (Paris 7)

The Centre is hosted by the Collège de France, which supports its research activities and hosts many of its events.
It is located in the Instituts d’Extrême-Orient of the Collège de France, 52 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris.
The library resources created by the Centre are deposited in the collections of the Institute of the Far East (“Instituts d’Extrême-Orient”) of the College de France.

Research Programmes

The CRCAO’s research covers a broad range of disciplines, and encompasses all periods from the most ancient to the modern. An important part of its programmes concerns the study of religions, history, archaeology, art, architecture and urbanism, as well as the literature and thought of the classical, early modern and modern periods. The Centre also takes a special interest in primary sources (manuscripts, inscriptions, editions, and iconographic and archaeological documents).

The CRCAO’s research programmes are structured around five axes :

- People, Objects and Knowledge : Local Environments and Global Perspectives
- Historiography, Representation and Identity
- Textual, Linguistic and Literate Practices
- Dunhuang and Central Asia : Religious Environment and Institutions
- Lexicons, Digital Sources and Databases


The Revue d’études tibétaines (RET) is an annual journal, published by the Centre since 2002, available online and downloadable for free.

The Journal Études mongoles & sibériennes, centrasiatiques & tibétaines, (EMSCAT) is co-published by the CRCAO and the Centre d’études mongoles et sibériennes (CEMS) of the École Pratique des Hautes Études.

The Centre works with several other publishers : the Publications of the Institut des hautes études japonaises and the Institut des hautes études chinoises, the Bibliothèque chinoise des Belles Lettres and the Collection “Hautes études orientales, Extrême-Orient” of the École pratique des hautes études (Librairie Droz).


At present the CRCAO website hosts three databases :

- The Quadrilingual Database of Agricultural Techniques
- The Bilingual Database of Ofuda Japanese Talismans
- The Database of Collections of Chinese Rubbings Preserved in Europe

Within the next few years, the Centre intends to develop several new databases that are linked to its various research programmes.

Organizational Chart

See Organization