History and profile of the Research Unit

Founded in 2006, the East Asian Civilizations Research Centre (CRCAO) is a Joint Research Unit of the CNRS (UMR 8155), under the supervisory authority of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), the Collège de France, and the Université Paris Cité.

Formerly named “Research Centre on Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan Civilizations”, the Research Unit changed its title to “East Asian Civilizations Research Centre” in order to emphasize its intention to integrate all Asia within its field of research and to develop transnational, translingual, and transcultural research questions.

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

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

Supervisory authorities

The CRCAO is placed under the aegis of four institutions:

  • The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)
  • The École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE)
  • The Collège de France
  •  Université de Paris (formerly Paris Diderot University — Paris 7)

The Centre is housed by the Collège de France, which supports its research activities and hosts many of its events.

It is located in the Institute of Civilizations (Institut des civilisations) of the Collège de France, 52 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris.

The resources collected by the Centre are deposited in the collections of the Asian Worlds Pole (Pôle Mondes asiatiques) of the Collège de France.

Since 2020, the Centre is also housed by the EPHE on the Condorcet Campus site, Bâtiment de Recherche Nord, 14 cours des Humanités, 93300 Aubervilliers.

Research Programmes

The research carried out at the CRCAO covers a wide range of disciplines, ranging over all periods, from the most ancient to the most contemporary. An important part of its research programmes are concerned with 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 Centre works with several other publishers: the Publications of the Institut des hautes études japonaises ; the Institut des hautes études chinoises ; the Bibliothèque chinoise des Belles Lettres ; the Collection “Hautes études orientales, Extrême-Orient” of the École pratique des hautes études (Librairie Droz).

Open Science

As part of its policy of supporting open science, the Centre has set up a dedicated HAL collection (HAL-CRCAO), which will constitute the official bibliography of the research activities of its members.

Organizational Chart

See Organization