On 14 October, the official opening of an international conference entitled ‘Languages and Civlisations. Oriental Studies in Cracow 1919–2019’ was held in the Collegium Novum Assembly Hall. It was organised to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Jagiellonian University Institute of Oriental Studies. The event was attended not only by researchers, but also members of the diplomatic corps from the Middle Eastern and Asian countries.
‘Welcome to the heart of Polish history and culture and one of the most beautiful cities in Poland. Welcome to the oldest Polish higher education institution. It was here that Prof. Tadeusz Jan Kowalski’s efforts gave birth to our Institute, presenting to us a wealth of opportunities’, said Prof. Barbara Michalak-Pikulska, Director of the JU Institute of Oriental Studies, in her opening remarks. Next, Prof. Wojciech Nowak, JU Rector, stressed the importance of studying the languages, cultures, and socio-political issues of the Middle and Far East countries, especially in times of turmoil and social change. Lastly, the floor was taken by Prof. Elżbieta Górska, Dean of the JU Faculty of Philology. ‘When I enrolled to an undergraduate programme at the Institute, I never imagined I would one day address you as dean of the entire faculty. Oriental Studies revealed to us the horizon of our culture and opened us up to the great diversity of the world. I wish you a successful conference and a memorable stay in Kraków’, said Prof. Górska.
After a short film presenting the history and current activities of the JU Institute of Oriental Studies, renowned expert in Iranian Studies Prof. Andrzej Pisowicz delivered an opening lecture in which he briefly summarised its achievements. With the end of the lecture began the proper, research-focused part of the conference, which will last until 16 October. During this time, 60 scholars from around the world will discuss languages, literature, history, art, religion, philosophy, and culture of the Middle East and Asia. An accompanying exhibition of hitherto undisplayed Eastern manuscripts and prints from the collection of the Jagiellonian Library will be shown to visitors to mark the anniversary of the Institute. The guests will also be able to take part in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony at the Manggha Museum. The conference is organised under the honorary patronage of JU Rector, President of Kraków, and the Polish National Commission for UNESCO.
The JU Institute of Oriental Studies was established in 1919. Amongst its graduates and staff there are many eminent researchers from all branches of Oriental Studies, such as Tadeusz Jan Kowalski, Ananiasz Zajączkowski, Józef Bielawski, Tadeusz Lewicki, Helena Willman-Grabowska, Andrzej Zabowski, and Mikołaj Melanowicz. Currently, the Institute conducts research projects on languages, literature, history, and philosophy of the Middle and Far East. It also teaches both languages that spoken by millions of people (Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Hindi) and those on the brink of extinction (such as Chulymsky).