News on Asian Collections

The News on Asian Collections blog keeps readers updated on new acquisitions and developments in the Asian collections at the IISH.

Collecting materials on Asia started in earnest in 1987, and in 2011 the South East Asia Region desk was created. The Desk collected materials from Burma, China, Indonesia/Dutch East Indies, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

There were also Desks for:

  • Middle East & Central Asia  (Iran, Caucasus and Central Asia)
  • South Asia  (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal)
  • Arab Middle East (Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon)

In 2017 the Desks were disbanded, but of course the IISH still collects Asian materials. The coordinator within the IISH for acquisitioning Asian Collections is Eef Vermeij

IISH Collections | Asia | Red Shirt Movement - Photo by:

News on Asian Collections


Pemuda Rakyat

About a year ago the IISH bought a flag (banner) of the Indonesian Pemuda Rakyat at an auction. Due to the pandemic the processing of the flag in the catalogue of the IISH was put on hold, but now it is finally accessible (IISG BG L1/501). Pemuda Rakyat (People's Youth) was the youth wing of the Partai Kommunis Indonesia (Communist Party of Indonesia). 

IISG BG D91/239

Military terror in Thailand, 6 October 1976

Sometimes you stumble upon little surprises. In this case finding a poster in a small donated collection of Indonesia and East Timor related magazines of the Thailand Informations- und Solidaritätskomitee, München (TISK) on the events of 6 October 1976, which were commemorated in Thailand only weeks ago.

mouth cap

Mouth caps from Thailand

IISH collects all kind of ephemera, not only printed matter. One type of these ephemera are so-called mouth masks or mouth caps. Under these keywords I can find only two in the whole collection (both from Thailand, from the political protests about a decade ago).

Bag from recycled election banners

The Commoner's Party (Thailand)

The Commoner's Party [in Thai: พรรคสามัญชน] is a new party in the Thai political spectrum. Founded in late 2018, the leftist party decided to take part in the 2019 general elections, the first one after 5 years of military rule since the coup in 2014.

Asian Students' Association (ASA)

It took more then a while before the ASA archive - or rather the remains of the archive, as there are many gaps in the collection - finally arrived in Amsterdam, but this spring it finally did.

Karen National Union

The announcement comes with some delay but that's not to say we're less excited to be able to report that the archives of the Karen National Union (KNU) are now available through IISH (actually they were since late 2013, early 2014).

Roel Burgler Papers

In 2013 and 2014 we received the first batches of the collection of Roel Burgler.

Thailand Social and Political Developments Collection

Thailand Social and Political developments Collection is the new name of what formerly was known as the DOC or documentation collections (DOC Thailand in this case) The Asia Department with support of Collection Processing has started to make new descriptions of her existing documentation collect

Committee for Asian Women (CAW)

Also late last year we received the library and documentation collection of the Committee for Asian Women (CAW), a regional NGO for women workers groups.

Filipina domestic workers and their informal spaces

Informal architecture

Everybody who has ever visited Hong Kong and made a Sunday stroll around Central District knows about the weekly phenomena of Filipino domestic workers reclaiming the streets - or pavements and walkways to be more precise - on their free Sunday.

A pair of flip-flops with the portrait of Prem Tinsunalond

A different memory of the Statesman

Recently (May 26, 2019) Prem Tinsunalond, the chairman of the Privy Council and influential meddler in Thai politics passed away. Next to all the eulogies, there were actually some critical pieces as well which threw a different light on his career in the Thai military and Thai politics.