Olomouc is associated with the name of Moravian Jesuit and missionary to the Chinese imperial court Karel Slavíček (1678-1735). In Olomouc, he taught mathematics and Hebrew at the university, and in 1713 was appointed professor.
In the post-war period, Palacký University established Sinology as an independent study programme for the first time in Czechoslovakia. The Faculty of Arts started teaching Sinology and Indology in 1946. The establishment of both programmes was encouraged by Rector Josef Ludvík Fischer and his interest in Chinese and Indian philosophy. Oriental study programmes at Palacký University started to flourish especially thanks to guest lecturers invited from Prague, including: Indologist Prof. Vincenc Lesný (1882-1953) and Sinologist Prof. Jaroslav Průšek (1906-1980), who brought his student Augustin Palát (1923-2016) to Olomouc. Palát led sinology lectures and seminars in Olomouc. At the beginning of the 1950s, however, unfortunate interventions into the organization of the academic programmes, initiated by contemporary University representatives, forced the teachers to transfer the study programmes to Prague.
Thanks to the initiative of Prof. Josef Jařab, the former UP Rector, preparatory work for the re-establishment of the Chinese Philology study programme started in 1991. The implementation of this study programme was led by the head of the Department of Romance Languages, Prof. Jiří Černý, and the study programme was opened in September 1993 as a part of the newly established Far East Section at the Department of Romance Languages, thanks to a significant contribution by Asspc. Prof. Lucie Olivová. A new study programme for Japanese Philology was established under the auspices of Dr. Alice Kraemerová and Dr. Pavel Flanderka. In October 1994, Oldřich Švarný started to work as a lecturer at Chinese Philology; in 1998, he was appointed associate professor at the Palacký University Faculty of Arts, and two years later he was promoted to professor.
In 2002, the Far East Section was renamed as the Department of Asian Studies. The head of the newly established Department was Dr. David Uher, who remained in the office until August 2014. Between 2014 and 2016, the Department was led by Dr. Ivona Barešová. Since 2017, the head of the Department has been Dr. František Kratochvíl.
The Department of Asian Studies is a young, dynamically developing workplace oriented towards contemporary languages and cultures of the Asian region, with a focus on the Asian Pacific region. The Department conducts both educational, and science and research activities.
The Department provides its applicants with a choice of several forward-looking study programmes. Please check the programmes that are currently offered here.
Apart from giving lectures and teaching, members of the Department are also active in science and research, additionally participating in internships at prestigious workplaces abroad, international conferences, workshops, etc. The key research areas of the Department are especially cultural anthropology of China, Chinese grammatology, prosody and lexicography or modern Chinese, as well as inter-cultural pragmatics, contemporary Japanese language and haiku poetry. You can view the most recent book-length publications here.
Notable publications by members of the Department include: Legenda Komači: Ono no Komači - básně a básnířka v divadelních hrách nó [Komachi, the legend: Ono no Komachi – poetry and poetess in the noh plays] (Z. Švarcová, 2019), Modernizace Japonska zachycená v tradiční poezii tanka a haiku [Modernization of Japan reflected in traditional poetic forms of tanka and haiku] (S. Martinásková, 2018), On 'doing friendship' in and through talk: Exploring conversational interactions of Japanese young people (H. Zawiszová, 2018), Čínské znakové písmo: Synchronní model tradiční kategorizace [Chinese characters: Synchronic model of traditional categorization] (T. Slaměníková, 2018), Koreans in Central Europe: To Yu-ho, Han Hŭng-su, and Others (A. Schirmer, 2018), Japanese Given Names: A Window Into Contemporary Japanese Society (I. Barešová, 2016), Prosodická gramatika čínštiny [Prosodic Grammar of Chinese] (O. Švarný, D. Uher, 2014), The exotic other and negotiation of Tibetan self: representation of Tibet in Chinese and Tibetan fiction of the 1980s (K. Hladíková, 2013), Hanská grammatologie [Han Grammatology] (D. Uher, 2013), Ideogramy v moderní čínštině [Ideograms in Modern Chinese] (T. Slaměníková, 2013), "Shuo wen jie zi" xue shuo, zi yuan, wen hua (D. Uher, 2012), Současná hovorová řeč mladých Japonců [Present-Day Colloquial Speech of Japanese Youth] (I. Barešová, H. Zawiszová, 2012), Učební slovník jazyka čínského [Learning Dictionary of Chinese] (O. Švarný, UP 1998-2000) and a series of textbooks Hovorová čínština [Colloquial Chinese] (O. Švarný, D. Uher: Úvod do studia hovorové čínštiny [Introduction into Colloquial Chinese]; O. Švarný et al.: Hovorová čínština v příkladech [Colloquial Chinese in Examples]; O. Kučera et al.: Učebnice čínských znaků [Textbook of Chinese Characters]; D. Uher et al.: Učebnice čínské konverzace 1, 2 [Textbook of Chinese Conversation vol. 1 and 2]; T. Slaměníková and Guo Y.: Čínská obchodní konverzace [Chinese Business Conversation]). The Department is also the only university workplace in the Czech Republic which publishes a journal focused on Asian Studies (Dálný východ [The Far East]).
Members of the Department are also conducting numerous research and other projects. You can find out more here.