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Comparative and Cross-Cultural Studies

Students working in the Central Library

The research theme will develop innovative cross-disciplinary approaches to comparative and cross-cultural studies, and offer an institutional nest to conduct and promote cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in the area. It aims to position the University of Otago as an international leader in comparative and cross-cultural studies.

Our current age of globalization is distinguished by the scale and frequency of its interactions among different cultures. Today countries such as New Zealand and universities such as Otago must respond to increasingly diverse cultural perspectives, including in our approaches to research. This Theme responds to that need.

The Research Theme insists that cross-cultural and comparative studies demand a truly cross-disciplinary approach. The members of the Research Theme therefore are academic staff of various disciplines throughout the university. We collaborate with each other beyond existing institutional barriers and further advance extant international academic cooperation and exchange.

The central goal of the Research Theme is to search for innovative methodological and theoretical approaches to cross-cultural and comparative studies. A group of Otago staff members and postgraduate students and leading international scholars in disciplines including anthropology, music, literature, history, art history and theory, philosophy, psychology, theatre studies, medicine, bioethics and other academic discipline will collaborate in this exploration. The key questions for the collaborators are:

  1. What are the advantages and limits of currently popular approaches to cross-cultural studies in our home discipline?
  2. How might other disciplines’ approaches to cross-cultural and comparative study augment those in our discipline, and what might our own discipline’s approach contribute to comparative and cross-cultural study in other disciplines?
  3. What are new methodologies and theories emerging out of this interdisciplinary discussion and how might they help us understand cross-cultural differences and similarities as well as cross-cultural exchanges more adequately?

Research Activities

CCCS Seminar
The Research Theme organizes a regular seminar series on theoretical and methodological issues within comparative and cross-cultural studies. This will involve key Research Theme members and invited international guests.

CCCS Research Grants
The Research Theme also offers annually competitive research grants primarily for postgraduate students to attend international conferences and/or to carry out research overseas. Since our Research Theme stresses a global perspective, we particularly recognize the need to support postgraduate students to travel in order to develop their research in this area.

CCCS Annual Symposia
In order to facilitate intellectual exchange and interdisciplinary discussion on theoretical and methodological issues concerning cross-cultural comparison, the first CCCS international symposium will be held in March 2013. Based on the materials presented at this conference, we will edit a volume on new methodological approaches to cross-cultural and comparative studies.


Dr Jacob Edmond (English)
Associate Professor Jing-Bao Nie (Bioethics)
Associate Professor Takashi Shogimen (History and Art History)