Union Académique Internationale

Excellence through Collaboration Presidential Address (2019)

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Excellence through Collaboration Presidential Address

This speech, delivered in Paris in November 2019, during the centenary of the UAI, by Samuel N.C. Lieu, President of the UAI, opens the volume J.-L. De Paepe, P. Jodogne, I. Algrain (eds.), DFrom a Republic of Scholars to a Community of Researchers. Perspectives on the History of the International Union of Academies (UAI), 1919-2019, Turnhout, Brepols, 2019 and is reproduced here with permission from Brepols.

The centenary of a major international organization is a source of celebration as well as of review and reflection. The Union Académique Internationale was born in Paris in 1919 when the Great Powers met to decide the future not just of Europe but also of much of the civilized World. The founders of the Union were among some of the most outstanding scholars of their time; I have no need to say more on them, for throughout our celebrations a great deal will be said by other speakers about these scholars and their contributions to the founding of the UAI. They were Classical scholars who had also developed skills in epigraphy, numismatics and field archaeology. Their love of the Classical past was reflective of a common cultural heritage that un¬questioningly acknowledged the achievements of the Greeks and the Romans as the wellsprings of their own national cultures.

The academies that constitute the membership of the Union are generally learned societies and communities of senior scholars and not philosophical schools like the Athenian Academy – originally an olive grove outside Athens said to be dedicated to the hero Akademos and where Plato began teaching c. 387 BCE. The modern Athenian Academy in the centre of the city of Pericles does, however, have a restful back garden attempting to recall its Platonic antecedents. The majority of academicians who helped found the UAI in Paris in 1919 were products of nineteenth century higher education at a time when Classical philology – a broad discipline which included the study of historical and philosophical as well as literary texts – dominated the curricula of European universities. In Britain, for instance, the embodiment of Classical erudition was undoubtedly Dr Benjamin Jowett (1817–93) who at the age of thirty-eight was appointed Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford University with an annual stipend of £40. More importantly, he was elected Master of Balliol College Oxford in 1870 and he proceeded to make the college a powerhouse for the study of the Humanities for the next century. His publications included his famous translations of the Histories of Thucydides and the Dialogues of Plato as well as studies on Plato’s Republic. He was a pedagogue of the highest order and it was often said during his lifetime that ‘anything Jowett did not know was not worth knowing’. Although he did not live long enough to be elected Fellow of the British Academy (founded in 1902), many of his students went on to occupy positions of importance both in academia and in government. A high percentage of Balliol students came directly from a single British public school, Eton, and these Etonians at Balliol formed an elite within an elite. On the social and academic dominance of Balliol in British society the novelist Evelyn Waugh has well remarked:

At the end of the nineteenth century Balliol men were everywhere in positions of eminence and authority quite disproportionate to their numbers. It was said that there were three institutions for higher education in the country, Oxford, Cambridge and Balliol (1).

I had the privilege of listening to a speech given in 1975 by one of the most famous twentieth century products of Eton and Balliol, the former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (PM 1957–63). He was then Chancellor of Oxford University and he gave the principal address at the opening of the new building of Wolfson College on the banks of the Iffley – a college of which I was then a Junior Research Fellow. In his memorable address, ‘Supermac’, as he was affectionately known, gave the Fellows and graduate students of what was then a relatively new college many fascinating glimpses of his brief time at Oxford as a student reading for Literae Humaniores (i.e. the four-year undergraduate degree in Classics). He went up to Balliol from Eton in 1912 and like so many young students of his generation, he saw active service in the Great War after he had gained a First in Honour Moderations, i.e. the first part of his four-year degree, in 1914. In his memoirs, he would famously recall that when he was wounded in September 1916 in France, his love of the Classics helped him to cope with his injuries:

I rolled down into a large shell-hole, where I lay dazed, but not – at first at least – unconscious. … I lay in my hole. Even if I had known of a “better ‘ole’” I could not have gone to it. I had in my pocket Aeschylus’s Prometheus in Greek. It was a play I knew very well, and seemed not inappropriate to my position. So as there seemed nothing better to do, and I could not move in any direction, I read it intermittently (2).

The injuries he received were serious enough to keep him out of active service for the rest of the War. Most of his Balliol contemporaries were less fortunate. Of the 28 students who started at Balliol with Macmillan, only he and one other survived the war. As he said in his memoirs:

When the war finally ended most of us were at a loss as to how to take up our lives again. I could not face going back to Oxford. Whenever I went there, it seemed to be a ‘city of ghosts’. A certain bitterness began to eat into our hearts at the easy way in which many of our elders seemed to take up again, and lay with undiminished zest, the game of politics. ‘Old man lived; the young men died.’ (3)

Macmillan never returned to Oxford to complete his degree in Classics. But one comment he made in his memorable speech that I will never forget is that the idea of an Oxford college created solely for research students would have struck him and his Oxford contemporaries as somewhat superfluous. After all he and his contemporaries had read all that was worth reading in Classics before they came up to Oxford and then proceeded to spend the first eighteen months after coming up re-reading the same Greek and Latin authors, especially Homer and Vergil. The idea therefore that these well-thumbed texts needed further research would have certainly been a case of scholarly overindulgence.

The British ruling class in particular did not just admire the Greeks but saw themselves as intellectual and even physical heirs of the ancient Greeks. It was in this very same year (1915) that Brig. Gen. (later Sir) Percy Sykes (1867–1945), a well-known colonial administrator, diplomat and soldier, published in the first of many editions of his famous History of Persia an unashamedly favourable comparison between the Greeks and the Public (i.e. private) School-educated Englishmen:

It is interesting to compare the Greeks with ourselves, and their empire with that of Great Britain. It can certainly be maintained that the class from which the administrators of Great Britain have been mostly drawn is educated at the Public Schools both mentally and physically to produce an average type which in many respects must resemble the best Greek ideals more closely than any other since the downfall of Hellas. Indeed in some ways it even surpasses the highest Greek Ideals. This training, in a society which is from many points of view a model republic, produces a certain type of character and a certain set of ideas which no other European race can rival; and this explains the fact that the Englishman is so often an able administrator who, thanks to his love of sport and of physical exercise, can live all over the globe and maintain his health and with it his sane outlook, his initiative and his energy. Just as Alexander the Great built cantonments at strategic points where he posted garrisons who led their own lives, so the British of to-day hold India by a mere handful of administrators and soldiers also living their own lives in cantonments distributed at strategic centres, albeit with their task facilitated of late years by railways and the telegraph (4).

The Humanist scholar of the nineteenth century was above all an individualist imbued not only with expert knowledge of the Classics but also qualities such as understanding, compassion, benevolence and fortitude. There were few signs of research collaboration among British Classical scholars until the era of large reference works such as the Cambridge Ancient History with the notable exception of the famous Greek-English Dictionary of Liddle and Scott, first published in 1843. Although the founding delegates of the Union Académique Internationale were trained in Classical philology at least a quarter of a century before Harold Macmillan, their European and American training gave them a much broader view of the Classics and they saw their knowledge of Greek and Latin as instruments for understanding an Ancient Civilization for its own sake and not for its contemporary relevance or as a template for personal aspirations and behaviour. Such scholars were more likely to participate in combining the study of texts with that of inscriptions, papyrology, numismatics, as well as field archaeology. Franz Cumont (1868–1947), for instance, became famous for his pioneering work on Mithraism and later in Greek Alchemical texts but he also took part in the excavation of Dura Europos, the Roman outpost on the Euphrates. Michael Rostovtzeff (1870–1952), a distinguished scholar also involved in the founding of the Union, also spent time excavating the same site.

As you will hear from other speakers during the course of these Centenary Celebrations, the Union Acdémique Internationale was partly conceived by a multi-national group of scholars who had already been meeting regularly to discuss the possibility of producing a corpus of Antique (i.e. Greek) vases housed in all the major museums in the world. Collaboration between academies and individual scholars therefore lies at the very foundation of the Union and our founding delegates soon realized that the best way of forging co-operation among the well-established academies was through joint-support of research projects. Over the last century, the sponsorship and supervision of these collaborative projects between academies have become the chief task and raison d’être of the Union. At present about a hundred international research projects are or have been sponsored by the Union and they cover a wide range of subjects within the study of the older Humanities. The choice of subject-matter very much reflects the research interests and the Weltanschauung of the founding delegates.

One of the two representatives of the newly formed American Council of Learned Societies at the first meetings of the Union Académique Internationale was William Buckler who had been an active contributor to what would become a major epigraphical publication project known to Classical scholars as MAMA (Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua). Although MAMA itself did not become a project of the UAI, its principal aim to make available facsimile records of monuments, mostly of the Roman and Early Byzantine periods, surviving above the surface of the soil in a number of selected areas, inspired a number of epigraphical projects which came under the tutelage of the Union especially Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum – conceived by the Dutch scholar J.E. Hondius at the time of the Treaty of Versailles. This is an annual publication collecting newly published Greek inscriptions no later than the eighth century CE. Because it contains complete Greek texts of all new inscriptions with a critical apparatus, the SEG numbers given to the inscriptions are crucial for the identification of the individual inscriptions, especially if the texts were republished in other corpora epigraphica. The fact that Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum is also available as an online database greatly enhances its status and scholarly usefulness. I had the privilege as President of the UAI to visit the project and its director Professor Angelos Chaniotis at its new home at the Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies. The project is currently one of the few ancient world projects based in the United States and its new venue is particularly appropriate considering the fact that Buckler, one of the scholars who helped found the UAI, was from the USA.

An epigraphical project currently sponsored by the UAI and deserving of special mention is the Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum. The CII was founded in response to a resolution of the 22nd International Congress of Orientalists at Istanbul (1951) with W. B. Henning as its first chairman and Sayyed Hasan Taqīzāda (Taqizadeh) as its honorary president. The project, which is under the auspices of the British Academy, is currently registered in Britain as an educational charity and as a non-profit company limited by guarantee and is directed by an international council and an international committee of up to forty members. The project was adopted by the UAI in 1973 and the latter contributes regularly towards the cost of its publication. Since 1960 the project has published over fifty volumes – the work of scholars from almost a dozen countries including UK, Germany, France, Belgium, USA, Russia and Israel, and some of these distinguished contributors are fellows of major academies. The volumes contain editions and translations of texts in Old and Middle Persian, Greek, Aramaic, Khotanese and Bactrian. Given the politico-religious situation in Iran in the past three decades, advanced research in Iranian inscriptions and texts – a key element in our knowledge of the Ancient Near East – had to be conducted largely outside Iran especially in European countries with a strong tradition for Iranological research. However, the number of qualified scholars to contribute at the highest level in each country is relatively small. The consistent high quality of the volumes published by CII is a wonderful attestation to successful international collaboration making CII the sole epigraphical corpus of the pre-Islamic Iranian language.

Though Greece and Rome are seen as the wellsprings of western culture, the Medieval World (including Byzantium) is also a shared culture among many European nations. Not surprisingly therefore the UAI has in the past century sponsored a significant number of projects in Medieval philosophy, philology and art history. One of the earliest projects is the Medieval Latin Dictionary and its history is very closely tied to that of the UAI. Two years prior to the outbreak of the First World War, a British lexicographer, Robert Whitwell, petitioned the British Academy to use the imminent International Congress of Historical Studies to propose a replacement for the standard dictionary of medieval Latin, Du Cange’s Glossarium which dates back to the seventeenth century (publ. 1678). The Congress duly met in London in 1912 (April, 3–9) under the patronage of HM George V. The range of subjects covered by this congress reflects a rare universality in historical studies and presages the agenda of the early meetings of the UAI a decade later. Contemporary history did not have the limelight. Topics included the Hittite language, Khotanese documents from Turfan as well as Michael Rostovtzeff’s report on ‘Hellenistic tumuli in South Russia’(5). There was no mention in the published report of Whitwell’s proposal but his idea was clearly taken seriously by the British Academy and the latter presumably waited for a suitable opportunity after the end of the Great War to put it forward to an international audience. The proposal was taken up in 1920 by a very new UAI which decided four years later that member academies should produce dictionaries based on those medieval Latin texts produced in geographic areas corresponding to their respective present-day territories, whilst also furnishing the material for a new Du Cange. The project now has branches in almost all major European countries including the Republic of Ireland, and with generous funding from the Packard Foundation, the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources was completed in 2013 when the seventeenth and final fascicle was published. Work on the various national volumes of the Dictionary has brought about a revival of general interest in medieval languages and a UAI project now to produce a new Du Cange is also underway in Belgium. The overall scope of the project is colossal and the new Du Cange may well be in electronic format for decades to come.

Medieval philosophy, especially the continuity of Platonism and the revival of Aristotelianism are topics which readily attract Classical scholars and the UAI became heavily involved in sponsoring a number of research and publication projects especially in connection with the Corpus Philosophorum Medii Aevi which has nine sub-projects covering the Latin translations of Plato and Aristotle as well as the works of Avicenna, Averroes and the Arabic and Hebrew translations of Aristotle and the works of Arnau of Villanova. The various sub-series have published almost a hundred volumes altogether, making the UAI very visible as a major sponsor of the study of medieval philosophy.

At the time of the foundation of the UAI, Japan was both a victorious Entente power and the only Asian country with an established academy (founded 1879). China was then mired in Civil War and the Academia Sinica was not founded until 1928 while the most senior learned society, the Institute of Archaeology of Beijing, was not seen as an academy by Western nations despite its high reputation. Japan effectively represented the Pacific nations in the UAI until the 1970s when the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences became a full member. However, in the 1920s, many European nations had strong academic interests in the Orient through their colonies, and it is not surprisingly that the fourth oldest project of the UAI is on Customary Law in Indonesia. The project published one single volume and the project was clearly the solo effort of the author who was also the delegate to the UAI of the Royal Academy of the Netherlands (6). Of longer term significance is the Unpublished Historical Documents concerning Japan that brings together scholars and archivists researching on the documents relating to Japan’s foreign relations housed in a number of major countries outside Japan which had strong trading relations with Japan such as the Netherlands. The project, restarted in the 1960s, has produced an average of one volume per year, making it one of the most voluminous and successful of projects sponsored by the UAI.

At least one of the founding delegates, Louis H. Gray, was an outstanding Sanskrit scholar and it was not surprising therefore that projects involving the study of Sanskrit, the forerunner of Indo-European languages, should also be considered a suitable area of sponsorship by the UAI. Today the Union still sponsors the continuing work on the dictionary of Buddhist Sanskrit and Pali terms found in the Chinese Buddhist Canon better known as Hôbôgirin (1933-) – a joint project of the Institut Français and the Japan Academy – and the project is still very much continuing after having produced its eighth major fascicle in 2003. Broader international collaboration that might have helped to complete the project sooner is difficult to secure because most Buddhist scholars in the West now conduct their research and publish their results almost entirely in English. However, Hôbôgirin when complete will stand as a monument of Indo-Sinological scholarship of the highest order and will remain as a unique and indispensable work of reference.

Cartography was a major concern of the founding fathers of the Union as some of them were noted historical geographers and there are few areas in Humanities which could justify major funding as well as cartography. It is not surprising therefore that both the Tabula Imperii Romani (TIR) and the Tabula Imperii Byzantini (TIB) projects are sponsored by the Union. The late Professor Stephen Wurm, an eminent Austro-Hungarian linguist who migrated to Australia from Europe in 1954 and became president simultaneously of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the UAI, launched a single-volume project of major significance in the 1980s, viz. a linguistic Atlas of the Pacific including the Americas (7). This, together with his earlier project on a linguistic Atlas of China (8), represented the UAI’s presence in Pacific Studies for the next two decades. However, both of these projects and also a later project on an atlas of endangered languages (9) were totally dependent on Prof. Wurm’s ability to raise the very significant funding required for field-work based linguistic research which means that these high-profile projects could not easily be continued after his death in 2001. Although the resources for updating the work of Wurm and his team are no longer available, the linguistic atlas volumes will remain a beacon of extraordinary personal vision as well as of international collaboration achieved through the UAI sponsorship system. There is a possibility that UNESCO will take over the sponsorship of the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger Project President Kim of the National Academy of Korea has mentioned the possibility of a Linguistic Atlas of Korea. If either or both possibilities would become reality, then the remarkable pioneering work of Professor Wurm will not be dissipated.

In visual arts, the success of the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum is paralleled by that of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi which aims to publish in a richly illustrated multi-volume corpus all the main examples of medieval stained-glass windows in Europe and also in countries in North America which have followed European traditions in the design of stained-glass windows. The project was entrusted to the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA) immediately after its establishment in 1952, and since 1956 has been under the patronage of the UAI. Some of the initiative for the project came from the urgent need to compile photographic catalogues of stained-glass windows that had suffered major damage during the Second World War. Thanks to the energetic leadership and involvement by a number of leading scholars in this field of study, especially our past president Professor Emerita Madeline Caviness, current national committees comprise Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain with Catalonia, Switzerland and the United States of America. The work of the corpus has now been extended to cover examples of stained-glass windows of the churches of the Ancien Régime. Over one hundred handsomely illustrated volumes of the corpus have been published to date and they have readily established themselves not only as standard works of reference but also, in the words of Thucydides (I,22,4), ‘a possession for all time’.

With the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) of the People’s Republic of China becoming a member of the Union in 1976, collaboration with an emerging and major research power, especially in Asian Studies and in Archaeology seemed highly promising. However, with the exception of Hôbôgirin and the newly established Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum, most of the Union’s projects are focused on Europe and there is no ready-made avenue for cooperation. The delegates who attended the General Assembly in Beijing in 2001 were informed of the work of Mr Yu Taishan of CASS who has been compiling a collection of Chinese sources on the Roman East. A group of UAI delegates hit on the idea of setting up a project through the Union rather than through a member academy to compile a reciprocal collection of Greek and Latin sources on the Far East. The distinguished scholar of Sanskrit, Professor Gregory Bongard-Levin of the Russian Academy of the Sciences, made the further suggestion that the first task of the UAI project should be a new edition in English of the work of George Coedès (Textes d’auteurs grecs et latins relatifs à l’Extrême-Orient depuis le IVe siècle av. J.-C. jusqu’au XIVe siècle) which was published as a monograph of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in 1910. By sheer chance, the SERICA project under my personal direction in Australia had already initiated such a task and it was completed in two volumes in 2012 with generous financial help from the Australian Research Council and the UAI (10). With the publication of Yu Taishan’s projected work in 2014 by the Romanian Academy (11), the UAI has helped to make a significant contribution to the source-critical study of the earliest period of China’s contact with the Graeco-Roman world. The idea of bringing together scholars from China and Europe who are active researchers in the fascinating new area, now popularly known as ‘Silk Road Studies’, had been in the minds of a number of delegates involved in the project and the UAI is immensely grateful to Professor Torbjörn Lodén who successfully persuaded the Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities to make a significant financial contri¬bution to stage an international conference in Stockholm (Sweden) in late September 2018. ‘The Silk Road and Cultural Exchange between Asia and Europe’ brought together leading scholars from Austria, Australia, Britain, China, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Norway and Sweden. The successful outcome of this conference highlights what could be achieved through a successful UAI project being strongly supported by a member academy at exactly the right time in the project’s history.

At the end of the twentieth century, the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Korea, one of the major emerging countries of the Pacific-Rim, became a member of the UAI. Not only did it become actively involved in the Union through exemplarily regular attendance of the General Assembly but it also introduced a strategically and highly scholarly research project, viz. the Annals (Veritable Records) of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897) under the able leadership of Professor Yi Tae-Jin. The task of editing and translation into English of one of the most detailed historical records meticulously kept by court historians without break for five centuries is a herculean task. Because the emperors of the Joseon Dynasty were Sinophiles, the records were written in Classical Chinese and not in Korean. Because Joseon rule coincided with the fall of the Mongols and the rise of the Manchus, scholars have to be equipped with a range of Altaic languages as well as Chinese to understand and translate the records accurately. An international committee consisting of senior scholars recommended by the UAI came to the aid of the small group of scholars qualified to undertake this task which has received general support from the Government of the Republic of Korea and sample fascicles highlighting both the magnitude of the task and the quality of the work done so far have now been published. The full Bureau (Council) of the UAI was able to visit the Centre of Korean Studies at Seoul University and the members were immensely impressed by what has been achieved to date and by the care with which the rare volumes of the records were kept and conserved. The visit also enabled members of the Bureau to thank Mr Lim Kwang-Soo, the President of the Almuni Association of the University of Seoul, for his generous donation towards defraying the cost of the Union’s Centenary Celebrations.

In 1919 the United States of America did not possess a national academy along the lines of the British or the Japanese Academy. The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), a federation of a dozen or so of the leading learned societies in the US, was quickly formed in 1919 to enable the United States to be an official founding member of the UAI. This means that ACLS will also be celebrating its centenary in 2019. Like the UAI, the ACLS founding mission was to advance humanistic studies and social sciences and to maintain and strengthen national societies dedicated to those studies. Over the years the ACLS had developed into a major national advocate for the humanities and a co-ordinator of special funding and of high-profile national research programs. Since the 1980s, the Annual General Meetings of the ACLS have been attended mainly by high-ranking officials of its member-societies rather than by senior scholars unless they happen to represent the learned societies in their own fields. While many US-based scholars partake and even lead UAI projects, they do not form the same relationship with and receive the same support from the ACLS as do Europe-based scholars from their home academies. It is not easy therefore for US-based scholars to initiate UAI projects like their European or Australasian counterparts. Currently UAI’s principal research project on the two American continents, the Corpus Antiquitatum Americanensium, which has organized a special international symposium in Paris to coincide with the UAI’s Centenary celebrations, is directed from Barcelona and with Argentina, Mexico and Peru rather than the USA as its principal American partner. The project has produced catalogues of holdings of pre- and post-Columbian American artifacts in museums in Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Switzerland proving that there is no such thing as ‘terroir’ in international research. The ACLS has generously agreed to host the 91st General Assembly of the UAI and this will give an opportunity for European scholars to get to know better their American partners in research.

The continent of Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, was not represented at the time of the foundation of the UAI for the first decades of its existence when the continent was still prey to European colonialism. We had to wait until after the Second World War for an initiative to come from European Africanists for a major UAI project on African History to be launched. In 1962, Ivan Hrbek, an Arabist and Africanist scholar from the Oriental Institute of the then Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague proposed an international editing and publishing project, Fontes Historiae Africanae (FHA) – ‘Sources for African History’, to a number of major international bodies and it was adopted in 1964 by the UAI on the initiative of CIPSH (the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences) – an important partner of UNESCO which the UAI had helped to found. The original plan was for the UAI to sponsor the publication of written and oral source materials for the history of Africa through wide-ranging international co-operation. The principal aims of the FHA project were to prepare and publish critical editions and translations of written and oral sources for African history, original historical texts or collections of documents assembled to address particular topics on the history of sub-Saharan Africa in the original language together with a translation into either English or French, unless the text itself was in one of these languages. Despite its obvious importance to the study of global history, the FHA project virtually lost its international character between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s as the British FHA committee remained virtually the only active participant in the project, regularly preparing and publishing eleven new volumes (1980–95). A New Series was instituted by the British Committee in 1997 and since then has produced a dozen or more new volumes published by the prestigious Oxford University Press. The newly established Belgian Committee started its own Belgian Series in 2005 and there are also plans for starting a French Series. A number of FHA volumes have been published by scholars in the USA under the auspices of ‘Sources for African History’ – the use of Latin for series title is clearly seen as an Old World practice. Active participation by scholars based in Africa had been sought from the inauguration of the series. The damage to valuable manuscripts written in Sub-Saharan languages held at Timbuktu not too many years ago heightened awareness of the literary heritage of Africa. The very high costs involved in collaborative research with African scholars who have no access to major funding is not easy to meet, not even by UNESCO. The Bureau (Council) of the UAI has therefore decided to accept an invitation from the Académie des sciences d’outre-mer (ASOM) to stage a one-day FHA symposium in Paris to help inaugurate the UAI Centenary celebrations, and to which a number of leading scholars from Africa will be invited to participate, with costs being met by member academies of the UAI.

The UAI of today is the heir to a rich legacy of far-sighted vision and of genuine desire to replace nationalism with international research collaboration through leading academies and leading learned societies. The adoption, the funding and the periodic review processes for the new and on-going projects dominate the day-to-day administration of the Union’s small administrative staff. As President I must pay tribute to M. Jean-Luc de Paepe who has overseen the administration for more than a quarter of a century and whose eventual retirement will create a difficult gap to fill. The projects’ domination together with a small administrative staff means that the UAI is unable to play a major advocacy role for the Humanities in a changing world which is sometimes hostile to serious and long-term research in the Arts in general. Although new projects are regularly adopted, the axiom ‘like attracts like’ is a major factor in the areas of research represented by the projects. Classical and Medieval and older Oriental Studies still dominate the agenda although attempts by previous presidents have resulted in a number of newer disciplines being represented in project-selection such as scientific archaeology, climatology, digital humanities, linguistic studies especially in the field of ‘New English’. The Bureau of the UAI in 2018 approved an Early Career Awards scheme to encourage outstanding younger scholars to participate in UAI projects in the hope that they will inject ‘new blood’ and fresh ideas into the UAI projects-system. Nevertheless, the number of UAI projects focused on the world after Napoleon Bonaparte who restored the Académie Française as a division of the Institut de France in 1803 remains comparatively small. The process of change within the UAI can only come from the delegates representing member-academies, and the latter tend to send delegates in Classical and Medieval studies and in archaeology because their expertise is required in the adoption and review processes which are central to the mission and standing of the UAI. However, as long as Classical and Medieval Studies continue to be seen as the core of Humanistic learning, UAI can claim permanent relevance through sponsoring major long-term international projects in these areas. This cannot be read as an apology for refusal to change, as change is inevitable and inexorable, but the preservation of a treasured legacy is also important. Here I would like to thank publishers like Brepols, Brill and Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press for undertaking to publish many of the series, products of the Union’s research projects, and to Brepols of Turnhout in particular for generously agreeing to print and publish this commemoration volume gratis.

Finally, I would like to express my profound personal gratitude to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres for readily agreeing to host the Centenary General Assembly of the UAI and to the Secretary General of the Académie M. Michel Zink for his personal support. The UAI is only as strong as the support which its member academies can afford to give and, in this case, the AIBL has excelled itself and certainly deserves our utmost thanks and heartiest congratulation.

Notes (1) E. Waugh, The Life of Ronald Knox, Londres, 1959, p. 81. (2) H. Macmillan, Winds of Change 1914-1939, Londres, 1966, p. 88. (3) Ibid., p. 98. (4) P. Sykes, A History of Persia, Londres, 1915, p. 301-302. (5) A. C. Breton, The international congress of historical studies, American Anthropologist 15/3 (Jul 9, 1913), 460-469. (6) D. Van Hinloopen Labberton, Dictionnaire de termes de droit coutumier indonésien, avec six cartes hors texte, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, La Haye, 1934. (7) S. A. Wurm et al. (ed.), Atlas of the languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, 2 vol., Berlin, 1996. (8) S. A. Wurm et al. (ed.), Language Atlas of China, Hong Kong, 1988. (9) S. A. Wurm et al. (ed.), Atlas of the world’s languages in danger of disappearing, Canberra, 1996. (10) G. Coedès, Texts of Greek and Latin Authors on the Far East, From the 4th C. B.C.E. to the 14th C. C.E., trad. J. S. Sheldon, Turnhout, 2012 ; J. S. Sheldon, Commentary on George Coedès’ Texts of Greek and Latin Authors on the Far East, Turnhout, 2012. (11) Y. Taishan, China and the Mediterranean World in Ancient Times, ed. V. Spinei, Florilegium magistrorum historiae archaeologiaeque Antiquitatis et Medii Aevi XIV, Bucarest, 2014.