Introducing PIAC (1963)

(From: Aspects of Altaic Civilization. Edited by Denis Sinor. Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series vol. 23 (1963), 263 pp. Reprinted by Curzon Press, London)

On September 4, 1957, at Munich, the Altaic Section of the 24th International Congress of Orientalists passed a resolution to the effect that a Conference of Altaic studies be held during the next year. The decision was motivated by the general feeling that in view of the rapid expansion of Altaic studies and their growing importance all over the world, three-yearly meetings held within the framework of large international congresses of Orientalists gave but insufficient opportunities of exchanging information and in general of getting down to serious business.
As a result of this resolution a first meeting of Altaists was held in Mainz, June 25 to 28, 1958. Representatives of seven countries gathered there and the work was found to be so fruitful that the creation of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference (PIAC) was decided upon and Professor W. Heissig (Bonn) was elected Secretary-General.
The original aims were simple: the organization of a yearly Conference at which, in a relatively small circle of experts, problems of communal interest, both scientific and organizational, can be discussed. The PIAC has no permanent membership and although no endeavor is made to augment the number of participants at the Conference, all bona fide scholars, interested in any aspect of Altaic studies are welcome.
According to custom, participants of the PIAC Conference
(1) give short reports on Altaistic activities in various countries;
(2) discuss or initiate various projects involving international collaboration;
(3) discuss scientific topics previously agreed upon;
(4) make communications on their own research.
The second meeting of the PIAC was held in Mainz from June 23 to 26, 1959. Twenty-three scholars representing ten countries attended.
The third meeting was again held on German soil at Burg Liebenstein near the Rhine, from June 26 to July 1, 1960. Nineteen scholars representing seven countries participated in this Conference. At this meeting Professor Heissig, the ‘spiritus movens’ of the PIAC, resigned and in his stead the undersigned was elected Secretary-General, with the task of organizing the next meeting in Cambridge, England.
A concise report of the first three meetings [1958, 1959, 1960] is contained in a brochure entitled “Permanent International Altaistic Conference — Arbeitsbericht 1958 bis 1960 —” (Gedruckt als Manuskript n. d. , 32 pp. ).

The fourth Meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference was held in Cambridge at St. Edmund’s House, from June 12 to 16, 1961.

Denis Sinor.