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York Centre for Asian Research Update                        Issue 24, Friday, September 16, 2005

Canada Research Chair of modern Chinese history delivers lecture at York

September 26, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm, Accolade West 106 - Prof. Joshua Fogel, Canada Research Chair on Modern Chinese Historywill deliver a lecture on 'The 1862 Voyage of Senzaimaru to the City of Shanghai and Its Recreation in Wartime Japanese Cinema: Two Seminal Moments in Sino-Japanese Relations Folded Into One' . It would be noted that in 1862, the Japanese government sent its first mission to China in several centuries, and this landmark event marks the commencement of modern Sino-Japanese relations. The vessel, the Senzaimaru, carried 51 Japanese from many domains, and many of them wrote up their impressions in fascinating travel accounts of the port city of Shanghai.  In the midst of WWII, and in the occupied city of Shanghai of 1944, the celebrated Japanese director Inagaki Hiroshi filmed a movie based on this story but informed by the ideology of the time.  This film was for decades presumed lost and only rediscovered in 2001. His presentation will include clips from the film and see how the 1862 story was retold in 1944 and how that plays now eighty years later. Prof. Fogel is one of the world’s leading scholars of modern Asian studies and specializes in Chinese-Japanese cross-cultural connections. He received his PhD in history from Columbia University in 1980 and since 1989 taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In July 2005, he came to York’s Department of History, Faculty of Arts as Canada Research Chair in the History of Modern China. More news on Prof. Fogel in Y-File.

Atkinson professor talks on Chinese philosophy

October 3, 2005, 12:00-1:30 pm, Accolade West 106 - Dr. Jay Goulding, professor of Chinese and Japanese philosophy, comparative religion and hermeneutic phenomenology at the School of Social Sciences at Atkinson will give a talk on Chinese Philosophy. He teaches two undergraduate courses, Popular Cultures, East and West, and Socialization and Identity in York’s East Asian Studies Programme.  Notably, the International Society for Chinese Philosophy, The Association of Chinese Philosophers in America and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences are three of several cornerstone organizations for Chinese philosophy today. In this context, the seminar will explore the return of Chinese philosophy to China and will focus on the current world trend toward comparative philosophy, especially the connections between Chinese thought, hermeneutics and phenomenology.

Delhi School of Economics professor presents paper at YCAR

Professor Meenakshi Thapan, Chair of the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics will present a paper on Habitus, Performance and Women’s Experience: Understanding Embodiment and Identity in Everyday Life on Tuesday, September 20, 2:30-4:00 pm at 270B York Lanes.  Based on the narratives of women in a slum in Delhi as well as of professional, and upper class women,  the author takes recourse to the conceptual category of  habitus, the dominant modality for the exercise of multiple subjectivities shaped by caste, class, age,  and region and argues that the possibilities for resistance are not however excluded as these are embedded in the nature of habitus itself. The author also argues that Bourdieu’s concept of habitus is seminal to an understanding of, and engagement with, questions about how gender identities are made, negotiated, re-defined, and performed. Based on women’s experience and location, the paper seeks to understand habitus, its constancy and simultaneously its malleability, and concludes that it is performance as transgression that perhaps constitutes the point of departure from Bourdieu’s socially constituted habitus to a more enabling understanding of its generative and agential nature. 

YCAR and York Geography co-sponsor colloquium series

The Department of Geography Graduate Programme hosts a weekly Colloquium Series (Tuesdays, 11:30 am - 12:30 pm) during the Fall and Winter Sessions. One hour presentations are offered from invited scholars, faculty members and graduate students.  YCAR is co-sponsoring four talks by the following speakers on Asia-related research topics:

September 27 - Melissa Marschke, YCAR - Livelihood in Context: Learning with Cambodian Fishers

October 12 - Jim Glassman, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia - Is the Thai State National?

October 18 - Geraldine Pratt - Department of Geography, University of British Columbia - Time Out of Joint: Family Reunification among Filipino Families in Vancouver

November 1 - Jennifer Hyndman, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University - The Tsunami Effect: Geographies of Governance and Conflict in Sri Lanka

For the full colloquium schedule for 2005/2006, visit the Department of Geography website.

Renowned Southeast Asian historian speaks at University of Toronto

Understanding State and Nation in Southeast Asia - Which way Aceh? Which way Indonesia?
Thursday, September 22, 2005m 4:00-6:00 p.m., Co-sponsored by UofT Department of History and Asian Institute
Munk Centre for International Studies, North House - Room 208N, 1 Devonshire Place

Prof. Anthony Reid is founding Director of the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore. He is a Southeast Asian historian, who studied in New Zealand and Cambridge. He taught and researched at the University of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, 1965-70), the Australian National University (Canberra, 1970-99), and more briefly at Yale, Auckland, Ujung Pandang (Makasar), Hawaii and Oxford.  He was at the University of California, Los Angeles (1999-2002) as Professor of History and founding Director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies.  His books include: The Contest for North Sumatra: Atjeh, the Netherlands and Britain, 1858-1898 (1969);   The Indonesian National Revolution, 1945-1950 (1974);   The Blood of the People: Revolution and the End of Traditional Rule in Northern Sumatra (1979); Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450-1680,  2  Vols (1988-1993); Charting the Shape of Early Modern Southeast Asia (1999); An Indonesian Frontier: Acehnese and other Histories of Sumatra (2004).

Postscript: Many YCAR members will remember Anthony Reid, an international colleague and friend of Asian Studies at York, whose support during the final external review of JCAPS helped us to create YCAR. We encourage you to attend.

Schulich IMBA Director participates in APEC-WLN meetings in Korea

Professor Lorna Wright (third from left in photo), Schulich International MBA Director, recently came back to York after spending three weeks in August/September attending various Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Women Leaders Network (WLN) meetings in Taegu, Korea. It would be noted that Canada has been participating in these meetings for 10 years. The meetings included discussions on issues and concerns relating to Women and the Digital Economy, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Business Forum, Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), and Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG). Dr. Wright did two television interviews with TBC News and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). The network plans to set up a secretariat office, potentially in the Philippines, and a committee including representatives from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Vietnam and the Philippines will aim to raise funds for the secretariat. Viet Nam will host the 11th APEC-WLN meeting scheduled to be held in late 2006.


Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc./Women’s Press: Call for Articles on Violence Against Women/Woman Abuse

The Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., Canada’s leading, independent, academic publishing company, and Women’s Press, Canada’s oldest English language, feminist publisher will develop a book consisting of articles relevant to woman abuse and its manifestations in ethno-specific communities.  Articles that report on study findings, that report on cultural patterns in specific communities, that relate to “best practice,” and those of a theoretical nature are welcome. Also, articles that discuss innovative approaches to reach out to women “at risk,” to intervene in critical issues or to prevent secondary trauma are particularly valued. CSPI/Women’s Press’ list generally includes the following areas of study: Philosophy, English, Criminology, Etudes francaises, Social Work, Sociology, History, Herstory, Labour Studies, Aboriginal Studies, Gender Diversity, Women’s Studies, Education, Cultural Studies, the Social Sciences and the Humanities. Article submission from academics who have published widely in their field, as well as those from junior scholars, researchers and service delivery professionals are invited, particularly original written articles and those relevant pieces that have been previously published.  Suitable for the classroom as well as professional libraries, this book will be most likely to be adopted in the disciplines of Social Work, Counseling, Psychology, Public Health and Women’s Studies. Please send your article to Dr. Josephine Fong, School of Women's Studies, York University at “jfong@yorku.ca” no later than October 1, 2005. 

Upcoming Conference: Natural Resources and Contemporary Conflicts: New Issues, New Challenges, September 29-30, 2005, Pavillon Sherbrooke, University of Quebec, Montreal

Water, oil, timber, natural resources are now at the heart of contemporary conflicts. How should these types of crisis be apprehended? What shall be the next source of tension? What will be China 's long-term impact on energy consumption and its related conflicts? The conference will gather more than thirty speakers to discuss these issues. Among others: Michael T. Klare, Professor, Department of Peace and World Security Studies, Five College; Philippe Le Billon, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia; Robert Ebel, Director, Energy Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Jim Freedman, Emeritus Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario; Miriam R. Lowi, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, The College of New Jersey; Pierre Noël, Senior Analyst, Institut français de relations internationales; Keith J. Myers, Associate Fellow, Africa Programme, Chatham House.

Septembre 29th and 30th, 2005
Pavillon Sherbrooke, UQAM
200, Sherbrooke St., West
Metro Place-des-Arts


Information: 514-987-6781
Inscription form

For Information/Registration: (514) 987-6781/ chaire.strat@uqam.ca / www.dandurand.uqam.ca/en/index.html

Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) holds conference in 2006

The Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association Conference 2006 will be held in Hong Kong from 28 to 30 November 2006.  The Conference is organised by Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association, Hong Kong Institute of Education and Hong Kong Education Research Association in partnership with 6 universities and 6 international organizations.  The conference aims to contribute to vision creation, knowledge advancement, and policy-making in such a way that reform efforts and education practices for students’ future in the new century can be rationalized, substantively and instrumentally in different parts of the world. The theme of the conference is “Educational Research, Policy, and Practice in an Era of Globalization: The Asia Pacific Perspectives and Beyond”. The conference provides opportunities for critical conversations and further inquiries on the conference themes by jointly exploring and discussing on the following issues among educators, scholars and policy-makers from the Region and other parts of the world:

1.   Access and equity in education
2.   Application of information technology in education 
3.   Teacher education and educational changes 
4.   Changes in language education and medium of instruction 
5.   Issues in early childhood education and basic education 
6.   Educational reform and national development 
7.   Expansion and restructuring of higher education
8.   Life long learning, adult learning, and professional training
9.   Reforms in curriculum, pedagogy and assessments 
10. Leadership and professional development
11. Management of reforms in school education 
12. Marketization and privatization in education 
13. Reforms in vocational/ technical education
14. Linking research with policy and practice 

Educators, researchers, policy-makers and those interested are warmly welcome to attend this conference and submit proposals for presentations to the Conference Secretariat by 30 June 2006.  For the detail, please refer to the web-site: http://www.ied.edu.hk/apera2006. For further enquiries, please contact the Conference Secretariat:

Asia Pacific Centre for Educational Leadership and School Quality
The Hong Kong Institute of Education
10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po
New Territories, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 2948 8504
Fax: (852) 2948 7697
E-mail: apera2006@ied.edu.hk

Democracy in Burma: Does Anybody Really Care? Amitav Acharya, Yale Global, September 1, 2005

Not yet home free: The government placed Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest three times since 1989

SINGAPORE: A July 2005 agreement among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that Burma would relinquish its turn at the chairmanship has averted a major diplomatic crisis for the organization. Western nations, including the United States and the European Union, who attend the annual ASEAN meetings as "dialogue partners," had threatened to boycott the 2006 meeting if Burma was in the chair.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN now includes 10 countries of Southeast Asia. Under its rotational leadership, Burma, which joined the group in 1997, was due to assume the chairmanship of its Standing Committee in 2006.

The Western dialogue partners of ASEAN are protesting against continued political repression and human rights abuses by the Burmese regime, which has ruled the country since 1962. The regime has refused to accept the result of the 1990 national election, which was won by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). The party leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has since spent most of her time under detention.

By giving up its claim to lead ASEAN in 2006, the junta managed to take the heat off the question of domestic reform. And ASEAN avoided a Western boycott of its 2006 meeting. But without more focused action by ASEAN and the international community to move Burma towards democracy, the move will be little more than ASEAN's traditional practice of sweeping problems under the carpet.

The discussion in Laos was not about how to improve the political situation in the country. The issue was Burma's leadership, rather than membership in ASEAN. ASEAN has not made Burma's continued membership of the association subject to political reform.


ASEAN has been reluctant to push Burma towards political reform out of deference to its doctrine of non-interference. The Burmese junta has started drafting a new constitution, due to be completed in 2007, which it says would lead to political liberalization. Presumably, this would make Burma eligible to assume the leadership in ASEAN.

ASEAN members agree and hope that this will be the case. But its Western partners dismiss the constitution-drafting process. Suu Kyi and her party have boycotted the National Convention drafting the constitution, whose delegates were hand-picked and tightly controlled by the junta. The Bush administration in May 2004 stated that because "Rangoon's constitutional convention has not allowed for substantive dialogue and the full participation of all political groups, including the NLD, it lacks legitimacy." If approved by a popular majority in the electorate in a free and fair referendum – which is by no means guaranteed – the constitution would still accord the military a privileged position in the political system, including sole claim to the presidency.


ASEAN's role in Burma has been very different from its role in the Cambodia conflict during the 1980s, when it led efforts to find a peaceful settlement to the dispute, which resulted in the Paris Peace Agreement in 1991. That conflict was originally a civil war, although it had been internationalized by Vietnamese intervention and occupation of Cambodia. There has been no outside intervention in Burma, which is one justification for ASEAN's hands-off policy. But Burma has proven to be a major embarrassment for ASEAN.

ASEAN's diplomatic options in dealing with Burma are limited by intra-mural differences within the grouping over how to deal with the junta. Some members – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore – are increasingly concerned about the group's relationship with Western nations, if not its international public reputation per se. Thus, these ASEAN countries want to see the association play a role in nudging the junta to reform. Others, like Vietnam, stick to the principle of non-interference, and are worried about setting a precedent of allowing regionalist pressure for domestic political reform – a precedent that would likely come back to haunt them.

ASEAN's capacity for inducing political reform in Burma is also constrained by the fact that the junta has secured backing from both China and India, its two most powerful neighbors, playing them against one other. Hence, the junta can ignore any demand for political change that ASEAN may bring to bear on it.


China and India are critical to any intervention by the international community in Burma. But is the West really interested in advancing political change in Burma? There is no serious diplomatic effort ongoing today – of the kind one finds in Sri Lanka or Aceh – that might help bring about political reconciliation in Burma. The Bush administration snubbed ASEAN by canceling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's attendance at the Vientiane meeting. But this posturing was almost entirely cost-free, thanks to good bilateral relations with key Asian nations, as indicated by a separate Rice stopover in Bangkok before the Vientiane meeting. Diplomatic snubs and economic sanctions are no substitute for a policy of seeking a solution to Burma's political woes.

Burma's strategic location or economic potential may be apparent to India and China, but not to the US. Burma is not regarded by the Bush administration as a terrorist haven, although it claims to side with the US on the war on terror, supposedly against extremist elements among its Rohingya muslim minority. When asked by the author as to why the US is not actively seeking a role in the Burma problem, a senior official in the first Bush administration replied that because there is no significant domestic interest or constituency in the United States pushing for such a role. The administration's democracy-promotion agenda does not extend to Burma, despite the fact that Secretary Rice named Burma as one of six "outposts of tyranny" during her Senate confirmation hearing in January.

Yet, a diplomatic effort backed by the US and involving Burma's giant Asian neighbors would be necessary and timely. Denying Burma the chairmanship of ASEAN is good posturing, but it does not advance the cause of democratic transformation in the country. If the US could engage in six-party negotiations involving China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea to deal with the North Korea problem, why should it not encourage a similar move involving China, India, and ASEAN to deal with the Burma issue?

The international community needs to prove that while taking a moral high ground on Burma's crisis; it must also offer concrete ideas and approaches to advance the democratization and national reconciliation process beyond the current policy of sanctions and boycott. A necessary step in that direction would be a new diplomatic initiative to persuade the Rangoon regime to broaden the constitution-drafting process – with the participation of freed opposition leaders and a firm time-table for internationally-supervised elections. Such an initiative could be spearheaded jointly by ASEAN, China and India, with the backing of the US and the EU and other members of the international community.

Ultimately, ASEAN must come out of its non-interference closet and address the issue head-on. Otherwise, its hands-off approach will continue to cloud its legitimacy and credibility as a regional organization with a mandate for seeking "regional solutions to regional problems."

Amitav Acharya is Deputy Director and Head of Research at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University. (Postscript: Dr. Acharya was also Associate Director of JCAPS at York University). Rights:© 2005 Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). For further information, contact ycar@yorku.ca
Ste. 270 York Lanes, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto ON  M3J 1P3. URL: www.yorku.ca/ycar.