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York Centre for Asian Research Update             Issue 28, Wednesday, October 21, 2005

YCAR co-sponsors CRC Symposium on Sino-Japanese Relations in the 20th Century

The Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Modern Chinese History, History Department, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Founders College, and the York Center for Asian Research (YCAR) invite you to attend a symposium on “Sino-Japanese Relations in the Twentieth Century,” to be held at Founders College Senior Common Room 305, York University, Thursday, November 10, 2005.  

Left: Chinese-Japanese negotiations at Shimonoseki. Source: A Pictorial History of the Republic of China Vol. 1.

Schedule of Talks

9:45 am - Opening Remarks - Robert Drummond, Dean, Faculty of Arts; Elizabeth Cohen, Chair, History Department
10:00-11:00 am - Joshua A. Fogel, CRC in Modern Chinese History, “Toward an Understanding of the Relationship between China and Japan, Past and Present”
11:15-12:15 pm- Timothy Brook, University of British Columbia, "Incredibility: Truth Syndromes of Occupation and Collaboration in Wartime Asia"
2:15-3:15 pm - Bob T. Wakabayashi, “A Sordid Squabble: The ‘Rape of Nanking’ in Sino-Japanese Relations”
3:30-4:30 pm - Ezra Vogel, Harvard University, “Can China, Japan, and the United States Live Together?”
4:30-5:30 pm - Reception

A special luncheon from 12:15-2:15 pm is sponsored by Founders College. Please R.S.V.P. to Joshua Fogel (fogel@yorku.ca) no later than November 1. This event is open to the public.

Today @ York: Annual Lecture in Political Science by Prof. Walden Bello

Walden Bello, professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines and director of Focus on the Global South, a research and advocacy organization based in Thailand, will deliver today an annual public lecture presented by York’s Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts. A campaigner for peace and economic justice, Prof. Bello will discuss "Crisis of the US Empire: Over-extension, Over-accumulation and De-legitimization". Prof. Bello is a TNI fellow and board member and a recipient of the 2003 Right Livelihood Award. He is the author or co-author of many books and articles on politics and economic issues in the Philippines and Asia, including, Deglobalization: Ideas for a New World Economy (2005), Dilemmas of Domination: The Unmaking of the American Empire (2005), Dark Victory: The United States and Global Poverty (1999), Dragons in Distress: Asia's Miracle Economies in Crisis (1992), People and Power in the Pacific: The Struggle for the Post-Cold War Order (1992), among a host of others. The talk will take place in the Moot Court, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 3pm today. Reception to follow. For further info, contact (416) 736-5265.


UofT Centre for South Asian Studies presents talk on failed development and rural revolution in Nepal

Lauren Leve, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will present a talk on “Failed Development” and Rural Revolution in Nepal: Rethinking Women’s Empowerment and Subaltern Consciousness" on today at 4 pm at The Combination Room, Trinity College - University of Toronto, 6 Hoskin Avenue.

An anthropologist by training, Dr. Leve's interests in religion, gender, law, violence, and emergent trends in postcolonial governance and subjectivity have led her to fieldwork in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and especially Nepal. Recent publications, including “Secularism is a Human Right!: Double-Binds of Buddhism, Democracy and Identity in Transnational Nepal,” “Subjects, States and the Politics of Personhood in Theravada Buddhism in Nepal” and “Between Jesse Helms and Ram Bahadur: NGOs, Women, ‘Participation,’ and ‘Empowerment’ in Nepal,” have appeared in The Practice of Human Rights: Tracking Law Between the Global and the Local (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press), The Journal of Asian Studies, and PoLAR: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review. She is currently completing a book entitled “Seeing Things as They Are”: Conditioned Knowledge, Ethical Consciousness and the Buddhist Art of Living in Transnational Nepal (and Beyond). Her new project is entitled “Globalizing Liberal Values: Religion, Development and the Ironic Politics of Women’s Empowerment."

For questions please contact the Centre for South Asian Studies by e-mail at south.asian@utoronto.ca. This lecture is co-sponsored by the Asian Institute, New College and the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. All welcome!  Light refreshments will be provided!


Fundraising Breakfast  for South Asia quake victims

In view of the trauma and terror that has wreaked havoc in Pakistan and Kashmir, the Centre for South Asian Studies at the Asian Institute, University of Toronto would also like to invite you to  "Wake to the Quake Relief", a Fundraising Breakfast where the South Asian community and friends of South Asia will spend an hour, grieving and giving together. The gathering is intended to help share the pain and disconnect of thousands of people who have lost virtually everything -- loved ones and livelihoods. A small token donation from the heart is most welcome!.

WHEN:  8.15-9.15 am, Wednesday, October 26
WHERE:  Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, 1 Devonshire Place, South House, Main Lounge.
RSVP:  Eileen Lam at 416 946 8997 or eileen.lam@utoronto.ca.

Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute opens applications for visiting scholar sponsorship to Canada

The Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute has funds available to sponsor one Visiting Scholar to Canada prior to March 31, 2006 from one of the thematic areas noted in the Addendum VIII to the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of India.  Thematic areas include but are not limited to: development, law, science and technology, agriculture, economic reform, environment, management, IT & communications, education, arts and multimedia, distance education and social science and humanities. The Executive Council will consider one nomination application per institution. The person nominated should be a recognized authority and scholar; dynamic, engaging, and appeal to an audience beyond the university.  The Institute will cover the cost of the scholar’s international travel and intercity transportation. Nominations must include the following:

The Executive Council will receive and select the visiting scholar before November 10th. If your nominee is selected you or your designee will be expected to serve as the local coordinator and host for the scholar's visit to your campus. If you have any questions, please contact Anita Dennis, Programme Officer, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, 1402 Education Tower, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4, phone (403) 220-3220, fax (403) 289-0100, email sici@ucalgary.ca, web www.sici.org.


South Asia's Other Voices - Struggles for democracy and justice in monarchist Nepal and post-tsunami Sri Lanka






Struggle for Democracy and Justice in Nepal - Pramod Dhakal, Canadian Network for Democratic Nepal


Prospects for Democracy in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka - Cheran Rudramoorthy (right), Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor, and Network of Progressive Sri Lankans


The South Asian region is increasingly in the news as a growing economic powerhouse with nuclear capabilities and international political aspirations.  The media are full of stories and images of call centres, glitzy malls, high tech industries and a burgeoning cell phone-carrying middle class. Less covered are the ongoing struggles for democracy and basic human, economic, and political rights to which the region is also home. Come learn about two such struggles in monarchist Nepal and post-tsunami Sri Lanka. In the midst of an intractable three-sided conflict between the King, the Maoists, and the political parties, all democratic forces have joined ranks for the restoration of democracy in Nepal.  In Sri Lanka, the civil war and the Tamil struggle for autonomy have taken on new dimensions under the post-tsunami order. Organised by the South Asia Left Democratic Alliance (SALDA). For more information, contact: salda@web.ca.

Asian nightmare, by Nirmal Gosh, The Straits Times, Publication Date : 2005-10-15

Damage and death from natural disasters has always been something of an Asian affliction, with the last 10 months being worse than usual. And given the geology and climate of much of Asia, that is likely to continue. Asia is home to around 60 per cent of the world's population, which means major natural disasters that hit populated areas kill more people. As far back as the 1700s, storms regularly killed thousands in Asia. In October 1737, the Hooghly cyclone killed an estimated 300,000 in the area now known as the Indian city of Kolkata.

In 1833, a quake off Sumatra generated a tsunami which reached north-western Australia. On Oct 31, 1876, a powerful cyclone wiped the town of Backergunge in what is now Bangladesh off the face of the Earth, killing around 100,000. In 1935, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Quetta in modern-day Pakistan killed 50,000. In 2002, Dr Satoru Nishikawa, executive director of the Asian Disaster Reduction Centre in Japan, noted that between 1975 and 2000, Asia accounted for 88 per cent of the total population of the world affected by natural disasters. Last year's Dec 26 tsunami, the March earthquake in Sumatra, an earthquake in Iran and last week's tremor in Kashmir sharply lifted the death toll and damage from natural disasters in Asia this year. More than 260,000 people have died so far - and the year has nearly three more months left.

With a few exceptions, Asian governments have by and large done little in the way of disaster preparedness and mitigation. This is often due to resource constraints, but experts say it is also a result of insufficient attention being paid to scientific evidence and not enough money being put into preparedness. There is worse to come across Asia unless urgent measures are taken to safeguard the continent's at-risk populations. University of Colorado seismology professor Roger Bilham, who shares other experts' concern about the future in Asia, told The Straits Times in an e-mail interview that a direct hit on a large city will kill numerous people living in 'weak structures'.

Four years ago, an Indian and American seismology team warned that 'one or more great earthquakes', with a death toll of 200,000-plus, may be 'overdue' in a 'large fraction of the Himalayas'. This week, international experts reiterated that the Kashmir earthquake could be just a sample of worse to come. 'The recent earthquake in Kashmir left a large amount of energy untapped. The regions to the north-west and south-east are now closer to failure but we have no precedent for saying they will go next,' said the renowned Prof Bilham, who arrived in Pakistan this week, fresh from a trip to the Andamans to study last year's undersea earthquake. Last weekend, India's Secretary for Science and Technology, Mr V.S. Ramamurthy, told the Sunday Express newspaper that this is a timely cue 'to get our act together for seismic planning'. 'Nature has been kind enough to give us a powerful reminder but thankfully the Earth has not delivered an immensely devastating blow as was being forecast.'

Experts say about 50 million people are at risk from earthquakes in the Himalayan region. Thailand's Dr Smith Dharmasaroja, who in 1998 predicted that a tsunami would one day hit the country's Andaman coast, told The Straits Times he agreed with new evidence that global warming is creating stronger typhoons. But for typhoons, there is at least technology now to see them coming and project their course, he said. This is not yet the case with earthquakes.

Dr Smith shares the bitterness that several other experts feel at being ignored by the authorities in high-risk countries. Just days before the March earthquake in Sumatra which killed 2,000, seismology professor John McCloskey from the University of Ulster in Britain had predicted the precise location as well as the strength - though not the exact timing - of the quake. He told The Straits Times over the phone that when he published his paper, he was widely criticised in Indonesia. 'The nature of science is that not everyone agrees,' he said. 'But the attacks on my work in Indonesia were more rhetoric than science. In the end, what we said was vindicated. That has increased the confidence we have in the work we are doing.' But he is not optimistic that the authorities would be more inclined to listen the next time around. What also hampers scientists in the region is a lack of systematic data collection and data-sharing.

Said Dr Anond Snidvongs of Sea Start, a Bangkok-based think-tank dedicated to reducing uncertainties in forecasting and assessing the impact of environmental change in South-east Asia: 'Not just Thailand, but countries in the region need to work more closely together. 'Data in some cases becomes a proprietary issue, and every country wants to have its own warning system. Also, government bureaucrats rarely listen to scientists. This is partly understandable because scientists also squabble among themselves, and because their language is too specialised.'

At a workshop on disaster management in 2002, Dr Nishikawa pointed out that it was a series of devastating typhoons in the 1940s and 1950s which convinced the Japanese government it was time to develop concrete disaster preparedness plans. In 1961, the country's first legislation on disaster counter-measures was passed in Parliament. He recalled an ancient Japanese proverb which goes: 'The person who controls the river floods, controls the country.' Hopefully, the rest of Asia will soon muster a similar safe, rather than sorry, resolve.

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.