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York Centre for Asian Research Update                        Issue 29, Friday October 28, 2005

YCAR brownbag and other related events this November

November 7Brad Fidler (PhD candidate in Political Science) - Credit Markets, Socioeconomic Change, and the Asiatic Mode of Production in Late Imperial China. Debates over the nature of socioeconomic development in Late Imperial China will help us understand the importance in historical research of holding economic data accountable to what we know about social relations, and the universalizing tendencies that continue to exist in much of today's dominant historiography.

November 14 - Michael Stainton (PhD Candidate in Anthropology) - George Leslie Mackay (1844-1901). Remembered for his many firsts – in Taiwan where he was Canada’s first missionary and is today a national hero, he is most honoured for his 1876 marriage to a Taiwanese woman, and empowerment of his Taiwanese co-workers, both over the protest of his Presbyterian mission board. In Canada, he is the earliest and most outspoken opponent of Canadian anti-Chinese racism and the 1885 Head Tax. His passionate pleas for just immigration policies are still relevant today.

November 21 - Junjia Ye (MA Candidate in Geography) - Multiple Identities in the Workplace: The Case of Singapore's Financial Sector. Singapore's policies on transnationalizing the labour market, as applied in the financial sector, are analyzed vis-a-vis class identities and how they intersect with gender, national and racial identities.

November 28 - Sunanda Mongia (Associate Professor, Kashi Vidyapith University, India). The Nation as Person: Talking of India.  The nation’s image has a  fluid presence and might at times become historically irrelevant. As iconic definitions of nations, their truth status is not always important, for they are hegemonic and erase other icons / definitions. They often are positive but can also have negative connotations. What is more important is the belief-systems they generate and the influence they have on intra-national relationships. In the context of such national definitions ‘America’ is a Pioneer and India is peculiarly Spiritual since ancient times. India is also a Mother as are so many nations though Germany is, unusually, a Father. In such cases the national icon does not develop out of any particular person, but is a collage as we can easily see from the book Mother India written by Katherine Mayo in 1927.  

Note: The seminars are held every Monday from 12-1:30 pm at York Lanes 270B. In the event of a CUPE strike this November, the talks will be rescheduled or relocated off-campus. We will inform you at the earliest.


CRC Symposium on Sino-Japanese Relations in the 20th Century moved to UofT

Due to the impending CUPE strike at York University, the one-day symposium on Sino-Japanese Relations on Thursday, November 10, will be moved to the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto, located at 1 Devonshire Place. The workshop will begin at 9 am and end at 4 pm. For more information, contact Joshua Fogel at fogel@yorku.ca. 

UCGS features talk on the paradigm of human development 

The University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS) presents Dr. Ananya Mukherjee Reed, Associate Professor of Political Science, York University who will talk on Human Development: Has the Paradigm Failed Us? on Wednesday, November 2, 2005, 2:30-4:30 pm, 305 York Lanes, York University.

As is well known, the paradigm was supposed to have brought about a shift from an economistic understanding of development to a more "humanistic" approach. Has this shift yielded any benefits to the Global South? Or has it simply given a "human face" to the traditional approaches to development? Does it serve as a means to capture any of the dominant concerns in the Global South? Does it allow a healthy contestation between global powers and local visions of development? After developing a critique of the paradigm along these lines, the outlines of an alternative understanding of human development will be presented for collective reflection and discussion.


November 9 - A panel on prisons, prisoners, and systems of control
November 16 - Judy Rebick on diversity in the Canadian women's movement
November 23 - A panel on gender perspectives from the global south


An open space for debate and critical inquiry for students, faculty members, NGOs, social activists, and policy makers. Presented by the University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS) at York University. Free and does not require pre-registration. For further information, to be deleted from this list, or to register for updates, check
http://www.ucgs.yorku.ca/ or contact Elena Cirkovic at celena@yorku.ca, phone 416-736-5237, fax 416-736-5737.

Cornell SEA Program invites submissions for graduate conference

The Cornell Southeast Asia Program invites submissions for its 8th Annual Southeast Asian Studies Graduate Conference. The annual event will be held at the Kahin Center for Advanced Research on Southeast Asia at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York on April 21-23, 2006. Submissions of well-developed work from graduate students engaged in original research related to Southeast Asia are most welcome. Graduate students working in the following disciplines as well as other related fields - history, literature, art history, sociology, musicology, religion, anthropology, archeology, architectural history, gender studies, political science, economics, linguistics and literature - that contribute to the understanding of Southeast Asia are encouraged to apply

The keynote speech will be delivered by Professor Anthony Day, the author of Fluid Iron: State Formation in Southeast Asia (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002) and the co-editor, with Keith Foulcher, of Clearing a Space: Postcolonial Readings of Modern Indonesian Literature (Leiden: KITLV Press, 2002). Papers related to Professor Day's interests are strongly encouraged.

Prospective presenters should submit a one-page abstract and curriculum vitae by January 15, 2006 to: pittayawat@cornell.edu. Papers should be in English with a reading time of no more than 20 minutes (plus 10 minutes of discussion). Final papers will be due by March 15, 2006. Details on abstract format and submission can be found at http://www.einaudi.cornell.edu/SoutheastAsia/academics/student_symposium.asp

Call for Papers: Migrations between East and West - Normalizing the Periphery Workshop

 2-5 April 2006, Research School for Southeast Asian Studies, Xiamen University, China

Organizers: Research School for Southeast Asian Studies, Xiamen University, Institute for Ethnic and Migration Studies, University of Amsterdam, David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies & Wing Lung Bank International Institute for Business Development, Hong Kong Baptist University.

Since the 1990s migration studies have been influenced by several developments. First, diasporic communities have become more stratified because of increasing movement of migrant workers of all sorts: manual laborers, domestic helpers, women, professionals, scholars, students, entrepreneurs and managers. Second, the media have played an increasingly visible role in debates on migration and communication technology has profoundly changed the character of diasporic communities. Third, domestic and/or regional migrations have been complicated by transnational movements. Finally, East-West migrations have affected debates on security and inter-state relations at the global level. The study of East-West migrations thus provides a unique opportunity to reframe transnational flows of ideas, people, capital and technology in the context of globalization. Mainstream social science has treated migrants as marginal to mainstream society characterized by nation building on the basis of ethnic and racial unity. The study of East-West migrations may help overcome the resulting conceptual dichotomies, which have been preventing us from understanding the complexities of migration, assimilation and adaptation. Below are the lists of panels:

  1. Types of East-West Migration, Past to Present
    1. Determining factors and extent of migration
    2. Mobility of knowledge workers and expatriates
    3. Globalization and delocation of – low skilled - service activities
  1. Diaspora and Construction of Satellite and Rooted Communities
    1. Growing local roots - Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Little India, Wenzhoujie - versus ethnic enclaves
    2. Communication technology and changing diasporic identities
  1. Politics of divided interests
    1. Criminalization of migration processes (e.g. human smuggling businesses)
    2. Migration and national security (divided loyalties)
    3. Labour exploitation: illegal and illicit work (e.g. trafficking)
  1. Security, Diplomacy and International Relations
    1. National sovereignty versus universal human rights
    2. Migration as subject of bi- and multi-lateral agreements

Deadline for submission of abstracts (200-300 words) is 10 November 2005. Please send the abstract to: Prof. Jan Rath, Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, University of Amsterdam. Email: j.c.rath@uva.nl

Prof. Jeroen Doomernik, Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, University of Amsterdam, Email: j.m.j.doomernik@uva.nl

Prof. Zhuang Guotu, Research School for Southeast Asian Studies, Xiamen University. Email: gtzhuang@jingxian.xmu.edu.cn

Important Dates 

Ř           1 December 2005: notification of acceptance

Ř           2 January 2006: deadline for registration

Ř           1 March 2006: deadline for submission of full papers (10,000 - 12,000 words) 

Local hospitality will be offered to all accepted participants. In principle, travel costs are to be covered by the participants themselves. A refereed book publication is envisaged based on selected workshop papers.

VPA/VPRI request proposals to move forward the internationalization of York University

Purpose of the Request for Proposals:

The Vice-President Academic (VPA) and the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) invite proposals from individuals and groups for pilot projects to further York’s international agenda.  The enhancement of international opportunities for students and faculty is a strategic priority for York, and the importance of internationalization is highlighted in the current (2005) and previous (2000) iterations of the University Academic Plan.  The past several years have seen increased international activity, coordination, and profile, including the initiation of new international programs and research projects and partnerships, the creation of international internships, and expansion of exchange agreements -- establishing York as a recognized leader in Canada in relation to international research and education.  Calls for proposals over the past five years have elicited a total of more than 160 proposals, which came from members of every Faculty and a number of research units; and funding has been provided to support 49 projects thus far.  Further details of projects funded in previous years, which may be of interest to those considering submitting proposals for the current competition, may be found on the web page of the Vice-President Academic at http://vpacademic.yorku.ca/announcements/.    

Criteria for Proposals:

Proposals should be submitted as a letter of intent, comprising a maximum of two pages describing the project, with a preliminary budget attached.

This call is intended to be as inclusive as possible: projects are therefore welcomed which will contribute to the advancement of any aspect of the international agenda, including teaching/curriculum, research, and the student experience – or indeed they might integrate two or more of these aspects.  The letter of intent might involve, for example, release time to support development of new courses or academic programs; support for development of electronic linkages between York and other institutions; seed funding for pilot research projects; or support to facilitate student or faculty exchanges. Projects should be innovative, and may involve entirely new initiatives or build on existing strengths.  In the case of research projects, preference will be given to proposals which align with the work of the VPRI’s International Research Group (http://research.yorku.ca/securehome/about_yorkresearch/securethemes/intlsecure/index.html).

It is anticipated that approximately $75,000 will be available in 2005-2006 to support international projects, and that individual awards will not normally exceed $20,000.  Because of the limited funds available, priority has in the past been given to projects which will have a broadly-based and long-term impact on internationalization at York; which provided evidence of sustainability; which, despite their strength, seemed not to fit within the parameters of existing internal or external funding mechanisms (though in some cases pilot projects are expected to lead to applications for external funding); and which had not previously received support from this fund.

Applications will be adjudicated by the Vice-President Academic, the Associate Vice-President International, the Vice-President Research & Innovation, and the leader of the International Research Group.  Authors of short-listed applications may be asked for further information on the project.  Successful applicants will be required to submit a report on completion of the project. 

Applications must be submitted by November 28, 2005 to: The International RFP, Offices of the VPA and VPRI, c/o Marla Chodak, S935 Ross Building (or by e-mail to mchodak@yorku.ca). Decisions will be made by early in the Winter term. Questions about the application process may be referred to Marla Chodak at (416) 736-2100 ext. 44505 or mchodak@yorku.ca). 

Society must not shun philosophers, by Wang Shuhai,  China Daily, 2005-10-28

A friend of mine once told me a joke: A job hunter, a philosophy major, went here, there and everywhere in his search for employment, but in vain. Having run out of options, he swallowed his pride and took up the offer of playing a bear in a costume at a zoo. He was locked up in a cage, where he was supposed to imitate various bear-like movements to entertain visitors. To his horror, another bear appeared in the cage and started approaching him. He panicked and was on the brink of collapse when the bear said: "Don't be afraid. I'm also a philosophy major." Funny and somewhat ridiculous, the joke does reveal an essential truth. In a society geared towards immediate gains, philosophy seems unable to produce tangible benefits. For the majority, philosophy seems virtually useless.

It is no wonder that enrolment on philosophy courses at colleges and universities has declined sharply. Some have suggested that admissions to philosophy departments be cut dramatically. Some go as far as to suggest that undergraduate philosophy be scrapped. A number of scholars say declining enrolment is a positive development as the nation does not need many philosophers, just as it does not need so many mathematicians or theoretical physics scientists. Something must have gone wrong if philosophy becomes a popular major, they argue.

Is this really so? Not necessarily. As a matter of fact, a noisy, bustling and restive society needs philosophy. The younger generation's lack of faith shows our urgent need for outstanding philosophers that can lead trends in ideas and thoughts. At the same time, we need large numbers of philosophy-enlightened workers and educators. We urgently need spiritual and ideological support now, more than at any other time. This is of vital importance to the continuation of our national spirit and cultural heritage, which help make our nation what it is.

This branch of learning, which hardly delivers short-term benefits, is bound to falter once the government's support is removed. Under such circumstances, philosophy has naturally become a synonym for triteness and uselessness in the eyes of many people. Is Chinese society really saturated with college graduates specialising in philosophy? Of course not. In our middle schools and universities, the demarcation between philosophical education and politics is very blurred.
The probing of truth and reason in a dialectical way, and the challenging yet enjoyable pursuit of philosophical thinking, have been replaced by dry preaching of empty arguments, which is compounded by the cramming approach to teaching.

To redress this dire situation, large numbers of excellent philosophy teachers are called for. In a society in which ideas and thoughts go largely ignored, gifted thinkers' enlightening appeals often get lost amidst the sea of desire for material comfort. Some philosophers comply with the "irresistible" trend. This means nothing but the termination of philosophy. In academic circles that are eager to see instant results, parroting is the order of the day. "Academic junk"pieced together from materials found among heaps of musty old papers is turned out in large quantities, but nobody bothers to read it. By contrast, a lot of social problems are waiting for philosophical answers and theoretical discussion.

But faced with real life, our philosophers are unable to engage in metaphysical thinking and analysis. They even lack the ability to make rational judgments on sophisticated social problems. Some of their points of view sound plausible but simply do not work. As a result, many pieces of work are intellectually demolished even before they are leafed through. History offers us a precedent in this regard. Germany, which lagged far behind Britain and France, rose quickly in the late 18th and 19th centuries because philosophy flourished during that period, among other things. Philosophy was so popular at the time that Kant's Critique of Pure Reason could be found in young ladies' boudoirs. It is from this fertile soil that a galaxy of great names emerged, which still have a profound influence on our world today -- Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Hegel and Marx.

The great ancient Chinese civilisation was created because our ancestors attached great importance to rational thinking. Ancient philosophical ideas were at the core of the governance of ancient kingdoms and dynasties. There is no shortage of examples. A wise inaction smoothes the way for efficient actions, which was purported by Taoism; moral codes come before legal punishment, which was touted by Confucianism; legal justice defies social strata, put forward by the Legal School; and so on.

The argument that a nation does not need many philosophers or philosophy majors just as it does not need many mathematicians and theoretical physics scientists is questionable. In fact, a country needs large numbers of mathematicians and theoretical physics scientists -- and even more outstanding philosophers. This is where the driving force of a nation's creative thinking lies and where the basis for the continuation of the Chinese Civilisation will be found. The emergence of new philosophy masters is of course not something that can be taken for granted. But what we can do is nurture philosophers and philosophy teachers, strengthening mathematics, physics and philosophy education -- the most fundamental disciplines. The author works at the Department of Philosophy, Capital Normal University.

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.