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York Centre for Asian Research Update            Issue 3, January 31, 2005


In this Issue
 
YCAR celebrates International Development Week/MultiCultural Week
Upcoming Event: Indigenous Struggles in the Americas and Around the World                    
Research Profile: Strengthening Canada's Relations with Muslim Communities
Funding Opportunities: Canadian Window on International Development Awards
Asia Briefs: How Beaches Became Death Traps

YCAR celebrates International Development Week/MultiCultural Week

The weeks from January 30-February 5 and from February 7-10 mark Canada's International Development Week (IDW) and York University's Multicultural Week. International Development Week (January 30-February 5, 2005) is held each year during the first week of February to provide Canadians with an opportunity to become aware and contribute to the development of people in developing countries. The theme this year is "Canadians Making a Difference in the World". Multicultural Development Week (February 7-10, 2005) is York University's week-long event to celebrate diversity showcasing the best of the 60 different cultural groups on campus through parades, stage shows, displays and food tasting.

In conjunction with these events, YCAR in partnership with York University campus and student organizations is sponsoring a “Tsunami Benefit Concert” to be held on Tuesday, February 8th from 3:30 pm to 9:30pm at the Founders College Assembly Hall (Rm. 152), York University, Keele Campus. The benefit concert is aimed at creating an educational fund to support secondary and post-secondary education of disadvantaged students in tsunami-affected areas, particularly in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. YCAR will link with universities in Indonesia and Sri Lanka who have active outreach programs in these areas and with whom YCAR can closely work to manage and account for the funds for educational purposes. The concert will feature members of the York University Gamelan Orchestra, York University Chinese classical orchestra and by the Yellow River Ensemble led by Dr. Kim Chow-Morris, Indonesian shadow puppet show, South Indian classical music led by Prof. Trichy Sankaran from York University Department of Music as well as jazz contributions and other musical offerings. This will be an informal, interactive event, interspersed with information and reflections.

On Wednesday, February 9 from 2:30-4:30 at York University's Burton Auditorium, YCAR is also co-sponsoring with the Taiwanese Canadian Association of Toronto and Just Champion Educational and Cultural Foundation a prize-winning play from the 2004 Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg Fringe Festivals entitled “Republic of Confusion”. This is a political comedy written and performed by Zoe Huang. Admission is free, but we are continuing our fundraising efforts for a donation for the tsunami benefit cause.


We wish to invite you to these events. We do welcome contributions to the YCAR Tsunami Educational Support Fund. Your contributions are eligible for tax receipt. Pledge forms will be available at the concert. For those who may not be able to attend but may be interested in donating and require more information, please contact: Rhoda Reyes, Co-ordinator, York Centre for Asian Research at (416) 736-2100 x 44068, email: rreyes@yorku.ca. You can also email Judith Nagata at jnagata@yorku.ca or Arthur Hagopian at ahagopia@yorku.ca. Thank you very much for your support and we hope you can join us at these events.


 

Upcoming Event: Indigenous Struggles in the Americas and Around the World: Land, Autonomy and Recognition February 9-11, 2005

 

YCAR is participating in this conference presented by the University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS) and the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC). The conference will debate major issues of economic, social, political and cultural development facing indigenous and aboriginal peoples, with a special focus on the Americas but taking into consideration Asian and African experiences. It will address a variety of topics related to indigenous social movements, including: demands for cultural recognition, practices of governance, and struggles and conflicts over the control and access to natural resources.Conference registration fees: $20 (faculty members and the general public) and $10 (students). The conference is co-sponsored by the AUCC/CIDA Tier 2 Linkage Project on Sustainable Development (CERLAC, York University and the Catholic University of Temuco, Chile); CIDA /ACDI Conference Secretariat; and International Development Research Centre (IDRC). At York University: York International, Office of the Vice-President Academic, Office of the Vice-President Research, Aboriginal Student Association of York University, Social Science Division, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Department of Anthropology, York Hospitality, Founders College, McLaughlin College, and Stong College. This conference is part of the International Development activities at York University. For more information on the venue and programme details, contact Miguel Gonzalez at migon@yorku.ca, tel: (416) 736-5237, fax: (416)736-5737 or visit the UCGS website.

 

Today @ YCAR: Tony Zeng (MA Political Science) and Tak Uesegi (PhD Anthropology) are presenting their research on Chinese Migration/Diaspora at 2:30-4:30 pm at 270B York Lanes.

 

Tony Zeng: PRC Immigrants’ Political Participation in Canada

 

The People’s Republic of China has provided the single largest immigrant source for Canada since 1996.  Despite the increasing number of the PRC immigrants in the country, there have been only scant academic attention paid towards the study of this ethnic group, and certainly literatures focused exclusively on their political behaviour have not been produced yet. Tony Zeng’s study looks at the types and patterns of PRC immigrants’ political participation in Toronto, as well as investigates their stance on various important political issues such as medicare reform, university education reform, Canadian immigration policy, gay-lesbian right, Canadian China policy, as well as compensation for the victims of Chinese Exclusion Act.

 

Tak Uesegi: Narrating the Self and Community in Diaspora - Maxine Hong Kingston's Warrior Woman


How dangerous is the narcissistic self-exposé for the marginalized subjects? Taking a step inside the skin of metanarrative of diaspora, this presentation by Tak Uesegi  explores how the individuals within the diasporic communities narrate their own experiences. Maxine Hong Kingston's memoir, The Warrior Woman, allows a
glimpse of the contestations over representation and the ambivalent (dis)-identification of diasporic communities for the individuals members.

 

Next Week @ YCAR: Mary Young (PhD Political Science: Examining globalization through local  processes:

Agricultural restructuring and the politics of food production in  Indonesia, February 7, 2005, TBA Time, 270B York Lanes
 
This talk will examine the restructuring of the agro-food system in Indonesia through research conducted at a village level the late 1990s. The emphasis will be how the politics around local forms of food production can provide insight into the transformations occurring in the agrarian sector and the rise of market discourses
in Indonesian political economy.


 

Research Profile: Strengthening Canada’s relations and cooperation on governance with Muslim communities in Indonesia and Malaysia - by Judith Nagata

 

The “management” of Islam remains an important ongoing issue in the governance and public policy of both multi-ethnic, multi-religious pluralist democracies, and is also  a continuing, reactive process. Given that Canada too is a multicultural, multireligious society, where Islam is the fastest growing faith, there could be mutual benefit from the sharing of ideas at all levels, with emphasis on exchanges between members of the transnational Muslim communities themselves. Issues might include such questions as citizenship and legal pluralism in all three countries, and particularly the accommodation of Shari’ah and civil law courts. Whether in Malaysia’s system of parallel courts, Indonesia’s attempt at harmonization of religious, customary and civil laws, or in Ontario’s recent proposal to permit Shari’ah courts under its Arbitration Act, problems of jurisdiction and authority need to be addressed. Related problems arise from the potential ambiguity over the precedence of international charters of human rights versus religious authority in global politics and state governance, where (secular) constitutional and human rights rulings may be contested by religious law and authority, especially over status of women.

 

Much potential for non-state, informal diplomacy exists in the civil society arena in all three countries. In both Malaysia and Indonesia, there have been experiments in alternative forms of governance, sometimes combining a mix of religious and non-religious authority, with the intent to develop localized or communal styles of democracy and ethical society. These include Malaysia’s Arqam/Rufaqa movement and Indonesia’s nation-wide Muhammadiya and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), all of which deliver welfare, medical, educational and social services beyond their own community, and arguably supplement the services of the state.  Many of their members belong to the educated middle classes, with international contacts, and clearly need to be engaged in dialogues about democracy, governance and other civic moralities. In the domain of post-secondary education, enormous opportunities exist for multi-directional connections among students and teachers: these are among the most mobile and influential members of society, and their network create useful social capital for a generation following their common experiences. Canada initiated the highly successful McGill project, and has contributed to a variety of small civil society organizations promoting cultural heritage, environment and women’s issues in Malaysia. These human and material resources need to be sustained and reinforced, since everyone involved agrees that even a small investment generates disproportional social capital and profit, as well as extending civil society networks transnationally.

 

This project is intended to update past research in Muslim Southeast Asia on the role of Islam in state, governance, civil society, law and culture, with new materials and findings from participation in the ICIP programme in Indonesia in December, 2004.  In the interests of future Canadian policy concerns in these countries, particular attention is directed to some recent religious trends, including the impact of Middle Eastern ideas and practices on local Muslim culture, the increasing shift towards Shari’ah observance, cultural Arabisation and the orientation of Muslim identities to a global political context.  

 

Judith Nagata is YCAR Associate Director and Professor at York University Department of Anthropology. She is a well known and respected scholar in Islam, pluralism, Asian socio-political movements and Canada's relation with Southeast Asia, with particular concentration on Malaysia. This one-year project is funded by Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs' Asia-Pacific Initiatives.

 

 

Funding Opportunities: Canadian Window on International Development Awards

 
It is widely recognized that international development is in a state of flux both conceptually and in terms of application and practice. In recognition of the challenges posed in defining "international development" in a world which continues to change dramatically, IDRC offers one award for doctoral research that explores the relationship between Canadian aid, trade, immigration and diplomatic policy, and international development and the alleviation of global poverty. A second award will be granted for doctoral or master’s research into a problem that is common to First Nations or Inuit communities in Canada and a developing region of the world. These awards reflect the fact that the boundaries between international development policy and domestic policy increasingly parallel similar problems in poor countries so that both Canada and the less developed countries are aided by research on these issues. The complexities of national economic and social development in Canada are increasingly evident, and are often related to international issues. Similarly development in less developed countries is often affected by Canadian trade, investment, immigration and other policies. These awards will support research that illustrates these interrelationships.

Proposals may offer one of four approaches:

Special Features: Successful candidates will propose comparative research requiring data from both Canada and a developing region of the world to better understand the common, interrelated problem/issue identified for in-depth study. Selection will favour those proposals which demonstrate 1) the relevance of the research topic for Canada and for the less developed country or countries being studied; and 2) the close linkage between the international and national character of the topic. Successful proposals will also identify the potential for Canada to learn from the experience and practice of the developing countries which are dealing with the shared problem or issue.

Eligibility: Applicants must hold Canadian citizenship or permanent residency status in Canada, or hold a citizenship of a developing country; be registered at a Canadian university; be conducting the proposed research for a doctoral dissertation and have completed course work and passed comprehensive examinations by the time of the award tenure; Master’s level students will be eligible to apply for the award pertaining to research into the First Nations or Inuit communities and a developing country.

Tenure: Award tenure corresponds to the duration of research. In general, this will be no less than 3 months and not more than 12 months.

Value: A maximum of $20,000 per year, to cover justifiable field research expenses. Candidates may propose a budget that covers the costs of field work in Canada and/or other developing countries.

Number of Awards: Two or three per year depending on the final budget of the proposals.

Deadline: April 1, 2005. The award will be announced by August 2005.

Applications:  The following documents are required:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Candidates must secure from the thesis supervisor a short statement (not longer than 1 page, single spaced using a 12 pitch font) which: 1) explains how he or she sees the proposed research conforming with the overall objective of this award to better understand an aspect of Canada’s development in the light of comparative research on social, economic, political, cultural etc. issues in a developing region of the world; and 2) explains how the candidate’s proposal fits within the research interests of the department in which the student is registered.

Selection: A Selection Panel will evaluate applications on the basis of their conformity with the purpose of this award (with special regard for the issue/problem for Canada and a developing country), the fit with the program of work of the candidate’s home department, originality, quality of research, and suitability of the candidate.

Applications

Submit all documents required. For more information, visit the IDRC website. Completed applications must be received by April 1, 2005 deadline.

Contact: Canadian Window on International Development 
Centre Training and Awards Program 
International Development  Research Centre 
250 Albert Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6M1 
P.O. Box 8500, Ottawa, Ontario K1G 3H9 

Fax: (613) 563-0815 
Telephone: (613) 236-6163 ext. 2098 
E-mail:
cta@idrc.ca


Asia Briefs: How Beaches Became Death Traps - by Craig Johnson

As the world tries to come to terms with one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory, people are asking what could have been done to avert the tragedy. They're learning too late the vulnerability of southeast Asia's coastal communities.

The Dec. 26 tsunami was caused by a massive earthquake, whose tidal surge affected a very densely populated region. It would have been hard for authorities with even the most sophisticated early-warning systems to mitigate the tsunami's immediate effects. But coastal cities such as Galle in Sri Lanka and Sumatra's Banda Aceh were particularly vulnerable: Not only densely populated, they also lack adequate communications, transportation and emergency-response services.

Coastal areas in less-developed countries tend to attract large numbers of very poor people, in part because they offer open access to fishing, a relatively low-cost source of livelihood. Typically, land-use values (and therefore property values) are low, as is the quality of housing, roads and other infrastructure, making coastal populations particularly vulnerable to tsunamis, cyclones and flash floods. Poverty tends to co-vary with poor nutrition, poor health and a lack of leisure skills -- such as the ability to swim. All this helps to explain the high death tolls in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and southwest Thailand's non-tourist areas, as well as the difficulties now facing aid agencies as they attempt to bring in food, water and medical supplies.

However, in the case of Phuket and other tourist enclaves, the vulnerability stems not from ill health or inadequate infrastructure but rather from the type of development promoted by governments, entrepreneurs and tourists themselves. Until the early 1970s, southern Thailand's coastal communities, like those elsewhere on the Bay of Bengal, depended on marginal rural livelihoods such as rubber-tapping, smallholder agriculture and small-scale fishing. The growth of long-haul travel in the 1970s and 1980s made exotic destinations such as Bali and Phuket popular destinations for Westerners. Backpackers and low-budget tourists were attracted by the idea of a hut under the palms, the escapist paradise depicted in Hollywood's film The Beach. As local and international capital caught wind of the expanding tourist market, investors were drawn in. A gold-rush mentality meant that the desire to develop a rapidly expanding tourist economy outstripped concern for the health and safety of locals and tourists.

Such factors help to explain the devastating loss of life on Khao Lak, a national park on the Thai coast where an estimated 1,500 people lost their lives. Khao Lak is located in Phang-Nga, a province until recently dependent on fishing, rubber-tapping and small-holder farming. The flat coast provides beautiful views of the Andaman sunset -- and ideal conditions for a devastating tidal surge. Hotels and restaurants were built far too close to the shore, despite outcries from Thailand's environmentalists.

The high death-toll figures at places such as Khao Lak are the result of decisions made by many individuals -- decisions that under normal circumstances would not have exacted such a terrible toll. Those decisions were made by high-level government officials who allowed the often illegal development of hotels and restaurants in ecologically sensitive coastal areas. They were made by local enforcement officials whose abysmally low salaries naturally tempted them to look the other way (in exchange for "a fee") when a site was developed without proper approval or land title. They were made by large- and small-scale entrepreneurs, from five-star hoteliers to street-stall venders who chose to work in these vulnerable areas, and by local and foreign tourists who sought open beaches and low-cost holidays.

But no one foresaw that the price for these seemingly innocuous decisions would be so many lives.

This article appeared in the January 3, 2005 issue of The Globe and Mail. Craig Johnson is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Guelph and lived in Phuket from 1997-1998 while conducting his doctoral research on Thailand's coastal communities and tourism industry. He was also a guest speaker at the recently concluded YCAR co-sponsored "In the Wake of the Tsunami" Colloquium held on January 19, 2005 at York 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.