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York Centre for Asian Research Update                        Issue 32, Friday, November 18, 2005

Fall brownbag wraps up in the next two weeks

YCAR's brownbag series for Fall 2005 will end this November with the last two talks by Junjia Ye and Sunanda Mongia.

Nov 21, 12-1:30 pm, York Lanes 270B - Junjia Ye (MA Candidate in Geography) will talk on Multiple Identities in the Workplace: The Case of Singapore's Financial Sector. In her presentation, 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.

Nov 28, 12-1:30 pm, York Lanes 70B - Sunanda Mongia (Associate Professor, Kashi Vidyapith University, India) will present on The Nation as Person: Talking of India. She will discuss how individuals or national icons construct a nation's image or identity and generates certain belief systems as well as influences intra-national relationships. When persons or personifications—Uncle  Sam, John Bull, Mahatma Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi,  Marianne, William Tell, Queen Victoria, etc—get associated with nations, they become hegemonic icons that are both fluid and fixed. The contribution of literary analysis to post- and post-postcolonial theory lies in an understanding of how these icons influence the relationships of nations and individuals. The myths and narrations of nations centre around such icons.

For those who are interested in presenting a talk in Winter 2006, please contact Katsu Tsuchiya at

YCAR invites you to its holiday reception on December 8

The Centre will hold its annual holiday reception on Thursday, December 8 from 3:00-5:00 pm at York Lanes 270B. This is a potluck event and anyone interested in attending this social gathering is welcome to bring any dish or delicacies they would like to share with everyone. The Centre is closed for the holidays from December 23 to January 2. We will resume our Winter brownbag series from January 9, 2006 onwards. Advanced Happy Holidays to everyone!

UCGS presents panel presentation on gender perspectives from the global south

The University Consortium on Global South (UCGS) presents a panel discussion on gender perspectives composed by Evelyn Encalada Grez (left), Vivian Jiménez (right), and  Elizabeth Asante on Wednesday, November 23, 2005, 2:30-4:30 pm, Room 305, York Lanes, York University, Toronto.

Evelyn Encalada and Vivian Jiménez are working at the International Secretariat for Human Development (ISDH and PhD Candidates at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, OISE ) developing curricular material to be used in teaching gender and human development. The goal is to create an inventory of material that represents voices, experiences, and conceptualizations of gender from various structural and geographical locations, in particular those that are marginalized. Elizabeth Asante (PhD Candidate, Sociology) is working on a dissertation that critically examines how international financial and aid institutions approach gender “mainstreaming” in a neoliberal economic context, focusing on a case study of Ghana.

The UCGS also presents Biju Mathew, author of Taxi! Cabs and Capitalism in New York City, on November 30.

York professor presents lecture on "Memoirs of a Geisha"

The Asian Institute at the University of Toronto and Columbia Pictures present a lecture by Ted Goossen, Professor of Humanities, York University and a pre-screening of " Memoirs of a Geisha" on Wednesday, November 30, 2005, 6:30 PM - 9:45 PM, Innis College - Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue.

In 1997, author Arthur Golden offered readers an intoxicating and  riveting story of a hidden world in his acclaimed novel, "Memoirs of a  Geisha". The sweeping romantic epic spent two years on The New York Times best-seller list, sold more than four million copies in English, and has been translated into 32 languages. Now, Oscar-nominated director Rob Marshall (Chicago), Red Wagon Entertainment's Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher, and Steven Spielberg, along with an acclaimed international cast and an award-winning behind-the-camera team have brought this mesmerizing fable to the screen.

Free tickets available on Nov 22 at the Asian Institute-Munk Centre for International Studies (1 Devonshire Place, Room226N/227N) and Innis College-Office of the Principal.  The event is co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Studies.

John Humphrey Freedom Awardee to speak on human rights and democracy

Yan Christian Warinussy, winner of Rights & Democracy’s 2005 John Humphrey Freedom Award – one of Canada’s highest honours for work in the field of international human rights – will be in Canada 28th to Dec. 9th for a series of public presentations on the courageous struggle for human rights taking place in his native West Papua, Indonesia. His Canadian tour will take him to Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Nov 28; Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Wednesday, Nov. 30; Toronto, Ontario, on Thursday, Dec. 1; and Montreal, Quebec, on Monday, Dec. 5. Mr. Warinussy will be presented with the 2005 John Humphrey Freedom Award at a special awards ceremony in Ottawa on Dec. 8. On Thursday, December 1, 7 pm to 8:30 pm, he will present a talk on West Papua: Putting an End to 40 Years of Human Rights Abuses, at the Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, Munk Centre for International Studies, 1 Devonshire Place, University of Toronto. The event is organized by Rights & Democracy, the Asian Institute at the University of Toronto and Munk Centre for International Studies in collaboration with Kairos.

UCLA Anthropology professor to talk on commodities and labour issues

Southeast Asia Speaker Series and Centre for International Studies Development Seminar Series present a talk on Contingent Commodities: Producing Forest Labour in Kalimantan and Oregon

Speaker: Anna L. Tsing Department of Anthropology, University of California-Santa Cruz, USA, Friday, December 02, 2005, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM, University College, Room 179, 15 King's College Circle, University of Toronto

Anna L. Tsing is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University and her B.A. from Yale University.  She is the author of Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press ( 2005),  In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place, N.J.: Princeton University Press (1993) and editor of Nature in the Global South: Environmental Projects in South and Southeast Asia. (P. Greenough and A. Tsing, eds). Duke University Press (2003).  Her current work concerns the cultural production of capitalism in frontier contexts in Indonesia and the USA. For those interested to attend, please register online at:

The Japan Foundation Toronto Library celebrates 10th Anniversary 

Featuring: Writers and The Library, Thursday, November 24, 2005, 7:00 PM The Japan Foundation, Toronto, 131 Bloor Street West, 2nd Floor
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, writers Katherine Govier, Kerri Sakamoto and James Quandt will talk about their research and read from their latest work. A celebratory reception with jazz music by Waylen Miki and Sam Petite will follow.
Katherine GovierKatherine Govier began her career in  journalism and is author of eight novels and three short story collections.  Her previous book, Creation, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2003.  The latest novel, Three Views of Crystal Water set in prewar  Vancouver and Japan, is about the young Canadian descendent of a family of  pearl merchants, who comes of age in a fishing village.  

Kerri Sakamoto

Kerri Sakamoto is a Toronto-based writer of novels, screenplays and essays on visual art. She received the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book for her novel, The Electrical Field, which is currently in development for the film adaptation. She is presently the Barker Fairley Distinguished Visitor at University College at the University of Toronto.

James Quandt is senior programmer at Cinematheque Ontario in Toronto, where he has curated a number of touring retrospectives over the last fifteen years. In 2004, he received the Japan Foundation Special Prize for Arts and Culture for his curatorial and critical work on Japanese cinema, including editing of comprehensive anthologies of Kon Ichikawa and Shohei Imamura.

RSVP Required: 416-966-1600, ext. 400 or For further information, contact: 416-966-1600, ext. 0.

Variety Crossing: Pathway to Multiculturalism - An Evening of Poetry and Prose

The Korean Canadian Literary Forum-21 Press is proud to announce the publication of the 7th edition of its annual anthology Variety Crossing, by hosting a book launch and reading, with George Elliot Clarke as special guest, on Saturday, November 26, UofT Hart House, Music Rm, 7 Hart House Circle.

Readings begin at 7 pm. The event is free and open to the public. For more info, contact Dae-Tong Huh, poet, president and publisher at (416) 222-7935, email or visit the Forum 21 website at

Harvard East Asia Society invites graduate students to a conference on Redefining Identities in Asia

Graduate students are encouraged to submit an abstract for the 9th Annual Harvard East Asia Society Conference with the theme Redefining Identities in Asia which will be held from February 17 - 19th 2006 at Harvard University. The Graduate Student Conference seeks to provide an interdisciplinary forum where promising graduate students from the United States and around the world can exchange ideas and discuss current research on East Asia with peers and professors. For more info, contact Amy Lee at or visit their conference website.

NSERC opens up competition for Summer Program in Taiwan

Experience another culture and language while conducting research at a national laboratory, university or institute in Taiwan. The Summer Program in Taiwan provides graduate students in science and engineering with hands-on research experience and an introduction to a different culture, language, and university research system. Participants can complement their training by learning new research techniques and accessing excellent research facilities. NSERC collaborates with the National Science Council of Taiwan to offer this unique program.

Deadline: The application deadline has been extended to December 15, 2005.

Value: $3,000 plus all travel and living expenses

Program Duration: Awards are held for approximately eight weeks, from June to August. Exact start dates vary each year; successful candidates will be informed of the final program schedule for summer 2006.

Eligibility: At the time of application, you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada; and enrolled in a graduate program in the natural sciences or engineering at a Canadian institution. Participants should make contact with a host researcher in advance to develop ideas for a summer research project. Assistance is available for students who have difficulty identifying or contacting a host researcher in Taiwan. The results of the competition will be announced in March.

For more information about these programs, or to request an application form, contact: Summer Programs in Taiwan
Scholarships and Fellowships Division Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
350 Albert Street
, Ottawa, ON  K1A 1H5. Telephone: (613) 944-6241. E-mail: Web site:

More than half of world's illiterate adults in Asia, by Yasmeen Lee Arpon, ANN, 2005-11-18

More than half of the world’s illiterate adults live in Asia-Pacific with most of them in India, China, Bangladesh and Indonesia, a report by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) shows. In its Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2006 that focused on literacy, Unesco said India has the highest incidence, with illiterate adults comprising 34.6 per cent of its total population. China has 11.3 per cent, followed by Bangladesh (6.8 per cent), Pakistan (6.2 per cent) and Indonesia (2.4 per cent).

Two of these countries, India and Indonesia, were hit by natural disasters recently and though these are not expected to impact on the macro-level, they may pose major obstacles in achieving education for all by the target year of 2015, said Dr Sheldon Shaeffer, director for Unesco’s regional bureau for education. “There is a significant impact on the educational system caused by the December 2004 tsunami especially in Aceh and the earthquake in India where the teaching force may have been displaced and there is a need to rebuild schools,” Schaeffer said. “We have to look at the opportunities available for these countries and this is where international resources should come in,” he added.

According to estimates from the World Bank and United Nations Children’s Fund, the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami killed more than 280,000 people in Burma, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand. In Indonesia alone, the damage to its education sector was estimated at US$128.4 million, with nearly 1,000 schools damaged or destroyed. Aceh, one of the worst hit, lost 2,500 teachers while 3,000 others were displaced. In Sri Lanka, the damage was estimated at US$21 million; 168 public schools were damaged and 75,000 were affected.

Hope for China
Of the countries with high illiteracy rate among adults, Unesco projected high hopes for China, Asia’s emerging superpower. It said that China is among 23 countries that have a high chance of achieving the EFA goal by 2015. It noted that a strong indicator of this is the emergence of “literate environments” in China, such as the high growth of periodicals from 250 in 1949 to 8,500 in 2001. At present, there are about 450 daily newspapers in the country with print runs of 80 million to 85 million copies, Unesco said.

Aside from China, Brunei Darussalam, Macao, Maldives, Singapore and Thailand also have high chance of achieving the EFA goals in 10 years. The literacy rates in these countries are already high and the social infrastructure provides better access to education. For one, it cited Thailand’s efforts in mass literacy campaigns that drove up literacy among its population since the 1930s.

“In 1937, only an estimated 30 per cent of the population had minimal literacy skills. During the first national campaign (1942-45), 1.4 million people learned to read.” On the other hand, Malaysia and the Philippines – where there is a high literacy rate among adults – are at risk of not achieving the goal in 10 years because of the slow pace their literacy growths have been progressing. Other countries in Asia that are at risk of reducing illiteracy are Sri Lanka and Viet Nam. Those that are at serious risk of not achieving high literacy by 2015 include Cambodia, India, Lao PDR, Nepal and Pakistan.

Unesco said major obstacles that prevent countries from providing access to education are costly school fees that prevent the poor from enrolling in primary schools, low quality of education and minimal budget accorded by governments. The report said about 100 million children are still not enrolled in primary education of which almost half or 45.5 million are in Asia and the Pacific. It, however, cited efforts in certain countries like Cambodia that introduced a Priority Action Programme aimed at reducing the cost burden for education on poor households and increasing their children’s participation in the primary level. Registration charges, previously common, were prohibited, as well as obligatory contributions.

On the other hand, schools in countries like the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Lao PDR, Viet Nam, China and Indonesia are among those that still collect primary school fees. Unesco said governments should earmark a more significant amount to education, especially in the primary level, to ease the burden of school costs on the poorest. It also noted that due to small state budgets, teachers receive paltry salaries, especially those for adult literacy programmes who receive only half of what a primary school teacher typically gets.

The low pay, thus, makes teaching an unattractive employment option and those better qualified for the profession seeks work elsewhere. It also suggested that governments give more emphasis to literacy programmes by increasing the usual one per cent allocation in their national budgets to adult literacy. “There are examples in the region of strong commitment and rapid progress toward EFA, but there are also examples of stagnation and complacency. More must therefore be done,” Shaeffer said.

York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). For further information, contact
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