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York Centre for Asian Research Update                    Issue 35, Friday, December 16, 2005

Wishing you a happy holiday season and all the best for the new year!

As the end of the year approaches, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and participation in YCAR's programs and activities and highlight our events for the coming year. We hope to continue building on our reputation as a centre of excellence in Asian research and develop programs and activities that respond to the needs of the wider academic community, government departments and non-profit development organizations. The centre is closed for the holidays from December 23 to January 2. We wish everyone Happy Holidays and all the best for 2006! - Peter Vandergeest, YCAR Director.

YCAR brownbag seminar series in Winter 2006 (Preliminary Schedule)

Mondays, 12-1:30 pm, York Lanes 270B, York University, Keele Campus, unless otherwise indicated

January 9, 2:30-4:00 pm – June Rhee, PhD Candidate, Department of Humanities
“Language Game: The transformation of Korean language in the late 19th century and its historical significance reflected in journalism”

June examines the political and social transformation of the late Choson Dynasty through analyzing written language. As Japan’s colonial ambition gave an initial push to the emergence of newspaper, journalism became a crucial means for intellectuals to express their historical consciousness. The patterns of the transformation of written language and the specific agenda facilitated in the printing media is explored though focusing on major newspapers as well as some of the leading intellectuals in the last quarter of the 19th century.

January 16 – Jay Goulding, Professor, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies
“Daoism and Phenomenology: Wu Kuang-ming and Maurice Merleau-Ponty”

Dr. Goulding explicates the relationships between Daoism and phenomenology, especially in respect to the Zhuangzi 莊子 scholar Wu Kuang-ming 吳光明 and the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Wu’s deep insight has enlightened generations of thinkers grappling with Daoism and comparative thought. Merleau-Ponty is a prominent commentator on the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. Although Merleau-Ponty held a basic knowledge of Daoism, Wu demonstrates a vast knowledge of phenomenology. Influenced by John Wild at Yale University (a pioneer of phenomenology in the U.S.), Wu tacitly incorporates Merleau-Ponty into his writings. Reminiscent of Merleau-Ponty’s “body phenomenology,” Wu’s “Chinese body thinking” argues that the West thinks too much with the mind and forgets about the body. The East lets the body do the thinking while the mind disappears into it.

January 18 (Wednesday, 12-1:30 pm)– Hong Kal, Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Arts
“The Aesthetic Construction of Ethnic Nationalism: War Memorial Museums in Korea and Japan”

Since 1990 both Japan and Korea have experienced “commemoration booms,” in which the number of private and public memorial museums and monuments has tripled. These institutions provide narratives of each nation’s recent past and articulate the ideals of “nation” and “citizenship.” They compose tales to construct tradition, revise history, and reinterpret the past in order for the nation to remain relevant in public and private life. Central to the construction of the nation is the representation of wars and death, memories of which are considered essential in guaranteeing the immortality of the nation. In Japan and Korea, war memorial museums have become one of the most controversial sites in the question of how to represent colonialism and catastrophic wars. By examining the War Memorial of Korea and the Yushukan attached to the Yasukuni Shrine of Japan, Dr. Kal presents the ways in which they play symbolic and socially significant roles in the construction of nationalism in the two countries.

January 23 – Shobna Nijhawan, Asst Professor, Dept of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics
“Debating Domesticity, Constructing Citizenship: Hindi Periodicals for Women and Nationalist Discourse (1910-1930)“

Dr. Nijhawan investigates the literary and journalistic activities of women by looking at Hindi women’s periodicals of the early twentieth century. Women’s periodicals constituted a new sector in the rising publishing industry. They were not only a source of information for women and in women’s own words, but also a distinct literary genre that interacted with other literary genres at a crucial historical conjuncture of forming a national Hindi language and literature. Dr. Nijhawan argues that the journal was conceptualized in a way as to make it a public duty of upper- and middle-class women to participate in the processes of knowledge production, dissemination and contestation. It was particularly through discussing so-called private issues of domesticity alongside questions of women’s political emancipation that the writers negotiated prevailing models of Indian womanhood and redefined gender roles.

January 30 – Raju Das, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography
”Class Contradictions of the Post-Colonial Indian State”

Dr. Das proposes a historical geographical materialist approach to the understanding of the Indian state and its spatiality. In this approach, interventions of the state must be seen as influenced by its dominant class base, and by the geography of the balance of class/caste forces both within the state as well as outside it. The state cannot be looked at merely in class terms; it is immensely influenced by its territorial-democratic form as well as the interests and ideologies of the relatively autonomous state elites. He demonstrates the usefulness of this approach in understanding one of the most important redistributive-developmental policies of the post-colonial state and draws out implications of his conceptual approach for examining the Indian state’s contradictory nature and crisis-proneness, its turn to neoliberalism and its failure to promote a socially and spatially equitable development.

February 6 – Joan Judge, Associate Professor, Modern Chinese History
"The Politics of Female Virtue in China at the Turn of the Twentieth Century"

Ancient Chinese norms dictated that women remain at a distant remove from politics. From at least the beginning of the common era, however, private female moral acts were understood as having profound public and political ramifications. Dr. Judge examines a late stage in the historical relationship between politics and female virtue: the final decades of imperial rule at the turn of the twentieth century, a period of both heightened political change and intensive questioning of feminine norms. She describes the three types of chaste women that continued to be prominent in the political imaginary: the chaste widow, the faithful maiden, and the heroic chastity martyr. Focusing on the latter, she discusses an incident of collective female suicide in 1900, analyzes the global and historical contexts in which the incident was understood, and probes the multiple national meanings it was assigned.

February 27 – Grace Shen, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities
"Playing the Field: Geological fieldwork and the making of the modern Chinese intellectual"

March 6 – Doris Hung, PhD Candidate, Social and Political Thought
“The Medium Is the Message- Finding Cultural Meanings in the Materiality of Chinese Contemporary Art"

The material process in the works of Chinese artists plays a significant role in shaping the intrinsic characteristics of current development in Chinese contemporary art. Doris gives an overview of the cultural meanings conveyed through the usage of non-western art materials in the contemporary works by three Chinese artists Wenda Gu, Song Dong and Qiu Zhijie.

March 13 – Xiaodong Nie, Chinese Visiting Scholar (TBA)

March 20 – Lucia Lo, Associate Professor, Department of Geography
“Consuming Wal-Mart: A Case Study in China”

Dr. Lo explores the change and adaptation of urban Chinese in the City of Shenzhen to the entry of Wal-Mart. As one of the first five Chinese Special Economic Zones established in the 1980s to direct foreign investment, Shenzhen is host to the largest number of Wal-Mart stores. Its retail sector has experienced two interlocking processes during the last decade – the entry of global retailers like Wal-Mart and the modernization of domestic retailers, both bringing dramatic changes to the consumption experience of the local Chinese. The theoretical argument of this paper is based on the debates in economic geography that concerns the dialectic between economy and culture. The analysis shows that Chinese consumer behaviour in Shenzhen cannot be explained alone by economic reasons such as price and variety. When Wal-Mart comes into contact with China’s expanded and modernized domestic retailers through a variety of means such as new marketing concepts, promotion of western cultural values, and non-traditional product assortments, shopping in Wal-Mart represents more of a cultural experience.


Canadian Studies Visiting Lectureship 2006-2007 Competition

Each year one established Canadian scholar is sent to India for a three-week period to give lectures and conduct seminars on Canada. The preferred period of tenure is three weeks in January and/or February. The award includes the cost of international air travel, domestic travel and living expenses within India. Funding for the programme is provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs Canada through the International Academic Relations Division.

With funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs Canada, the Shastri Institute invites applications for a Canadian Studies Visiting Lectureship tenable in India during the 2006-07 Academic Year. The competition is open to Canadian both established and emerging scholars in a roster of topics. Scholars with no previous experience in India are welcome to apply. This year meritorious applications are invited in the following areas: i) Aboriginal Studies, ii) Globalization and Trade Policy, iii) Environmental Policy. For more info, visit Deadline: January 31, 2006.

Albert Chan Fellowship competition due on January 10, 2006

This fellowship was established by the Albert C.W. Chan Foundation to encourage and assist York University graduate students to conduct field research in East and/or Southeast Asia. The fellowship is administered and awarded by YCAR each year. For 2006, the value of the award is CDN $2,000. Applicants must be Canadian citizens/permanent residents, Ontario residents, registered York University graduate students and current or would be YCAR graduate associates.

Application deadline is January 10, 2006.  Selection is made by the YCAR Scholarship Committee and will be announced on January 31, 2006.  The successful student will be required to provide YCAR with documentation that confirms travel arrangements, and will receive the fellowship thirty (30) days later. The application should include a completed application form available at ). All documentation must be received by the application deadline.  Incomplete applications will not be considered.  Completed application package can be sent to the attention of the YCAR Scholarship Committee at the following address: York Centre for Asian Research, Suite 270 York Lanes, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON  M3J 1P3, Email: Web:

Call for Papers: Gender, Child Survival and HIV/AIDS Conference , York University, Toronto, Canada, May 7-9, 2006

A conference on Gender, Child Survival and HIV/AIDS: From Evidence to Policy will be held on May 7-9, 2006, at Founders College, York University. Initial co-sponsors include Founder’s College (including the African Studies Program); York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR); Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Arts; Association for Research on Mothering (ARM); Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health; Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence; and National Network on Environments and Women’s Health (NNEWH), together with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), based in Penang, Malaysia. Collaboration with community groups and NGOs in the Toronto area include INFACT and HIV/AIDS support groups.

The conference presents an opportunity to bring together women’s health groups, HIV/AIDS groups and breastfeeding and infant feeding advocates for a critical examination of the role of gender in health research, and how evidence is used (or not used) to direct policy relevant to women’s health, infant health, and HIV/AIDS. The conference will incorporate these multiple perspectives, as well as review the latest research on the transmission of HIV and the health outcomes of different infant feeding options, often missing from clinical discussions of mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT).

The organizers invite participation from researchers, women – particularly mothers - living with HIV/AIDS, and service providers working to improve health outcomes of mothers and children living with HIV/AIDS. Attention will also be given on practical actions around communication, media and planning, and the development of consensus statements to bring to the International AIDS conference to be held in Toronto in August 2006. For more info, contact Dr. Penny van Esterik at


Call for Papers: International Conference on Asian Comics, Animation, and Gaming (ACAG), York University, Toronto, Canada, May 18 – May 19, 2006

YCAR, in cooperation with the International Journal of Comic Art and Asian Cinema Studies Society, is organizing an Asian Comics, Animation and Gaming (ACAG) conference in May 2006 that will provide an international forum for presenting recent research on the emerging cultural markets in China and the Asian countries. It will also investigate the transnational issues of Asian cultural products, focusing on comics, animation and digital games in relation with the global world.  The conference will promote scholarship and intellectual engagement between academics and cultural production professionals on the conference themes (cultural economy and transnational imaginary) and topics from various backgrounds.


Papers that explore critical, philosophical and creative issues on Asian comics, animation, and digital games by drawing on the methodological and conceptual knowledge from a variety of disciplines are invited.  Possible disciplines and topics may include, but are not limited to the following: Cultural economy, product, market and industry; Cultural studies and cultural identity; East Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, Asia-Pacific studies; Anime and manga studies; Gender studies and body; Sociology, class and consumer cultures; Critical theory and representation; Human/cultural geography; Cross-cultural comparisons; Religious themes; History and cultural change; Aesthetic and creativity; Film studies; Fan culture and lifestyle studies; Cyberspace and Internet world; East and West Philosophy; Psychology  Localism, Globalism, Transnationalism.

Keynote Speaker: Professor John Lent, Mass Media and Communication Program, Temple University

Important dates:  Extended submission of abstracts: January 15, 2006; Extended acceptance of abstracts: February 10, 2006; Submission of full papers for review: March 1, 2006; Acceptance of full papers with revisions: March 15, 2006; Accepted papers due: April 3, 2006; Conference: May 18-19, 2006.

Abstract requirements

Submissions should be in form of a word document attached to an email and submitted electronically to with the subject heading “ACAG abstract submission.”  Each abstract should be no longer than 200 words, including the title (and subtitle if applicable), name(s) of the author(s), affiliations, mailing address(es), email address(es), and two or three keywords that describe the submission. 

Refereeing of papers

Selection of full papers for presentation will be a two-stage process.  All abstracts will be reviewed.  Author(s) selected will be invited to submit a full paper (no longer than 3000 words) for further review process.  Both abstracts and full papers will be peer reviewed by a panel of experts in the related fields.  Selected abstracts and full papers will be published in the refereed conference proceedings.

Conference Chair: Dr. Wendy Siuyi Wong, Associate Director, YCAR; Department of Design, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University. Email: For general enquiries, further information or to send an expression of interest, email:


Postscript: The Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon, Library of Congress, is  accepting applications for the Swann Fellowship for the 2006-2007 academic year. Annual award of $15,000 to support scholarly graduate research in caricature and cartoon. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited M.A. or Ph.D program in a university in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. Deadline: Feb. 15, 2006. Please access guidelines and revised application at:  Contact Martha Kennedy with questions by email at  or call  202/707-9115. Martha H. Kennedy, Curatorial Assistant for Caricature and Cartoon, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, DC   20540-4730, Ph.: 202/707-9115 Fax: 202/707-6647.

Review: "Marsinah Accuses": Indonesian Dance Drama Performance at the Accolade Centre, produced and presented by the class of Prof Franki Notosudirjo, York Fine Arts

In a black curtain-draped and darkened room, where a rim of floor-level flickering candles enclosed the "stage", an intimate gathering from the York community witnessed the enactment of a ruthless political assassination through the medium of dance and music. Memorialising an event which occurred in 1993 that of the persecution and killing by police of a female worker activist in East Java, the theme unfolded through the metaphor of various Javanese art forms, from dance to shadow puppetry, punctuated by the gentle but insistent rhythm of Indonesian percussion throughout. This was eloquence without a spoken word, a bold artistic experiment which effectively relied on body language to communicate plot, suspense and emotion as medium in its own right.

The performance began with a Javanese style ritual homage with incense and music, to unnamed supernatural powers: the unseen participants. To this observer, it resembled more a form of human shadow play, ("wayang wong"), as the text of the original play written in Indonesian by Ratna Sarumpaet (right) was transmuted into a wordless but powerful epic where some things are best left to the imagination. The performance was held, appropriately on December 6th, the memorial day for the Montreal massacre, and was a suitable end-of-term achievement by Franki Notosudirdjo's class. A tribute is due to the creativity of both the class and their guru. - Judith Nagata, YCAR.


After mistakes, home construction on track in Aceh: World Bank, ANN, 2005-12-14

The construction of permanent homes for victims of a devastating tsunami in Indonesia's Aceh province is proceeding well after early mistakes in the reconstruction effort, the World Bank said Wednesday (Dec 14). "Are we happy with the progress in Aceh? No we are not, at all. There are still 60,000 people in tents today and that's clearly unacceptable a year after the tsunami," Andrew Steer, the World Bank's Indonesia country director, told reporters. "The mistake that was made was not paying enough attention to temporary housing," Steer said ahead of the Dec. 26 first anniversary of the disaster which left almost 170,000 Acehnese dead or missing and half a million homeless. Critics have charged that reconstruction has been too slow. Steer said relief officials should have realized that it would be impossible to build more than 30,000 houses in the first year and that, as a result, many survivors would be left staying in tents. There were also hopes that more of the homeless would have been able to stay with host families, he said.

Of the 500,000 people forced from their homes by the tsunami, 180,000 still regard themselves as internally displaced. That figure is about evenly split between those staying in tents, in barrack-style accommodation, or with host families, he said. But a program to provide permanent housing for the tsunami victims is on course. "We're now moving into the really big permanent housing phase," Steer said. About 25,000 houses will be finished by the first anniversary of the disaster, with 5,000 being started and completed every month. "Throughout 2006 the hope is to finish another 70,000 houses and that will mean that everybody will be in their permanent houses by the middle of 2007. If that is achieved it will be a remarkable performance," he said.

Aceh was the area worst-hit by the tsunamis which struck 11 Indian Ocean countries. By the first anniversary of the tragedy, about one-fifth of the 1.8 million people around the region made homeless by the waves will be in permanent homes, the aid organization Oxfam said in a report Wednesday. Steer said Aceh needs almost six billion dollars to replace its lost assets but 9 billion dollars has been pledged by donors, governments and non-governmental organizations. "Never before has such an amount been pledged," he said. Overall, reconstruction one year after the Aceh tsunami is "better than average" compared with disasters in other countries, Steer said. -- AFP

Note: YCAR has identified Ar-Raniry State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN) in Banda Aceh, Indonesia as the recipient of the $3,000 donation that it was able to raise from the Tsunami Benefit Concert early this year. The funds will be used to help renew academic infrastructure needs that have been damaged by the tsunami.

We will be cleaning up our listserv for the new year. If you do not wish to remain on YCAR-L, please send an email to and we will remove you from the list. You need not send us an email if you wish to stay on the list. Thank you very much. Happy Holidays and All the Best for 2006! 

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