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York Centre for Asian Research Updates                    Issue 56, Friday, August 18, 2006

In this issue

YCAR Visiting Scholars

 YCAR welcomes back Nora Chiang and Habib Rahman
  Call for Papers  CANCAPS to hold conference on balancing economics and diplomacy

Asia Job Postings

 Right to Play seeks Project/Communication Coordinators

Research Funding Opportunities

 Woodrow Wilson supports research in social sciences and humanities

East-West Centre News

 Islam and America - Bridging the Perception Gap

YCAR welcomes back Nora Chiang and Habib Rahman

Dr. Lan-Hung Nora Chiang from the Department of Geography, National Taiwan University (NTU) is back in YCAR for two weeks from August 14-26. She is in Toronto continuing her research on 'astronaut' families and the transnational lives of middle class Taiwanese married women in Canada.
Dr. Chiang is Professor of Geography at National Taiwan University. She was the former Chair of Geography Department, Director of the Population and Gender Studies Center, and President of Population Studies Association of Taiwan. From 2003-2005, she was seconded from NTU to become the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology. She is now Associate Dean of the NTU College of Science. While at YCAR, she can be contacted at extension 33068 and by email at

Dr. Mohammad Habib Rahman from the University of South Pacific in Fiji is back to YCAR as visiting scholar and research associate. Habib is currently doing research on governance reforms dealing with civil servants’ perception of governance of poverty in the South Pacific and South Asia, impact of e-governance in promoting transparency and accountability in the South Pacific, and public sector reforms in Asia and Pacific. He will be presenting a brownbag seminar in November 2006 on the "Leadership Challenges of Policy Implementation in the South Pacific"  that will examine the key challenges in policy implementation in the South Pacific with a focus on Fiji Islands. While at YCAR, he can be contacted at extension 44067 and by email at

Call for Papers: 14th Annual CANCAPS Conference - Canada in the Asia Pacific:
Balancing Economics and Diplomacy, 1-3 December 2006, Toronto, Canada

The 14th Annual CANCAPS Conference - Canada in the Asia Pacific: Balancing Economics and Diplomacy - is now issuing a conditional call for papers. Please note that the staging of the 14th Annual CANCAPS Conference is contingent upon securing the necessary funding. The theme of this year's conference is "Balancing Economics and Diplomacy". The central concern is to explore the ways in which Canada's economic interests are affected by the political and diplomatic realities of dealing with the Asia Pacific/Central Asian regions. Of particular interest is how Canada's natural resources may affect Canada's political standing in the region. Another major concern is how the changing balance of military and, in particular, economic power in the regional and global systems can and should affect Canada's diplomatic relationships with the emerging states of the Asia Pacific. Assessments of how Canada has addressed non-traditional security concerns, such as the transmission of disease from Asia and the Canadian contribution to the tsunami disaster are also part of the program. The conference is interested in papers which critically evaluate Canada's involvement in Afghanistan.

The program outline for the conference is as follows: Three plenary sessions: Plenary I - Natural Resources and Canada-Asia Pacific Relations; Plenary II - The Changing Nature of Human Security; Plenary III - Canada's Bilateral and Multilateral Trade Relations with the Asia Pacific. Nine panels: · Canada's Economic Relations with China · Non-Traditional Security: Canada's Response to Emergencies · Canada's Financial Relationship with the Asia Pacific · Canada's Precarious Place between the US and China · Canada and South Asia: The Nuclear Dilemma · Canada's Changing Role in Afghanistan · Regional Institutions and Economic Development · Maritime Security Panel · Human Security Panel

CANCAPS encourages paper submissions that fit into the panel categories indicated above. Please note that CANCAPS will stay as close to the suggested panel topics as possible. Please indicate how, and to what degree, your proposed paper fits into the program outlined above. Please send submissions as email attachments to: Shaun Narine, President of CANCAPS ( by no later than 20 September 2006. Please also send a copy of the proposal to Sarah Whitaker, CANCAPS Administrator (

Call for Interest: Global South Dissertation Workshop

The University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS), York University, is also looking for PhD students and Faculty interested in participating in a dissertation workshop on: South-North Perspectives on Social Justice. The UCGS is thinking of organizing a dissertation workshop with 8-12 PhD students for the end of the Fall semester. If you are interested in participating in this workshop or would like more information, please contact Joëlle Reid at: In a brief note, please indicate the PhD program you are in, the stage of your project (pre/post fieldwork, writing, etc.), the focus of your research, as well as your interest for participating in the workshop. UCGS also invites Faculty interested in being involved in the process as a resource person (selection committee, workshop itself, etc.).

The UCGS is a new initiative that encourages critical engagement with what has been broadly defined as the Global South. It hosts weekly seminars that creates a pluralistic open space for dialogue and debate among faculty, graduate students, policy makers, visiting speakers, social activists and NGOs around issues related to human development, equity and social justice, ecology and sustainability, gender, ethnicity, racialization, rural and grassroots development, North-South relations, global-national-local linkages, and public policy. The Colloquium also provides a discussion venue for promoting trans-regional and inter-disciplinary approaches to these issues, and in so doing aims to stimulate new forms of critical research, including critical analyses of Canadian policies towards the Global South. For more information on the UCGS, check its website at:

Right to Play seeks Project/Communication Coordinators in Africa and Asia

RTP PC Luciano in Tham Him CampRight To Play is an athlete-driven, humanitarian non-governmental organization, delivering programs of sport and play to children living in situations of disadvantage around the world. It is recruiting international volunteers for placements in the following countries: Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Sudan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mali, Liberia, Chad, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka.

Job Summary: Project Coordinators and Communication Coordinators for SportHealth and SportWorks Programs. Key Responsibilities: Project Administration, Adult Education and Workshop Facilitation, Communication, Networking and Partnership Building, Project Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation. To apply for this position, please send a cover letter and resume to  Kindly ensure that the title of the position being applied for is listed in the "Subject" line Only those selected for interviews will be contacted.

Canadian Office: Wanda Rozwadowska, Right To Play Canada, Dominion Square, 468 Queen Street East, LL1 Toronto, Ontario M5A 1T7, Tel: +1 416-498-1922 x 249, Fax: +1 416-203-0190,

Closing Date: 10/17/2006.

Woodrow Wilson supports scholarly research in social sciences and humanities

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars supports research in the social sciences and humanities. Through an international competition, it offers 9-month fellowships to academics, public officials, journalists and business professionals. Fellows conduct research and write in their areas of interest, while interacting with policymakers in Washington and Wilson Center staff. A summary is provided below. For the program guidelines and application forms, please contact ORS at ext. 55055 ( or consult the following web site: The application forms can be downloaded from the Center’s website at:

OBJECTIVE: The Center awards approximately 20 -25 academic year residential fellowships to individuals from any country with outstanding project proposals on national and/or international issues. Topics and scholarship should relate to key public policy challenges or provide the historical and/or cultural framework to illuminate policy issues of contemporary importance. The Center devotes significant attention to the exploration of broad thematic areas. Primary themes are:

1) governance, including such issues as the key features of the development of democratic institutions, democratic society, civil society, and citizen participation.

2) the U.S. role in the world and issues of partnership and leadership - military, political, and economic dimensions and

3) key long-term future challenges confronting the United States and the world.

VALUE: Fellows are provided stipends (which include round trip travel), private offices, access to the Library of Congress, Windows-based personal computers, and part-time research assistants.

DURATION: Fellowships are awarded residence for the entire U.S. academic year (early September through May, i.e., nine months), although a few fellowships are occasionally awarded for shorter periods, with a minimum of four months. Fellowships are not awarded in the months of June, July and August.

DEADLINE: October 2, 2006.

York University researchers are reminded that all applications for external research funding must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Research Services before they are submitted to the granting agency. For internal approval, the application must be accompanied by a completed ORS Application Checklist, which requires the Chair’s and the Dean’s signatures. To ensure that the approved application is ready by the agency deadline, a complete application folder must be submitted to ORS ten (10) working days prior to the final submission date.

EWC Commentary: Islam and America – Bridging the Perception Gap by Richard Baker

A researcher who has polled Americans on their attitudes toward Islam and Muslims finds that the most significant factor differentiating those who feel comfortable with Muslims from those who do not is whether they have ever known one. This is clearly not the entire story – after all, most murderers and their victims know each other. But when basic cultural differences are coupled with wide geographical separation, as is the case for most Americans with Islam, it is all too easy for negative stereotypes to dominate. And despite the omnipresence of American culture around the world, most Muslims have little personal familiarity with America or Americans.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the East-West Center undertook to help correct the misperceptions and misunderstandings between Asia’s Islamic societies (home to more than half the world’s Muslims) and Americans. We chose to work especially with journalists, whose role as communicators gives them impact far beyond their numbers.

There is need for such programs. In general, journalists from the Asian Islamic world "know" more about the United States than American journalists know about Islam in Asia. But much of what they "know" are stereotypes of the United States as a hot-headed, deeply prejudiced nation engaged in an international “crusade” against Islam. Americans’ perceptions of the Islamic world in turn are largely colored by the images and stories coming from the Middle East. Most Americans are even unaware that two-thirds of the world's Islamic population lives not in the Middle East but in South and Southeast Asia.

The program has also demonstrated how direct exposure can reorient perspectives. In 2004, for example, the Asian journalists had an intense hour-plus discussion with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, considered by many the architect of the Iraq campaign. The meeting didn’t change minds, but it did show that Wolfowitz was not engaged in an anti-Islam crusade and in fact knew much and had thought deeply about Middle East issues. The Asian journalists have also had opportunities to meet Americans engaged in inter-faith dialogues. They have been impressed that these efforts exist (as is rarely the case in their countries) and that American Muslims are regularly involved with their Christian and Jewish counterparts.

This summer seven journalists from Asian Islamic communities and six American journalists took overlapping two-week study tours in America and Asia, respectively. The experience was enlightening, even uplifting, for the journalists.

The highlight of the Asians’ trip was a visit to a Jewish synagogue in San Jose, California. For most of the group this was the first time they had set foot in a Jewish house of worship, or engaged in direct discussion with Jewish leaders on interfaith issues. The Asians also visited an Islamic school in San Jose, established by a staunchly moderate American convert whose long-range plan is to produce American-trained Islamic preachers (imams).

The American journalists visited Indonesia and Bangladesh, and met with a broad spectrum of political and religious leaders. The Muslims in these countries welcomed them and were eager to talk. While Asian Muslims in general practice a more moderate Islam than in the Middle East, and most fear and denounce terrorism, the journalists also found pervasive feelings of hostility and suspicion toward U.S. policy on the Middle East and Islam in general. In Bangladesh they encountered the view that the American response to 9/11 had in fact kindled Islamist extremism in much of the Asian Islamic world. They also met the leader of a hard-line Islamic party who made clear his long-term objective to turn the country into a true Islamic state.

In Indonesia the Americans had a rather different experience with two prominent forces of conservative Islam. In the capital, Jakarta, they met with the leaders of a young, puritanical Islamic party that has captured the majority of the city legislature and a good number of seats in the national parliament. These leaders sounded less like religious zealots than enthusiastic participants in the give and take of national politics. Still more intriguing was an overnight stay at Al Zaytun, a huge new Islamic boarding school and college in a rural area several hours east of Jakarta, a school that is controversial within Indonesia due to uncertainty about its funding and suspicions of links with extremist causes. There the journalists saw hundreds of students behaving like curious, fun-loving children of any society, and heard the founder expound on his objective of educating a new generation of Indonesian leaders who are both modern and moral (in the Islamic mold).

What is the net impact of such experiences? Many of the negative stereotypes are deeply engrained and not easily changed. But in general, the journalists come away with a more sophisticated understanding of the complexity of the countries they visit. They also see directly that most people share similar values, interests and concerns, even if they have profound disagreements on the nature of the forces affecting the world and the policies needed to address the issues.

Richard Baker is a former U.S. Foreign Service Officer who served a number of years in Indonesia. He is currently serving as special assistant to the president of the East-West Center and coordinating the Center’s Islamic Initiative. He can be contacted at the East-West Center on (808) 944-7371 or via email at

For daily news on the Pacific Islands, see For links to all East-West Center media programs, fellowships and services, see

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