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York Centre for Asian Research Updates                    Issue 59, Friday, September 15, 2006


In this issue

Fall Speaker Series

 YCAR brownbag seminars and other related events commence this fall
  Call for Manuscripts  Undercurrent calls for journal paper submissions to its upcoming issue

Academic Postings

 Tenure-track posts in Canadian universities in the offing

Research Competitions

 Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute launches new opportunities for scholars and students

Asia News - Indonesia

 Deregulate rice trade or we'll all be eating noodles

YCAR brownbag seminars and other related events commence this fall

A preliminary schedule of our Fall Brownbag Series is now available online. The purpose of the brownbag series is to provide an opportunity for faculty, visiting scholars and graduate students to present their past, present or future research studies for information exchange with academics, staff and students who have similar research interests. YCAR's brownbag seminars are usually held on Mondays from 12-1:30 pm at the YCAR Office at Suite 270B. The event is open to the public with a maximum of an hour's presentation by the speakers followed by 30-minute Qs&As.

Feminist Fridays: "New Directions for Gender and Access to Justice"
Starts Today, Sep 15, 2006, 1:40-3:30pm, Osgoode Hall Law School

The Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at York's Osgoode Hall Law School will begin its fall Feminist Fridays series on Friday, Sept. 15. In this public presentation, Osgoode professors will discuss "New Directions for Gender and Access to Justice". Janet Mosher will explore "Access to Justice in Women's Everyday Lives" and Mary Cornish will discuss "Securing Justice for Women's Work: Closing the Gender Pay Gap". Sonia Lawrence will chair and Craig Scott will comment. Everyone is welcome to the event which takes place from 1:40 to 3:30pm. It is preceded by the Women's Caucus Brown Bag Lunch 12:30-1:30pm and followed by a reception at 3:30pm. For more info, contact Joan Shields at InstituteFLS@osgoode.yorku.ca.

ChATSEA Workshop on Commodity systems approaches to agrarian transformations in Southeast Asia
Friday, September 22, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm, York Lanes 390. Hosted by YCAR. 

Participants: Challenges to Agrarian Transition in Southeast Asia (ChATSEA) faculty; graduate students working on this topic in SEA; for non-ChATSEA researchers who work on this topic and who might contribute to a possible book, please contact Peter Vandergeest at pvander@yorku.ca. All participants who are doing research on this topic should prepare a one-page summary of their research, planned, in progress, or completed. Statements should include the key research questions, methods, data and significance to ChATSEA. These should be submitted by September 15 to Rhoda Reyes at rreyes@yorku.ca, and will be circulated to all participants, and discussed in Session 2. Participants are also invited to make submissions on other topics (e.g., data collection needs) for circulation prior to the workshop.

YCAR invites you to its Annual Reception on Thursday, September 28

YCAR would like to invite you to its Annual Reception on Thursday, September 28 from 3:00-5:00 pm at York Lanes 280, York University, Keele Campus.

Come and join us for an informal social gathering of YCAR faculty, research and graduate associates and get to know the people and programs of the center. Hope to see you all there!!

Geography Colloquium Series presents René Veron (University of Guelph)
A Tale of Tribals, Traders and Tubers: The Political Ecology of Forest Degradation in Madhya Pradesh
Tuesday, 3 October, 11:30, Ross N120

Rene Veron's research involves the study of impacts of globalization and reform on rural livelihoods; links between state-led development, politics and empowerment of the poor; decentralization and corruption; and institutions in sustainable development, including community-based environmental management. Regional emphasis has been on Asia, particularly India (West Bengal, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh) and Indonesia (Java). His ongoing projects include: Restructuring Social Space: Globalization, Reform and Livelihoods in India (funded by SSHRC) and Globalization and the Poor: Sustaining Rural Livelihoods in India with Ravi Srivastava, Craig Johnson, Marta Rohatynskyj, O.P. Dwivedi (funded by Shastri Institute).

UCGS presents Amrit Wilson on Immigration, Racism and South Asian Patriarchy: 'The British Experience'
Wednesday, 4 October, 2:30-4:30 pm, York Lanes 305

How has South Asian politics reshaped gender relations in Britain over the last 15 years? How have representations of South Asian women changed and South Asian masculinities reconfigured by multicultural policies and religion? In this talk, Amrit Wilson will explore the interaction of institutionalized racism and South Asian patriarchy in the context of immigration policy, state interventions and psychiatry. Amrit is a writer and activist on issues of gender and race in Britain and South Asian politics. Her books include Finding a Voice: Asian Women in Britain (Virago, 1978) which won the Martin Luther King award. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom. Presented by the University Consortium on Global South (UCGS) in cooperation with the Atkinson School of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology, South Asia Studies Program and York Centre for Asian Research.

From 7-9pm at Atkinson (Harry Crowe Meeting Room 109), a public lecture on the topic will also be presented by the Atkinson School of Social Sciences. The event is co-sponsored by Atkinson Dean's Office, Centre for Feminist Research, Graduate Program in Social Work, South Asian Studies, and Anthropology. Refreshments will be served. Everyone welcome!


Undercurrent calls for journal paper submissions to its upcoming issue

Undercurrent, a Canadian undergraduate journal in development studies, is the only student-run national undergraduate journal publishing scholarly essays and articles that explore the subject of international development. The journal is a refereed publication dedicated to providing a non-partisan, supportive, yet critical and competitive forum exclusively for undergraduate research, writing, and editing.

Submissions are currently being accepted for the upcoming issue of Undercurrent. Faculty members are urged to encourage students to submit outstanding work to the journal. Topical papers are accepted from any academic discipline, and may include coursework past or present. Papers submitted for inclusion in the fall issue should be received by October 1st. Submissions received after the deadline will automatically be considered for the following issue. Format guidelines and instructions for submitting work to Undercurrent can be found on the journal's website.

Acceptance is determined by the undergraduate editors, through a twice-run process of blind peer review, with the input of faculty advisors. Submissions will be evaluated according to the following criteria: relevance to a broad audience, technical merit/quality of research, creativity, originality, and clarity of expression. Accepted papers are published in semi-annual volumes of the journal, in .pdf format, on the Undercurrent website.

Please consult www.undercurrentjournal.ca for further information. Any questions may be directed to contact@undercurrentjournal.ca.


Tenure-track posts in Canadian universities in the offing

Queen’s University – The Development Studies programme invites applications from outstanding scholars for a tenure-track position at the Assistant Professor level with expertise in culture and development, to begin July 1, 2007.

We are interested in candidates with research and teaching interests in contemporary cultural production as an idiom of resistance and domination in countries in the South and/or North American aboriginal communities, with reference to local and global contexts. Thematic areas of specialization may include music, religion, mass and popular media, sport, performing and visual arts, social movements, food and cuisine, language and literature.

Candidates should have a demonstrated ability to establish and maintain a vigorous programme of research in one or more these thematic areas as well as excellence in teaching at an undergraduate level. Experience with graduate supervision and a commitment to building a graduate programme would also be an asset. Applicants can learn more about the Development Studies programme and current faculty research and teaching interests at www.queensu.ca/devs.

Applicants must send hard copies of a curriculum vitae, a statement of research and teaching interests, and a writing sample, plus three confidential letters of reference, by November 24, 2006, to Dr David McDonald, Director, Development Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 3N6. Tel: 613-533-6000 (x77210). Fax: 613-533-2986. Email enquiries can be sent to develstu@post.queensu.ca.

The University invites applications from all qualified individuals. Queen’s is committed to employment equity and diversity in the workplace and welcomes applications from women, visible minorities, aboriginal people, persons with disabilities, and persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority. Academic staff at Queen’s University are governed by a collective agreement between QUFA and the University, details of which are posted at http://www.qufa.ca. This position is subject to budgetary approval.
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ASIAN NEW MEDIA, VISUAL CULTURE, AND CONTEMPORARY ART

The Institute of Communication and Culture, University of Toronto at Mississauga seeks applications for a tenure-stream Assistant professor in Asian New Media, Visual Culture and Contemporary Art. Applicants from a variety of disciplines are invited to apply. The position entails undergraduate teaching at the Mississauga campus and a graduate appointment at the St. George campus. Application deadline: December 1.

For details see: http://link.library.utoronto.ca/academicjobs/display_job_detail_public.cfm?job_id=2078. The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. For other academic postings, see the Association for Asian Studies website at http://www.aasianst.org/employment/main.htm.



Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute launches new opportunities for scholars and students

The Shastri Institute is pleased to announce the launch of several new funding opportunities in the 2006-2007 fiscal year. The initiatives, funded by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will provide opportunities for Canadian scholars and students to participate in Canada-India exchanges, bi-national research collaborations, conferences, workshops, and other scholarly activities. To download a copy of the "2006-2007 Opportunities for Canadian Scholars and Students" guide, click here. To view the Press Release, click here.

1. Partnership Development Seed Grants--Award Value: up to $20,000
FIVE grants will be given to Canadian post-secondary institutions to support catalyst activities such as workshops, seminars, conferences, scholarly discussions and planning meetings that are expected to lead to significant research collaborations with Indian universities or research institutions.

2. Visiting Faculty Travel Grants--Award Value: up to $1,200
FIVE travel grants will be given to assist the Institute's Canadian member institutions to sponsor visits by Indian scholars who are already in North America for conferences or other such academic visits.

3. Mobility/Exchange Grants--Award Value: up to $10,000
TWO Mobility/Exchange grants will be awarded to facilitate travel between institutions in Canada and India where faculty members are either already working on a collaborative research project in line with the Institute's areas of focus or are aiming to establish such a project.

4. Grants to Support Development of Study-In-India Programme--Award Value: up to $5,000.
TWO grants to be awarded to Canadian post secondary institutions to support their initiatives to develop new Study-in-India or similar programmes.

5. Shastri Student Excellence Awards--Award Value: $2,000
SEVEN awards to be given to Canadian students with high achievements who are either in their last two years of undergraduate courses or in graduate studies. To download a copy of the Student Excellence Awards poster, please click here.

The Shastri Institute is also inviting applications for the 2006-2007 Canadian Studies Competition. The Canadian Studies Programme promotes the understanding of Canada in India and is funded by the International Academic Relations Division of Foreign Affairs Canada. Please click here to view all the competition postings.


Deregulate rice trade or we'll all be eating noodles, by Riyadi Suparno, The Jakarta Post
National News - September 13, 2006

By a sorry coincidence, when the number of poor people in the country increases to 39.5 million this year, their consumption of rice will decrease, while their consumption of instant noodles will increase. Many poor families subsist on noodles sold in ready-to-prepare packages because the price of noodles is stable, while the price of rice continues to spiral, rising by some 30 percent over the past year. While just eating flavored noodles is not a balanced diet, they are now considered a full meal by many families who can no longer afford rice (Photo Credit:  FAO/15836/J.M. Micaud).

It's not surprising then that when rice consumption per capita remains the same for a long time at about 130 kilograms, and even tended to decrease, noodle consumption continues to rise. Noodle consumption per capita increased to five kilograms or 71 packets of instant noodles last year from 3.7 kg or 53 packets five years earlier, according to a report by Kontan business tabloid.

But why is this happening? Why are rice prices going up, while the price of a packet of noodles, the main ingredient of which is imported wheat, remains stable. The answer lies in the trade regime. Rice is heavily protected, with a stoic ban on imports, while the trade of wheat is free, with anyone able to import wheat as long as they pay a meager tariff.

The consequences of this trade regime are devastating for rice consumers, especially now when domestic production is at a low point, while at the same time, the government has banned imported rice. Mirroring the rice situation in the country, stock held by the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) has kept depleting over the last two years.

While in 2004, Bulog's monthly rice stock consistently stayed above 1.5 million tons, reaching over 2.5 million tons in the middle of the year. In 2005, it was often below 1.5 tons, according to government data. More worrying is this year's data. Bulog's stock hovered around the one million mark for a number of months, but since July, it has kept decreasing to well below one million tons. In December, it is projected the stock will reach a rock-bottom 530,000 tons.

Only after some political jockeying did the government recently open its door to rice imports amounting to 210,000 tons, only 0.6 percent of the country's annual consumption of some 32 million tons. Even with the imported rice, the national rice stock will not greatly increase, and therefore, rice prices will continue to remain high.

Currently, Indonesia's rice prices are about 40 percent higher than those on the international market, making imports all the more attractive. It is also not surprising that politically connected rent seekers are vying to get contracts to import rice. With such a wide gap in prices, smuggling is sure to happen. A government source said that last year alone, 500,000 tons of rice were smuggled into the country.

But, still, with limited imports -- plus smuggling -- prices continue to increase, penalizing 80 percent of the population, who are net consumers of rice, including the nation's poorest people. When rice prices soar by 30 percent, instant noodles seem like an attractive option.

In one way, it is good that the poor at least have alternative staples while politicians continue to quarrel over whether to import rice. On the other hand, shifting from rice to noodles is not good for the country in the longer term because this country does not produce wheat, but rice. If we allow this process to continue it will cost the country dearly, in terms of foreign exchange and also employment opportunities in agriculture.

So, how do we stop this shifting process? The answer is by freeing up rice trade. Freeing up rice trade would surely reduce the income of net rice producers, and a few parties who benefit from importing and smuggling rice, but it would also help reduce the burden of more than 190 million people who are the net consumers of rice.

It's true, rice is so political in nature. But freeing up rice trade is not an impossibility. We did it once, after the financial crisis, with the help of the International Monetary Fund. Such a daring move to free up rice trade, however, was easily twisted by the nationalistic maneuver of then president Megawati Soekarnoputri, when her trade minister Rini MS Soewandi imposed a ban on rice imports. And now, we all bear the burden of this nationalistic policy: expensive rice.

Their intention might have been to protect local farmers. But to do so, it's better to slap tariffs on imports rather than a blanket ban -- which not only increases the price of rice, but leads to the rampant practice of rent seeking or gaining fees as importers. Now is the time to solve this problem once and for all by deregulating rice trade and ensuring a free flow of rice, we'll all be eating noodles.


York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). For further information, contact ycar@yorku.ca
Ste. 270 York Lanes, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3. Web: www.yorku.ca/ycar.