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York Centre for Asian Research Updates                    Issue 60, Friday, September 22, 2006

In this issue

Academic Events

 YCAR hosts ChATSEA workshop on commodity systems approaches
  Call for Papers  CANCAPS and CIAS invite papers for its forthcoming annual conferences

Academic Postings

 SFU invites applications for assistant professor on Asian literature and culture

Research Competitions

 CCA announces competitions for three prestigious awards

Asia News - Thailand

 'Yellow ribbon coup' was a high price to pay

YCAR hosts ChATSEA workshop on commodity systems approaches

Today, September 22, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm, York Lanes 305

Participants to the Challenges to Agrarian Transition in Southeast Asia (ChATSEA) research project are meeting today to discuss commodity systems approaches to agrarian transformations in SEA. Participants include ChATSEA faculty and graduate students who will present their research on a variety of topics (i.e., commodity chain approaches, agro-food research in SEA, markets and regulation, agriculture and social movements, and land tenure issues. The workshop aims to discuss concepts and methods on the global commodity chain literature, identify key research themes in SEA and review current research as well as identify areas of collaboration for future publication.

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. Everyone welcome!!

UCGS invites you to its Annual Planning Meeting and Reception on Wednesday, September 27

The University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS) will be holding its Annual Planning Meeting on Wednesday September 27 at 2:30 pm, at 305 York Lanes. All interested in learning more about the UCGS and being involved in its activities are welcome! Graduate students and faculty interested in the Dissertation Workshop on “South-North Perspectives on Social Justice”, planned for early December, are especially invited to attend: the convenors Peter Vandergeest (Sociology), Pablo Idahosa (Political Science/African Studies) and Laura Shillington (PhD Candidate in Geography) will be there to discuss this new initiative. A reception will follow, and refreshments will be provided. Please note that the Fall 2006 Colloquium Program is in the process of being finalized; please check the UCGS website at for updates and for more info, contact Joëlle Reid, UCGS Coordinator.

Immigration Series at the University Of Guelph: “The Role Of Secondary Cities”
September 28th, at 1:00pm Room 234, University of Guelph, Hutt Building, Room 234.

This event is being sponsored by the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS) and will take place on September 28th, at 1:00pm in room 234 in the Hutt Building at the University of Guelph. The seminar will focus on the support institutions available to immigrants in smaller urban centres and the barriers immigrants face to their social and economic integration in “secondary” cities. Participating institutions include: Edward Akinwunmi, "Mosaic Edition"; Tanya Bouchard, Canadian Access for International Professions & Skilled Trades; Djurdjica Halgasev, The Guelph and District Multicultural Centre; Michele Vatz Laaroussi and Eric Quimper, Observatoire Canadien sur l'immigration dans les zones ŕ faible densité, Sherbrooke University; Victoria Szucs, Foreign Trained Doctors Study Group; Brian Wiley, Lutherwood Adult Employment Services; Tom Lusis, Department of Geography, The University of Guelph. This seminar will be of interest to anyone concerned with immigration issues, multicultural centres, and immigrant associations. There is no registration fee, but for those wishing to attend to please contact Tom Lusis at  before the seminar date. Directions to the Hutt Building can be found at:

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

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.

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 Papers for CIAS 12th Annual Conference

The Twelfth Annual Conference of the Central & Inner Asia Seminar (CIAS 2007) will be held at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the Croft Chapter House on May 15-17, 2007. The proceedings of the conference will be published in due course in "Toronto Studies in Central and Inner Asia". Volume 8, the papers from CIAS 2005, will be available before the upcoming conference. The theme of this year's gathering is "The Exploitation of the Landscape of Central and Inner Asia, Past, Present and Future." Scholars from a wide range of disciplines are invited to submit proposals for papers.

The time allowance for any presentation is 20 minutes. Please include the title, a one-page summary and a short copy of your curriculum vitae and send them, by email, to me at or to Professor Michael Gervers at The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2006 and those selected will be notified by email as soon as possible thereafter.

For further information see or contact Gillian Long, Administrative Coordinator for CIAS at (416)978-4882. The website will be updated regularly as more information becomes available.

SFU invites applications for assistant professor on Asian literature and culture

Simon Fraser University Website

The Department of Humanities at Simon Fraser University invites applications for a tenure-track appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor, commencing September 1st, 2007. The successful candidate will have a Ph.D in a field involving the interdisciplinary study of Asian literature and culture. The appointee will teach courses in Humanities and the Asia-Canada program. Based on an expertise in literature the candidate will address critical issues surrounding Asian identities and culture. The Asia-Canada program is an undergraduate program that integrates the interdisciplinary study of Asia within Asian-Canadian studies. Candidates should review the web sites of the Asia-Canada Program and the Department of Humanities.

Applicants should forward curriculum vitae, three letters of reference, and a covering letter indicating their interest and commitment to teaching, research and program development in the above field by October 31, 2006 to: Stephen Duguid, Chair, Department of Humanities, 8888 University Drive, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1S6.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. Simon Fraser University is committed to employment equity and encourages applications from all qualified women and men, including visible minorities, aboriginal people and persons with disabilities. This position is subject to budgetary approval. Under the authority of the University Act personal information that is required by the University for academic appointment competitions will be collected. For further details see the Collection Notice.

University CollegeThe Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto also invites application for a full-time tenure stream position at the rank of assistant professor in Korean literature effective appointment date commencing July 1, 2007. Candidates should have their PhD in hand at the time of appointment, demonstrate research excellence, display a strong and active commitment to literary theory and show the potential to become excellent instructors and graduate supervisors. Please send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and a substantial writing sample and arrange to have three letters of reference sent by December 11, 2006 to: Korean Search Committee, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto, 130 George St. #14087, Toronto ON M5S 3H1.

CCA announces competition for three prestigious awards

The Canada Council for the Arts has recently announced the opening of nominations for three prestigious awards: The Killam Prizes, the John G. Diefenbaker Award and the Molson Prizes. For complete information on these three opportunities, please contact ORS at ext. 55055 ( or consult Canada Council's website at: 

1) The Killam Prizes

The Killam Prizes are awarded annually to distinguished Canadian scholars doing research in any of the following fields: health sciences, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities. The objectives are to honour distinguished Canadian scholars actively engaged in research in Canada in universities, hospitals, research or scientific institutes, or other similar institutions; and encourage continuing contributions to scholarly research in Canada. VALUE: Each Killam Prize recipient receives $100,000 DEADLINE: Nominations are due October 25, 2006

2) The John G. Diefenbaker Award

The John G. Diefenbaker Award enables a distinguished German scholar to spend time in Canada, which may include brief periods in the United States. The award enables distinguished German scholars in the social sciences and humanities to spend up to twelve months of research in Canada. The host institution is expected to provide office space and support services, as well as assistance and advice regarding living and travel arrangements. The fellow is expected to participate in the teaching activities of the host institution through occasional lectures or seminars, and to visit other institutions.

SPECIAL NOTE: Only two nominations per university and each department within the institution may submit only one nomination. Researchers who plan to submit an application to this competition must contact the Office of Research Services three weeks prior to the agency deadline. VALUE: $75,000, plus a grant of up to $20,000 towards travel costs. Only two nominations per university. DEADLINE: December 1, 2006

3) Molson Prizes

Two Molson Prizes are awarded annually to distinguished individuals (one in the arts and one in the social sciences and humanities), in recognition of an exceptional contribution in those fields. The prize for the social scientists or humanist is administered by SSHRC while the prize for the artist is administered by the Canada Council. This prize is awarded by nomination. The objective is to encourage continuing contributions to the cultural and intellectual heritage of Canada. VALUE: $50,000  DEADLINE: December 1, 2006

York University researchers are reminded that all applications for external research funding, including Letters of Intent, 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 Dean’s signatures. To ensure that the approved application is ready by the agency deadline, a complete application folder must be submitted to the ORS ten (10) working days prior to final submission date. For more info, contact Office of Research Services, 214 York Lanes, York University,, Tel: 416-736-2100 Fax: 416-736-5512.

'Yellow ribbon coup' was a high price to pay, by Suthichai Yoon, The Nation, Sept 21, 2006

Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra speaks to the media as he arrives at Government House in Bangkok in this May 30, 2006 file photo. Thailand's army chief vowed on September 20, 2006 to wipe the political slate clean and return 'power to the people' as soon as possible after a bloodless coup against billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin. REUTERS/Stringer (THAILAND)Call it a "reluctant coup" or a "yellow ribbon revolt", Tuesday's assumption of power by military leaders was still a prohibitively high price for the country to pay to remove an entrenched political tyrant. You can of course try to stretch the point and argue that Thaksin Shinawatra (left photo by Reuters) did ask for it. In fact, his arrogance and autocratic proclivity might have served as the last straw, prompting the top brass to opt for the "really inevitable last resort". While the use of unconstitutional means to topple a democratically elected government can never be justified, some insiders have suggested that Army Chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin's decision to topple Thaksin through a military takeover was in fact a pre-emptive strike -- or a "counter coup" to stave off an even more ignoble "self-coup" planned by Thaksin to establish himself, once and for all, as an all-powerful despot.

General Sonthi's assurances that the top brass have no intention whatsoever to hold on to political power -- and his public pledge to "return the power to the people as soon as possible" -- might have allayed some of the fears inherent any time the military intervenes in national politics. However, he will have to move fast and convincingly, particularly in determining how to embark on genuine political reforms, to offset the negative impact brought about by the putsch. Of equal, if not greater, importance is how he can turn this crisis of confidence into an opportunity for real national reconciliation. Whether he likes it or not, Thaksin will always be remembered for his dubious record of having brought Thai society to its most divided point in history, centred on the wild ambitions of just one power-hungry politician.

Paradoxically perhaps, the political havoc Thaksin wreaked through his claims on electoral democracy will have to be healed by Sonthi's extra-constitutional modus operandi. If the Army chief is able to use these "extraordinary means" to solve an "extraordinary crisis" in order to reunify the country and help Thai society put its deep divisions in the past, he might be able to claim, however controversially, that the ends justified the means. Quite apart from the debate over the pros and cons of this coup, however, this latest political episode underscores a deep-rooted flaw of this country. The fact that this change of government was effected through force shows that, whatever we say about having matured politically, we are basically still an extremely fragile society.

In fact, we are so vulnerable that any politician with sufficient money and clout, plus a shrewd marketing strategy, is capable of whipping a large segment of the population into a frenzy, confusing electoral manipulation with grassroots democracy. Worse, once a corrupt and powerful leader is entrenched, none of the existing constitutional mechanisms are capable of dealing with him. Military intervention in a democratic system is always a "bad habit" that may stick if we once again allow ourselves the illusion that this will be the last time this dose of strong medicine is required to cure a serious disease.

Even if the first declaration from coup leaders sounded uncharacteristically apologetic ("Forgive us for the inconvenience caused"), once a political precedent of such proportion is set, it invariably stays. True democracy means never allowing coup leaders the excuse to stage their next exercise, even if they say they are sorry for their previous one. In other words, if we can't devise an effective system to get rid of a despot through constitutional means, that means we haven't really graduated beyond the basics of democracy.

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