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York Centre for Asian Research Updates                    Issue 73, Friday, January 5, 2007

In this issue

YCAR Events 2007

 Thongchai Winichakul to speak at the Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies Launch
  Summer Internship  York's KM unit to provide summer employment for graduate students

Postdoc Opportunities

 SKKU invites visiting scholars/postdocs to its BK21 Governance Programme

Call for Proposals

 Analysis of second language training tutoring programs

Asian News Analysis

 Defining the future of Thai democracy in troubled times

Thongchai Winichakul to speak at the Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies (GDAS) Launch

YCAR invites you to its GDAS launch on Thursday, January 18, 2007 from 2-5 pm at 280 York Lanes with guest speaker, Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, History Professor from University of Wisconsin and respondents, Dr. Tania Li from University of Toronto and Dr. Philip Kelly from York University. Thongchai Winichakul's book Siam Mapped has won numerous academic honors. He has published articles on civilizational discourses, public memory, and the intersection of geography and history in area studies. He is also an active and engaged scholar as well as teacher among Thai and American academics.

The GDAS enrolment forms are now available on YCAR's website. The GDAS core course, The Making of Asian Studies: Critical Perspectives, will be taught this Winter 2007 by Dr. Peter Vandergeest and is cross listed in the Departments of Anthropology, Geography and Sociology (ANTH 5500/GEOG 5700/SOCI 6745).

The GDAS Language Award has also been approved by the Office of Student Financial Services for graduate students who are interested in taking an Asian language course to further develop their proficiency and understanding of the context and perspectives relating to their area of research study. The deadline for application has been moved to January 31, 2007. The Albert Chan Award for East/Southeast Asian Studies is due on January 10, 2007 and David Wurfel Award for Philippine Studies is on March 15, 2007.

Below is our initial schedule for the brownbag seminar series in Winter 2007.

January 15, Michael Nijhawan, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, York University
On Urban ‘Dhadi’: Cultural, Linguistic, and Political Translations

Abstract: This paper, co-authored by Virinder Kalra (Manchester U), analyzes how a popular musical genre of Punjab/India has entered the British rap and hiphop scene, being pushed by a political agenda of Sikh separatism and militancy. Challenging the dominant paradigm of "cultural translation" in migration and diaspora studies, the paper investigates different translational levels by demonstrating that the groups behind such musical outings disrupt the stereotypical distinction between "cosmopolitan" and "fundamentalist/inward-looking" diasporic formations.

January 22, Ritika Shrimali, PhD Candidate, Geography, York University
Peripheralising Urban ‘Bads’: Case of Idgah Slaughterhouse in Delhi, India

January 29, Saidul Islam, PhD Candidate, Sociology, York University
From Rice to Shrimp: Environmental and Agrarian Changes in Rural Bangladesh

Abstract: Bangladesh is one of the top ten shrimp producing countries of the world, and cultured shrimp is known as "white gold" in rural Bangladesh. Historically, farmers have confined shrimp culture to ocean coastlines because shrimp require large volumes of saltwater to reproduce and mature. Recent developments in Bangladesh suggest, however, that this once purely coastal activity could soon be a thing of the past. Many Bangladeshi rice farmers are adopting low-salinity culture systems that rely upon sea water or salt farm effluent that is trucked inland. This innovation, combined with low farm gate prices for rice and high prices for shrimp in the world market, has led increasing numbers of rice farmers in Bangladesh to convert paddy fields to shrimp ponds. As a result, the amount of land under shrimp production has skyrocketed in recent years. As rural economy is increasingly linked to global shrimp commodity chain, it has generated significant changes both in environmental and agrarian landscapes of rural Bangladesh.

February 5, Radhika Mongia, Assistant Professor, Sociology, York University
Contract and Consent: Slavery, Indenture and the (Re)Making of Freedom

Abstract: This paper reads the debates on and the definitions of contracts in the regulation of the post-abolition practice of Indian migration alongside the transformations in contract law, to argue that abolition might well provide the best explanation for the global transformations of nineteenth-century contract law. It further suggests that the paradigmatic site for the separation of “consent” and “will” from the notion of “equality in exchange,” that characterizes the nineteenth-century reformulation of the contract, and, indeed, of the paradigmatic liberal subject, is to be found not within the metropolitan heartland, but within the peripheral sites of Mauritius, the Caribbean, and India that the paper examines.

February 15 - June Rhee, PhD Candidate, Humanities, York University
Na Un-Kyu’s Film, Arirang, and the making of a national narrative in South and North Korea

Abstract: A comparative analysis of texts written in North and South Korea will be examined in order to reach a communicative point, where colonial memory is crucial to understanding the history and culture of the two Koreas today; and simultaneously delineating the nature of each nation’s polity by examining the texts concurrently with cultural policies and social milieu. The cultural policies of North Korea is followed chronologically with a particular focus on Juch‛e munye iron (Juch’e theory of art).

February 20 - Chandrima Chakraborty, Asst Professor, English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University
Decolonizing the Body, Reforming the Nation: Mahatma Gandhi’s Experiments with Truth

February 26, Maita Sayo, PhD Candidate, Political Science, York University
Primitive accumulation, the body, and the (re)production of “new imperialism”: reflections on Filipina migratory labour

March 5, Naoko Ikeda, PhD Candidate, Women's Studies, York University
Toward Construction of Transnational Subjectivity: ‘Ex-Comfort Women’’s Voices Beyond National Identity & Borders

Abstract: The research involves a feminist (re) reading of the comfort women’s oral testimony. The testimony is an important feminist activism because it demonstrates a feminist practice of transnationalism and counter-identity politics. Though many historians have interpreted comfort women’s activism as merely “nationalistic sentiment”, believing that these women are blinded with their national/ethnic identity, the argument is that their activism in fact aims to problematize the basic epistemological framework, where a conception of “political subjectivity” is legitimated only through the category of “identity”, and consequently privileges the “national” over the “personal”. The conclusion emphasizes that it is necessary to understand comfort women’s testimony as a vital entry point where the “personal” meets the “transnational” and thus “political”, and the categorical representation of women’s identity has to be overcome in order to challenge the modernist narrative of the “Empire”.

March 12, Anil Varughese, PhD Candidate, Political Science, University of Toronto
The Politics of Redistribution in West Bengal and Kerala, India

Abstract: The paper explores the linkages between democratic politics and redistributive policymaking in two Indian states: Kerala and West Bengal. Despite a host of similar background conditions (democratic framework, pro-poor orientation with programmatic political parties, strong labour unions, and a high degree of subordinate class integration), the cases display considerable variation in their pro-poor redistributive commitment and egalitarian outcomes. The paper employs the comparative-historical method to argue that the mode of integration of the poorer classes into the political process is a key variable in explaining the divergence in redistributive commitment."

March 19,  Wendy Wong, Chair & Associate Professor, Department of Design, York University
An overview of the globalization of manga and animae

Abstract: As a part of the development of the globalization process of media, American comics and animation have a long history of exporting work to the rest of the world. However, this globalization trend has been changing in the past 15 years. Japanese comics (manga) and animation (anime) are becoming more prominent outside Asia. Comic scholars and cultural studies scholars are optimistic that Japan can be considered as another centre of globalization because of the current global development of manga and anime. This presentation aims to investigate the flow of manga and anime as a cultural product in the global market from Japan to neighboring region and to the rest of the world.

March 26,  Philip Kelly, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, York University
Capital and Labour Mobility in a Philippine Locality

Abstract: This paper examines the developmental implications of intersecting global capital and labour flows in a Philippine locality. In an influential analysis almost 20 years ago, Saskia Sassen suggested that FDI in countries such as the Philippines explained, in part, the increasing numbers of transnational migrants that they were generating. Sassen’s analysis lacked much empirical depth in such source areas of migration, and while her analysis of world city labour markets has been influential, her attempts to unite an analysis of capital flows and labour flows in the developing world has not subsequently been pursued. This paper takes a contemporary look at the linkages between FDI and migration in the Philippines. Using household survey data from a locality that has seen significant flows of inward national migration, outward international migration, as well as manufacturing FDI and remittances, this study will trace the local developmental implications of capital and migration flows.

York to participate in Chinese New Year Celebrations 2007

The Bata Shoe Museum and the Asian Heritage Month-Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc. present Chinese New Year Celebrations, an event based on the Bata Shoe Museum's Exhibition of Chinese Children's Shoes.

The ceremony will be opened by Mrs. Sonja Bata, Director of the Bata Shoe Museum, with keynote co-chair, The Honourable Vivienne Poy and speaker, Professor Jay Goulding (right) from York University.

The event will be held with a buffet dinner on Thursday, February 7, 2007 from 5:30-9:30 pm at the Bata Shoe Museum at 327 Bloor St West, Toronto. To purchase tickets at $10 please call (416) 979-7799 x 224 or email Dr. Kay Li, YCAR Research Associate, is director of the Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Southern Ontario). The event is supported by Asian Institute/Munk Centre for International Studies of the University of Toronto and YCAR at York University.

York's KM unit to provide summer employment for graduate students

Do you want your research and expertise to have an impact on organizations and individuals outside of York? Do you want experience working on public policy, social programming or professional practice?

York’s Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Unit will provide funding for summer employment for graduate students (MA preferred) to work with a community organization (includes any non-York organization including government departments and agencies, community groups, NGOs, charities/foundation, professional associations, labour groups, think tanks, school boards, faith & cultural groups etc.). The community organization must provide the graduate student with the opportunity to apply her/his research and expertise to the benefit of the organization. Upon request, the KM Unit is prepared to work with interested students to help identify a community organization partner. Applications for the summer stipend of $6000 (2 months full time, 4 months part time) is due on January 31, 2007 with results to be announced by March 15, 2007.

Also on Monday, Jan. 8, from 10 to 11:15am, in 280 York Lanes, York's KM Unit presents Ontario's Deputy Minister of Education Ben Levin as the inaugural speaker in the KM Seminar Series. Levin will be speaking on the role of research in government. (For more information about Levin, see the Jan. 4, 2007 issue of YFile.) All are welcome to attend. (For the complete story about York's Knowledge Mobilization Unit, Office of Research Services, see the Feb. 13, 2006 issue of YFile.)

Knowledge Mobilization at York: York’s KM Unit provides services and funding for faculty, graduate students and community organizations seeking to maximize the impact of academic research and expertise on public policy, social programming and professional practice. KM seminars provide opportunities for York University and community organizations to learn from the experiences of KM practitioners and KM researchers. York's KM Unit is supported by grants from SSHRC and CIHR and from the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.  For more information please contact Michael Johnny at (ext 88876) or Andrea England at (ext 88847).

SKKU invites visiting scholars/postdocs to its BK21 Governance Programme

The Graduate School of Governance at Sung Kyun Kwan University has an opening for a Visiting Scholar or Post Doc within its BK21 Governance Programme, funded by the Ministry of Education and Human Development. The university is Korea’s oldest and most respected, with a lovely campus located in downtown Seoul. Visit The school will provide office space and other modest forms of support. Visiting Scholars may give a series of seminars to graduate students (in English) at the school. For more information, please Dr. Thomas Klassen or Professor Huck-ju Kwon at

Call for Proposals: Analysis of Second Language Training Tutoring Programs

Issued by: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Settlement and Intergovernmental Affairs Directorate, Ontario Region

The deadline for receipt of submission by the Settlement Directorate is 4:00 pm (EST) on Friday, January 19, 2007. Proposals received after this time will not be considered. The Settlement and Intergovernmental Affairs Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Ontario Region, invites proposals to research tutoring programs that currently exist within the field of second language training across Canada.  The successful applicant will examine existing models and best practices from both English and French programs that utilize tutors.  The research gathered will provide information of use to CIC Ontario Region for future program planning. Please find details at: (Eng) (Fr)

Another Call for Proposals: Analysis of Second Language Training Programs for Seniors

Issued by: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Settlement and Intergovernmental Affairs Directorate, Ontario Region

The deadline for receipt of submission by the Settlement Directorate is 4:00 pm (EST) on Friday, January 19, 2007. Proposals received after this time will not be considered. The Settlement and Intergovernmental Affairs Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Ontario Region, invites proposals to research programs within the field of second language training that are focused on serving seniors. The research gathered will provide information of use to CIC Ontario Region for future program planning. The successful applicant will: a) do a review of current literature that illustrates the special needs and learning styles of seniors, and b) examine existing models and best practices from both English and French language training programs for seniors to establish how these special needs are being met, the unique tools needed to serve this clientele, the gaps that exist, etc. Please find details at: (Eng) (Fr)

Defining the future of Thai democracy in troubled times, by Thepchai Yong, The Nation, Publication Date: 02-01-2007

The country has bade farewell to one of its most turbulent years, but the year of the pig that ushered in doesn't seem to hold the promise of a brighter political future.

The string of bombs that hit Bangkok on New Year's Eve only accentuates the sense of unpredictability. The coup-makers might have given themselves a pat on the back for what they claim to be a job well done so far, but they are certainly having difficulty trying to justify their continued hold on power. And it is even more difficult trying to convince their critics that they deserve a role in charting the country's political course. The new year is likely to bring with it more questions than answers about Thailand's future as the country continues to struggle with one of its biggest political crises. Here are five questions that may help to define the future of Thai democracy:

Will Prime Minister General Surayud Chulanont be able to keep his job?

The answer depends on how soon he realises that he is running a country in a politically unusual time. From the outset, General Surayud has tried to project himself as a reluctant prime minister, saying that he unwillingly agreed to the coup-makers' request to take the helm out of necessity. Of course he deserves sympathy for that but he will be judged by how he performs - not by how he came to power. (Right: Retired General Surayud Chulanont takes part in a ceremony officially appointing him as the country's 24th prime minister (The Nation photo).

His leadership should be guided not by the agenda of the Council for National Security (CNS) but by the high expectations that people have of him. General Surayud has made national reconciliation a cornerstone of his policy. While no one disputes the need to heal the political wounds wrought by five years of Thaksin's rule, much more must be done for the country to move ahead.

Unless he appears to be more decisive and prods his Cabinet into real action, General Surayud can be sure that he will see his leadership increasingly challenged. It's also essential General Surayud distances himself from the CNS, whose days are numbered, and project himself as an independent leader.

Will Thaksin set foot in Thailand again - and how soon?

There is no question about Thaksin's yearning to return. He knows it's his trump card that he will choose to play when he believes the time is politically ripe and that it can effect the political situation here. But time is not on Thaksin's side. The longer he stays on the sidelines, the greater the likelihood that he will become politically irrelevant. So Thaksin will be compelled to exploit the "undercurrents" that are keeping the generals and the Surayud government on their toes to throw them off balance and keep himself in the picture. But the CNS also has its own trump card: the sooner they come up with credible charges against Thaksin, the better their chances will be of lessening the former premier's potential to influence the political situation even if he is allowed back.

What is the future of the CNS?

Every day that passes by seems to add to the feeling that the CNS is overstaying its welcome. All of the euphoria that greeted the coup in September of last year is being replaced with scepticism and mistrust - largely as a result of the CNS generals' own doing. They will most likely come under more scrutiny and criticism as the process of writing a new constitution begins. They will have a tough time convincing people that they have no influence over how the new charter is drafted.

As the promised timetable to relinquish power draws near, the CNS will surely feel increasing pressure in the form of public protests. Despite its name, the CNS will find itself fighting for political security, but the more insecure they feel, the more they are likely to commit additional blunders in the process of trying to stay in power or find a graceful exit. Adding to the generals' troubles will be the disunity among themselves as political ambitions begin to get the better of some of them.

Will the situation in the deep South get better or become worse?

Every sign points to the potential of escalating violence. The brutal murder of two teachers in Yala last week, despite the unprecedented level of security in the three provinces, is a stark reminder that no one is safe down there and authorities are making little headway in containing the insurgency.

Despite optimism among the top echelons of the military, the truth on the ground only suggests that things will get worse before they improve. That improvement is contingent on how soon the military and the Surayud government can get their act together and come up with a more comprehensive strategy to deal with the problem.

The tens of thousands of troops deployed in the three provinces are basically there to contain the further spread of terrorism. To address the root causes of the problem, however, a well thought-out strategy encompassing all political, social and economic aspects is necessary. However, it seems that the different government agencies supposedly tasked with tackling the worsening situation are pursuing their own separate agendas. Who is in charge of bringing peace back to the trouble-plagued region? The question still begs answers as much as it did during the Thaksin administration. Army Chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin who is supposed to be the point man already has his hands full as CNS chairman.

What is in store for Thai politics for the next 12 months?

Under Thaksin, things were far more predictable. His ruling Thai Rak Thai Party held an absolute House majority and he ruled with an iron fist with little or no political opposition. But with the country still reeling from a year of political turmoil that saw the rules of politics being rewritten, 2007 promises to be a year of uncertainties.

The series of bombings that hit Bangkok on Sunday evening is a reminder that the old power clique is not going to give up easily. A lot also depends on how such key players as Prime Minister Surayud and the CNS generals perform. They can help contribute to preparing a sound foundation for a democratic revival or plunge the country into another crisis.

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