Category Archives: Faculty

Recently Released! Singing Across Divides by Dr. Anna Stirr

Dr. Anna Stirr’s book, Singing Across Divides: Music and Intimate Politics in Nepal, was recently released from Oxford University Press.

An ethnographic study of music, performance, migration, and circulation, Singing Across Divides examines how forms of love and intimacy are linked to changing conceptions of political solidarity and forms of belonging, through the lens of Nepali dohori song.

The book describes dohori: improvised, dialogic singing, in which a witty repartee of exchanges is based on poetic couplets with a fixed rhyme scheme, often backed by instrumental music and accompanying dance, performed between men and women, with a primary focus on romantic love. The book tells the story of dohori’s relationship with changing ideas of Nepal as a nation-state, and how different nationalist concepts of unity have incorporated marginality, in the intersectional arenas of caste, indigeneity, class, gender, and regional identity. Dohori gets at the heart of tensions around ethnic, caste, and gender difference, as it promotes potentially destabilizing musical and poetic interactions, love, sex, and marriage across these social divides.

In the aftermath of Nepal’s ten-year civil war, changing political realities, increased migration, and circulation of people, media and practices are redefining concepts of appropriate intimate relationships and their associated systems of exchange. Through multi-sited ethnography of performances, media production, circulation, reception, and the daily lives of performers and fans in Nepal and the UK, Singing Across Divides examines how people use dohori to challenge (and uphold) social categories, while also creating affective solidarities.

Dr. Anna Marie Stirr is a performer and scholar of Nepali folk music, and is Associate Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Please follow and like us:

Solid review for book “Embedded Racism” by the Social Science Japan Journal

Adjunct Faculty Debito Arudou’s book “Embedded Racism:  Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books / Rowman & Littlefield 2015) was recently reviewed by the Social Science Japan Journal (SSJJ).  

The reviewer concluded:

“In an anti-globalist era of Trump and ‘Brexit’ there will be many who argue that Japan is right to severely restrict immigration and preserve as much as possible that is unique about its national character. If those who do not ‘look Japanese’ have to suffer some discrimination, then that is just the price that has to be paid. There are also many who believe that the best antidote to racism is to have a nation state where as few people as possible look out of place. Arudou’s reply to this point of view, which acts simultaneously as a challenge to Japan’s leaders, is that if this national narrative is allowed to prevail, it will not only condemn Japan’s aging population to an ever-worsening demographic crisis, it will also have a ‘suffocating and self-strangulating’ effect on society (p. 303).

“There are important academic contributions to the study of racism in Japan in this book, but it is as a must-read text on the crisis facing the shrinking Japanese population and its leaders that it really leaves its mark. Embedded Racism is highly recommended reading to anyone—whether they self-identify as Japanese or foreign or both—who is interested in Japan’s future.”

The entire review is available at https://academic.oup.com/ssjj/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/ssjj/jyx012

“Embedded Racism” is available at Hamilton Library and the Richardson Law Library.

Please follow and like us:

IN PRINT! Dr. Aung-Thwin and Dr. Arudou have publications this spring

The School of Pacific and Asian Studies is proud to announce that two of its faculty have publications available to the public this spring!

In May, Dr. Michael Aung-Thwin’s book Myanmar in the Fifteenth Century: A Tale of Two Kingdoms will be released via University of Hawai’i Press.

About the Book: When the great kingdom of Pagan declined politically in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, its territory devolved into three centers of power and a period of transition occurred. Then two new kingdoms arose: the First Ava Dynasty in Upper Myanmar and the First Pegu Dynasty in Lower Myanmar. Both originated around the second half of the fourteenth century, reached their pinnacles in the fifteenth, and declined before the first half of the sixteenth century was over. Their story is the only missing piece in Myanmar’s mainstream historiography, a gap this book is designed to fill.

Original in conception and impressive in scope, this well written book not only fills in the history of early modern Myanmar but places it in a broad interpretive context based on years of familiarity with a wealth of primary sources. Full of arresting anecdotes and colorful personalities, it represents an important contribution to Myanmar studies that will not easily be superseded.

Dr. Debito Arudou has just had a chapter published in Jeff Kingston, Ed., “Press Freedom in Contemporary Japan” (Routledge, 2017). Entitled “Media Marginalization and Vilification of Minorities in Japan”, the chapter talks about the disempowering effects of Japan’s foreign residents being shut out from mainstream media, leaving them not only unable to counter stereotyping and hate speech, but also vulnerable to public denigration by Japan’s police forces as the latter fabricates “foreign crime waves”.

The chapter was adapted from his book “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books, 2015). Both books are available at Hamilton Library, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and online.

Please follow and like us:

SPAS Lecturer Debito Arudou published in The Japan Times

On March 5, 2017, SPAS Lecturer Debito Arudou had a column published in Japan’s largest English-language newspaper, The Japan Times, entitled “Government of Japan, survey thyself”.

The article talked about the Ministry of Justice’s first nationwide survey of discrimination against Non-Japanese residents in Japan. This unprecedented survey mailed 18,500 registered foreigners, was comprehensive in scope and well-intentioned in purpose, but Debito pointed out that it had one huge blind spot (aside from calling the issue “foreigner discrimination”, not “racial discrimination”): no questions were asked on how government policies and bureaucratic actions were also part of the cause.

Read it at:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/03/05/issues/government-japan-survey-thyself/

Please follow and like us:

Singapore presentations by Dr. Barbara Watson Andaya

In February, Professor Barbara Watson Andaya was a presenter and keynote speaker at two conferences in Singapore.

On February 7, 2017, she gave a presentation to a workshop, ‘Circulating the Bay of Bengal Miraculously: Translating Wonder and Travel in South and Southeast Asia’ at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. Her presentation was titled ‘Underwater Kingdoms, Sea Creatures and Saintly Miracles: Religious Connections and the Mysterious Ocean.’

On February 9, she gave the keynote address for a conference on ‘Gender Perspectives on Asian Labour Migration within Colonial Asia’ held at the Asia Research Institute. Her presentation was titled “Goodbye darling, I have to get back to the ship”: Sailors and Prostitutes in Asia’s Port Cities.

Please follow and like us:

Summer 2017 release from Dr. Abinales!

The second edition of Dr. Patricio Abinales’ book State and Society in the Philippines will be released this summer via Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group.

About the Book:

People in the Philippines routinely vote, run for office, organize social movements, and call for good governance by the state. Why, then, is there a recurring state-society dilemma in the Philippines? One horn of the dilemma is the persistent inability of the state to provide basic services, guarantee peace and order, and foster economic development. The other is Filipinos’ equally enduring suspicion of a strong state. The idea of a strong Republic evokes President Marcos’ martial law regime of the 1970s and 1980s, which spawned two armed rebellions, cost thousands of lives in repression and billions of dollars in corruption, set the nation back years in economic development, and exacerbated suspicion of the state.

This dilemma stimulates thinking about the puzzle of state resilience: How has a “weak state” maintained the territorial integrity of the Philippines in the postwar period in the face of two major rebellions and an armed separatist movement, corruption, mismanagement, intractable poverty, weak sovereignty, and an often chaotic electoral system? Why does the inability to collect taxes, secure citizens’ lives and property, and maintain economic infrastructure not result in state failure?

State and Society in the Philippines engages the dilemma of state-society relations through a historical treatment of state formation and the corresponding conflicts and collaborations between state leaders and social forces. It examines the long history of institutional state weakness in the Philippines and the efforts made to overcome the state’s structural fragility and strengthen its bond with society. It answers these difficult questions by focusing on how the state has shaped and been shaped by its interaction with social forces, especially in the rituals of popular mobilization that have produced surprising and diverse results.

Please follow and like us:

Job Talk: Permeable Policymaking: Foreign Firms in the Japanese Political Economy

The Asian Studies Program invites all to a talk by Dr. Kristi Govella, candidate for the position of Assistant Professor of Asian Studies. The talk is entitled “Permeable Policymaking: Foreign Firms in the Japanese Economy,” and will be held on Thursday March 2, 3:00-4:00 pm, in the Center for Korean Studies Auditorium.

Abstract: How does internationalization affect the politics of trade? Can foreign firms meaningfully influence policy? Japan is an interesting place to examine these questions because it was remarkably closed to foreign investment until a sudden influx in the 1990s. While foreign firms were initially dependent on their home governments to influence Japanese policy, opportunities for these firms to act independently increased with the opening of the Japanese economy. Interestingly, the manner in which a sector opened had lasting and sometimes unexpected consequences, creating cleavages among Japanese and foreign firms in ways that shaped their interests and the trajectory of policy change. This research sheds light on the ways that internationalization can enable foreign firms to impact policy debates directly from within a host country, potentially altering the dynamics of both domestic politics and international relations.

About the Speaker: Kristi Govella is an Associate Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, specializing in Japanese politics and Asian regionalism. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Please follow and like us:

Job Talk: Interpreting Okinawa: Place-Making and the Nature of the Past

The Asian Studies Program invites you to a talk by Dr. Andrea Murray, “Interpreting Okinawa: Place-Making and the Nature of the Past,” on Monday, February 27, from 2:30-3:30 pm, in Bilger Hall 335.

Abstract: “Nature” in Okinawa is a thing of the past. This talk considers how a sense of unique ecological heritage is cultivated and expressed through facilitated interactions between human and non-human animal species, both for the education of tourists and for the benefit of residents. In a move to direct the island’s economy away from U.S. military base dependency, local entrepreneurs are reclaiming their past through engagement with the natural environment. “Nature” is also a matter of interpretation.

 

About the Speaker: Andrea E. Murray is an Associate in Research at the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies, Harvard University. Her book, Footprints in Paradise: Ecotourism, Local Knowledge, and Nature Therapies in Okinawa (Berghahn Books 2017), is an ethnography of island political ecology and sustainable tourism development.

Please follow and like us:

Job Talk: (Re)Figuring South Asian Coolie Identities

The Asian Studies Program invites the UH Manoa community to a talk by Dr. Arunima Datta, candidate  for the Assistant Professor position in Asian Studies, from 1:30-2:30 pm on Friday February 24, at the Center for Korean Studies Auditorium.

(Re)Figuring South Asian Coolie Identities: Gender, Labor Migration and the Empire

ABSTRACT: Recently literature has been flourishing on the “colonial” manipulations of intimate relations, morality and domestic arrangements in the making of the Empire. This body of scholarship remains limited by its preoccupation with relations between European men and native women, rendering some bodies and relations more relevant than others. Colonial construction of migrant Indian coolie households often depicts coolie women either as immoral beings or as passive victims of skewed native patriarchy, while coolie men have been figured as irresponsible and violent partners. Such sweeping depictions homogenized all coolie women into a single category of ‘victims’ and likewise all coolie men as perpetrators of violence against their wives or mistresses, thereby disregarding the plethora of relations and identities coolie men and women experienced. This talk explores such neglected intimacies of Indian coolie households in British Malaya. In doing so, it introduces the concept of “situational agency” and in the process contributes to ongoing discussions in fields of gender, migration and labour studies by problematizing the dichotomous understanding of “agent” and “victim” as mutually exclusive categories.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Dr Arunima Datta is a postdoctoral fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore(NUS) and simultaneously lectures for the South Asian Program, NUS. Datta received her PhD in Southeast Asian Studies from NUS and was awarded the Presidential Scholarship for her research. She maintains an active interest in the related fields of South Asian and Southeast Asian history/studies, women’s and gender history, race, gender and sexuality studies, colonial and postcolonial studies. She has authored articles on colonial law, Indian coolie women in Malaya during British Rule and during Japanese Occupation. She is currently working on two book projects, viz., Indian Coolie Women in Malaya, Travelling Indian Ayahs in Britain. Datta recently organised the Gender Perspectives on Colonial Inter-Asian Labour Migration; the first conference in the field of Inter-Asian studies to focus on gender and labour migration history. She also serves as Assistant Editor of the Journal of Malaysian Branch of Royal Asiatic Society and is also a member of the editorial board of Asian Journal of Social Science Studies.

Please follow and like us:

New Publication from Prof. Barbara Andaya

Asian Studies Program Chair Prof. Barbara Andaya, along with Leonard Andaya, has published A History of Early Modern Southeast Asia, 1400-1830, with Cambridge University Press.

cover-for-early-modern-southeast-asiaReviews & endorsements

‘… the authors convey in remarkably clear terms the complexity of the entire region’s dynamics during the early modern age. Their coherent narrative will no doubt help bring Southeast Asian developments into the flourishing field of world history.’ Pierre-Yves Manguin, Emeritus Professor, Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient/Centre Asie du Sud-Est (EHESS-CNRS)

‘This is a stunningly ambitious, comprehensive and insightful overview of pre-modern Southeast Asia. It will serve both to energize regional specialists and to introduce the region to a wider public. A landmark history greatly to be welcomed.’ Victor Lieberman, Raoul Wallenberg Distinguished University Professor of History and Professor of Southeast Asian History, University of Michigan

‘For once, the term magnum opus is truly appropriate for the Andayas’ stunning achievement. An ambitious and sweeping history reflecting their vast learning, a sure grasp of both region-wide developments and local adaptations, and an eye for the telling detail. No history of early-modern Southeast Asia is likely to surpass this high intellectual standard for the foreseeable future. We are all in their debt.’ James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University, Connecticut

‘The Andayas have done a magnificent service for programs seeking to expand their global history offerings and craft courses that will build on the world history survey to provide depth for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students. The book’s vivid narrative interweaves political, cultural and economic history, with the men and women who made that history at the core of the story, but the physical environment of seas and forests ever-present as a force as well. Each chronological chapter is clearly laid out in a structure that moves from the global context to Southeast Asia as a whole to various sub-regions, allowing students and other readers to examine this key part of the early modern world at a range of geographic scales. Instructors who are not themselves historians of Southeast Asia could easily use this overview to anchor a course as they explore new areas for teaching, and departments could use it as a model for how to redesign their course array into a more comparative, coherent and connected whole.’ Merry Weisner-Hanks, Distinguished Professor, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Please follow and like us: