Center for Pacific Islands Studies: Annual Student Conference

The Center for Pacific Islands Studies held its annual student conference on March 23 and 24, 2017 at the Campus Center Ballroom. The conference, Expressing Oceania: Pacific Islands Scholarship on the Page, on the Stage, and Beyond, drew approximately 300 people and featured noted Maori scholar Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Master Navigator Larry Reigetal of Yap.

The Center was honored by a visit from Dr. Robert Underwood, President of Unibetsedat Guahan (University of Guam) and remarks by UHM President Dr. David Lassner.

30 students contributed papers, posters, visual arts, and performing arts during the two-day conference, representing UHM, Unibetsedat Guahan, City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Union Theological Seminary/Columbia University.

The Center for Pacific Islands Studies sent a heartfelt mahalo to their sponsors: School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Center for Pacific Islands Studies, Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center, and the Student Activities and Program Fee Board.

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and colorful personalities, it represents an important contribution to Myanmar studies that will not easily be superseded.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.

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/

28th Annual Graduate Student Conference: March 22-24, 2017

Bridging the Gaps: Conceptualizing Asia Through An
Interdisciplinary Lens

Attend the School of Pacific and Asian Studies 28th annual graduate student conference, March 22-24, at the Center for Korean Studies. The conference will include performances, posters, presentations, and panels that “critically address and/or contest disciplinary and regional approaches to the studies of Asia”.

Presentations will highlight: 1) Original research in any area of Asia and Asian Studies; 2) Interdisciplinary methods and frameworks; 3) Comparative studies or transnational issues; 4) New and emerging trends in Asian Studies; 5) Critical re-examinations of existing methodologies and frameworks; and 6) Current Asian performance practices.

The full program can be found here.

This event is free and open to the public.

Support and Solidarity for Muslim and Jewish Communities

In response to and strong condemnation of recent expressions of hate directed at Muslim and Jewish communities in Hawaii, we endorse the following statement:

Over the past weeks the Manoa Mosque has been the target of multiple hate messages via social media, email, and voicemail. Individual Muslims have been harassed in public, including children. Also, Temple Emanu-El was targeted with a bomb threat against its Jewish pre-school.

We stand together with our Muslim and Jewish communities and any individuals who are subjected to harassment based on religion, immigration status, national origin, race, gender, LGBTQ+ status or disability. No one should go through this experience alone.

We urge you to add your signature using this form, which also sends this statement to Senator Brian Schatz. Your email address will remain private.

Support and Solidarity for Muslim and Jewish Communities

Aloha

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In addition, our UH Manoa President, David Lassner, has sent the following message to our community:

Aloha colleagues and friends,

I have written several messages to the University of Hawai’i community stressing our commitment to non-discrimination and working together to overcome intolerance and prohibit harassment based on religion, immigration status, national origin, race, gender, LGBTQ+ status or disability. This commitment has been and remains clear and firm, and I am proud that our UH Board of Regents has publicly reaffirmed its support of these core values.

Over the past weeks we have been alerted to multiple incidents of hate messages and threats in Honolulu. The Muslim Association of Hawai’i, one of the neighbors of UH Manoa, has been the target of hate messages via social media, email and voicemail. Individual Muslims have been harassed in public. Temple Emanu-el was targeted with a bomb threat against its Jewish pre-school.

These incidents did not occur on any of our campuses and have become a matter for law enforcement. But they directly and deeply impact many within the UH community. UH campuses have been ranked as the most diverse higher education institutions in the nation, and we all benefit when each of us is safe and secure.

So as we head into the weekend it is a great time for each of us to reach out to others to celebrate and support our UH commitment to diversity, tolerance and safety for all.

Sincerely,

David Lassner

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.