All posts by Laurabeth Merritt

Tune Your Radio to… Asian Studies!

On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, Dr. Patrick Patterson will be interviewed on KTUH (90.1 FM) about his exciting new summer online course “Beauty, Advertising and Desire in East Asia.”  Tune in between 12:30 and 1 pm to learn more about this course and the business of beauty and marketing in Japan, Korea and China!

Dr. Patterson has PhD in Modern Japanese History from UH-Mānoa. He is Professor of History at Honolulu Community College, where he was a 2013 recipient of the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching. His first book, Music and Words: Producing Popular Songs in Modern Japan, 1887-1952, was published in Nov. 2018 by Lexington Books.

Headshot of Dr. Patrick Patterson and a poster for his online course

Asian Studies Student Jeremiah Bonilla Wins Research Grant

Picture of Asian Studies Student Jeremiah Bonilla, Research Grant Recipient

Jeremiah Bonilla, a graduating senior majoring in Asian Studies with a minor in Peace Studies, was recently awarded a $4,427 Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant to support his independent project, “Guns, Art, and Empathy: How Filipinos Opposed the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945).” The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) coordinates and promotes opportunities for undergraduate students across all disciplines at UH Manoa to engage in faculty-mentored research and creative works.

Jeremiah’s project idea emerged from his own interests. He applied for the UROP grant because it allowed him to research a topic that he was really curious about, to deconstruct and understand the relationship between the United States and the Philippines during the Pacific War. He says, “To put it in simple words: I am conducting my own research while at the same time getting paid for it. For me, it’s a rewarding and fun experience because I am doing something that I am passionate about. Another rewarding aspect of my UROP experience is the skills that I get to develop through the process, whether in creating a grant proposal or writing a research paper. I know that these skills will come in handy especially during my graduate study and for my future career.” He is working on this project under the guidance of his faculty mentor Dr. Kristi Govella, an Assistant Professor in the Asian Studies Program.

Jeremiah decided to major in Asian Studies because he felt that it was the perfect path to not only learn about different cultures within Asia but also gain an understanding of history and international politics. Reflecting back on his experience, he notes, “The most rewarding part of my experience in Asian Studies was being able to take courses from different fields of study. I took history and political science courses, and for me, they were like puzzle pieces that provided a narrative of Asia. Hence, for us students majoring in Asian Studies, we have this freedom and flexibility that other students don’t necessarily get. Finally, I am glad that I had the opportunity to work with some of the most intelligent and approachable professors in the field.”

Jeremiah hopes to continue his studies at the graduate level and to eventually pursue a career in the Foreign Service.

SPAS Graduate Student Conference 2019: Thogchai Winichakul

The Annual SPAS Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference begins Thursday, April 11. Please join us for a talk by keynote speaker Thogchai Winichakul at 3pm in the Center for Korean Studies to commenceannual program!

Thongchai Winichakul is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison , and currently Senior Researcher at the Institute of Developing Economies (ジェトロ アジア経済研究所(IDE-JETRO)) in Japan. His book, Siam Mapped (1994), was awarded the Harry J Benda Prize from the Association for Asian Studies, Inc. (AAS). He was a recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Award in 1994 and was President of the Association for Asian Studies by its members in 2013/14. His research interests are in the cultural and intellectual history of Siam focusing on the intellectual foundation of modern Siam (1880-1930). His forthcoming book is, however, on the history of memories of the 1976 massacre in Bangkok, the tragedy in which he was a participant. He is also a well-known critic of Thai political and social issues and has published six books and several articles in Thai.

Poster for Keynote Address by Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, titled: The Stranger and the Virtue of Intellectual Alienation. Abstract: The position/location of knowing is an important condition of the production of knowledge in area/ Asian studies. It entails the possible politics and approaches of knowledge. But the center-margin location is relative and relational. It is also scalar, i.e. the center of one sphere or at one scale may be provincial to another. The dominant knowledge about Thailand produced in the country is the royal-nationalism of Bangkok. It is, however, provincial in the global scale. It survives partly by intellectual protectionism from t he "stranger" -- the alleged outsider or alien, or the alienated insider from an intellectually odd location at home. These strangers are interlocutors across different spheres and scales of knowledge who appear in various forms, even a clown or a ghost. April 11, 2019, 3 to 5pm at the Center for Korean Studies Auditorium.

A Talk: The Resilience of China’s Political System

Lessons from China’s Engagement with the West

a talk by Dr. Sungmin Cho
of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies

Monday, April 8, 12pm
Moore Hall 319
(Tokioka Room)

In March 2018, Xi Jinping removed the term limits on his presidency of China. Many in the West took this as a sign of the failure of Western engagement. But evidence shows that China has been more open to Western programs that promote democracy than other authoritarian countries like Russia and Iran. Why?

In this talk, Dr. Sungmin Cho will examine how Chinese authorities have collaborated with Western organizations since the early 1990s to develop China’s rule of law, village electoral system, and practices of good governance and civil society. He will explain the Chinese Communist Party’s strategic motivation and its intended effects, and discuss the implications for the future of Chinese politics and US policy toward China. His counterintuitive findings contribute to scholarly discussions of democratization and authoritarian resilience in comparative politics.

Dr. Sungmin Cho is Associate Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, specializing in the politics of China and North Korea. Originally from South Korea, he holds an M.A. in International Relations from Peking University and a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown.

The full description of this event is provided on page.

The Arrest of Journalist Maria Ressa

Asian Studies professor Patricio N Abinales has published an analysis of last week’s arrest of journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines.

Ms. Ressa is CEO and Executive Editor of The Rappler, the Philippines’ most successful online news outlet and one that has not shied away from publishing stories that are critical of President Rodrigo Duterte and his associates. Dr. Abinales points out similarities between Duterte’s attacks on the free press and similar attacks made by dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s.

The article appears in the Australian Outlook, published by the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Full text of the article is available at

What’s so scary about Huawei?

Smartphones, sanctions and death sentences: what’s going on with Huawei?

Faculty member Eric Harwit of University of Hawaii at Manoa‘s Asian Studies department weighs in on Huawei Technologies with BBC News!

The tech giant has had a meteoric rise over the last ten years. It has overtaken Apple in the global smartphone market, and its equipment is in telecommunications systems in 170 countries worldwide. But Huawei now finds itself at the centre of a global scandal.

Its chief financial officer – the daughter of the company’s founder – is under house arrest in Canada, accused of selling telecom equipment to Iran in contravention of US sanctions.

A week later, a US court charged the whole company with bank fraud, obstruction of justice and theft of technology from rival T-Mobile.

The company has been banned in New Zealand and Australia, and there are moves in the US to stop government employees from buying their products.

Critics say if it wins the contracts for the new 5G network being created globally, it could give the Chinese government control over everything from smart phones, to cars, to pacemakers in other countries.

So why has the success story soured? This week, we ask: what’s so scary about Huawei?

His segment is in the last 6 minutes of the 23-minute program. Check it out!

Dr. Anna Stirr Wins national recognition

Dr. Anna Stirr receives the Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize
Asian Studies faculty member Dr. Anna Stirr has been selected to receive the 2019 Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies. The Cohn prize honors outstanding and innovative scholarship across discipline and country of specialization for a first single-authored monograph on South Asia. The award is in recognition of Dr. Stirr’s book Singing Across Divides: Music and Intimate Politics in Nepal, published by Oxford University Press in 2017.

Dr. Stirr, who holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from Columbia University, is Associate Professor in Asian Studies at UH-Manoa. Her book 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. Dr. Stirr examines how dohori gets at the heart of tensions around regional, ethnic, caste, and gender differences within Nepal, as it promotes potentially destabilizing musical and poetic interactions, love, sex, and marriage across these social divides.

The Cohn Prize is named to honor the distinguished South Asia scholar, Bernard S. Cohn. Books nominated may address either contemporary or historical topics in any field of the humanities or the social sciences related to any of the countries of South Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal in the spirit of Dr. Cohn’s broad and critical scholarship on culture and history in South Asia. The prize will be presented at the AAS annual conference in Denver in March 2019.

New Classes for Spring 2019!

‘Tis the season to register for Spring 2019 classes!

Please see the flyers below for special offerings in the Asian Studies Program for the upcoming semester.

Click on the flyers for each class to see more detailed information.

Asian Studies 201: Intro to Asian Studies: East Asia
MWF, 12:30 – 1:20
ASAN 201 Spring 2019 Flyer
This course covers a broad range of disciplines in examining the parts of Asia currently known as Japan, China, Korea (North and South) and Taiwan.

Asian Studies 312: Contemporary Asian Civilizations
TR 12:00 – 1:15
ASAN 312 Spring 2019 Flyer
Put current events into the context of major economic, political and security trends in Asia. Also covers transnational topics like trade, territorial disputes, migration, crime, environment and more.

Asian Studies 320C: Asian Nation Studies: China
MW 1:30 – 2:45
ASAN 320C Spring 2019 Flyer
Trace the evolution of political and economic institutions in contemporary China, with special emphasis on developments from the 1980s to today.

Asian Studies 320O: Asian Nation Studies: Okinawa
MWF 9:30 – 10:20
ASAN 320O Spring 2019 Flyer
An in-depth interdisciplinary introduction to various aspects of Okinawa including geography, history, society, traditional culture, contemporary arts, the base issue and emigration.

Asian Studies 320Z: Pop Divas in Asia
TR 10:30 – 11:45
ASAN 320Z Spring 2019 Flyer
Larger-than-life characters with talent, styling and attitude!

Asian Studies 600Z: Approaches to Asia: Inter-Asia Connections
R 2:30 – 5:00
ASAN 600Z Spring 2019 Flyer
New in Spring 2019!

Asian Studies 651: East Asia Now
F 2:30 – 5:30
ASAN 651 Spring 2019 Flyer
An interdisciplinary approach to the study of social, economic and political development, as well as foreign relations among the major countries in East Asia.

Asian Studies 750 C/J/K: Writing & Research Seminar: China, Japan and Korea
M 4:00 – 6:30
ASAN 750 Spring 2019 Flyer
An interdisciplinary seminar to support students in completing a research paper on a topic of their choice, while providing a structured overview of the writing and research process.

Exhibit: Taiwans Journey to Democracy

A flyer for the Taiwan Exhibition at East-West Center, detailing the time, place and dates. The same information is included below.

Opening Ceremony

The Taiwanese Student Association at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa and the East-West Center cordially invite you to an Aloha Ceremony and Reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibition “Beautiful Island: Taiwan’s Journey to Democracy”.

We recommend you to visit the exhibition before you come to the reception in Sinclair Library (2425 Campus Rd, Honolulu, HI 96822).

We are glad to have the Dr. Richard R. Vuylsteke, President of East-West Center, Chang Tieh-Chih, the curator of the exhibition and a Taiwanese political & cultural commentator, and Shawna Yang Ryan, the author of the novel Green Island, make some remarks about Taiwan’s democracy.

Thursday, October 18, 2018
East-West Center
Lunchroom— 1st floor
6:00 p.m. ~ 7:00 p.m.
1601 East-West Rd,
Honolulu, HI 96848

The opening of the exhibition will take place tonight, Thursday, October 18 at East-West Center in the Lunchroom on the first floor, from 6pm to 7pm. The exhibit will remain open through November 19, 2018.

About the Exhibit:

Taiwan has had an eventful history: as a Dutch entrepot, a Chinese frontier, a Japanese colony, and as a Cold War redoubt for the Chinese Nationalist Party. Today, Taiwan in a prosperous democracy with a thriving civil society. How did it come about?

This exhibit tells this epic story to the world, hoping that people will not only have a better understanding about this wonderful island, but will also perceive Taiwan as in the frontline int he pursuit of democracy in the current world.

The exhibition initiated by the Taiwan Studies Program at University of Washington. University of Hawaiʻi is the second stop of its U.S. tour. Taiwan’s population consists of Hoklo Han Taiwanese, Hakka Han Taiwanese, Mainland Taiwanese and Indigenous Peoples. As two sites int he Pacific that share similar yet distinct experiences of U.S. Cold War politics, viewers of this exhibition may further reflect on what it means to think about movements in Taiwan here in Hawaiʻi.