Category Archives: Faculty

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 http://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australianoutlook/maria-ressa-arrest-philippines/.

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!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cswqvl

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.

Asian Studies course featured in Ka Leo

ASAN 464, a summer session course on K-Pop and J-Pop, was recently featured in Ka Leo, the student newspaper. This unique course combines business, cultural studies and pop culture studies and was a whole lot of fun for fans or wannabe-fans.

Read the full article here:  “America’s First K-POP and J-POP Class” by Kailanianna Ablog, Ka Leo, July 24, 2018.

 

Dr. Anna Stirr Receives Fulbright and CAORC NEH Senior Fellowships

Rally at RR Campus, Kathmandu, in December 2014, with songs calling for new constitution to be written
Leftist and centrist parties rally as performers sing progressive songs at RR Campus, Kathmandu, Nepal, in December 2014, calling for new constitution to be written. Photo by Anna Stirr.

Dr. Anna Stirr is the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship and a Council of American Overseas Research Centers NEH Senior Fellowship for research in Nepal during her sabbatical year of 2018-2019. Dr. Anna Stirr

Her research project, “Performing Aspirations: Love and Revolution in Nepali Progressive Song,” is a cultural history and ethnography of Nepal’s progressive and revolutionary song movement, with particular attention to love. Though leftist artists often disdain mainstream love songs as bourgeois, love itself remains a theme in revolutionary songs and sung dramas, transformed according to  performers’ ideals and party artistic ideologies of music, lyrics, and dance. Through ethnographic fieldwork on progressive cultural groups’ performances and rehearsal process, and archival attention to artistic production and criticism since 1960, the project traces how how leftist artists have tried to create utopian ways of living and loving, through embodying and expressing revolutionary sensibilities.

More information about this project, including archival photos, translated sung dramas, and blog posts, can be found at Dr. Stirr’s personal website.

Dr. Kristi Govella gives commentary on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s political challenges at home & abroad

Dr. Kristi Govella, Assistant Professor in the Asian Studies Program, recently commented in The New York Times and USA Today about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s political challenges at home and abroad.

Domestically, Abe is facing the fallout of a scandal involving the highly discounted sale of land by the government to a school associated with his wife. “There has been a lot of new evidence that has come to light that there has been some kind of cover-up,” Kristi Govella, assistant professor of Asian studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said of the inquiry surrounding Mr. Abe. “As time goes on, the disjuncture between what he’s saying and the facts that are coming to light with the scandals just really increases public distrust and feelings that his leadership is no longer what the country needs.”

Abe is also facing challenges abroad, as Japan seeks assurance that the US will consider its interests in the upcoming meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Japan also wishes to be exempted from US tariffs on steel and aluminum, as a number of other countries have already been. Dr. Govella said that Abe arrives at Mar-a-Lago “hoping to combat perceptions that Japan has been sidelined in recent weeks and reestablish his country as an important partner of the United States.”

Read the full articles here:

USA Today, “Trump backs North-South Korea Peace Talks in Summit with Japan’s Leader at Mar-a-Lago,” April 17, 2018, by David Jackson.

The New York Times, “As Scandal-Tarred Abe Meets Trump, ‘the Situation is Getting Dangerous’,” April 16, 2018, by Motoko Rich.

Dr. Kristi Govella comments in New York Times & Australian Financial Review

Assistant Professor of Asian Studies Kristi Govella commented in two news articles this weekend on the impact of the Trump administration’s recent announcements about tariffs and North Korea:

The New York Times, “Trump’s Unpredictability on Trade and North Korea Opens a Door for China,” March 10, 2018.

Australian Financial Review, “Donald Trump’s Snap Decision to Meet With Kim Jong-un,” March 11, 2018.

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.

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.

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.