Symposium to explore Asian perspective

The increasing number of people of Asian origin and the impact they have on New Zealand’s demography, culture, business and other areas will be explored at a Symposium in Dunedin.

Professor Haroon Akram Lodhi, Chair of the International Development Studies at the Trent University in Canada will be keynote speaker at the two-day event being organised by the University of Otago on June 8 and 9, 2012.

His presentation titled, ‘Gender, the global economic crisis and Asia: thinking about the linkages,’ is expected to spark an animated debate.

Professor Ikue Kina, Associate Professor at the Department of Languages and Cultures, University of the Ryukyus (Japan) will also deliver a keynote address on ‘Rethinking Empowerment of Indigenous Okinawan Women: Feminism, Indigeneity, and Gendered Experience in Okinawa.’

Programme Coordinators Associate Professor Jacqui Leckie, Head of the Department of Social Anthropology and Dr Vanessa Ward of the Department of History and Art History said, ‘Reconsidering Gender in Asian Studies: A Pacific Perspective’ would be the theme of the Symposium.

“The Symposium aims to bring together academics and activists who are concerned with gender issues in Asian studies in New Zealand, Australia and Asian countries. They would consider the significance of gender within current research relating to Asia,” Professor Leckie said.

Critical examination

As experts critically examine the stereotyping of Asian women as ‘seductive and submissive,’ a number of papers presented would reveal new research on ‘masculinity’ within Asian societies.

“Migration and multiculturalism are also important themes to be discussed. A unique focus of this meeting is that it will address gender and Asian studies from our viewpoint here in the South Pacific,” Dr Leckie said.

She hoped that the Symposium would lead to new research collaborations as well as a quality publication.

“We also see this symposium as a way to disseminate academic research to the community,” she said.

Research Scheme

Preceding the Symposium, the University would launch its ‘Asian Migrations Research Scheme’ on June 7.

According to Dr Ward, it focuses on movements of peoples and ideas (past and present) in East, South, and South East Asia and into the Pacific (encompassing the Pacific Islands, Australia, and New Zealand).

“It engages with the fields of diaspora, intercultural, global, and transnational studies, which have grown over the last twenty years to become key frameworks for understanding culture beyond the boundaries of one nation.

“We see significant shortcomings in the current theories and methodologies of Asian migration and diaspora and especially in their application to the Asia-Pacific region. Our focus on Asian migrations allows us to highlight and address these shortcomings and to develop new approaches,” she said.

“The goal is to develop a theoretical and methodological framework for understanding the Asia-Pacific region as comprised by movements of peoples, ideas, and commodities,” she added.

Related stories appear in our Special Report on Immigration in this issue.

What: Symposium on Asian Gender Issues

Where: University of Otago, Dunedin

When: June 8 and 9, 2012

Contact: Associate Professor Jacqueline Leckie

Phone: (03) 4798760 Mobile: 021-1344522

Email: jacqui.leckie@otago.ac.nz

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