Trauma, Memory, Forgetting
2014 Asia Lecture at York University @ Room 519, Fifith Floor, Kaneff Tower
Nov 4 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

de-alwis2014 Asia Lecture by Malathi de Alwis

Sri Lanka has a long history of monumentalizing and memorializing. Both rural and urban islandscapes are scattered with Buddhist stupas and irrigation tanks built by pacifist as well as war-mongering monarchs, rock stelae proclaiming conquests, cave inscriptions commemorating acts of beneficence, statues of colonial and nationalist rulers, tsunami memorials, war cemeteries and ‘victory’ monuments. Monumentalizing has also been accompanied by iconoclasm, in post-war Sri Lanka, and the battle for memory and forgetting plays a central role in the Sri Lankan state’s fraught relationship with its Tamil population who have borne the brunt of a three-decade long war. This paper delineates certain contours of this festering wound while exploring an alternative politics of bereavement and memorialization encompassed in the work of one of Sri Lanka’s foremost artists.

Malathi de Alwis received her PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago and is currently affiliated with the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo and the Open University, Colombo. She has also taught at the University of Chicago, New School for Social Research, New York, the International Women’s University, Hannover and the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She has written extensively on nationalism, humanitarianism, maternalism, suffering and memorialization and is the co-editor of Tsunami in a Time of War: Aid, Activism and Reconstruction in Sri Lanka and Aceh (2009), Feminists Under Fire: Exchanges Across War Zones (2003) and Embodied Violence: Communalising Women’s Sexuality in South Asia (1996). De Alwis has been involved in environmental, feminist and anti-war activism for much of her life and is the co-founder of several feminist peace organizations in Sri Lanka as well as the United States.

Dr. de Alwis’ lecture is part of a larger programme at York University, organized by the Centre for Feminist Research. For more information, visit

Dissolving Boundaries of Theatre, Spirit, Politics and Play: A reading and discussion with artist nisha ahuja @ Room 145, North Ross Building
Nov 6 @ 12:00 pm – 2:15 pm

nisha-ahujanisha ahuja, actor, published playwright writer, physical theatre and voice-over artist, singer/song-writer, educator, and Yogic & Vedic energy medicine practitioner has performed and created classical, contemporary, and original work across Canada, the Netherlands, and India. nisha was recently an actor with the National Arts Centre Resident Acting Company and toured her one-woman shows, Yoga Cannibal across Canada and Un-settling across Ontario. Her play Cycle of a Sari recently had a workshop production and will be published by Playwrights’ Canada Press in the first South Asian Canadian Theatre Anthology (May 2015), and has an excerpt published in PCP’s Refractions: Solo. Currently nisha is writing and performing in 30 People Watching, a theatrical response to the murder of Reena Virk, co-created with Subtle Vigilance Collective premiering Oct 28 to Nov 8, 2014 at Aki Studio Theatre. nisha graduated from York University with Specialized Honours in Theatre/Creative Ensemble and a Minor in International Development Studies.

All are welcome.

RSVPs are requested to by 4 November 2014.

This event is organized by Shobna Nijhawan and the South Asian Studies Programme and presented with support from the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) and the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

Korea’s Global Middle Class: Its Cosmopolitan Aspiration and Internal Contradictions @ Room 519, Fifith Floor, Kaneff Tower
Nov 11 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

KooWith Hagen Koo, University of Hawaii at Manoa

One of the most interesting developments in the world today is the rapid growth of the middle classes in the developing world, especially in Asia. Thus, the media and academics now pay much more attention to the newly emerging “global middle class.” But what is the nature of this global middle class and how does it differ from the traditional middle classes in the western industrial societies? What happens when the middle class becomes globalized and what does the rise of the global middle class mean to their individual societies?

Based on his research on South Korea, Professor Koo will critically examine these questions. His main argument is that the global middle class represents a far more complex phenomenon than the expansion of global consumer market or the growth of the affluent sectors of societies; it also involves internal polarization of the middle class and intensified processes of class distinction and competition and, as a consequence, growing tensions and instability within the middle class.

Hagen Koo is professor of sociology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Born in Seoul Korea, he received his BA in Korea and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He published extensively on the political economy of East Asian development and industrial transformation in South Korea. His books include the award-winning book, Korean Workers: The Culture and Politics of Class Formation (Cornell University Press, 2001) and State and Society in Contemporary Korea (Cornell University Press, 1993). He was a visiting professor at Seoul National University, Yonsei University, Fairbank Center for East Asian Studies of Harvard University, Australian National University, and a fellow-in-residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies. Currently, he is completing a book on the changing nature of class inequality in the globalized Korea, focusing on the disintegration of the middle class.

This is the second lecture of the Heterogeneity and Korean Identity in the Twentieth-First Century speaker series at York University. The speaker series will focus on the works of both established senior and groundbreaking junior scholars in the fields of globalization, transnational labour and class in South Korea.

The series is supported by The Korea Foundation, the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, the Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and the York Centre for Asian Research.

For more information on the series, visit:


Constructing Citizens: Textbooks, c. 1900-1937 @ Room 519, Fifith Floor, Kaneff Tower
Nov 13 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

zarrowProfessor Zarrow will examine four decades of dramatic historical change in China through the prism of textbooks. Based on a close reading of an extensive range of primers, textbooks, and readers, he traces a trajectory from “self-cultivation” to “civics” to an every narrowing view of “patriotism.” At the same time, he charts the evolving, conflicting, and overlapping ideologies that shaped knowledge production in early twentieth-century China. These include Confucianism, republicanism, individualism, nationalism, and professionalism.

Peter Zarrow is professor of history at the University of Connecticut and adjunct research fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, where he worked for many years. He is most recently the author of After Empire: The Conceptual Transformation of the Chinese State, 1885-1924. Professor Zarrow’s research deals with the intellectual history of modern China, focusing on political thought and movements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

All are welcome!

This event is part of the 2014-2015 Knowledge Production in East Asia seminar series organized by the Critical China Studies Reading Group at YCAR.

The US-Iran Rapprochement and its Implications for South and Central Asia @ Room 120E, Stedman Hall
Nov 21 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

The US-Iran Rapprochement and its Implications for South and Central Asia will take place on Friday, 21 Novbember 2014.

The event is part of the South and Central Asia Project (SCAP), an international research initiative that brings together scholars and students from across social science disciplines in Canada, the US, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Central Asia. The project is organized by Sergei Plekhanov (Political Science).

For more information:

This is the second event in the 2014.2015 series, which is generously supported by the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR).


Vietnam’s Seafood Export Boom: Economic Growth with Impoverishment @ Room 857, Eighth Floor, Kaneff Tower
Nov 21 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am

with Melissa Marschke, University of Ottawa

Farmed fish has exploded in the past two decades, with several Southeast Asian countries emerging as leading global exporters of seafood products (farmed and wild). While such growth is often seen as a form of economic growth, food security and poverty alleviation, there has been little concrete assessment of small producer livelihoods within this sector or the regulations that they must adhere too. The talk draws from original survey data (n=599) from Vietnam to investigate what it means to be working across production intensities, to examine household perceptions’ of change in species quantity, and to consider existing governance mechanisms. Although households catch or farm a diversity of fish, trash fish has the highest annual kilograms caught which speaks to Vietnam’s controversial use of trash fish within fish farming and, perhaps, suggests a decline in options of what fishers can catch. Given the perceived prevalence of species declines and disease that is associated with fish farming, many small producers – fishers and fish farmers — are struggling and rest at or below Vietnam’s rural poverty line. Moreover, current policies privilege consolidation, even though much of Vietnam’s fisheries sector is based on household level operations. While consolidation may contribute towards economic growth, it is unlikely that this trend towards consolidation can address poverty or food security challenges.

Melissa Marschke is Associate Professor at the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her training is in human-environment relations, with a particular emphasis on common pool resources, agrarian change and environmental governance. Her research focuses on dimensions of sustaining a livelihood, social-environmental change, and forms of environmental governance in coastal villages throughout Southeast Asia. She is the author of Life, Fish and Mangroves: Resource Governance in Coastal Cambodia (U Ottawa Press, 2012), and has published in various journals including Environmental Science & Policy, Global Environmental Change, International Journal of the Commons and Marine Policy.

This event is part of the 2014-2015 Critical Asian Political Ecologies Seminars series at the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) at York University.

For more information: |

Soldiers, Mountains and Beautiful Women: Japanese Art, the Second World War and Fascism @ Room 305, Third Floor, York Lanes
Nov 21 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

The talk will draw on Dr. Asato Ikeda’s research for her upcoming book and will explore the close relationship between art and politics in the 1930s and 1940s, focusing on major wartime artists such as Fujita Tsuguharu, Miyamoto Saburo, Yokoyama Taikan and Uemura Shoen.

Dr. Ikedia specializes in Japanese art produced during the Second World War. Her publications can be found in the Review of Japanese Culture and Society, Disclosure, and Japan Focus. Most recently, she edited, with Ming Tiampo and Aya Louisa McDonald, an anthology titled Art and War in Japan and its Empire, 1931-1960 (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

She is Assistant Professor, Art History and Music Department, Fordham University.

Carbonizing Modernity? Reinforcing (false) Economies of Hope and Aspiration in the Laos Upland @ Room 280A, Second Floor, York Lanes
Dec 4 @ 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm

with Wolfram Dressler, University of Melbourne