canada_asia_posterThis research programme examines how Canada-Asia relations, broadly understood, are constituted by diverse and complex social connections and a range of processes beyond those centered solely on states and official diplomacy. The programme is interested in identifying the multiple sites where Canada-Asia relationships are negotiated and where understandings of Canada are produced and circulated. As such, the programme asks “who are the ‘other diplomats’”.  The research into these “other diplomacies” aims to deepen and broaden understandings of Canada-Asia relations. Specific research into empirical examples of societal relations between Canada and Asia may include studies into the realms of education, diaspora and youth, business and work, entertainment and culture, environment and development, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These empirical examples illustrate the diplomatic nature and significance of everyday relationships across myriad spaces. They point to the contexts in which these interactions help reproduce or instead challenge established power relations and official and dominant understandings of Canadian and of Asian identities and values.


Mary M. Young, Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Geography and a Research Associate at the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) at York University, who does research on global agro-food systems, political economy and political ecology, food security and development issues.
Susan J. Henders, Associate Professor, Political Science at York University, who does research on the international politics of human and minority rights as well as territorial politics in multinational and multiethnic states, especially in eastern Asia and western Europe. Amongst her publications is Territoriality, Asymmetry, and Autonomy: Catalonia, Corsica, Hong Kong and Tibet (Palgrave, 2010). She is also a Faculty Associate at the York Centre for Asian Research.

Publications and Output

Young, Mary M. and Susan J. Henders (2012). “‘Other Diplomacies’ and the Making of Canada-Asian Relations”, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal. Forthcoming.
Henders, Susan J. and Mary M. Young (2012). “Other Diplomacies” and the Making of Canada-Asian Relations: An Interdisciplinary Conversation”. Asia Colloquia Papers 2(1). Toronto: York Centre for Asian Research.


Workshop: Making of Canada-Asia Relations: The Roles of “Other Diplomacies

On 15 March 2012, Mary M. Young and Susan J. Henders organized a workshop on the research programme themes, as a pre-conference event for the 2012 Association for Asian Studies Conference in Toronto. Funded by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) at York University, the workshop brought together scholars as well as practitioners from a range of disciplines. Discussions centered on preliminary case studies of Canada-Asia societal interactions in the realms of business, education, culture, migration and diaspora, labour markets, scholarly and technical experts, and NGOs across local, national and transnational spaces, and in the realm of the everyday (see workshop programme below).


The aim of the workshop was to begin to identify important research questions and areas of empirical research that could illuminate the contemporary character of Canada-Asia societal connections and their wider implications. The workshop also explored the concept of “other diplomacies”, which Henders and Young explore in an article forthcoming in Canadian Foreign Policy Journal later in 2012.

In addition to Young and Henders, participants included faculty, researchers and graduate students from across Canada as well as Taiwan and the U.S representing a variety of disciplines including sociology, political science, education, communication studies, international business, geography, history, international studies, ethnomusicology and environmental studies. Representatives of KAIROS Canada and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada also participated.

The workshop discussion was summarized in a paper written by Henders and Young for YCAR’s Asia Colloquia Papers series, titled “‘Other Diplomacies’ and the Making of Canada-Asian Relations: An Interdisciplinary Conversation”.


Workshop Programme and Participants

PANEL 1:  Rethinking Diplomatic Agency: Experts and Technical Knowledge Transfer

Chair and Discussant:  Derek Hall (Associate Professor, Political Science and the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Scholars “Other Diplomats” in Canada-Asia Relations: The Case of Canadian Academic Experts on Canadian Multiethnic Accommodation and Federalism

Susan Henders (Associate Professor, Political Science, York University)

Engagement by “Other Diplomats”:  The Environment in Canada-China State-Society-Crossing Linkages

Der-yuan Wu (Associate Research Fellow, Institute of International Relations, National Chengchi University, Taiwan)

“Other Diplomats” in Indonesia: The Case of CUSO International

Mary Young (Adjunct Faculty, Geography, York University)

PANEL 2: Rethinking Diplomatic Processes: Private Sector and Indigenous Actors and Regulation

Chair and Discussant: Steve Penfold (Associate Professor, History, University of Toronto)

Canadian Seafood Sustainability Standards and State Authority in Asia

Peter Vandergeest (Associate Professor, Geography, York University)

Canada in “Minegolia”: Corporate Social Responsibility as an “Other Diplomacy”

Sara L. Jackson (PhD Candidate, Geography, York University)

Asian Investors’ Warm Welcome in the Resource Extraction Sector in Canada? Preliminary Thoughts on the Emancipation of Aboriginal and Northern Canadian Communities as Surfacing International Actors

Jean Michel Montsion (Assistant Professor, International Studies, Glendon College, York University) and Heather Kincaide (Post-Graduate Research Fellow, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada)

PANEL 3: Rethinking Cultural Diplomacy: Transnational Linkages in Education and Immigration

Chair and Discussant: Roland Sintos Coloma (Assistant Professor, Sociology and Equity Studies, Ontario Studies in Education, University of Toronto)

Canadian Dreams and Bollywood Fantasies: Cinematic Connections in the Diaspora

Faiza Hirji (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies and Multimedia, McMaster University)

The Dynamics of Cultural Diffusion on Bilateral Migration Flows: An Emerging Research Agenda on Canadian Migrants in Asia

Ann Kim (Assistant Professor, Sociology York University)

Educational Diplomacy: Towards Building a “Human Bridge” between Canada and China

Ruth Hayhoe (Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) and Qiang Zha (Associate Professor, Education, York University)

Canada-Asian Transnationalism Among the Children of Immigrants

Philip F. Kelly (Associate Professor, Geography: Director, York Centre for Asian Research(York University)

ROUND TABLE WRAP-UP DISCUSSION: Implications for Scholarship, Policy, Political Action and Citizenship

Chair: Mary Young (Adjunct Faculty, Geography, York University)

Round Table Panelists:

Diana Lary (Professor Emeritus, History, University of British Columbia)

Margaret Walton-Roberts (Associate Professor, Geography, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Connie Sorio (Program Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Partnerships, KAIROS Canada)

Other Partipants:

Elena Caprioni (Academic Director, CIEE Study Center in Beijing, China; Research Fellow, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia)

Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III (Professor, Politics and Asian Studies, University of San Francisco)

Gabor Jozsa (MA Candidate, Social Anthropology, York University)

Charles Krusekopf (Associate Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability, Royal Roads University; Executive Director, American Center for Mongolian Studies)

Eric Li (Instructor, Faculty of Management, University of British Columbia-Okanagan Campus)

Regina Lam (PhD Candidate, Ethnomusicology, York University)

Sai Latt (PhD Candidate, Geography, Simon Fraser University)

Hannah Prabhu (MA Candidate, Political Science, York University)

Aparna Sundar (Assistant Professor, Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University)

Erin Williams (Project Manager, Asia Pacific Foundation)

Lorna Wright (Associate Vice-President, International and Associate Professor, International Business, Schulich School of Business, York University)

Maggie Zeng (Consultant, Toronto)

News and Events

Links and Resources

Contact Us

For more information, please contact Mary M. Young (marouyou@yorku.ca) or Susan Henders (henders@yorku.ca).

Graphic image by Michael Fan. YCAR group photograph