A message from the director

Winter 2022

Dear colleagues and friends,

It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to wish you a happy new year! We’ve been grateful for your extraordinary solidarity and support in this series of extraordinary years. With so much uncertainty and pressure on at the moment, it is hard to come up with just the right words to express new year wishes to you all, but cheers to new beginnings. May 2022 be what you hope it will be! Be that as it may, let’s make this year the best one yet.

This year we are marking a significant milestone: YCAR’s twentieth anniversary! YCAR was launched in 2002 to support and promote research that bring a multi disciplinary perspective to the study of Asia (and its component nations) and Asian diaspora (in Canada and elsewhere). Through the activities of all of our members, we have accomplished much. Each activity had different motivations but (if you’ll permit me to say so) it grew out of a place like YCAR. Our Centre is like an archipelago where thousand islands of knowledge are not isolated from one another, but have sufficient autonomy so that each can develop its own creativity while letting ideas to flow between them.

As we look forward, we should consider looking beyond our archipelago, which has (so far) consisted largely of species from Humanities and Social Sciences. We should perhaps start to encourage further diversification. The pandemic has signalled to us yet another urgent call that the current and the projected future hazards—be they “natural” or anthropogenic—can no longer be addressed adequately if we stay within the spatial-temporal and epistemological limits of “Asian Studies.” Our interest in culture, politics and society must enter into a direct conversation with studies of biophysical processes. Our bottom-up approach will contribute much to the perspective of the remote sensing satellite. And our smaller scale examination of time and space might benefit from (what Dr Kavita Philip calls) “the timelines of ecology and the spatial lines of the planet.” Our concerns with lived experience and over historical continuity must enter into a constructive dialogue with futuristic terms in scientific discourse, such as the decadal forecasts, the scenario simulations, of course without forgetting the politics of projections. Yes our work is on Asia or Asians, so place and people matter, but biophysical processes that presumed to bear no inherent location also matter. It is in this context that in this Winter term YCAR seeks to participate in Climate Emergency Research Week (spearheaded by Elaine Coburn, director of Centre for Feminist Research) for which over a dozen Organized Research Units (ORUs) at York have signed up. Please contact us if you would like to organize a panel on a topic related to such a theme.

This coming year promises to be uniquely active. As I write this, our Canada-ASEAN Initiative group are preparing Canada, ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific speakers series; after the successful Sixth Toronto-Hakka Conference and in conjunction with Hakka Scholars Network at York, our Hakka Academic Committee are planning to organize York Hakka Academic lecture series; our Hong Kong Studies Committee are in the process of finalizing the Fifth Bernard H. K. Luk Memorial Lecture in Hong Kong Studies, after just launching Global Hong Kong Essay and Creative Project Award; Our Korean Office for Research and Education (KORE) are continuing their success by completing their Year 4 activities while preparing for their final year (2022–23). There are many more upcoming events and initiatives to look forward to as we also welcome new members.

Finally, I am delighted to report that as we are starting 2022, Dr Elena Caprioni is joining us as the Program Director of the Asian Business and Management Program (ABMP). Elena, who is also a scholar with research interests in issues around ethnicity and identity in minority regions of China, played a key role in establishing Canada-China Initiative Fund, which has supported over a dozen research and knowledge mobilization initiatives directed by York faculty and students. Meanwhile, in the next few months, YCAR will know its new director who will assume leadership later this year.

There is much to look forward to in YCAR’s development. And you are at the heart of this growth—an extraordinary group of Associates engaging in Asian and Asian diaspora studies.

Thank you and cheers!

Abidin Kusno
Director, York Centre for Asian Research