Asian Currents aims to connect Australia's academic experts on Asia with journalists, policy makers, business people, artists and other educators. Please feel free to forward this email to others you think would be interested in receiving Asian Currents. Registration is free and open to all by simply registering your email address at http://iceaps.anu.edu.au/asian-currents.html. The e-bulletin normally appears in the third week of each month.
Welcome to the new-look Asian
Currents! This issue heralds the consolidation of the Asian Studies
Association of Australia’s cooperation with the International
Centre of Excellence in Asia Pacific Studies (http://iceaps.anu.edu.au
), which is lending generous support to Asian Currents.
Many thanks to the Director, John Fitzgerald, and his colleagues, Richard
Thomson and Valerie Shavgarova, for their enthusiasm about the ebulletin.
We look forward to working with ICEAPS, a Federal Government initiative
which aims to raise the profile of Asia-Pacific studies in Australia.
The Centre draws upon the Asia-Pacific expertise of key research and
teaching centres throughout Australia and in Asia, Europe and North
America, as well as several national professional networks. ICEAPS’s
goals make it an entirely compatible partner for the ASAA, whose main
aim is to promote the study of Asian languages, societies, cultures
in Australia. Together, through Asian Currents
and other initiatives, we will strive to increase Australians’
understanding of Asia and of the Asia expertise that already exists
around the country.
by Raghbendra Jha, Australian National University, email@example.com
Prime Minister Howard’s
visit to New Delhi next month promises to be a milestone in Australia-India
relations. Accompanying Howard will be a delegation of business leaders
keen to expand and invigorate their engagement in India.
Relations are expanding in other areas. In 2003 Australia
and India signed an agreement on cooperating to fight terrorism. This
is central to maintaining security in the Indian Ocean through which
almost half of Australian merchandise trade passes.
Education has high potential for growth. In 2004, India was the fourth highest source of international students in Australia,with around 21,000 students, a number expected to rise. Further, Indians are likely to be a significant proportion of the increased intake of “skilled worker” migrants.
India needs to import nearly 70 percent of its energy requirements, making its energy diplomacy crucial. Australia is well positioned to partner India in this area, particularly as both are members of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Moreover, the US agreement to help India acquire the same benefits as other nuclear states implies that energy cooperation could extend beyond mineral resources.s
India’s increasing expertise in information and communication technology, biotechnology and health tourism offers further opportunities to Australian business. Direct foreign investment (in both directions) is likely to rise signficantly as India relaxes foreign investment rules in key areas such as retail, airports and infrastructure.
All this potential has led India to turn its attention
decisively towards Australia and the Asia Pacific region. India-China
trade is poised to rise sharply and India has vigorously engaged South
Asian countries and ASEAN. In December 2005, India joined Australia
and ASEAN at the first East Asian Summit in Kuala Lumpur.
More on the subject:
by Robert Cribb, Australian National University, http://rspas.anu.edu.au/people/personal/cribr_pah.php
One of the less expected consequences of the end of President Suharto’s military-backed rule has been the re-emergence of Indonesia’s old aristocracies. A decade ago, few observers were even aware of more than one or two royal families in the archipelago; now they have become important local power brokers in many regions.
Before the arrival of the Dutch, Indonesian societies were fluid. Ambitious men (occasionally women, too) could come to power by supplanting the former ruler of a polity or by carving their own, new kingdom out of the bodies of declining principalities. This meant there were hundreds of monarchical leaders dotted about the archipelago.
Under Dutch rule, some of these monarchies were abolished but the majority were kept on as agents of colonial rule. In some cases they were formally preserved as subordinate states; in others the ruling aristocracy was incorporated into the ‘Native Administration’, to which only nobles were admitted. Despite removing much of their power, the Dutch encouraged the aristocrats’ pretensions by means of titles, costumes and ceremonies.
Aristocrats were largely immune from the legal system; many exploited their status, while also working for the Dutch. As a result, they were widely hated.
The outbreak of the national revolution in 1945 was marked by a series of social upheavals in Java and Sumatra which swept out traditional rulers.Their powers were whittled away and by the beginning of the 1960s all but the sultanate of Yogyakarta, whose leader had unambiguously chosen the nationalist Republic, had had been formally abolished. That seemed to be that, until the New Order came to an end in 1997.The return of the sultans was first marked by their appearance in the gossip pages where,in true aristocratic style,their multiple liaisons and complicated succession issues provided wonderful copy for a newly free press.
Soon, however, there were reports of young men who turned out to be the heirs to long-defunct sultanates being plucked from obscurity and installed on ancestral thrones. These restorations were driven partly by the reassertion of local identities after the insistent centralisation of the Suharto era. Distant corners of Kalimantan could reclaim respect—and aim for an extra share of the tourist industry—by playing the royalty card. Some sultans have become important patrons of local arts and traditional culture. The unofficial council of rulers now recognises 34 monarchs across Indonesia.
There has been a dark side, however, to the restoration of the sultans. Although they have no formal power, some of them have put together irregular armed forces which are a significant element in local politics. For example, the sultan of Ternate in North Maluku tried to become provincial governor but his forces were defeated in a civil war with troops backing the rival sultan of Tidore. Elsewhere there are signs of shady coalitions between sultans, local businessmen, military commanders and gangsters.
The return of the aristocracy marks a step towards
restoring some of the rich cultural diversity of Indonesia which the
New Order worked hard to homogenise. Yet the re-emergence of powerholders
qualified only by aristocratic birth is a discouraging development in
a country which came into being to restore to all its citizens the opportunities
that had been stifled under colonial rule.
Robert Cribb is the author of the Historical Atlas of Indonesia, which traces the history of the region that became Indonesia from early times to the present day in over three hundred maps, accompanied by detailed text.
For an intriguing celebration of royalty in Indonesia and other parts of the non-Western world, see http://www.4dw.net/royalark/
|This month we profile, Louise Williams firstname.lastname@example.org, leader writer/columnist (international) for the Sydney Morning Herald. She spent more than a decade as a foreign correspondent based in Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta.|
Q. When did you become interested in studying Asia and why?
A. At 22 I'd broken up with my first love and knew I had to get really, really busy or keep feeling sorry for myself. I was already working at the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) after graduating with a BA Communications from UTS. (By the way, I think studying how to be a journalist without knowing anything about the world is ridiculous!). I'd been to high school in the late 1970s before the coming of Asian studies—we learnt how to speak French or German and all about British and European history. Asia was somewhere you refuelled on the way to London. So my stunning ignorance of all things Asian suggested I would be busiest if I studied some aspect of the region. I enrolled in a Master of Arts at the University of Sydney and studied Indonesia and Malaysia. I then applied for one of the first Department of Foreign Affairs ASEAN media fellowships. I won the award just as the SMH was banned from Indonesia in 1986. My application had been based on Indonesia but the Department, wanting to make a point about press freedom, expanded the fellowship to take in the rest of the (then) five ASEAN countries. My first trip to Asia started in Brunei, then took me to to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. I found myself in the midst of the hanging of drug traffickers Barlow and Chambers in Penang and the collapse of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. I was 24 and absolutely unprepared! I came back to Sydney and my editor asked me what I'd do differently about our foreign coverage. I said we needed a bureau in the Philippines: Marcos may have fallen but there were many stories to come. He said "Okay, go tomorrow…opportunities like this only come around once in your lifetime". I begged for an extra day to get ready and headed off to Manila for "three weeks, three months, three years…whatever it takes," my editor had said. I saw my first corpse a few hours after landing but was soon hooked. I stayed more than three years, met the father of my kids, then moved to Bangkok for another three years. After a couple of years back in Sydney as Foreign Editor my career turned full circle.
I negotiated the re-opening of the Sydney Morning Herald bureau in Jakarta in 1996, and was the first Herald reporter to get residency—a decade after I'd first been turned away. I saw the New Order regime, and the economy, collapse,and later Xanana Gusmao walk out of jail and East Timor get its independence. To witness history is a rare privilege!
Q. What are your current preoccupations?
Q. What are your hopes for Asian studies in Australia?
My 10-year-old daughter wants to continue studying Indonesian. In our entire district in Sydney there are no schools teaching the language, so we have a tutor on Saturday mornings. My hopes for Asian studies are that such arrangements will soon be unnecessary, that studying Asia will no longer be considered "foreign". Every single student should be learning about Asia, including learning an Asian language (though this is a big ask as most do not take any foreign language). We live in this region and need to know it intimately, whether we always get on or not.
Dr Elizabeth Thurbon is a senior lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of NSW. Liz specialises in the international political economy of industrial development and change, and has a long-standing research interest in the East Asian region.Her doctoral dissertation examined the politics of financial liberalisation in South Korea and Taiwan, and she continues to research and publish on this topic. She is currently working on an ARC Discovery project examining the impact of
globalisation on government-business relations in a variety of national settings, including Northeast Asia, Australia and the United States.Liz is co-founder of The Australian Interest, a public forum dedicated to informed, non-partisan debate on all aspects of Australian foreign economic policy (see www.australianinterest.com for details). She is also one of the authors of How to Kill A Country: Australia's Devastating Trade Deal with the United States (with Linda Weiss and John Mathews, published by Allen & Unwin). The book, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Queensland Premier's Literary Award for Advancing Public Debate, has been praised for its forthrightness, rigour and readability (see (http://www.allenandunwin.com/shopping/ProductDetails.aspx).
(This section is edited by Dr T. Matthew Ciolek, Head, Internet Publications Bureau, the National Institute for Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University)
is the website of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), founded
in 1968. It offers resources on Asia for researchers, journalists, business
and governments. NIAS has strong networks across Europe and supports
initiatives such as the Conflict Transformation Group which is interested
in the relationship between development and economic structures and
conflict potential (http://www.conflicttransform.net/ctg.htm).
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has released a report, Unlocking China’s Services Sector. The report warns that further reforms to China’s services sector are needed to alleviate burdensome licensing and operating requirements and make China’s regulatory and legal processes more transparent. The report also concludes that 92 per cent of the software used in China is pirated. The report can be ordered at www.dfat.gov.au/eau or by phoning (02) 6261 3114.
According to the Association of Indonesian Internet Service Providers (APJII), in 1996 only 31,000 people subscribed to Internet providers while approximately 110,000 people used the Internet. Within eight years, the number of Internet subscribers increased 40 times to 1.3 million while the number of Internet users rose by 120 times—about 12 million. You can read more in The Internet in Indonesia's New Democracy by David Hill and Krishna Sen, whose study charts the growth and specific political uses of the Internet across the Indonesian archipelago since the early 1990s. See http://bookstore.ellibs.com/book/10189
Exhibitions and other events
YUKINORI YANAGI EXHIBITION
BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES - PAINTINGS BY WON SUNG
HERE LIES LOVE - A SONG CYCLE
A NIGHT OF STORIES ABOUT INDIA: IN CONVERSATION
WITH VIKRAM SETH
SYMBOLS & CEREMONIES INDONESIAN TEXTILE
INTERNATIONAL ASIAN ANTIQUE AND ART FAIR 2006
ZEN MIND, ZEN BRUSH
ASIA-PACIFIC TRIENNIAL OF CONTEMPORARY ART
INVESTING IN ASIA'S URBAN FUTURE
MALAYSIA ON THE MAP
BIENNIAL CONFERENCE OF THE ASIAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA (ASAA)
ON “ASIA RECONSTRUCTED” 26-29 June, 2006
STRANGERS ON THE SHORE: A CONFERENCE ON EARLY
COASTAL CONTACTS WITH AUSTRALIA
AUSTRALIANS AND NEW ZEALANDERS IN CHINA, 1800-1950
10TH ASIAN STUDIES CONFERENCE JAPAN (ASCJ)
BORNEO IN THE NEW CENTURY
ASIA-PACIFIC MISSIONARIES: AT HOME AND ABROAD
You are welcome to advertise Asia-related events in this space. Send details to: email@example.com
What would be useful for you? Human interest stories, profiles of successful graduates of Asian studies, more news about what's on, moderated discussions on topical issues? Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) promotes
the study of Asian languages, societies, cultures, and politics in Australia,
supports teaching and research in Asian studies and works towards an understanding
of Asia in the community at large. It publishes the Asia Studies Review journal
and holds a biennial conference.
The ASAA believes there is an urgent need to develop a strategy to preserve, renew and extend Australian expertise about Asia. It has called on the government to show national leadership in the promotion of Australia’s Asia knowledge and skills. See Maximizing Australia's Asia Knowledge Repositioning and Renewal of a National Asset http://coombs.anu.edu.au/SpecialProj/ASAA/ asia-knowledge-book-v70.pdf
Asian Currents is published by the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) http://coombs.anu.edu.au/ASAA/ thanks to a grant from the International Centre of Excellence for Asia Pacific Studies (ICEAPS) http://iceaps.anu.edu.au. It is edited by Francesca Beddie. The editorial board consists of Robert Cribb, ASAA President, John Fitzgerald, Director, ICEAPS, Keith Foulcher, ASAA Secretary, Mina Roces, ASAA Publications officer, Tamara Jacka, ASAA Council member.