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This website is no longer active but remains online as an archive of the work of the Asian Migrations Research Theme, which ran between 2012 and 2016. Some of its work has been succeeded by the Centre for Global Migrations.

Go to the Centre for Global Migrations website.

The purpose of the Visiting Scholars Scheme is to bring scholars of international renown to the University of Otago for public lectures, master classes, symposia, and postgraduate workshops.

Visiting scholars contribute to the research goals of the Theme, forging new external linkages, raising the Theme's profile internationally and supporting the development of knowledge, dialogue and collaboration amongst Theme members.

Visiting Scholars 2015

Dr Keita Takayama

Keita Takayama is a senior lecturer in the School of Education, University of New England (UNE), Australia. He grew up and went to school in Tokyo, and taught in Vancouver (Canada), Bangalore (India), Tokyo (Japan) and Madison (USA). In 2008 Keita came to UNE to take up his first academic appointment. In 2011, Keita was awarded the George Bereday Award from the Comparative & International Education Society (USA) for his article that appeared in Comparative Education Review. He writes both in Japanese and English, constantly crisscrossing the linguistic boundaries of academic communities in Asia and beyond. His current research explores education policy making in the tensions and contradictions between nationalism and globalization in Asia and different ways in which Asia can be researched in the English-using education scholarship.

Dr Jonathan Stalling, Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English, University of Oklahoma, USA

Bio: Dr Jonathan Stalling is a US-based poet, linguist and author. In early 2014, Dr Stalling addressed a TED Talks conference, an event series which has become a globally renowned forum wherein experts from all fields around the world gather to share their ideas and inspire others. AMRT has organised Dr Stalling's art performance and talk as a collaboration between the University of Otago and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Public Art Performance/talk: 'Ghost in the Ear: Poetry of the Transgraphic/Interlingual/Heterophonic Imagination' 21 November

Dr Masataka Yamaguchi, Lecturer, School of Linguistics and Culture, University of Queensland, Australia

Bio: This was a return visit for Dr Yamaguchi, a scholar and linguist who was previously based at the University of Otago, Dunedin campus with the Department of English and Linguistics, Humanities Division until 2012. In 2011, Dr Yamaguchi presented a paper at the Symposium of Interrogating Interculturalism at the University of Otago, Dunedin campus. In addition to lecturing, he is on the editorial board of Discourse, Context and Media, and has published in journals such as Language and Communication, Discourse and Society, Journal of Sociolinguistics and Journal of Multicultural Discourses.

Public Lecture: 'A Call for More Transnational Linkages between New Zealand and Japan through Education,' 24 August

Dr Andrew Butcher, Director, Research at the Asia New Zealand Foundation

Bio: Dr Andrew Butcher is a prolific author of books, book chapters and articles. He holds degrees in History and Criminology from Victoria University in Wellington. His PhD is in Sociology from Massey University. Dr Butcher is also active in a number of organisations including the National Forum of CSCAP (Council for Security and Cooperation in the Asia Pacific), New Zealand. He is a Professional Member of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Dr Butcher is also a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and he sits on the National Board of Student Ministries of New Zealand. He serves in the National Council of the Population Association of New Zealand, and since July 2014, Dr Butcher is the Council's President.

For over eight years, Dr Butcher was Director, Research at the Asia New Zealand Foundation. Simultaneously, in 2011, he was a Visiting Fellow at Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. The following year he was a Teaching Fellow in the Political Science and International Relations programme at Victoria University of Wellington. In 2013 the US State Department invited Dr Butcher to be part of their International Visitor Leadership Program on the US engagement in Southeast Asia and, in that capacity Dr Butcher traveled to four locations in the United States.

Public Lecture: 'The migrant, the trader, and the country: How Asia is changing New Zealand and why it matters,' 20 April

Visiting Scholar 2014

Professor Brenda Yeoh, Asia Research Institute, Research Leader, Asian Migration Cluster, Asia Research Institute National University Singapore

AMRT sponsored keynote speaker at: 'Migrant Cross-Cultural Encounters' (Co-hosted by AMRT with other Otago research hubs), 24-26 November 2014

Professor Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University, New Zealand

Keynote speaker at colloquium on 'Multiculturalism in New Zealand' (Co-sponsored by: Comparative and Cross-Cultural Studies [CCCS] and the Asian Migrations Research Theme) 10 November 2014

Associate Professor Eric C. Thompson, Chair of Graduate Studies, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore

Keynote speaker at: 'Un-thinking Asian Migrations: Spaces of flows and intersections', 25-26 August 2014

Professor D. Parthasarathy, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay

Keynote speaker at: 'Un-thinking Asian Migrations: Spaces of flows and intersections', 25-26 August 2014

Visiting Scholars 2013

Professor Shu-mei Shih, Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures, Comparative Literature and Asian American Studies, UCLA and the University of Hong Kong

Bio: Shu-mei Shih is an internationally renowned scholar of comparative literature and one of the key figures in the development of “Sinophone studies,” a new approach to the study of Sinitic languages, literatures, and cultures outside a national or ethnic paradigm. Like the theme, Shih's work “engages the fields of diaspora, intercultural, global, and transnational studies,” and seeks to understand culture beyond the boundaries of one nation. Her work has been particularly concerned with diasporic and transnational Sinophone communities. She has forcefully made the case against the traditional focus on ethnicity and nation at the expense of attention to language in the study of the movements of peoples and cultures beyond the boundary of one nation.

Public Lecture: 'From World History to World Literature: A Proposal for a New Comparative Method' 9 December

Master Class with Professor Shu-mei Shih, 10 December

Description: Five doctoral candidates from across departments and disciplines participated in this Master Class. Participants were asked to read two articles written by Professor Shih, and to introduce their own research noting any connections with Professor Shih's work, particularly in relation to the readings on Sinophone studies and their provocative rejection of terms like "diaspora" and "Chineseness." Participants were also given the opportunity to ask questions about professional development, such as publishing and the job search.

Professor Mark R. Mullins, Faculty of Arts – School of Asian Studies, University of Auckland

Bio: Professor Mullins is an authority on Christianity in Japan in the modern period, and has written widely on indigenous Christian movements in Japan, as well as on related phenomena such as Korean Pentecostalist missionaries to Japan. He works also on Japanese New Religions, including their spread outside of Japan. His work has also addressed wider theoretical and methodological issues relating to the theme's focus on the movement of peoples and ideas, placing the specific movements on which he works in their wider sociological perspective. His discussion in his open lecture of the ways in which Japanese Catholicism is being reshaped by migrants from countries such as the Philippines is also directly relevant to New Zealand, which is witnessing a similar transformation in the ethnic composition of congregations in both rural and urban areas.

Public Lecture: 'Indigenization, Immigration, and the Cultural Transformation of Japanese Christianity,' 15 November

Abstract: In spite of its minority status, Christianity in Japan has been a relatively well-studied and documented religious tradition. As has been the case in other non-Western contexts, research has often been framed by a Euro-American 'master narrative'; and has focused on the study of transplanted mission churches.

In recent decades it has become increasingly clear that attention must also be given to the non-Western sources of this religion. The decline of the old 'centres' of Christendom and the more recent growth and vitality of Christian communities in many post-colonial contexts indicates that the established approach and orientation are no longer adequate. In 1900, for example, Christianity was predominately 'Western' or a 'white man's religion; and 80 percent of the world's Christians lived in Europe and North America. A century later, the composition has shifted to a non- white and non-Western majority – Africans, Hispanics, and Asians – of almost 60 percent. Although the small number of Christians in Japan has not been a significant demographic factor in this twentieth-century shift to a non-Western majority, several important developments within Japanese Christianity are closely related to these recent global trends.

First, over the past century a number of indigenous movements have been established by the Japanese and provided alternative cultural expressions of the faith. These 'postdenominational' movements in Japan are just one local manifestation of the global response to the modern missionary movement, which includes over 20,000 independent church movements worldwide. Second, new cultural expressions of Christianity that developed in former colonial domains (Brazil, Philippines, and Korea) are now spreading across the globe as part of transnational religious networks and contributing to the pluralism and heterogeneity of religion in various receiving societies. In the Japanese context, this is particularly apparent in the decline in the number of Western missionaries and the rapid growth of the Korean missionary movement. Third, the global rise of international migration is also reshaping the religious landscape of Japan and having a significant impact on Christianity, particularly the Roman Catholic Church. The unanticipated and rapid influx of foreign workers over the past two decades has included many from dominantly Catholic countries in Latin America and the Philippines.

The 'primary carriers' of the faith this time around tend not to be religious professionals (priests or missionaries), but lay Catholic immigrants who bring their faith, traditions, and practices with them and incorporate them into their Japanese communities and parishes. The Catholic Church- which in the past was largely shaped by European and North American traditions and gradually Japanized through the process of inculturation- is now being reshaped by new cultural influences and the ways of practicing Catholicism from Brazil, Peru, and the Philippines.

Premier New Zealand screening of the documentary 'Hafu: the mixed race experience in Japan,' 24 October

Description: Produced and Directed by Megumi Nishikura and Lara Perez Takagi, “Hafu” documents the unfolding journey of discovery into the intricacies of mixed-race Japanese and their multicultural experience in modern day Japan. The film follows the lives of five “hafus”–the Japanese term for people who are half-Japanese–as they explore what it means to be multiracial and multicultural in a nation that once proudly proclaimed itself as the mono-ethnic nation. For some of these hafus Japan is the only home they know, for some living in Japan is an entirely new experience, and others are caught somewhere between two different worlds. The film explores race, diversity, multiculturalism, nationality, and identity within the mixed-race community of Japan. And through this exploration, it seeks to answer the following questions: What does it mean to be hafu? What does it mean to be Japanese? and ultimately, What does all of this mean for Japan?

Hafu: the mixed-race experience in Japan

Go to the trailer for the film.

The screening was followed by an informal panel discussion featuring; Megumi Nishikura (Director of Hafu), Dr Adam Doering (Centre for Sustainability (CSAFE), Department of Tourism, University of Otago), Dr Yuko Shibata (Department of Languages and Cultures, University of Otago), Dr Vanessa Ward (Department of History and Art History, University of Otago).

Dr Michael Radich, Senior Lecturer, Religious Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

Bio: Dr Radich received his PhD from Harvard University in November 2007, with a dissertation entitled "The Somatics of Liberation: Ideas about Embodiment in Buddhism from Its Origins to the Fifth Century C.E." In this work, he examined a number of interesting ideas that were proposed in Buddhism about the forms in which the Buddha can be embodied in the world, and traced some of their history. He is also engaged in two other larger research projects. One studies the works of Paramārtha (499-569), an important Indian missionary-monk to China, and his influence on the formation of East Asian Buddhism. The other studies the many versions of the story of King Ajātaśatru in Buddhist and other traditions, including modern versions such as the Japanese psychoanalytic theory of the Ajase ("Ajātaśatru") Complex. More generally, Dr Radich also studies Chinese Buddhist history and Yogācāra Buddhist philosophy, and I have an increasing interest in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra. He has additional interests in early Chinese philosophy and Lacanian psychoanalysis. Dr Radich teaches East Asian religions, Buddhism, and religion and the body.

Public lecture: 'How the Mahāparinirvāṇa-mahāsūtra Won the Heart of East Asian Buddhism, and the Quixotic Quest for Essence in Asian Religions,' 19 October

Abstract: The Mahāparinirvāṇa-mahāsūtra (MPNMS) is conceivably one of the most outlandish scriptures in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Especially in East Asia, it has also been one of the most consequential. It propounds the concept of "Buddha-nature", which promises that every sentient being has the innate potential to attain full buddhahood. This doctrine came to be almost universally accepted by East Asian Buddhists of all stripes.

Earlier generations of scholars tended to see this dominance of Buddha-nature doctrine as the result of fundamental orientation towards this-worldly optimism in East Asian religiosity, and therefore, as one of the most striking instances of a putative "sinification" (i.e. a "making Chinese") of Buddhist ideas and institutions. In more recent decades, suspicion has grown towards essentialisation of cultures and religions, and the "sinification" model has quietly slipped out of favour. Arguably, however, it has been replaced by no newer, more coherent models for the formation of East Asian Buddhism, or its place in the development of East Asian religion and civilisation as a whole. Yet it remains one of the most salient features of East Asian Buddhism that it seems empirically to display many ideas and practices that distinguish it from Buddhism elsewhere.

In this talk, I will sketch the broad outlines of large research project that takes the MPNMS as a test case in the complex dynamics of this problem. I will present this sketch partly in narrative form, as a kind of "biography of the text" – from its embattled origins in second-century southern India, to an apogee of undisputed doctrinal hegemony in sixth-century southern China. Along the way, we will meet itinerant badlands preachers with sword-toting bodyguards; the only man who can save us in an evil, Buddha-less age; immortal Buddhas with indestructible bodies; intrepid and pious pilgrims; a randy monk who came to a sticky end; an exiled heretic who finally won the day; and millions of nameless believers, heartened by a gospel of hope.

Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

Bio: Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki is widely-recognised as a leading expert on recent and modern Japanese history, as well as conflict and resolution on the Korean peninsula and migration issues across the region. She is highly respected in her field, both in Australia and throughout the region. In 2012, she was awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship for a major project involving two PhD scholarships and three postdoctoral awards, which aims to develop a new framework for observing emerging forms of political activity in our region. She publishes extensively in English and in Japanese, and several of her publications have been translated into Korean. Her most recent monographs include: 3.11 ni Towarete: Hitobito no Keiken o meguru Kôsatsu (Challenged by the 3.11 Disaster: Reflections on the Human Experience), Tokyo, Iwanami Shinsho, 2012 (co-authored with Kariya, T., Kurihara, A., Sugita, A. and Yoshimi S.); To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey through China and Korea, New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2010; Borderline Japan: Foreigners and Frontier Controls in the Postwar Era, Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Public Lecture: 'Living on the borders of postwar Japan; three journeys', 15 October

Abstract: In the context of heightened tensions amongst the countries of Northeast Asia, this paper follows the trail of migrants who have crossed the seas between the Korean Peninsula and Japan over the past sixty years. Beginning from the present and working backwards, I examine the small but potentially very important contemporary flow of “returnee refugees” from North Korea to Japan. I then trace this back in history, to show how contemporary migration grows out of earlier cross-border movements from the Cold War era, including the 1960s mass migration of ethnic Koreans from Japan to North Korea. These movements in turn were shaped by the creation and collapse of Japan's colonial empire. Exploring multiple layers of regional migration, I will argue, can provide new insights into the past and future of the contentious relationship between Japan and the two Koreas. The Northeast Asian experience also sheds light on the wider dynamics and politics of migration in Cold War and post Cold War eras.

Postgraduate Master Class with Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki, 16 October

Description: This Master Class was attended by eight postgraduate students and early career researchers from across disciplines and departments at the University of Otago. It was designed to support PhD students and early career researchers in their own research journeys. Participants were asked to share a written and verbal summary of their research, and Professor Morris-Suzuki then responded to each of these presentations, making suggestions and asking questions, before inviting discussion amongst the wider group.

Roundtable discussion: 'Migration in Turbulent Times' with Professor Morris-Suzuki, Dr Jim Headley (Politics, Otago) and Associate Professor Jacqueline Leckie (Anthropology & Archaeology, Otago), 17 October

Description: This discussion centred on the movement of people, ideas and cultures across and within territorial borders during turbulent moments in the twentieth century. The three participants contributed their respective research interests and expertise on different geographical regions to the discussion (East Asia in the mid-twentieth century; Eastern Europe in the latter part of the century; and longer term diasporic movements in the Pacific).
The discussion explored the following issues/questions:

  • How does migration complicate inter-state relations?
  • How have Cold War global politics influenced migration?
  • How have the legacies of history (including colonial history, and Cold War era relations) shaped regional and other identities?
  • What new factors have emerged to shape identities in the latter part of the twentieth century and first decade of the twenty-first century?

Dr Yaghoob Foroutan, Research Associate, University of Waikato and Assistant Professor at the University of Mazandaran, Iran

Bio: Dr Foroutan holds Doctoral Degree from Demography & Sociology Program, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. Dr Foroutan recently completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship position at The National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA), The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand (2010-2013), where he is now a Research Associate. He also holds a position as Assistant Professor at The Department of Social Sciences, The University of Mazandaran, Babolsar, Mazandaran Province, Iran. Dr Foroutan has been recently appointed as Adjunct Research Fellow at The Swinburne Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. Dr Foroutan is also the Chair of the Scientific Group on 'Demography of Asian Migrants and Diasporas' at the Asian Population Association (2013-2015).

Public Lecture: 'Asian Migrants in Australasia: A Socio-Demographic Perspective' Thursday 5 September.

Abstract: This public lecture will focus on the place of religion from a demographic perspective. The fields of this study are the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural settings of Australasia. Focusing on these multicultural contexts, the present paper provides research-based evidence to examine these key research questions: what is the place of religion in the population composition? Whether and to what extent are socio-economic and demographic characteristics of population associated with religious affiliation? How important is the role of religion in population composition from a global perspective?

Professor Chua Beng Huat, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore

Bio: Professor Chua Beng Huat is concurrently, Provost Professor, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Research Leader, Cultural Studies in Asia Research Cluster, Asia Research Institute and Head, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore. He has held visiting professorships at universities in US, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Germany and Australia, including the Inaugural Distinguished Visiting Scholar Fellowship at Carolina Asia Centre, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA. His research interests include housing and urban policies, comparative politics of Southeast Asia, Cultural Studies in Asia and East Asian pop culture. He is a regular commentator on public issues in Singapore.

Public Lecture: 'Managing Multiculturalism: Immigration, Population Policy and Citizenship in Singapore', 29 April

Abstract: For the very first of nationhood, Singapore declared itself as a constitutional 'multiracial' nation, in which equality of race is guaranteed, in addition to the conventional liberal rights and freedoms of individuals. Since then the management of race, multiculturalism and multi-religiosity has been a central concern of the government. Equality of race translates itself into an idea of group rights in which the continuity of the cultural practices of each racial group is built into public policies. As a result, in many instances, freedoms of individuals are superseded by cultural rights of groups in the interests of maintaining racial peace and harmony. The resultant multiculturalism, widely accepted by Singaporean citizens, has serious implications on the recent immigration and population policies. The presentation will explore the complexities of these issues in contemporary Singapore.

Visiting Scholars 2012

Professor Partha Ghosh, Professor of South Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Bio: Professor Ghosh is currently Professor at the Centre for South, Central, SE Asian & SW Pacific Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is also the Editor of 'India Quarterly.' Currently he is the ICCR Chair (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) at Victoria University of Wellington. For many years Professor Ghosh served as a Research Director at the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi. His areas of interest are South Asian politics, ethnicity and domestic politics-foreign policy interface. His books include; Politics of Personal Law in South Asia, Unwanted and Uprooted: A Political Study of Refugees, Migrants, Stateless and Displaced in South Asia, Ethnicity versus Nationalism - The Devolution Discourse in Sri Lanka, BJP and the Evolution of Hindu Nationalism and several other co-edited books and academic journals. Forthcoming edited volume, India's North-East and Beyond: Cross-National Perspectives. Currently he is the editor of India Quarterly, the flagship journal of the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi.

Public Lecture: 'Migrants, Refugees and Diasporas: The Indian Experience', 12 September

Professor Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Professor of Development Studies and Chair of the Department of International Development Studies, Trent University, Canada

Bio: Professor Akram-Lodhi's research interests include gender and the political economy of rural change; structural adjustment, health economics, and the gendered impact of government revenue and spending, poverty; macroeconomics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. His research has focused particularly on the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, and Vietnam.

Keynote address entitled “Gender, the global economic crisis and Asia: thinking about the linkages” given at Asia-NZ Research Cluster Symposium 'Reconsidering Gender in Asian Studies: a Pacific Perspective', 8-9 June

Abstract: The global economic crisis has had specific and unique impacts upon the quantity and distribution of unpaid care work in the Asia Pacific region. This paper defines unpaid care work, demonstrates how the construction of gender identities results in an asymmetrical distribution of unpaid care work between females and males, and establishes the importance of understanding unpaid care work within the context of economic macrodynamics. With this framework, it becomes possible to demonstrate that unpaid care work has acted as an invisible social safety net in Asia during the global economic crisis in a way that has not only intensified gender inequality but has also intensified the depth of the economic crisis. It is therefore necessary to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work.

Master Class with Professor Akram-Lodhi, 7 June

Description: This Master Class for postgraduate students and early career researchers associated with the Asian Migrations Research Theme focussed on issues of methods, methodology, ethics and research design.

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