Category: Summer 2013

OPPORTUNITY: 2 Junior Research Group Leader Positions with the University of Heidelberg

August 15th, 2013

In the context of the excellence initiative II of the German federal and state governments to promote top-level research in Germany the Ruprecht-Karls- University of Heidelberg is looking for the implementation of the institutional strategy: „Heidelberg: Realising the Potential of a Comprehensive University“ in the area of Transcultural Studies for two Junior Research Group Leaders.

The university is looking for outstanding young scholars to build up and independently lead a group of young researchers working towards a PhD degree in the following four thematically related fields:

  • Cultural Heritage and Shaping of Traditions (Focus: Cultural Studies and/or Art History)
  • Designs of Life and Configurations of Order in Different Cultures (Focus: Cultural Studies and/or History)
  • Interpretations of World, Society, and History in the World Religions (Focus: Cultural Studies, History, Study of Religion, Theology)
  • Transcultural Flows: Reciprocities and Asymmetries (Focus: Cultural Studies, Philologies, Geography)


  • an above average PhD dissertation
  • outstanding publications
  • Experience in international research and
  • Experience in the organization of larger cooperative projects or of large congresses is highly desirable

Aims of the implementation of the two junior research groups:

  • experiment with the creation of new structures of staff and hierarchy in the arts and cultural studies;
  • develop a new area of concentration of research in the humanistic studies which will interpret central questions of culture, religion, society and history;
  • connect the existing area studies with their geographic emphasis on Asia, Europe and the Americas in a new way.

The Junior Research Group Leaders will be engaged from January 1st, 2014

The Junior Research Group Leaders will have the right to supervise PhD students and to evaluate their dissertation (Promotionsrecht). The teaching load will be four hours per week during term time. The salary level is (at the least) TV-L E15. Junior Research Group Leaders will be appointed until 31.10.2017. The positions are subject to continuous evaluation. Positions within the research groups are also temporary with a maximum time allotment of three years for PhD students (2 PhD students, salary level TV-L E13/2).

The application should contain a CV, list of publications and courses given, copies of certificates and an exposé of the Junior Research Group Leader’s proposed project as well as a description of the thematic focus and of the intended interdisciplinary composition of the potential group of young researchers (up to 10 pages) will have to be handed in by September 15th to:

Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Transcultural Studies
Prof. Dr. Vera Nünning
Marstallstraße 6
D-69117 Heidelberg.


CALL FOR PAPERS & PANELS: Texas Asia Conference: Tradition and Transition

July 22nd, 2013

Texas Asia Conference: Tradition and Transition
Department of Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference
The University of Texas at Austin
Friday November 1st & Saturday November 2nd 2013

The University of Texas at Austin Department of Asian Studies Graduate Conference (i.e. the 2013 Texas Asia Conference) will be held this year on Fri and Sat, November 1st & 2nd, 2013 in Austin, Texas (USA). The Texas Asia Conference (TAC) is a wonderful opportunity for graduate students to present their original research on all aspects of Asia (ancient and modern), become familiar with other graduate students’ work, and meet burgeoning scholars within the broad and interdisciplinary field of Asian Studies.

Our keynote speakers will be:

  • Prof. Patrick Olivelle, Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit and Indology at the University of Texas at Austin, Dept. of Asian Studies, and
  • Prof. Daniel Stevenson, Professor of Chinese Buddhism at the University of Kansas, Dept. of Religious Studies.

The Texas Asia Conference (TAC) is a biennial and international graduate student conference organized by the graduate students of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. This year’s conference will take place on Friday and Saturday, November 1st & 2nd 2013. Our theme is Tradition and Transition. We welcome papers that explore various definitions of and approaches to the term “tradition” in the study of Asia as well as the ways in which change has been enacted and negotiated within and across traditions. Traditions encompass a broad scope of overlapping modes and contexts including socio-cultural, literary, religious, economic, artistic, and performative, as well as traditions in academic research investigating these areas.

We are accepting individual paper abstracts as well as proposals for group panels. The deadline for both is August 10th, 2013. Individual abstracts must include a title and topic. For panel proposals, the organizer of the panel must email the panel abstract, proposed title, topic, and names of presenters. Each panel can include 3 or 4 presenters who are also required to submit individual abstracts. All abstracts should be limited to 300 words. For abstract submissions and additional information or questions, please contact TAC conference co-chair Vibha Shetiya at

The Texas Asia Conference provides graduate students with a platform to present their research and to benefit from a scholarly exchange of ideas. We welcome applications from graduate students in all academic disciplines engaged in research on South, Southeast, Central, and East Asia. These disciplines include, but are not limited to, anthropology, art history, communication, ethnomusicology, history, literature, philology, political science, religion, sociology and women’s studies. Our previous conference, held in 2011, drew over 100 participants and 30 academic panels, from both the United States and abroad.


Undergraduate Essay Prize in East Asian Studies 2013

July 1st, 2013

East Asian Studies Interdisciplinary Program

At Commencement in May 2013, BU’s East Asian Studies Interdisciplinary Program granted for the first time three essay prizes for the best undergraduate term papers on East Asia submitted in 2012-13.

A committee of East Asian Studies faculty (Professors Joe Fewsmith, IR & Political Science; Eugenio Menegon, History; and Catherine Yeh, Modern Languages and Comparative Literatures), in coordination with EAS Director Professor Min Ye, and IR and MLCL Chairs William Grimes and Sarah Frederick, selected among 16 submissions from several departments the three winners of a cash prize of $ 200 each in three different categories (Economics/IR; Literature; History), as follows:

  1. Calvin Chiu, a junior majoring in IR and Economics, wrote an essay on “The Development and Efficacy of Chinese Banking Reform” showing a sophisticated understanding of the way banking and financial systems work in China. Calvin was also able to offer a trenchant criticism of the findings of professional researchers at several junctures, in his attempt to explain the dynamics of the 2008 financial crisis and its connection to economic trends since the mid-2000s.
  2. Thea Diklich-Newell, a senior majoring in Comparative Literatures, won for her essay “Murakami and Magic Realism.” Japanese celebrated writer Murakami was directly influenced by the quintessential representative of “magic realism,” Gabriel Garcia-Marquez and his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967). Thea’s linguistic expertise is mainly in Spanish, yet she decided to engage on a comparative topic over a Japanese author, deftly summarizing some key episodes in Murakami’s novels in English translation.
  3. Kristen Lee, a senior pursuing a double major in IR and East Asian Studies, in her essay “Pirate Queens and Dragon Ladies” revealed the similarities and differences between an Irish and a Chinese female pirate in the early modern period, and displayed a sophisticated understanding of how texts and images are manipulated in history, often to efface gender and women from master narratives controlled by men.

Congratulations to our winners!


INTERNSHIP for Fall with the JICC/Embassy of Japan

June 14th, 2013

The Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC), Embassy of Japan is seeking unpaid, part to full-time interns (12-35hrs/week) for Fall 2013. Internship start/end dates and hours are customized with the academic schedule of the chosen candidate. (Download informational pdf for JICC Internship)

The JICC is a part of the Public Affairs sectionof the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC. Our primary role is to promote a better understanding of Japan and Japanese culture by providing a wide range of information and events to the American public, particularly in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. We strive to build bridges between the two cultures through various activities, such as film screenings, art exhibitions, lectures, an online newsletter, and school programs. The JICC is the gateway to connect the American public to Japan and the interns are an integral part of our efforts.



  • Enrolled in a four-year degree program and have at least two years of undergraduate study completed. Graduate students may also apply.
  • Enrolled in a U.S. accredited university throughout duration of internship.
  • Major in International Studies, Japanese Studies, Asian American Studies, Public Diplomacy, Political Science, or a related field.


  • English: Proficient to fluent in speaking/reading/writing
  • Japanese: Proficient to fluent in speaking/reading/writing
  • Excellent writing, public speaking, and organizational skills
  • Superior interpersonal communication skills
  • Ability to take initiative and work successfully both independently and in teams


  • Interns are required to work at least 12 hours per week. Generally these hours are between 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. On occasion, interns are asked to work evening/weekend events.
  • Interns must be available to begin and end the internship within a week or two of the specified Internship Term. See below for specific Internship Term information.


  • Candidates must either (a) be eligible to receive credit for the internship, or (b) have the internship noted on their academic transcript.
  • Candidates selected for an interview must have an in-person interview at the JICC in Washington, DC during business hours.
  • This position is open to Japanese and American citizens. The JICC, Embassy of Japan cannot sponsor visas for Japanese citizens.

Intern Job Description

  • Interns at the JICC contribute to and participate in valuable cultural and international relations programs and events by assisting diplomats and Embassy staff. Specific duties include:
  • Participating in JICC’s School Program, a cultural presentation about Japan for local schoolchildren and students
  • Conducting research and drafting letters to respond to inquiries from the public
  • Creating resource materials to educate the public on Japanese culture
  • Preparing for and assisting with events
  • Assisting Japanese diplomats and JICC staff

Application Process(Application language is English.)

  1. Applications are only accepted during the specified dates below:
  2. Internship Term Application Period
    Fall 2013 (early September ~ early December) June 10, 2013 ~ July 12, 2013
    Spring 2014 (mid January ~ early May) TBD
    Summer 2014 (early June ~ late August) TBD
  3. Email your resume and cover letter as a PDF file to Mr. Brian Kato at Due to the high volume of applications received, consideration of your application cannot be guaranteed if the submission instructions are not properly followed.
  4. Candidates chosen to be interviewed must submit all of the following documents at their interview:
    • Document(s) certifying that the intern candidate will either (a) receive credit, or (b) have the internship noted on their academic transcript
    • Copy of Student ID (2 copies)
    • Copy of Passport(s) (2 copies)
    • Copy of U.S. Student Visa (Japanese students only; 2 copies)
    • Copy of Driver’s License (2 copies)
    • College Transcript – unofficial transcripts are acceptable
    • Recommendation Letter from the Dean, Department Head, or Student Advisor

If you have any questions, please contact the Intern Coordinator, Mr. Brian Kato, at


EVENT IN REVIEW: Prof. Denecke thanks BUCSA

June 14th, 2013

Prof. Wiebke publishes volume on the Long History of the Concept of “Literature” in Japan, a conference volume on the changing faces of the concept of “literature” in East Asia and Japan, edited by Wiebke Denecke (BU, MLCL) and Kimiko Kono (Waseda University, Director of the Institute of Japanese Classics, Tokyo).

Professor Wiebke writes,

I wanted to thank BUCSA once more for the very generous support of the conference I co-organized with a Waseda colleague last summer in Tokyo. It was a wonderfully productive event (we already published a volume on the notion of “literature” in Japan, in good part based on the conference contributions. BUCSA’s contribution is gratefully acknowledged in our preface). Also, in response to the success, my colleague Kono Kimiko and I got a contract for a three-volume series on the history and future of the notion of literature/bun in Japan and East Asia, so last year’s event was really very fruitful.

This volume is the first attempt to recapture the adventurous history and future critical potential of the Chinese concept of wen 文 (Japanese pronunciation bun), which encompasses a broad range of meanings ranging from “pattern” and “refinement” to “writing,” “civilization,” and “literature. The concept of wen/bun has played an exceptionally prominent and manifold role in the cultural history of East Asia. The character for wen, 文, already appears on Chinese oracle bones used for divination and in bronze inscriptions from the 12th century BCE on, where it seems to refer to patterned animal fur or tattooed human skin. The rich connotations this concept accumulated over a period of almost two millennia in China were quickly adopted in Early Japan. However, with the Meiji Period (1868-1912) the particular relation between bun and the East Asian traditional notion of elite “Letters” changed dramatically, as “bun-gaku” (bun-learning) became the standard translation for the contemporary European idea of “literature,” in particular for fiction and belles-lettres, which had traditionally a low standing in the East Asian genre hierarchy. Nowadays the Western concept of literature has overwritten the traditional concept of “Letters” in Japan and we need to invest much effort in historical research to recover that lost world of wen/bun and reflect on what it meant in traditional East Asia and what it can contribute to critical discourse in contemporary literary studies around the globe.

Based on regular cyber-conferences of the two editors over the past couple of years and an international symposium held in Tokyo in July 2012, the volume presents articles by 19 scholars from Japan, China, the US, and Europe. Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences and Center for the Study of Asia generously sponsored the workshop and made this volume possible.


FACULTY NEWS: Outgoing VC of LUMS: A job well done

June 14th, 2013

He sits in his office among books about nature and environment. This man got pavements along the campus broken to grow grass and go green. He offered his students bicycles in exchange for their cars parked in the university’s parking lot.

He has criticised on-campus politicking and supported the rule of law.  He has never accepted a single appeal during his two years in office. He has always believed in moderation, and wants people in Pakistan to smile more often.

Known for being accessible and easy to talk to, this academic’s tweets are laden with Munir Niazi and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. He jokes about Twitter being especially created for Urdu poetry. “What else can you fit in 14- characters?”

This is Dr Adil Najam, the Vice Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). As he gears up to step down this June, there is a stack of books that he has been meaning to read waiting for him. And he cannot wait to resume teaching.

The building of the Razia and Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law – the fourth school at the university— has been designed already. The campus covered space has been increased by 30 per cent since 2011 and the energy cost and consumption reduced by nearly 10 per cent. A new agreement to increase funding under the LUMS National Outreach Programme is to be signed soon. In the year 2012, Rs358 million was given as aid under the same programme. Najam is a VC satisfied with what he has achieved.

Najam, who has formerly taught at the Tufts University and the Boston University, has been director of Boston University’s Frederick S Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. What brought him back to Pakistan after 20 years in the US was that “this opportunity gave me a chance to connect with my country closely. But what made me say yes, mainly, was the LUMS National Outreach Programme for the under-privileged students.”

When he moved back with his wife and children, he didn’t know for how long. “I never plan. Why should we? My two-year plan for a degree in the US took me 20 years to return.”

While he has no definite future plans for now, he is open to offers in and outside Pakistan.

Asked about a recent debate on local students’ online forums suggesting that Imran Khan should offer him the VC’s post at the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Najam responds with good humour. “Public universities are a much bigger responsibility than private, but I will certainly not refuse Imran’s call; not the phone call at least.”

How important is popularity among students to the VC of LUMS? “This is not a popularity contest and I am not a candidate,” he said, adding that he’d rather be remembered as a VC who was fair and honest.

Najam shared his thoughts that there is a lack of patience and trust in Pakistani society as he briefly touched the controversial issues of the alleged paper leak and resignation of Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, a former faculty member, who is also mentioned in Najam’s next book scheduled for release in July.

Supportive of evolution and change, Najam sees a social threat in those who have strong and blind certitude in their belief, and have extremist tendencies. Dr Najam sees the Pakistani youth as a “much more interesting generation than his”. He is hopeful because “people want to send their children to school. They have realised that the ticket to success is education.”

For him, youth are one of the five things in Pakistan that are going in the right direction. Music, media, resilience and responsibility are the other four.

By Ayesha Hasan
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2013


ANNOUNCEMENT: The NEW Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation/ACLS Program in Buddhist Studies

June 1st, 2013

Offered in partnership with the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the grants reflect the Foundation’s belief in Buddhism’s relevance to contemporary issues.

The American Council of Learned Societies is pleased to announce The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation/ACLS Program in Buddhist Studies, a new initiative supporting research and teaching in Buddhist studies funded by a $1.9 million grant from the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation. Working with the Foundation, ACLS will offer an articulated set of fellowship and grant competitions that will expand the understanding and interpretation of Buddhist thought in scholarship and society, strengthen international networks of Buddhist studies, and increase the visibility of innovative currents in those studies. ACLS will organize competitions for Dissertation Fellowships, Postdoctoral Fellowships, Collaborative Research Grants, and Visiting Professorships.

These are global competitions. There are no restrictions as to the location of work proposed or the citizenship of applicants.

“We are honored to partner with the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation,” said ACLS President Pauline Yu. “The humanities study how people create and convey meaning; the study of religions is thus one of the core concerns of the humanities. This new initiative will help bring Buddhist studies to the center of academic inquiry worldwide.”

“We are committing substantial resources to strengthening the teaching and study of Buddhism in modern society, supporting outstanding scholars and institutions worldwide. This is an important step towards realizing my family’s vision of developing a Buddhist Learning Network to further the study of Buddhist philosophy and broaden its impact in the twenty-first century,” said Robert Y.C. Ho, chairman of the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation.

Dissertation Fellowships assist advanced graduate students at a critical point in their academic careers, helping them accelerate progress to the degree and prevent attrition in later stages of doctoral study. This one-year fellowship will allow Ph.D. candidates to devote full time to preparing dissertations.  The fellowship period may be used for fieldwork, archival research, analysis of findings, or for writing after research is complete.

Postdoctoral Fellowships enable scholars early in their careers to establish scholarly credentials and strengthen their research records. This is especially valuable in emerging fields, where those just starting out often break new ground. These two-year fellowships provide funding that will allow recent recipients of the Ph.D. to revise the dissertation into a publishable manuscript or to begin the first new project after completion of the Ph.D. degree.

Collaborative research grants foster interdisciplinary scholarship at a time when more and more contemporary issues cannot be adequately addressed by a single discipline. Recently, scholars across the university have shown a growing interest in the intellectual wealth of Buddhist studies and a desire to work with Buddhist studies specialists.

These grants will support work that may be interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary.  International and multilingual projects are encouraged.  Especially welcome are projects that relate several traditions in Buddhist studies to each other or that relate scholarship on the broad Buddhist tradition to contemporary concerns in other academic fields.

Visiting professorships in Buddhist studies enable universities without programs in the field to explore the contributions it could make to their institutions.  Institutions with existing programs of Buddhist Studies may strengthen their curricula and research capacity.  Institutions without such programs may accept a visiting professor as a means of exploring the contribution this field could make to the institution’s portfolio.  These grants will allow universities and colleges to host accomplished scholar-teachers in Buddhist Studies as visiting professors for one semester or one academic year.

Application guidelines and more information are available at

Please send all inquiries to



STUDENT NEWS: Recent graduate Aaron Sinift’s work in India with khadi jholas featured in CFA’s Esprit

June 1st, 2013

To a weaver in India, the citizen artist is the painter whose commission keeps him employed

Excerpt. Read the full story @ Esprit

At seven, Aaron Sinift (’02) told his mother, “Someday, I’m going to change my name to Harry Whitecloud and travel to India.” When he finally made the trip at the age of 24, he felt as though “I was returning to an essential facet of my heart.” He loved India’s color, vibrancy, and culture, so different from his native Iowa. He was distressed by the country’s extreme poverty and drawn to the work of the ashrams, service institutions promoted by Mahatma Gandhi to help India’s rural poor maintain self-sufficiency by spinning and weaving khadi cloth. “The khadi is so beautiful and so fragrant, and rough in certain ways,” Sinift says. “Gandhi wore it, and it has a lot of soul.”

Sinift bought a traditional jhola [jho-la] shoulder bag made from khadi cloth and printed with an image of Gandhi. “I was attracted by the tender awkwardness of the artworks created by anonymous ashram artists for common people. These are authentic Pop Art creations from the very roots of the land.” As a CFA graduate student, he hung the jhola on the wall of his studio and found that his bold, colorful paintings began to take on some of the jhola’s themes. His advisor, Professor of Art John Walker, noticed the change. “That bag is not an artifact,” Walker said. “It’s a living work of art.” This casual line stuck with Sinift, and it would direct the course of his career.

After graduating from CFA, Sinift took a job as the preparator at a New York gallery, Feature Inc., and painted in his Brooklyn studio with the hope of being discovered. “I was seeking the approval of people who didn’t know I existed, and I decided to reinvent myself into the person I wanted to become. I wanted to be an artist who serves those in need and to create a community in which people feel connected to one another.”

Sinift invited the ashrams to create a book made entirely from khadi cloth featuring screen- and block-printed artworks by 24 artists from 8 countries. He commissioned well-known artists like Francesco Clemente, Yoko Ono, and Chris Martin, as well as emerging artists such as Tamara Gonzales, Tim Wehrle, and Pushpa Kumari to contribute one page each. He called this project the “Five-Year Plan” and aimed to print 180 copies, which would be packaged in handmade jhola bags.

In accordance with Gandhi’s philosophy, the Five-Year Plan would need to be entirely nonprofit and autonomous, so instead of seeking institutional backing to assist with the printing cost, Sinift raised more than half of the funds by preselling the book online. “Citizen artists need to find ways to fund their work with modest means,” he says. “When we do so, we realize that we’re not helpless. We realize how much power we have.” Sinift pledged the first $25,000 revenue to Doctors Without Borders and the remaining proceeds to the next Five-Year Plan project. But first, he needed the cloth.

Sinift traveled to the outskirts of New Delhi to to find an ashram that would collaborate on the Five-Year Plan. During a visit to an ashram in Meerut, Sinift met with the director, “a stony guy who was used to people coming to buy their cloth because it’s cheap. When I showed him the drawing that I made for the cover of the book, his eyes began to water. He saw that I respected his labor and was not there to take advantage of it. That was the moment I knew I was on the right track.”

Sinift commissioned 1.4 kilometers, almost a mile, of khadi from the Manav Seva Sannidhi Ashram in Modinagar, which employs 700 spinners, the majority of whom are women over the age of 55. The ashram also employs 45 weavers (mostly men over the age of 45), and 35 helpers. Most of these workers are Dalit Muslim or low-caste Hindu, and are the sole providers for their families. Spinning and weaving the khadi for the Five-Year Plan created more than 2,400 days of work for the ashram and kept 100 families employed for a month.

The artists, too, benefited from the Five-Year Plan. “Most of the artists are very poor,” Sinift says. Each artist received a copy signed by all of the contributors, and “they can sell their copies of the book and use the proceeds however they wish.” Indian painter Pushpa Kumari, whose intricate work is inspired by stories from the Hindu epics, is using the proceeds from the sale of her book to help build her house. True to Gandhi’s ideals, Sinift has not profited from the Five-Year Plan; to support his life and his art, he works part time at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Katzen Arts Center at American University, which he finds as fulfilling as his work with the ashrams.

And Sinift is just getting started. He plans eventually to take the project a step further by beginning a book from seeds, commissioning organic farmers in India to grow one ton of cotton that will be spun into the thread used to weave the khadi. He will invite the farmers, spinners, and weavers to contribute original artworks, completing a “sustainable cycle of collaboration.”

“The ashram workers provide incredible value to the world by supporting Gandhian ethics and helping people to maintain self-sufficiency,” Sinift says. “The people in Doctors without Borders dedicate their lives to saving people in crisis. The Five-Year Plan gives artists a chance to make a tangible contribution to the common good, simply by doing what they already do naturally. If people just give what they do naturally, everyone can live together with dignity.”