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The Social Sciences in the Asian Century

The Social Sciences in the Asian Century OPEN ACCESS

Carol Johnson
Vera Mackie
Tessa Morris-Suzuki
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    The Social Sciences in the Asian Century
    Book Description:

    In this collection of essays, we reflect on what it means to practise the social sciences in the twenty-first century. The book brings together leading social scientists from the Asia-Pacific region. We argue for the benefit of dialogue between the diverse theories and methods of social sciences in the region, the role of the social sciences in addressing real-world problems, the need to transcend national boundaries in addressing regional problems, and the challenges for an increasingly globalised higher education sector in the twenty-first century. The chapters are a combination of theoretical reflections and locally focused case studies of processes that are embedded in global dynamics and the changing geopolitics of knowledge. In an increasingly connected world, these reflections will be of global relevance.

    eISBN: 978-1-925022-59-9
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Carol Johnson, Vera Mackie and Tessa Morris-Suzuki
  2. Vera Mackie, Carol Johnson and Tessa Morris-Suzuki

    In 2013, Australia’s Abbott Liberal government announced a ‘New Colombo Plan’, which supports Australian undergraduates to visit selected Asian countries to study, research or undertake internships, mentorships and practicums. One year earlier, the Gillard Labor government had released a White Paper,Australia in the Asian Century, which emphasised the importance of developing an education system that encourages Australians to be ‘Asia-literate’ and ‘Asia-capable’. The White Paper stressed the importance of strengthening ‘research and teaching links between Australian institutions and those in the region’ (Commonwealth of Australia 2012: 16–17; Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade n.d.).

    In this volume, we...

    • Raewyn Connell

      This chapter addresses two major challenges facing the social sciences in Australia. The first is the situation of Australian social science in a world context, which must be considered in the light of the postcolonial thinking that is now developing in all the social sciences worldwide. The challenge is all the greater because, in Australia, that reconsideration is taking place in institutions situated on the dispossessed land of Australia’s Indigenous peoples. The second challenge is that this reconsideration is occurring in the context of the promotion of government plans for Australian capitalists to exploit what are seen as the vast...

    • Sujata Patel

      In recent decades, the dynamics of the world have changed. At one level, the world has contracted. It has opened up possibilities of diverse kinds of transborder flows and movements of capital and labour and of signs and symbols, often organised in intersecting spatial circuits. While in some contexts and moments these attributes cooperate, at other times they are in conflict with and contest one another. Thus, even though we all live in one capitalist world with a dominant form of modernity, inequalities and hierarchies are increasing and so are fragmented identities. Lack of access to livelihoods, infrastructure and political...

    • Chua Beng Huat

      Even today, in some quarters of academia in Asia, we can still hear laments about the intellectual domination of the West. For example, it has been pointed out that local Asian scholars are often read by Western scholars as though they are anthropological local informants. The substantive local knowledge that Asian scholars generate is then reconfigured as empirical input to concept and theory formation by Western academics (who are consequently depicted by their critics as former and neo-colonisers). This hierarchical division of academic labour therefore recuperates past colonial domination (see also Chapter 2 in this volume). Conversely, scholars in Asia,...

    • Kanishka Jayasuriya

      This volume engages with debates about research and study on Asia and engaging with the knowledge produced in the Asian region in the next few decades.¹ My argument is simple: the advent of the so-called Asian Century is not simply about making us knowledgable about Asia or developing institutional capacities for such knowledge. Rather, it also challenges some of the fundamental assumptions of the social sciences. This has become problematic for some of the key assumptions driving Asian studies. It has also become problematic, in the Australian context, for some of the public policy assumptions about ‘Asia literacy’, or ‘Asia...

    • Sylvia Estrada-Claudio

      There has been a long struggle for reproductive health in the Philippines. In this chapter, I reflect on the process leading up to the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines in December 2012. Although there is much to be dissatisfied with in the implementation of the Bill, the process leading up to its passage in 2012 is instructive. This prompts reflection on the role of academics in promoting social change, the possibility of coalitions between academics and activists, and the importance of transnational solidarity, even in campaigns focused largely in a particular national context. Opposition to the...

    • Tessa Morris-Suzuki

      The issue of engaging with Asia raises a question posed by Mahatma Gandhi almost 70 years ago: ‘Which Asia?’ In March 1947, the first major postwar Asian gathering, the Asian Relations Conference, was held in New Delhi to ‘foster mutual contact and understanding’ among the nations of the region. One of the speakers was Gandhi, who addressed the closing session. When first invited to this meeting of representatives from all over Asia, though, Gandhi’s characteristic response had been to pose a question: which Asia, he asked, would be present at the conference (cited in Samaddar 1996: 40). Reading the White...

    • Leong H. Liew

      A key focus of this book is the importance of intellectual engagement with Asia. Particular emphasis is placed on the new theoretical and practical insights that can be gained by doing so that are relevant to a range of social scientists, regardless of their regional specialisation. In that context, the performance of the Chinese economy in the past 30 years provides a smorgasbord of food for thought (and rethought) about the role of the state in economic development and in the economy more generally. The insights to be gained from examining the Chinese case can be used to reflect on...

    • Ken Henry

      Australia is a continent, an island nation, a distinct geographic, cultural and political entity—with unique flora and fauna, and unique people, too. Our people are Australian. They inhabit a land rich in natural resources whose neighbourhood is Asia. Australia’s geographic location and abundance of natural resources have been key determinants of its economic structure for as long as it has had an economy. Since European settlement, Australia has been a significant exporter of agricultural products and bulk commodities—first wool and more recently iron ore and coal. In the twenty-first century, this feature distinguishes Australia from most other countries...

    • Ariel Heryanto

      In separate ways, two issues have concerned scholars in Australia and beyond. The first challenge concerns a desire to respond adequately to the widely accepted critique of Euro-American centricism, which is deeply embedded in much of the social sciences and humanities. The second issue hovers around ways to respond to the unsettling impacts of digital technology, which has radically altered our everyday social relations, along with knowledge production, dissemination and preservation. Neither challenge is new. Far from resolving these old issues, however, we have instead been confronted with an even sharper awareness of their complexity. Most of the time, analysts...

    • Simon Marginson

      Australia is an odd construction: a nation with British/European heritage on the southeastern edge of Asia positioned between its history and its geography. While its demography is becoming more Asian, its flag still carries the imperial ensign. It needs to embrace both, but British antecedents have left it linguistically and culturally singular and it has yet to develop the cultural, political and intellectual resources to manage multiple identities. Thick multisectoral engagement will stimulate the formation of those resources. The former Gillard government’s White PaperAustralia in the Asian Century(the ‘Henry Report’) names higher education as one of the principal...