Published: July 29, 2020

Parting Thoughts from Colleen Berry

The last five years have been challenging, interesting, exciting, and gratifying. The opportunity to expand my field from Chinese literature to Asian studies has been daunting at times, but one that has thoroughly enriched my life. I’ve been delighted to have had the chance, through the Tang-funded Global Seminars, to continue taking students to China as well as teaching Asia-related classes on campus. I have truly enjoyed working at the Center for the past five years and have learned so much, thanks to my colleagues here and across campus, who work in Asia-related fields, and my students. The decision to move into a new phase of my life and career has been difficult but one I’m looking forward to. Thank you all for making my time at CU so valuable and enjoyable!

Colleen Berry

Faculty Updates

Brian A. Catlos (Professor of Religious Studies) was a featured author at the Jaipur Literary Festival in January at the Diggi Palace in Jaipur, India. In a session sponsored by the Agha Khan Foundation, he was interviewed by best-selling author William Dalrymple regarding Catlos’s recent book, Kingdoms of Faith. A New History of Islamic Spain (Basic: 2018). The book has been reviewed in the New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Financial Times, and even got a shout-out in the Wall Street Journal. The German, Spanish and Polish translations are also out with Korean and Complex and Simplified Chinese coming out in 2020.

A new global seminar, ANTH 3770: Primates of Vietnam: Conservation in a Rapidly Developing Country, was approved by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Education Abroad Committee in 2019 and is scheduled to be offered for the first time in summer 2020.  Ten CU Boulder undergraduates will travel to Vietnam with Drs. Bert Covert and Jonathan O’Brien for three weeks to see firsthand this Southeast Asian country’s attempts at balancing development and conservation.

Professors Bert Covert and Jonathan O’Brien at Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve.

The 2019 Society of Queer Asian Studies Best Paper prize was awarded to Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies Emmanuel David’s “Transgender Archipelagos,” published in the August 2018 issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly. The SQAS prize committee unanimously agreed that “Transgender Archipelagos” demonstrates what transgender studies and area studies can do for each other, or, to put it another way, what it means to see 'transgender studies' through the lens of 'area studies,’ and perhaps vice versa. The essay’s framing archipelagic perspective is particularly productive and promising in the many iterations of ‘trans’ that the essay engages - transnational, transatlantic, transpacific, transindigenous, and transhemispheric. Conjoining queer and trans studies, area studies, and dance studies to analyze ethnographic research on Filipino beauty pageants, Dr. David convincingly demonstrates the expansive scope of “transgender archipelagos,” as an optic of queer and trans Asian studies.

Associate Professor of History Miriam Kingsberg Kadia's book, Into the Field: Human Scientists of Transwar Japan, was published by Stanford University Press in 2019. Into the Field is a generational biography of the scholars who created knowledge of human diversity within the Japanese empire, and then revised that knowledge to suit the geopolitical realities of the Cold War world.

Dennis McGilvray (emeritus Professor of Anthropology) delivered a keynote presentation about Sri Lankan Muslim women’s domestic property at a conference held at Ashoka University, New Delhi, in August 2019, devoted to “Matrilineal Muslims and Islamic Law in the Indian Ocean Littoral.” On the same journey, he also interviewed experts in Colombo about Sri Lankan Muslim legal interpretations of women’s dowry and “matrilocal” residence patterns, which are quite widespread in the island. 

Dennis McGilvary
Dennis McGilvray in New Delhi.

In 2019, Anthropology Professor Carole McGranahan continued her ongoing research on political asylum and citizenship in the Tibetan exile diaspora, and published several works including the articles "Chinese Settler Colonialism: Empire and Life in the Tibetan Borderlands" and "Love and War, Tibet and the CIA," and collaborated as editor with a Tibetan family on the book Resistance and Unity: The Chinese Invasion of Tibet, Makchi Shangri Lhagyal, and a People's History of Tibet, 1947-1959 (Chennai: Notion Press).

Beth Osnes (Associate Professor of Theatre) and Jay Keister (Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology) co-hosted the Fall Global Ancient and Classical Theatre workshop, with sessions on Malaysian shadow puppet theatre and Noh drama.

Students in Beth Osnes and Jay Keister’s Fall Global Ancient & Classical Theatre Workshop.

Stephanie Su (Assistant Professor of Asian Art) co-organized the International Conference on Xu Beihong (1895-1953) with the Xu Beihong Research Institute at the School of Arts, Renmin University of China. Xu Beihong was one of the most important artists in 20th century China, reflecting the tumultuous history of modern China. Prof. Su’s talk, “Chinese Mythology in a Transnational context: Foolish Man Moving the Mountain and the Shifting Discourse of Pan-Asianism” highlights the Sino-Indian relationship from the 1920s to the 1940s by uncovering the important role that the Indian Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Rabindranath Tagore, played in Xu’s conceptualization of the painting. The conference has drawn media attention in China, and was reported on the Artron News, the biggest art news platform in China.

stephanie Su
Stephanie Su at the International Conference on Xu Beihong.

Arriving at CU this fall, William Taylor (Assistant Prof/Curator of Archaeology, Anthropology/CUMNH) is an archaeozoologist who studies human-environmental relations and animal domestication across East and Central Asia. His research explores the origins of horse riding and herding in Mongolia and China, and the prehistory of reindeer and large animal herding in mountain zones through glacial archaeology. 

Assistant Professor William Taylor during field work.

Robert Wyrod, assistant professor in Women and Gender Studies and International Affairs, was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to continue his research on the impact of Chinese development assistance in sub-Saharan Africa. The grant will allow him to continue his research in Uganda where his fieldwork focuses on three large China-funded development projects.

A China-funded industrial park under construction in Uganda; photo by Robert Wyrod.

Report: Reconsidering Articulation Issues in Colorado and Surrounding States through New Pedagogical Perspectives

Yumiko Matsunaga and Hisako Schibli of the Japanese program in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations presented outcomes of a yearlong project at the conference of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) in Washington D.C. in November 2019. 

The project was supported through CAS with a Japan Foundation Japanese Language Education Project Grant from September 2018 to March 2019. With the help of CAS, Japanese instructors hosted three events: a workshop and two study group meetings. The two-day workshop, co-hosted by the Colorado Japanese Language Education Association (CJLEA) in September 2018, offered local Japanese educators with varied backgrounds and experiences an opportunity to learn current pedagogical trends and concepts. Two guest speakers, Dr. Motoko Tabuse from Eastern Michigan University and Director Hideki Hara from the Japan Foundation Los Angeles, led the workshop. 

Based on positive feedback after the workshop, Matsunaga and Schibli held study group meetings with local Japanese educators in October 2018 and February 2019. Through these study group meetings, participants learned how they each cater to new students with previous Japanese language experience and how they make efforts to bridge the transition between different levels. During the first meeting, it became clear how little each program knew about other programs in the area, leading participants to keenly feel the need to exchange information more frequently. It was especially evident that increased efforts from college instructors are needed in order to bridge gaps between high school and college curricula. 

In the second meeting, participants shared materials and strategies for supporting smoother transitions among different levels of Japanese courses, and proposed the creation of an informational site that includes syllabi and placement test information for high school students, parents, teachers, and community college students who plan to transfer to universities. After these two study group meetings, there was a sense that all of the Japanese teachers had made great strides toward setting common goals among different programs in Colorado. 

In October, CJLEA launched the informational site. Schibli and Matsunaga had an opportunity to share these outcomes at the ACTFL conference. The yearlong project was successfully completed with the conference presentation; however, Japanese instructors at CU-Boulder intend to continue their collaborations on the development of common goals for Japanese language programs in Colorado and surrounding states. 

Participants in the "Reconsidering Articulation Issues in Colorado and Surrounding States through New Pedagogical Perspectives" workshop 

Sabbatical Report: Pastoralists of the Upper Yangtze
Emily T. Yeh

    I spent the last ten days of my sabbatical in China, in June 2018, on a trip to Drido and Chumarleb counties of Yushu Prefecture, Qinghai, on the Tibetan Plateau.  The trip was organized by Drokpa Tsang, meaning “Nomad House” in Tibetan, a recently established social enterprise based in Drido, aimed at revitalizing Tibetan pastoral areas.  Three young Tibetan staff members of Drokpa Tsang, along with Dorje Tashi, a well-known environmentalist who is working with them, accompanied our group, which consisted of three retired businesspeople from Hong Kong, myself, and a woman from Beijing who had worked with the Hong Kong organizer of the trip. 
Over the past two decades, Tibetan pastoral mobility and pastoralism more generally have been eviscerated by a storm of environmental, developmental, and educational policies.  Purportedly environmental policies have fenced and privatized use rights to grassland, increasing vulnerability to climate change, and exacerbating rangeland degradation.  More drastic policies of “ecological migration” have led to the wholesale removal of many pastoral communities to the outskirts of distant towns. School consolidation policies that have closed village schools, concentrating them in distant county seats, have also incentivized households to move away from the land.  State discourse that paints Tibetan nomads as backwards, ignorant, and “low quality,” has converged with a Buddhist modernist movement against the slaughter of livestock to further devalue Tibetan pastoralism. Low prices for pastoral products add insult to injury. Today, across the plateau, nomads aspire for their children to leave pastoralism behind and move to cities.  
Concerned about the deep cultural loss abandonment of pastoral territories entails, Drokpa Tsang hopes to model a path for a new generation of young, educated Tibetans to return to their ancestral lands, by pioneering family ranches that combine pastoral production with tourist homestays. One of the staff members of Drokpa Tsang, Soba, runs a new homestay at his family home in Drido, where we stayed for two days experiencing and learning about everyday pastoral activities, such as herding, collecting and drying yak dung, milking, weaving with yak hair, and traditional games.  Soba quit his salaried position at a university a year before to return home to make a life on the pastures, despite his parents and all of his friends thinking that he had gone completely insane.  Our group’s visit was the first test of the homestay concept for his household, and of Drokpa Tsang’s plan to run ecologically and culturally informed study tours.
After acclimating for several days in Jyeku (3700 meters), the seat of Yushu Prefecture, we drove to Shari Monastery in Chumarleb County. From here we made our way to Drido County seat, with a population of 20,000 (4300 meters), where Drokpa Tsang is building a cultural-ecological center.  We drove a few hours to Soba’s ranch along the Tongtian River, which flows southeast to become the Yangtze River, where we stayed for three days.  From there we drove further up the Tongtian to Cuochi Village of Chumarleb, the last village before the Qinghai-Tibet highway, on the other side of which is the vast, now-unpopulated Kekexili Nature Reserve.  Once a site of successful community environmental activism for the protection of wild yak, wild antelope, and other endangered species, the village has now been eviscerated by ecological migration.  We stayed at a home of a former village head and environmental activist before driving back to Golmud along the Qinghai-Tibet highway. 


Visiting Scholars

In 2019, CAS hosted twelve visiting scholars from around the US and Asia. During their time on campus, visiting scholars work with faculty members on common research interests, meet students, participate in events, and present their work at our Luncheon Series. Learning from them provides valuable opportunities for everyone in the CU community and beyond, and we feel fortunate to be able to serve as their home away from home.

Alton Byers was hosted by CAS Director Tim Oakes during the 2019-20 academic year. During his time here, he gave a talk, “Glaciers and Garbage: Towards Sustainable Solid Waste Management in the Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park, Nepal (NGS-55262C-19)” on September 26, 2019.

Reed Chervin was also hosted by Tim Oakes over the 2019-20 academic year. He shared his work in a talk, “Struggle on the Roof of the World: The Sino-Indian Border Conflict from a Historical Perspective,” in April 2020.

Wei Du also worked with Tim Oakes over 2019-20. Dr. Du was visiting from Guizhou Minzu University, and her work focuses on culture and environment in southwest China; in particular the traditional knowledge of local minority culture as a resource for economic development.

Kathleen Gallagher was at CAS over the spring semester of 2019. Dr. Gallagher came from the Graduate School for International Relations at St. Mary’s University to work with faculty host Carole McGranahan (Anthropology), and gave a talk, “Liberation, Freedom and the Plight of Ex-slave Populations in Nepal,” in April 2019. 

Kwan-pyo Hong arrived from Chonnam National University in Gwangju, South Korea in February and was in Boulder through the remainder of the 2019 calendar year. Dr. Hong was hosted by faculty hosts Emmanuel David (Women and Gender Studies) and Sangbok Kim (Asian Languages and Civilizations), and was working on a comparative study on anti-discrimination legislation in the Republic of Korea and the US.

Jinhwan Oh visited CAS for the third time over the past few years in AY 2019-20. Dr. Oh came from Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea, and his faculty host was Jin-Hyuk Kim (Economics). His work focuses on South Korean development and aid projects in Southeast Asia and Africa.                  

Bisheng Peng arrived from Sichuan University in December of 2018 and was with us until November of 2019. He worked with faculty host Terry Kleeman (Asian Languages and Civilizations), and gave a talk, “Homology of medicine and witchcraft: Shennong Bencao Jing and the fangxiandao in Han dynasty,” in November 2019.

Caitlin M. Ryan came to CAS over the 2019-20 year to work with Tim Oakes. She gave a talk, “Memory Work as Humanitarian Intervention: Peace-building in Osh, Kyrgyzstan,” in October 2019.

Yanxia Tang visited CU from April 2018 to March 2019 to work with Faye Kleeman (Asian Languages and Civilizations). Dr. Tang is from Aichi University in central Japan. She gave a talk, “Discussion on The Community Autonomy in Urban Areas of China - 中国都市的社区,” on February 21, 2019.

Irma Zavitri was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program awardee for the 2019-20 academic year. Zavitri taught the Beginning Indonesian DILS (Directed Independent Language Studies) courses in partnership with ALTEC during her time on campus and also enrolled in graduate-level courses in Anthropology, Education, English, and Religious Studies.