The Center for Asian Studies theme for the 2013-2014 academic year is ‘Catastrophic Asia.’ Throughout the academic year, the Center will host a series of events and activities, culminating in the Spring 2014 symposium. The theme seeks to explore Asian vulnerability to, experiences with, and recovery from natural and/or human-induced environmental disasters such as seismic events, extreme climate events, pollution events, and the broader environmental and social challenges presented by a warming planet, including economic, demographic, epidemiological, and political threats.

Catastrophic Asia

Fall 2013

September 26

The Chinese Crises of 1900: Drought, Insurrection, and Invasion in the Year of the Boxers
CAS Speaker Series

This illustrated talk will focus on the Boxer Crisis of 1900, looking at how it has been understood as linked to "catastrophes" of different sorts. The anti-Christian Boxers were inspired to take action initially in part because of a natural catastrophe, in the form of a devastating drought, which they claimed was due to local gods being angered by the worship of a foreign deity.  Once the Boxers laid siege to the foreign legations in Beijing, some Western commentators, influenced by the time's Yellow Peril notions, began to fixate on the idea that the rising could have a catastrophic impact on all of Christendom.  Finally, due to the brutal measures used to suppress the Boxers, the foreign invasion that lifted the siege of Beijing have come to be seen in China as having had catastrophic consequences for the country.   Among the themes the speaker will address are the way that these different catastrophic sides of the events of 1900 have been emphasized and downplayed in Chinese and Western presentations of the Boxer Crisis in textbooks, journalism, and various forms of popular media, from films and novels to performances by Buffalo Bill's troupe and an episode of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show.  Also explored will be the way that memories of and stories about the Boxers have affected Chinese relations with the West up to the present. Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor's Professor of History at UC Irvine and often writes about Chinese history for newspapers and magazines.  He is the author, most recently, of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (2010 and 2013 editions). This event is sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies and the Program for Teaching East Asia.
5:00 p.m., Humanities 250, CU-Boulder.

Chinese Crises of 1900

September 27

What’s in a Claim? Bureaucracy and the Ontology of Land Holdings in South Asia
CAS Speaker Series

Professor Matthew Hull is a member of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is known for his research on colonial and contemporary bureaucracy, documents, and institutions in Pakistan and South Asia. His keynote lecture will address bureaucracy and corporations in South Asia, and he will discuss his new research on corporate sincerity. This keynote lecture will be part of the annual interdisciplinary graduate student conference sponsored by the Department of Anthropology. This event is sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies, the Department of Anthropology, and the Department of Communication.
4:00 p.m., Hale 230, CU-Boulder.

What's in a Claim?

November 1

The US and Prospects for Democracy in Iran
CAS Speaker Series

We are at a critical juncture in the troubled history of US Iran relations and the prospects of democracy in Iran. After a brief schematic account of this history--from the arrival of missionaries to the advent of the Second World War, from 1951 to 1979, and from 1980 till today--the two questions of Iran's pursuit of democracy and America's uneven approach to this pursuit will be discussed. The central focus of the talk will be the axiom that Iran today stands at the cusp of a cultural and political transformation--more societal than merely political--and only by grasping the essence of these changes can America formulate a policy that safeguards its own national interests while also respecting the pursuit of life, liberty and democracy for all in Iran. An Iranian –American historian and author, Professor Milani presently is the director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, and professor of International, Comparative, and Area Studies, a founding co-director of the Iran Democracy Project, as well as a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is also a prominent scholar of Iranian literature and culture. The most acclaimed recent book of his is Shah (Macmillan 2012), a biography of the last Shah of Iran in which Prof. Milani shows how Iran went from a politically moderate monarchy to a totalitarian Islamic republic. Professor Milani has been invited to UC-Boulder by the Persian (Farsi) Program (Department of Asian Languages and Civilization), and this event has been sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies and the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations.
5:00 pm., Humanities 150, CU-Boulder.

Prospects for Democracy in Iran

Spring 2014

January 30

Catastrophies in Asia: The North Korean Nuclear Issue
CAS Speaker Series

This event has been cancelled. Ambassador Christopher Robert Hill is the Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at The University of Denver, a position he has held since September 2010. In addition to overseeing the Josef Korbel School, Ambassador Hill is a monthly columnist for Project Syndicate and a highly sought public speaker and voice in the media on international affairs. Ambassador Hill is a former career diplomat, a four-time ambassador, nominated by three presidents, whose last post was as Ambassador to Iraq, April 2009 until August 2010. Prior to Iraq, Hill served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2005 until 2009 during which he was also the head of the U.S. delegation to the Six Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Earlier, he was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. Previously he served as U.S. Ambassador to Poland (2000-2004), Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia (1996-1999) and Special Envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999). He also served as a Special Assistant to the President and a Senior Director on the staff of the National Security Council, 1999-2000. Earlier in his Foreign Service career, Ambassador Hill served tours in Belgrade, Warsaw, Seoul, and Tirana, and on the Department of State's Policy Planning staff and in the Department's Operation Center. While on a fellowship with the American Political Science Association he served as a staff member for Congressman Stephen Solarz working on Eastern European issues. He also served as the Department of State's Senior Country Officer for Poland. Ambassador Hill received the State Department's Distinguished Service Award for his contributions as a member of the U.S. negotiating team in the Bosnia peace settlement, and was a recipient of the Robert S. Frasure Award for Peace Negotiations for his work on the Kosovo crisis. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Hill served as a Peace Corps volunteer where he supervised credit unions in rural Cameroon, West Africa. Ambassador Hill graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a B.A. in Economics. He received a Master's degree from the Naval War College in 1994. He speaks Polish, Serbo-Croatian, and Macedonian.
5:00 p.m., Humanities 150, CU-Boulder.

Catastrophies in Asia

March 10

Curating and Presenting the "3-11" Earthquake Online: Reflections from My Year with Harvard's Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters
CAS Speaker Series

This talk will be given by Eric Dinmore, Associate Professor of History at Hampden-Sydney College. He will recount how he assembled and curated online “personal collections” for Harvard’s Digital Archive of Japan’s 2011 Disasters, as well as reflect on the significance of his time with the project while a postdoctoral fellow at the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies from 2011 to 2012. The Great East Japan Earthquake and associated tsunami and nuclear catastrophes of March 11, 2011 shook Japan and the rest of the world with their human toll, devastating scale, and interlocking complexity. “3-11” also was unprecedented as a natural and human disaster striking a nation in the forefront of the global economy in a newly digital age. It provoked a global barrage of online blog entries, discussion group postings, Twitter tweets, audio recordings, non-governmental and relief organization communications, photographs, videos, news articles, disaster-related government websites, and other digital documentation. To preserve, organize, and make as much of this record available as possible to scholars and the wider online public, the Reischauer Institute launched the Digital Archive of Japan’s 2011 Disasters project. From its inception in March 2011, the project has indexed and search-tagged thousands of websites and documents, and hundreds of thousands of tweets, photographs, and videos. With the aid of partner organizations inside and outside Japan, it has assured that these catalogued items are stored on servers for future users. Much of Dinmore's work on the project involved using experimental interface software to assemble sample “personal collections” drawing from the catalogued digital records. In addition to serving as a repository, the Disasters Archive has strived to become a dynamic, ever-expanding public space. It and similar digital humanities projects are fundamentally social endeavors: not only do many digital records come from public websites, blogs, discussion forums, and social media sites; these items are also being made available to the global online public for perusal, curation, and commentary. Dinmore's task, then, was to present and curate digital narratives of “3-11” to the global online public, as well as to explain how he did it. As someone with no direct experience of the disasters and little previous exposure to the digital humanities, this undertaking revised the way he thought about “collecting” and forced him to grapple with knotty issues of addressing an ongoing tragedy from thousands of miles away. The closest metered parking is along University Avenue. Another option is the Euclid Auto Park by the University Memorial Center, which is a little more expensive but does not have a two-hour time limit.
5:00 p.m., Hale 230, CU-Boulder.

Curating and Presenting the "3-11" Earthquake Online

March 11

High Growth Hydrosphere: The Sakuma Dam and "Comprehensive Development" Planning in Post-1945 Japan
CAS Speaker Series

This talk will be presented by Eric Dinmore, Associate Professor of History at Hampden-Sydney College. In the years immediately following World War II, Japanese academic economists and public policy commentators viewed “backwardness” as a primary factor behind their country’s ruinous wartime pursuit of empire. In order to overcome “backwardness,” they argued Japanese would need to refashion their entire relationship with the natural environment, so as to maximize the amount of resources available to feed a growing economy. Many advocated “comprehensive development” (sōgō kaihatsu) as a unified management of the domestic landscape that employed long-term planning, empirical data analysis, and technocratic guidance in the name of the public good. A key, if not the key, component in early postwar comprehensive development was the promotion of large, phenomenally expensive multi-purpose dams. Backers of multi-purpose dam projects in early postwar Japan justified their necessity for a number of reasons, including flood control, provision of water for irrigation and industry, improvement of river transport, promotion of rural development, and hydroelectricity. This last reason factored most importantly at a time when Japan suffered from chronic electricity shortages. In this talk, Dinmore examines early postwar comprehensive development and dam promotion on the levels of policy discourse and actual practice.  He traces the genealogy of the 1950 Law on Comprehensive National Land Development (Kokudo sōgō kaihatsu hō), the basic law that underpinned attempts to reconfigure Japanese landscapes during the 1950s and early 1960s. He then presents the case study of the Sakuma Dam, which at its completion in 1956 stood as Japan’s largest dam and as a concrete product of comprehensive development policy. The Sakuma Dam, he argues, illustrated the limitations of the comprehensive development approach by skewing the benefits of hydraulic exploitation toward urban industrial centers, by failing to encourage rural revitalization, and by upsetting the natural environment of the Tenryū River Valley in central Japan. The closest metered parking is along University Avenue. Another option is the Euclid Auto Park by the University Memorial Center, which is a little more expensive but does not have a two-hour time limit.
4:00 p.m., Hale 450, CU-Boulder.

High Growth Hydrosphere

March 20

Field Experiments: Constructing a New National Emergency Management Field in China
CAS Luncheon Series

Wee Kiat Lim, PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology, will discuss his field work on emergency management systems in China. Using a mixed-method approach that involves interviews, participant observation, and archival review, he traces the genesis of the Chinese emergency management organizational field created after the 2003 SARS outbreak. His five-month fieldwork in Beijing was conducted over the political leadership transition in late 2012.  His research identifies the provisional successes and failures that define the new field, especially ideas about risk and governance—indigenous and heavily adapted from afar—that have shaped China’s legal and policy landscape on natural disasters over the last decade. His findings inform the understudied area of ideational and expert influence on emerging organizational field formation in neoinstitutional theory, especially in a non-Western context.
12:00 p.m., CAS Conference Room, 1424 Broadway, CU-Boulder.

Spring 2014 Luncheon Series

April 4

CAS Symposium 2014: Catastrophic Asia
CAS Speaker Series

Asia has been the site of some of the greatest human and natural catastrophes.  From the 2011 earthquake and nuclear meltdown in Japan, to the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India, to the legacy of Soviet nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, to the ever-present risk of nuclear war in South Asia, Asian sites reveal much about the intersection of the political and the natural.   The Center for Asian Studies will host four presentations by  scholars on the risks, costs and effects of different types and contexts of disaster in a day-long symposium on April 4, 2014.  Please join us.
1:00 p.m., Center for British and Irish Studies, 5th Floor, Norlin Library, CU-Boulder.

1:00 p.m. "Radiation 'Adaptation': Emergent Subjectivities and Health Strategies Among Indigenous Kazakhs at Semipalatinsk," Magdalena Stawkowski, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Boulder

In this paper, I draw on sixteen months of field work to describe the legacies of the Soviet atomic testing project and its long-term disastrous effects on the inhabitants of the nuclear zone in Kazakhstan.  Focusing on the village of Koyan in the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site region, I examine local Indigenous Kazakh villager’s understandings of health, livelihood and suffering, specifically their emerging subjectivities and health strategies after forty years of Soviet nuclear testing. While rooted in the broader histories of the Kazakh steppe and subsequent decline of the Soviet state, the context for this discussion is a forty-year period of Cold War nuclear testing and then its programmatic and abrupt closure. Particularly, I elucidate how scientific authority about the biological effects of low-dose radiation exposure, coupled with Kazakhstan’s economic restructuring programs, led to the socio-economic marginalization of inhabitants living adjacent to the test site. Principally, I address how Kazakhstan’s current political-economic climate has fostered a specific post-socialist “mutant” subjectivity in the nuclear zone—one that has rural populations “embracing” radioactive pollution. Tragically, the people I came to know see their own survival as proof that they are biologically adapted to a radioactive ecosystem.

1:40 p.m. "Recovery and Lessons Learned from Fukushima Dai-ichi," Jerry Peterson, Professor, Department of Physics, University of Colorado Boulder

One of the many dire problems resulting from the March 2011 Great Tohoku earthquake was the loss of cooling water to three operating nuclear power reactors at TEPCO’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.  Without the cooling, residual radioactive heating began to melt some of the components within the containment vessel.  Radioactive material was released from these components, and some left the plant in the air, ground water, and sea water, with wide media coverage.  Although the reactor safety systems themselves worked as designed, the entire system was overwhelmed by the quake and tsunami.  This system, we now realize, included a wide range of regulatory, corporate, public information, and other social, economic and political ingredients.  This accident has been called “a new type of nuclear disaster found at the interface of both social and natural phenomena”.  With nuclear fission providing 11% of global electricity, we must learn how to prevent, plan for, and deal with future incidents, within a much wider range of responsibilities.

2:20 p.m. "Catastrophic 'Experiments' and Corporeal Categories: Bhopal Gas Victims as 'Special' Citizens," Bridget Hanna, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

The Bhopal Disaster – the 1984 gas leak from an American-owned chemical plant into a densely populated central Indian city – was paradigmatic event of the risk society. Not only was it a novel and unique catastrophe: it was also a massive, uncontrolled, and largely undocumented experiment, one conducted with neither a protocol nor a control, on a sleeping city. What unfolded initially as the accidental exposure of 500,000 people to an unknown combination of deadly gases, has become over time (for those who have survived) an ongoing struggle for cure in the face of an ill that experts have still not fully defined. Rather, extant notions of treatment, illness, and exposure have been retrofit to Bhopal with mixed results, in an ongoing attempt to respond to, or perhaps neutralize, the suffering of the victims. Today, debates over detoxification, chronicity, stigma, categorization, and even clinical trials, are continuing to play out over the bodies of the gas-affected. In this talk I describe the medical institutions and practices that have arisen to manage the relationship of the gas-exposed to their health, in order to expose how medical uncertainty and the creation of “special” categories has constrained both access to care, and hopes for healing. Recovery and Lessons Learned from Fukushima Dai-ichi

3:00 p.m. "Self-Assured Destruction: The Climate Impacts of Nuclear War," Brian Toon, Professor, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder

Climatic Consequences and Agricultural Impact of Regional Nuclear Conflict - Brian Toon. A nuclear war between India and Pakistan, with each country using 50 Hiroshima-sized atom bombs as airbursts on urban areas, would inject smoke from the resulting fires into the stratosphere. This could produce climate change unprecedented in recorded human history and global-scale ozone depletion, with enhanced ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching the surface. Simulations with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM), show a long stratospheric residence time for smoke and hence a long-lasting climate response, with global average surface air temperatures 1.1 K below normal and global average precipitation 4% below normal even after a decade. The erythemal dose from the enhanced UV radiation would greatly increase, in spite of enhanced absorption by the remaining smoke, with the UV index more than 3 units higher in the summer midlatitudes, even after a decade. Scenarios of changes in temperature, precipitation, and downward shortwave radiation applied to the Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer crop model for winter wheat, rice, soybeans, and maize by perturbing observed time series with anomalies from the regional nuclear war simulations, produce decreases of 10-50% in yield averaged over a decade, with larger decreases in the first several years, over the midlatitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. The impact of the nuclear war simulated here, using much less than 1% of the global nuclear arsenal, would be devastating to world agricultural production and trade, possibly sentencing a billion people now living marginal existences to starvation. The continued environmental threat of the use of even a small number of nuclear weapons must be considered in nuclear policy deliberations in Russia, the U.S., and the rest of the world.

3:40 p.m. Break

4:00 p.m. Discussion by a faculty panel of respondents

Waleed Abdalati (Professor of Geography, CU-Boulder), Donna Goldstein (Professor of Anthropology, CU-Boulder), Laurel Rodd (Professor of Japanese, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, CU-Boulder), and Emily Yeh (Professor of Geography, CU-Boulder); moderated by Tim Oakes (Director ofthe Center for Asian Studies and Professor of Geography, CU-Boulder)

5:30 p.m. Reception

The closest metered parking is along University Avenue and in Lot 381, which is at the end of University Avenue along the roundabout just before the road turns north down the hill. These are limited to two hours, however, so we suggest that you park in the Euclid Auto Park by the University Memorial Center.

Catastrophic Asia Symposium

April 4

Tiananmen Retrospective: Reflections on Violence, Power, and Protest in China and Beyond
CAS Speaker Series

A panel discussion in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protest and June 4th crackdown. Featuring Chris Hammons (Anthropology), and Tim Oakes (Geography), Tim Weston (History).
4:00 p.m., Humanities 1B80, CU-Boulder.

Tiananmen Retrospective