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H-ASIA August 25, 1995 South Asian Studies, Asian Studies and the (East) Asian "Miracle" *************************************************************************** From: Mark Berger <email@example.com> I am in complete agreement with Frank Conlon's posting which questioned the beneficial relationship between the shift in macro-economic policy in India and the related perception that the country could become another Asian Tiger which would result in increased funding for and interest in things South Asian. As was pointed out the disciplinary high ground in the study of Northeast and Southeast Asia is occupied by economists, political economists and policy intellectuals. As someone who does comparative work on Northeast and Southeast Asia, I often find myself drawing on theoretical literature derived from South Asia and Latin America in an effort to engage more critically with the capitalist 'success' of East Asia. Certainly in Australia there is a powerful trend by which Asian Studies is becoming Business Studies. This is driven from the top for the various reasons outlined in the previous posting. It is also driven in a related fashion by the concerns and interests of students themselves (who are increasingly in the Australian context customers, many of whom are paying large sums of money and expecting a usuable product as they define it). This results in a growing number of students who see the 'East as a career', and what they want is the basic language(s) and some general knowledge to mesh with their commerce, economics or business studies major. The intellectually ambitious and committed students can even be seen to be shying away from Asian Studies in the Antipodes at least in favour of other areas of study. They are put off by the instrumentalism and opportunism which is increasing in Asian Studies as a whole. This trend combined with the drive from the top for research relevant to geo-economic imperatives (and of course security concerns) in the context of the growing importance of export education to Australian higher education generally. Furthermore, continued efforts to rationalize higher education and make it more efficient (which is creating 'new' and sometimes larger bureaucratic structures and turning academics into bureaucrats rather than researchers and teachers does not suggest that the climate in Asian Studies generally (and South Asian studies more specifically) is going to be conducive to research which is seen to be at all esoteric (ie not immediately relevant) or to research which is out of step in politico-intellectual terms with the wider trend. I would be interested to hear what others think about the 'Australian' experience in Asian Studies and what relationship it has with trends in Asian Studies in the US and beyond. Mark Berger Murdoch University ================================================================= To post to H-ASIA send your message to H-ASIA@msu.edu To temporarily interrupt your H-ASIA service for holidays send a posting to <firstname.lastname@example.org> with the message: SET H-ASIA NOMAIL When you return and wish to resume H-ASIA service send a similar posting with message: SET H-ASIA MAIL Private questions should go to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org