MAI Bulletin – JUNE 2015

MAI Bulletin-June2015

From the MAI Acting Director’s Desk

Dear MAI colleagues and peers,

The MAI Research Day brought to us an astonishing breadth of expertise in Asian research being done at Monash University. Ranging from disciplines as varied as Tibetan Buddhism and tourism in the Indo-Pacific, from inter-faith weather stations to ethnomusicology in South East Asia, from the history of literature in Afghanistan to how we may learn about human history from the travel and transplantation of various plant species, the MAI Research Day was an eye-opening and inspiring occasion to bring together scholars from Monash who are engaging with Asia. Many thanks to all the scholars who shared their work and we hope some exciting interdisciplinary collaborations result from this exchange of ideas. A big thanks to Dr Max Richter for his able organisation of the day.

The MAI Research Day came upon the heels of another rich seminar that brought together feminist scholars working on the area of bride-prices and dowries in a changing Asia. Dr Julian Millie convened a panel with Dr Sara Niner, Dr Samanthi Gunawardana, Dr Swati Parashar and visiting scholar, Dr Eka Srimulyani: their presentations shed light on a complex interweave of traditional customs with the forces of globalised migration and neoliberal economic values in the social sphere.

May was also a month of literature at MAI. In collaboration with the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, we hosted two Indonesian writers on two occasions. First, Indonesian Studies, with the lead of Dr Paul Thomas and Dr Yacinta Kurniasih, welcomed the esteemed writer, Ayu Utami, to a packed crowd, at her talk on critical spiritualism. Then we felicitated the emerging writer, Ni Made Purnamasari, who is visiting Melbourne at the moment as a guest of the Emerging Writers Festival. Andre Dao and Gillian Terzis, two young Australian writers of Asian origin, also spoke about the Island to Island program that EWF undertook in Indonesia last year. We were treated to two Balinese mask dance performances (topeng) by Dr Jonathan McIntosh of the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music.

June is promising another opportunity for deep engagement with Asia, this time on the topic of gender-based violence, urban transport and public space in metropolitan India. Four researchers from India will come together in an interdisciplinary workshop with transport engineers, social scientists and industry experts, to discuss the issue of travel safety for women in transforming societies in developing countries. All welcome.

Dr. Mridula Nath Chakraborty (Acting Director)