The Channel: A Podcast from the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS)
ICAS Book Prize 2023 with Victoria Lee and John Lie
As listeners may know, this year marked the 10th edition of the ICAS Book Prize (IBP). The prize was established in 2003 by our flagship conference, the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), to recognize outstanding publications in the field of Asian Studies. The award brings wider visibility to the latest and most impressive books, and it has become one of the most prestigious book prizes in the discipline. Since its inception, the IBP competition has expanded in many ways. It now includes various editions in multiple languages, including French, Chinese, German, Spanish and Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. Beyond books, the English Language Edition also includes Dissertation Awards in both social sciences and humanities categories to recognize the groundbreaking work of recently minted PhDs. The competition now also includes the “Best Article on Global Hong Kong Studies” award. For all editions and prizes, IIAS depends on partner institutions who organize and/or sponsor the competitions. Along with the many colleagues who serve on our reading committees, they make the IBP what it is, and we are grateful for their work. For more information on these sponsors and the full results of the IBP 2023, visit https://icas.asia/winners-ibp-2023 or check out the special supplement booklet included in the most recent edition of The Newsletter: https://www.iias.asia/the-newsletter/newsletter-96-autumn-2023.
On today’s episode, we bring you interviews with the two winners of the English Language Edition: Victoria Lee, who won in the Humanities category, followed by John Lie, who won in the Social Sciences category. Victoria Lee is Assistant Professor of the History of Science and Technology at Ohio University. Her winning book is The Arts of the Microbial World: Fermentation Science in Twentieth-Century Japan, published in 2021 by the University of Chicago Press. John Lie is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His winning book is Japan, the Sustainable Society: The Artisinal Ethos, Ordinary Virtues, and Everyday Life in the Age of Limits, published in 2021 by the University of California Press.
View all episodes
33. Political Geology in Java with Adam Bobbette47:40This episode features a conversation about political geology with Adam Bobbette, who serves as a Lecturer in Political Geology at the University of Glasgow. After studying architecture and landscape at the University of Toronto, Adam earned his PhD in geography from Cambridge. His research examines the intersections between politics and environmental and earth sciences, with a special regional focus on Indonesia. His new book is The Pulse of the Earth, which was published in 2023 by Duke University Press. As many listeners of this podcast already know, the next meeting of our flagship conference, the International Convention of Asia Scholars, or ICAS 13, will take place in Surabaya, Indonesia from July 28th through August 1st, 2024. In the run-up to that conference, we are hoping to familiarize our network with the local Javanese context to enrich the ICAS experience and deepen our engagement with the city. This episode is part of that project. As you’ll hear, Adam’s work offers a unique and transdisciplinary view onto questions of science, imperialism, Indonesian cosmologies, and contemporary politics, all while introducing listeners to geologic features of the Javanese landscape.
32. Muslim Caste Associations in India with Soheb Niazi and Julien Levesque01:24:09In this episode, Soheb Niazi and Julien Levesque discuss Muslim caste organizations in India. Soheb Niazi is an historian who specializes in the social and economic history of modern India. He is particularly interested in studying the history of non-elite (non-ashrāf) Muslim actors in South Asia to understand the formation of caste and class relations among them. Soheb is currently a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). During his stay here in Leiden, he is working on his book manuscript, tentatively titled “Contesting Genealogies: Hierarch and Social Mobility among Muslim Occupational Classes in Colonial North India (1870-1940).” Julien Levesque is a political sociologist whose work focuses on socio-political dynamics in South Asian Muslim societies. His first monograph, published in French in 2022 by the Presses universitaires de Rennes, looks into nationalism and identity construction in Pakistan with a focus on the southern Sindh province. Julien currently serves as a Lecturer & Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. His ongoing work examines caste-based political mobilization among Muslims in India. In today’s conversation, Julien and Soheb talk about their recent collaboration as guest editors of a special section in the journal Contemporary South Asia, entitled “Caste Politics, Minority Representation, and Social Mobility: The Associational Life of Muslim Caste in India.” As guest editors, the two curated the collection and also co-authored its substantial introduction. In the following conversation, we discuss the topic of Muslim caste associations generally, and how these organizations reflect and contest political dynamics within the Muslim community, but also beyond into the broader Indian polity.
30. Bonus Episode: Cultural Healing with Cha-Hsuan Liu, Aditya Kiran Kakati, Marian Markelo, Fatima Gay Molina, and An-Bang Yu54:44This bonus episode is guest hosted by Cha-Hsuan Liu, an Affiliated Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies and the editor of the online collection "Global Health Matters" on IIAS' The Blog. To explore the topic of cultural healing and humanistic approaches to health and wellbeing, Cha-Hsuan is joined by four guests: Aditya Kiran Kakati, An-Bang Yu, Marian Markelo, and Fatima Gay Molina. Aditya is a political historian and anthropologist from India. Beyond his scholarship, he is also a practitioner of Pranic Healing, which is a part of the culture in the region where he grew up. Marian Markelo is a well-known Winti priest with a Surinamese background. She was the face of the exhibition "Ritual Specialists" in many Dutch museums. Fatima Gay Molina is a trained anthropologist and currently works for Adventist Disaster and Relief Agency. Her recent research investigates the cultural practices of healing after disasters. Finally, An-Bang Yu was an associate research fellow at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan. His areas of research include Indigenous psychology and cultural healing, Chinese culture, desire and emotion, the Chinese concept of the person, and the Chinese concept of achievement. In this conversation, Cha-Hsuan and the four guests discuss what is meant by "cultural healing" and how it fits into broader conversations about health, wellbeing, and science.
29. Swahili Poetry of Ustadh Mahmoud Mau with Clarissa Vierke and Annachiara Raia01:03:36This episode features a conversation about poetic traditions in East Africa. Earlier this year, Brill published In This Fragile World: Swahili Poetry of Commitment by Ustadh Mahmoud Mau. Ustadh Mau is a spiritual leader and popular poet from Lamu, Kenya. When he visited the Netherlands in May 2023, a local bookshop in Leiden hosted a reading to launch this new collection of English translations. In this episode, we will be playing some recordings from that event to give listeners a sense of the poems in their original Swahili (see also the audio recordings that supplement the book itself). To guide us through the poems and introduce their broader context, the podcast was pleased to welcome Clarissa Vierke and Annachiara Raia, who served as editors and translators of In This Fragile World. Clarissa Vierke is a professor of Literatures in African Languages at the University of Bayreuth. Her PhD examined the specific poetics of a narrative poetic genre from the Swahili Coast in Eastern Africa. Since then, she has worked on manuscript cultures in Eastern Africa and travelling texts along the East African Coast from Kenya to Mozambique and across the Indian Ocean. Annachiara Raia is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS). She specializes in African languages and literatures, and her research focuses on the role of texts and performative practices in forging Swahili Islamic networks across Muslim lands of the Indian Ocean and the African continent.
28. Perspectives on Asian Studies with Lena Scheen, Terence Chong, Ilhong Ko, Edwin Jurriëns, and Cathy Harper01:17:22On October 13, 2023, the International Institute of Asian Studies celebrates its 30th anniversary, and The Newsletter will be releasing a special issue as part of this celebration. More than just a three-decade retrospective, the issue is meant to reflect on the contemporary state of Asian Studies and the role of institutions like IIAS in the discipline's future. As regular readers will know, every edition of The Newsletter includes a special section entitled "The Region," in which partner institutions submit curated collections of short articles meant to highlight ongoing Asian Studies research from different parts of the world. In this episode of the podcast, Paramita Paul (Chief Editor at IIAS) hosts a conversation with representatives of four such partner institutions: (1) ISEAS—Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, represented by its Deputy Chief Executive Officer Terence Chong; (2) New York University - Shanghai, represented by Lena Scheen, Assistant Professor of Global China Studies; (3) Seoul National University Asia Center, represented by Hong Kong Research Professor Ilhong Ko; (4) The Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne, represented by Edwin Jurriëns, Associate Professor in Indonesian Studies, as well as Cathy Harper, editor of the Melbourne Asia Review. In their conversation, the colleagues discuss the nature of their work with The Newsletter, the value of academic collaboration, and the possible future of such work in Asian Studies.
27. Women in East Asian Religions with Jingjing Li and Yingruo Show32:03This episode features two colleagues having a discussion about gender in East Asian Religions. The first guest, Jingjing Li, is a University Lecturer in Chinese and Comparative Philosophy at Leiden University. Her primary work examines theories of mind and consciousness across East Asian and Continental traditions, particularly Chinese Wei Shi philosophy and Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology, respectively. The second guest, Yingruo Show, was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore and now serves as Research Coordinator with the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC). She specializes in the intersection of gender and Chinese Buddhist practice. Earlier this summer, Jingjing and Yingruo led an international workshop here in Leiden entitled “Re-staging the Periphery as the Center: Women Communities in East Asian Religions.” The interdisciplinary event was organized by the Leiden University Center for Intercultural Philosophy (LUCIP) with the support of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). The workshop also received generous funding from the Leiden University Fund and the Dutch Research Council (NWO)’s Veni programme. In the following conversation, Jingjing and Yingruo discuss the event as well as the special issue of the journal Religions that they co-edited earlier in the year. In the course of our discussion, they touch on a variety of topics, including canonical religious texts, lay and monastic practices in East Asia, philosophies of mind, and how all of these are both challenged and invigorated through an interdisciplinary analysis of gender.
26. Indian Identity in Malaysia with Paul Gnanaselvam01:04:11This episode features a conversation between Sally Anne Param and Paul Gnanaselvam. Sally, who serves as the guest host, is a sociologist who has conducted research about the Indian community in Malaysia. Paul Gnanaselvam is an Ipoh-born writer and poet whose work often focuses on the experiences, issues, and identity conflicts of those in the Indian diaspora. His latest collection, The Elephant Trophy and Other Stories was published by Penguin Random House SEA in 2021. Sally recently wrote a review of the collection for the IIAS book reviews platform, which led her to contact Paul himself, who graciously agreed to an interview. In addition to his writing, Paul lectures at Universiti Teknologi MARA (Perak Campus) in Malaysia. As you’ll hear, his fiction is deeply concerned with social scientific questions about marginalization, belonging, social hierarchy, exclusion, and identity, all of which are explored in this episode as well.
25. Moral Economic Transitions with Hedwig Waters01:04:01Hedwig Waters is a cultural and economic anthropologist with research interests in topics of debt, wildlife, and moral economic transitions in Mongolia. She currently works as a Horizon Europe ERA Postdoctoral Fellow at Palacky University in the Czech Republic. Earlier this month, her first book – Moral Economic Transitions in the Mongolian Borderlands: A Proportional Share – was published by University College London Press as part of their series “Economic Exposures in Asia.” Since the 1990s, Mongolia's transition to a market democracy has shifted the economic, political, and cultural landscape of the country. The book examines "Magtaal," a pseudonym for the rural township on the Chinese border in which Waters conducted her fieldwork. Through a careful ethnography, the book links the broader transformation of Mongolia to local borderland lives, especially with respect to debt and wildlife. In this episode of the podcast, Hedwig discusses her ethnographic research, her theoretical intervention within economic anthropology, and the process of shaping such work into her new book.