Campus & Community

Research projects funded by Asia Center

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The Asia Center has announced the results of its spring 2000 funding for faculty-led research projects. The primary purpose of these faculty grants is to encourage research on topics that cut across national boundaries in Asia and reach across departmental and school boundaries at Harvard. Funding for these grants is provided by the president and provost, in support of interfaculty initiatives, and in part by a grant from the Ford Foundation. Of the 10 proposals that were considered, eight proposals were funded, distributing more than $180,000 during the 2000-01 academic year and beyond.

This year’s Asia Center faculty grant recipients are:

“Asian Economic Panel,” led by Jeffrey Sachs, Department of Economics and Center for International Development, Kennedy School. Sachs will convene twice yearly an economics panel to discuss economic issues important to Asian countries and will publish a new journal, Asian Economic Papers, of the proceedings of these meetings. This format is modeled after the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity in the United States and the Economic Policy Forum in Europe; the panel will advance objective assessments of key macroeconomic issues either specific to a particular Asian economy or general to the Asian region. The Asia Center provides seed money for this project.

“Biotechnology and Global Governance,” led by Sheila Jasanoff, the Kennedy School. This project will focus on a small, high-level conference on biotechnology limited to 35 participants, two of whom will be invited from South Asia. The conference comes at an appropriate time in India’s — and, more generally, in Asia’s — “policy circles” with respect to biotechnology. Jasanoff will also explore the prospects for a longer-term research collaboration with the South Asian participants. The Asia Center provides funding to bring the South Asian participants to this conference.

“Biotechnology Revolution in Asia: Global Impact and Local Responses,” led by Arthur Kleinman, Department of Anthropology and Medical School, and James Watson, Department of Anthropology. This project attempts to link the “top-down” perspective of policy analysts with “on-the-ground” ethnographic research. The investigators place primary emphasis on the cultural dimension of biotechnology, with the aim of developing case studies in India, Korea, Japan, and China. The Asia Center provides funding to initiate the project and to lay the groundwork for more substantial fundraising efforts.

“Domestic Water Use and Sanitation, Energy Use and Agricultural Practices in North Bihar: Their Transitions and Impact on the Environment,” led by Peter Rogers, Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. This project charts the environmental impact of development in two villages in North Bihar, India. Rogers, drawing from a previous survey of the villages in 1981-82, will conduct a historical-longitudinal study of these two localities, providing data for assessing the cumulative impact that thousands of similar villages in India will have on the larger global community as they develop. His research will be conducted in close collaboration with institutes in India. The Asia Center will provide partial funding for this two-year project.

“Grassroots Political Reform in China: Prospects for Good Governance,” led by Elizabeth Perry, Department of Government. This research project investigates and assesses the impact of various grassroots reforms on “good governance” in China over the past two decades. The project includes faculty and graduate students from various departments at Harvard and from universities in Massachusetts and China. Fieldwork will be conducted over three years at sites in China, with two conferences convened to examine findings: the first in Nanjing during year two of the project and the second at Harvard at the conclusion of the project. The Asia Center provides start-up money, funding the first full year of this three-year project.

“The History of Chinese Emigration in Modern Times,” led by Philip Kuhn, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. The aim of this book project is to present four centuries of worldwide Chinese emigration as a single historical subject. This involves linking Chinese migration to major stages of world history, such as colonialism and imperialism; the Industrial Revolution; the rise of modern nationalism; the Cold War; post-colonial societies; and technological revolutions. The study will also link emigration to changing institutions and conditions in China. The Asia Center provides funds for the final stages of this book project.

“Studies of Professions in Asia,” led by William Alford, Law School; William Hsiao, School of Public Health; William Kirby, Department of History; and Kenneth Winston, Kennedy School. A collaborative interfaculty research project on the professions in Asia, which are growing in number as well as in wealth and influence. The study will be multidisciplinary, including history, sociology, economics, law, ethics, politics, and anthropology, among others. The project will organize faculty members from several different schools to develop a research agenda, to eventually culminate in a conference. This is the first stage of a longer-term research project on the professions in Asia. The Asia Center provides funding for the initial two years of this project.

“Workshop on Buddhist Studies,” led by Peter Bol, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations; Robert Gimello, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations; Charles Hallisey, the Study of Religion and Divinity School; and Leonard van der Kuijp, Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies. The “Buddhist Studies Forum” will bring together faculty and students from various departments. It will have a broad constituency from different disciplines and interests, representing diverse nations and cultures. The forum will hold monthly lectures and a small conference each year. The conference during the 2000-01 academic year is expected to focus on Buddhist material culture. The Asia Center is funding the next three years of the workshop.

The Asia Center is now accepting proposals from University faculty for research, seminars, conferences, and program development in Asia-related fields for the 2000-01 academic year. Interregional and interdisciplinary projects are particularly encouraged, and preference will be given to applications involving participants from more than one department or school. Collaborations between graduate students and faculty are also encouraged. Whenever possible, the center suggests using the grants as seed money for new projects. Projects selected for Ford Foundation funding are expected to have a South or Southeast Asian component. Limited funding is also available to bring scholars and other specialists from South and Southeast Asia to Harvard on a short-term basis.

In keeping with the mission of the Asia Center, projects should be interdisciplinary or transnational in focus, exploring links in Asia across time, space, or intellectual disciplines. The center has identified three broad areas of interest, and hopes to fund proposals related to these guidelines; however, all submissions will be considered. The three areas encompass the following:

Professions and Public Policy in Asia: Research and related activities on the emergence of modern professions, professional education, and patterns of professional certification. Examine the evolving roles of professional elites in government under a variety of political systems.

Political Change and Governance in Asia: Research and related activities on political evolution and approaches to government in Asia at three levels: the formal political structure of governments, the growth of nongovernmental organizations below it, and the development of transnational organizations beyond it.

Global Flows, Local Changes: Research and related activities on cultures of internationalization in Asia, past and present. Possible areas includes globalization and processes of local, regional, and national identity formation and cultural change, past and present; the local consequences of international technology, political institutions and economic organization; and the consequences of moral, political, psychological, and technological changes at global, regional, and local levels in Asian societies.

Proposals should be no more than 10 pages, including a budget. The first round of grants should be submitted by Nov. 15 to Deirdre Chetham, executive director, Asia Center, 1737 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA, 02138.