This year, the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) marks a significant milestone: its 20th anniversary! YCAR was launched in 2002 to support and promote research that bring a multi-disciplinary perspective to the study of Asia (and its component nations) and Asian diaspora (in Canada and elsewhere). Through the activities of all our members, we have accomplished much. Our Centre is like an archipelago where thousand islands of knowledge are not isolated from one another but have sufficient autonomy so that each can develop its own creativity while letting ideas to flow between them.
As we look forward, we should consider looking beyond our archipelago, which has consisted largely of species from Humanities and Social Sciences. We should perhaps start to encourage further diversification. The pandemic has signaled to us yet another urgent call that the current and the projected future hazards—be they “natural” or anthropogenic—can no longer be addressed adequately if we stay within the spatial-temporal and epistemological limits of “Asian Studies.”
Our interest in culture, politics and society must enter into a direct conversation with studies of biophysical processes. Our bottom-up approach will contribute much to the perspective of the remote sensing satellite. And our smaller scale examination of time and space might benefit from what Dr. Kavita Philip calls “the timelines of ecology and the spatial lines of the planet.” Our concerns with lived experience and over historical continuity must enter into a constructive dialogue with futuristic terms in scientific discourse, such as the decadal forecasts, the scenario simulations, of course without forgetting the politics of projections.
Our work is on Asia or Asians, so place and people matter, but biophysical processes that presumed to bear no inherent location also matter. It is in this context that YCAR joined in the Climate Emergency Research Month in March participated in by over a dozen Organized Research Units (ORUs) at York.
This year promises to be uniquely active. Our Canada-ASEAN Initiative group is preparing the Canada, ASEAN and Indo-Pacific speakers series. After the successful Sixth Toronto-Hakka Conference in 2021 and in conjunction with Hakka Scholars Network at York, our Hakka Academic Committee is planning to organize a York Hakka Academic lecture series. Our Hong Kong Studies Committee is finalizing the Fifth Bernard H. K. Luk Memorial Lecture in Hong Kong Studies on May 24 after launching the Global Hong Kong Essay and Creative Project Award. Our Korean Office for Research and Education (KORE) is continuing its success by completing its Year 4 activities while preparing for its final year (2022–23). There are many more upcoming events and initiatives to look forward to as we also welcome new members.
Further, the Asian Business and Management Program (ABMP) in the last two decades has provided professional development and management training to educators, undergraduate and graduate students as well as senior executives and officials from Asian countries in virtual or blended forums. ABMP has successfully delivered in Canada and China close to 300 short- and long-term programs to over 5,000 officials, executives and students. Through the ABMP, the Canada-China Initiative Fund has supported over a dozen research and knowledge mobilization initiatives directed by York faculty and students.
Finally, May is Asian Heritage Month and we are co-sponsoring the opening ceremony of the Asian Heritage Month Festival 2022 on May 7 celebrating the 20th anniversary of the signing of Asian Heritage Month Declaration! There is much to look forward to in YCAR’s development. And you are at the heart of this growth—an extraordinary group of Associates engaging in Asian and Asian diaspora studies. Thank you and cheers! – Abidin Kusno, YCAR Director.