Asian studies hosts 4th annual Lang Seminar

By on April 5, 2014

By Simon Isham―

Four academics — three professors and one researcher from the United States Congressional Research Service — formed the panel for the 4th annual Lang Seminar, an initiative by U of L’s Asian studies department to promote discussion on topics related to modern Asia.

“We’re proud to have all these esteemed speakers from other universities and the Congressional Research Service with us to present their research,” said Dr. John McLeod, professor of history, who hosted the event. “We are also happy to have four faculty members from the University of Louisville with us to comment on the presentations.”

McLeod also thanked Helen Lang, founder of Crane House, an institute in Old Louisville dedicated to the study of Asia. It is after Lang and her late husband, Calvin, that the Lang lecture is named. The Langs also gave generously to the university to support their Asian studies department. The Center of Asian Democracy also provided resources to make the seminar possible.

Dr. Alice Ba of the University of Delaware specializes in Southeast Asia. Her presentation was titled “Asia’s Shifting Constitutional Landscape: ASEAN, China & the United States.” ASEAN refers to a conglomerate of independent southeast Asian nations that band together in order to increase their political impact against China, Japan and South Korea.

“The Southeast Asian is usually the last one on the panel,” said Ba, who presented first, alluding to the relative dominance of economically booming  countries in academic discussion.

Ba presented a comprehensive historical analysis of ASEAN from its beginnings to its modern place in the political landscape, in addition to its strengths and weaknesses.

Michael Martin, of the US Congressional Research Service, was the next to present. His presentation was titled “Regional Implications of the Globalization of the Chinese Currency, the Renminbi.”

“(It) is globalizing faster and farther than expected,” he said.

Martin’s presentation was the product of a very detailed analysis of the spending and banking habits of Asians — not just Chinese — who use the Renminbi as a currency, both inside and outside of China. He discovered that many millions of Renminbi are sitting in offshore accounts, indicating that people have confidence that the currency has resiliency and growth potential.

Rina Williams of the University of Cincinnati discussed the upcoming Indian elections by summarizing the platforms and recent history of the parties currently campaigning for power.

Williams noted that the Indian elections are the largest in the world, with over 814 million voters. Unlike in most countries, most of these voters are rural and uneducated.

Update: Williams successfully predicted the outcome of the elections, with Modi winning the vote on the BJP ticket, despite not having released a party platform until the day of the elections.

Dr. Samit Ganguly of Indiana University talked about “Indian Views on the Responsiblity to Protect,” or humanitarian intervention. He observed that it “has not always been unwavering,” but “at other times, it has been quite robust.”

The seminar was held today from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Ekstrom Library. Complimentary breakfast and lunch were provided to attendees.

About Simon Isham

Simon Isham is the Editor-in-Chief of The Louisville Cardinal, where he has worked since 2012. For his reporting at the Cardinal, he has won awards from the Kentucky Press Association and the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has also written for LEO Weekly and Insider Louisville. He will graduate in December, 2014.

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