York Centre for Asian Research gives awards to five students

Graduate students studying gender in Chinese visual representations, transnational religious organizations in the Philippines and the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, as well as the Japanese and Hindi languages, are the winners of awards administered through the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). The awards will assist Madeline Ashby, Gary De Couto, Nel Coloma-Moya, Doris Ha-Lin Sung and Serene Tan with field work in Asia or language study.

"These students are a testimony to excellence in the emerging generation of Asian scholars," said Professor Susan Henders, director of YCAR. "We are happy to be able to support student academic endeavours."

Doris Ha-Lin Sung (right) is the first recipient of the Vivienne Poy Asian Research Award. A doctoral student, Sung is in her third year of study in York’s Graduate Program in Social & Political Thought. She is investigating current developments in visual culture in China, Hong Kong and the Chinese diasporas, with a focus on gender constructions in visual representations. A visual artist and curator, she has worked for various artist-run, not-for-profit organizations in Toronto. The award will assist Sung as she conducts her research in national art museums and various archives in Beijing and Shanghai, and interviews artists and scholars.

Sung’s dissertation investigates Chinese women’s painting and multimedia artwork from the 1900s to the present. The project looks at how the notion of the “New Woman” is challenged and destabilized in visual representations. Focusing on the work produced by women artists in the late Qing and Republican (1900s-1949), socialist (1949-1979) and post-socialist (1979-present) periods, this project aims to open up new research possibilities and provide the missing link between the discourses of Chinese feminism and visual culture.

The award is named for Senator Vivienne Poy and will assist a graduate student in fulfilling the fieldwork requirement for a Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies (GDAS). For more information on the Vivienne Poy Asian Research Award, see the Nov. 23, 2007 YFile.

Nel Coloma-Moya (left), a master’s student in York’s Graduate Program in Geography, is the second recipient of the David Wurfel Award.

The award was established in 2006 by David Wurfel, YCAR senior research associate and professor emeritus of the University of Windsor. Wurfel wanted to contribute to the emergence of a new generation of Filipino leadership and scholarship grounded in the country’s history, culture and public affairs.

Coloma-Moya is using the award to support her summer research in the Philippines. Her work concentrates on understanding the ways in which Gawad Kalinga, a transnational religious organization, creates and "governs", in a broad sense, model rural communities in the Philippines. She will explore these processes as forms of alternative development, that is, as alternatives to dominant disciplining frameworks shaping economics, cultural and political subjects.  

Coloma-Moya has an undergraduate degree in English literature. She also trained and worked as a registered nurse in Toronto before earning her master’s degree in adult education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Madeline Ashby (left) and Gary De Couto (right) are the 2008 recipients of the YCAR Language Award. Ashby, a master’s student in the Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Studies, is studying Japanese this summer. De Couto, a master’s student in York’s Faculty of Education, will be enrolled in Hindi language training this fall.

The award was created by YCAR to help graduate students fulfill the language requirement for the GDAS and to facilitate their research on Asia or Asian diaspora communities.

Ashby’s research project, titled "Assembly Line: Textual Dismemberment and Fandom’s Cyborg Memory Palace," will explore the links in the creative process between two very different populations – paid professional Japanese animators, most of whom are men, and unpaid English-speaking female anime fans online. The project seeks to understand how these fans situate anime as a product of a foreign culture while re-interpreting it for their own ends through fan-produced media, as well as how animators consider their product as national or indigenous.

Ashby, who has lived in the Los Angeles area, Seattle and Toronto, has published in the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Mondo Manga, The New York Review of Science Fiction and Frames Per Second magazine. She is a recent immigrant to Canada.

De Couto’s research is focused on the relationship between adolescence, education and discourses of race and sexuality. His current research project considers barriers in education for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer South Asian adolescents. 

Serene Tan (right) is this year’s recipient of the Albert C.W. Chan Foundation Fellowship. Tan is a doctoral student in York’s Graduate Program in Geography. Her research interests are centred on human experiences in urban space and place. She is currently researching themes of nationality and identity, the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, post-colonialism and the effect of globalization on ethnic villages in the urban landscape.

Tan began her fieldwork in Southeast Asia in May 2008, with plans to return to Canada in early 2009. While in Southeast Asia, she has been conducting interviews and archival research in Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. Tan plans to travel to Singapore in December complete her fieldwork.

The Albert C.W. Chan Foundation Fellowship was established by the Albert C.W. Chan Foundation to encourage and assist York University graduate students to conduct field research in East and/or Southeast Asia.

For more information, visit the York Centre for Asian Research Awards Web site.