Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 9. 1967.
Letters to the editor
Letters to the editor
Asia debate continues — Prof Brookes accused
During the past few weeks the Brookes-Hall dispute over the future of Asian Studies at Victoria has been publicised by the news media.
This week Mr. Hall replies to Professor Brookes's (Political Science department and Convenor of the Asian Studies Committee) comments in the last issue.
Severely critical of the Professors attitude to Asian Studies he lays a plan for teaching about Asia.
Sirs,—More than three years ago an Asian Studies student writing on the problems of Asian Studies wrote that "Victoria University could play the leading role in the field if only some member of staff with influence would champion, and be prepared to fight for, the expansion of Asian Studies and kindred disciplines." (Salient, April 27, 1964.) That student was Mr. Wayne Robinson, who is now doing research in India and preparing himself to return to teach in New Zealand.
One R. H. Brookes writing in Salient says that I want for company. Perhaps this gentleman and I do not keep the same company. For I keep company with those I love, respect, or hopefully would help rather than with those from whom one might expect favours.
It is never easy to speak truth to power, but as a teacher rather than as a politician I have been more impressed by the ultimate power of reason than by the reason of power. I understand that the business of R. H. Brookes is the study of power. Perhaps his subject has made of him a captive. And Lord Acton reached some rather disquieting conclusions about power that more discerning readers may recall.
The crisis in Asian Studies has been long an abscess suppurating at this University. It was necessary that someone lance it at last. Thus the pus that burst forth In R. H. Brookes's ad hominem arguments came as no great surmise despite the fact that a university experience is supposed to endow its possessor with the ability to transcend this style of discussion.
However the defects of my and R. H. Brookes's characters are not at issue here. They may more properly belong in the area of legal action if he refuses to apologise for every mis-statement he has made except for the misplaced decimal point and my mis-spelling of "principal" as "principle," as "principle" was undoubtedly uppermost in my mind. Therefore I will not reply in detail to Brookes's inventions except to say that they will be more properly dealt with by those who know the case to be otherwise.
I propose to keep in constant focus the real issue which Brookes is so anxious to obscure by personal attack: will Asian Studies at Victoria be able to start the training of New Zealand students as specialists on Asia who will return to New Zealand in sufficient numbers to benefit its economy and culture or are we to see a programme designed from overseas that will further accelerate our already serious brain drain? Put bluntly, who gains? New Zealand or the United States? Is the Brookes-Janaki operation a case of administrative sabotage or a genuine buildup of an ultimately self-sufficient Asian Studies programme for New Zealand? No number of charges and counter-charges must be allowed to obscure this central issue: build-up or brain drain?
There are two divergent ways of approaching Asian Studies. One is to look at Asia from the outside by library research and confining the student to materials available in English. All the preparation a student requires can be restricted within the walls of a non-Asian university in a non-Asian country.
For example the New Zealand specialist trained by the approach of "the outsider" will go to an American or Australian university to learn about some aspect of China (just as R. H. Brookes went to Columbia University in New York to specialise on the Soviet Union). Doubtless it can be done—just as one may scrutinise the life cycle of the locust—but even if the facts are correct this method when applied to human beings often produces sadly distorted results. There is a tendency to judge a foreign culture not In terms of its own values and achievements but only in terms of our own norms which we may wish to impose upon the peoples we are studying. Would R. H. Brookes seriously recommend that an Albanian student wanting to study some aspect of American economics, culture, or politics study in China rather than in the United States? Yet this is precisely what Brookes would nave New Zea-landers do with respect to Asian countries by studying at American universities!
The approach of the "outsider" is endorsed, however, by Brookes. In the Brookes-Janaki Memorandum on "Future Policy in Asian Studies" (May 1967) (with which I have no association whatsoever except total opposition as Brookes certainly knows' the statement is made that "Graduates whose area of research interest lies outside that of Centre staff may well choose, after Honours, to transfer to other institutions [e.g. ANU or the East-West Centre]." Clearly the Brookes-Janki operation regards Victoria University merely as a recruiting agency for graduates going on to the East-West Centre at Hawaii where generous scholarships are offered or, alternatively, to Australian National University if the student wishes to raise his own funds. Nothing could be more brazenly bla-tant than this.
The inside approach would, of course, encourage specialist training in the field—in Asian countries. For example, a student wishing to enrol in a restored Asian Studies degree programme mow quietly dropped by the Brookes Committee) and having, say, a particular interest in Japanese trade would be able to study three years of Japanese along with a three year course in economics in the Economics Department as well as three years of Asian Studies courses dealing with Asian economics, sociology and politics with specialists from the departments teaching these courses in the Centre. The student would then be ready after his BA degree course in Asian studies to do further research at a Japanese university on a bonded bursary from New Zealand. [Bonded bursaries are significantly opposed by Professors Brookes and Janaki as they were opposed by Professor Palmier for this would make the American inducements less attractive].
The student would then return to conduct tutorials at a New Zealand university and write his MA or PhD dissertation or he would join a New Zealand Government department (e.g.External Affairs, Industries and Commerce, the Reserve Bank, etc.). Such an expert who not only knew Japanese but who would have a superior understanding of the Japanese market would be invaluable to the New Zealand economy.
Students not wanting to go further than post-primary school teaching could take an Asian Civilisation course at the Stage I level which would introduce students to the whole field of Asian Studies. This should be a very popular course and not restricted to one disciplinary department as it is now. The Stage I course would be crucial in arousing interest for it is in just such a course that potential specialists may be recruited.
But Asian Studies would not attempt to area specialise here. This would be the American method — but not ours. The number of Asian languages taught, say half a dozen would ensure that the student would have a wide range of countries to choose from in which to do his own specialist work. Specialist centres (except for language teaching) are not only expensive but definitely bad when operating outside the country of specialist interest. One simply does not study a course only on India In New Zealand when there are Indians in India who can do it so very much better.
By training our Asian specialists in Asia we would not only obtain cheaper but better specialists. And what is more we would get them back!
Accelerating The Brain Drain
The Asian Studies Centre programme is being designed to encourage New Zealand's "brain drain" by discovering promising students at Victoria University and then channelling them to American universities through the East-West Centre of the University of Hawaii. The Victoria University Calendar [1967, p. 157] features the East-West Centre In the following announcement: "The East-West ,Centre of the University of Hawaii offers Scholarships to students from East, South, and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Islands of the Pacific, who have at least a Bachelor's Degree with an average of B. or second division standard, for graduate study in a wide range of subjects covering applied, social and pure sciences, and the humanities. Courses are offered at both the masterate and doctorate level. The giants are for 21 months, and include travel to and from Hawaii, tuition and living expenses. An unusual feature of the grant is that it gives qualified students an opportunity to supplement their studies at a selected University in the United States on an academic tour of one semester."
Even students who return to New Zealand will be given a strong American orientation — seeing Asia through American eyes, which are not necessarily New Zealand eyes. Moreover it is not in the best interest of New Zealand to lose too many of its finest minds overseas. A local New Zealand industrial leader has calculated that New Zealand annually loses $36,000,000 of production due alone to the brain drain. (NZBC interview Taylor].
The British Minister of Education. Mr. A. Crosland, has declared the brain drain to be so serious that it had "probably counteracted the whole of America's foreign aid in recent years." (Evening Post: 27 Feb, 1967). Moreover, it is extremely interesting that a former Asian Studies lecturer at Victoria University, Dr. Brijen Gupta, wished to return to New Zealand to lecture on the brain drain problem but was refused admission here. It would be interesting to find out who recommended that Dr. Gupta should not be allowed to enter the country.
I would rather see a programme which would harness the interest of young New Zealanders in Asia for New Zealand's own economic and cultural development. I do not think the current Asian Studies programme has been designed to advance New Zealand's national in-terest.
William J. Hall, MA, Lecturer in Asian Studies, Victoria University (Wellington).
Miss Julie Rayner who was elected unopposed to the position of Education Officer on the new Executive. Julie will shortly present a report to the Executive on Quantitative Analysis.
No Asian philosophy at Victoria
Sirs,—Mr. W. J. Hall, in his letter in your issue of June 30, makes the statement that "an Indian lecturer has just joined the Philosophy Department to teach Eastern philosophies." I should be glad if you would give me the opportunity to correct this.
Dr. Thakur, the lecturer referred to, has come to a per-fectly ordinary lectureship in Philosophy, under exactly the same conditions as any other lecturer in the Department. He was appointed simply because he was academically the best qualified of the applicants, and the fact that he Is an Indian had nothing whatever to do with it. Rightly or wrongly, the Philosophy Department has not had, and does not at present have, any plans for teaching Eastern philosophies.
G. E. Hughes.
(Professor of Philosophy)
Sirs,—I would like through your columns to thank those of the students of this university who voted for me in the last elections.
Considering my academic welfare, I also thank the bastards who didn't.
Sirs,—I sampled the fruit of the grapevine and found it distinctly acid. Might I say that even green apples wouldn't leave such an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
When I decided to stand for Exec, it was obvious that my main failing, among many, would be that I was an unknown, a faceless member of the 5000. Conscious that the mighty voice of "god" might boom forth: "He can't be a serious candidate—I don't know him," I endeavoured to introduce myself to the electors. This was my sole reason for distributing apples.
Those who received them (amongst others "god") should be quick to testify that they were given out in a spirit of good-natured fun, holding up Fritz's 7d effort to ridicule and accompanied by no high-pressure policy talk at all. For your correspondent "On the Grapevine" to term this "a little close to the absurd" shows that he either despises originality or good-natured fun, probably both.
Might I, in conclusion, as an ignorant Science student question your correspondent's use of English. On consulting my good friend the Oxford dictionary, I obtained the following definition for the word "blurt," used as a noun: "an eruptive emission of breath from the mouth, especially as expressive of contempt." I fail to see how anyone can read a "blurt" which by definition must be heard. So by all means "Feast on Easton but at the same time prune the grapevine so that it may bring forth good fruit.