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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 7. 1967.

Disagreement in Asian Studies

Disagreement in Asian Studies

Salient Reporter

A present members of the staff of the Asian Studies Centre, Mr. Willian J. Hall, is leaving Victoria through "total disagreement" with the future policy of the Centre as recommended today to the Professorial Board.

The report signed by Professor K. Janiki, Director of the Asian Studies Centre and Professor R. H. Brookes, Convener of the Asian Studies Committee, recommends that "Graduates whose area of research interest lies outside that of the Centre staff may well choose, after Honours, to transfer to other institutions (eg Anu or the East-West Centre)" in Hawaii.

Mr. Hall objects to this "Americanisation of Asian Studies. This is absurd." he says. "It's like an American going to India to study France, it's impossible to study the economics, history and political science — whatever the student is interested in the Asian countries in a foreign university, especially American."

Professor Brookes told Salient. "Of course the student must do his research in the appropriate country but certain problems arise," he said. For instance, if the student is insterested in the development of a Chinese commune, and wishes to research in the field, he may encounter trouble getting into China. He would have to work from Hong Kong, or perhaps Taiwan.

Professor Brookes said that if a student wanted a "western type degree" he would go to Anu or, perhaps the East-West Centre.

Mr. Hall also objects to the proposed course of study. "There is no attempt to specialise in languages. The first to be taught should be Chinese, then Malay, Indonesian and Hindu." This clearly conflicts with the recommendations to the Professorial Board, which state, "The most desirable arrangement would be an introductory course in Indonesian in the student's first or second year, giving the equivalent of "reading knowledge" credit. (though oral work may be of prime importance) following by a further year of study giving unit credit, while during his Honours year, it should be sufficient if he either maintains proficiency in Indonesian (eg by classes in conversation) or acquires proficiency in Malay."

However, the report argues "one reason the University introduced Asian Studies programme was to enable a substantial proportion of undergraduates in relevant faculties to acquire some informed awareness of the major cultures of Asia and of the characteristics and problems of major Asian countries.

This is being achieved mainly by the further development of relevant courses in disciplinary Departments. It will be appreciated that some department (eg Geography) have been teaching about Asia for years. The development of the Centre has made it possible to initiate or to expand Asian courses in Economics. History, and Political Sciencs. As the development continues, it is expected that additional Departments will be encouraged to do so."