Keynote Speakers

Barbara Watson Andaya

University of Hawai’i, USA

Keynote Presentation | Globalizing Education in Asia: New Challenges for Asian Universities

In keeping with the theme of AAS-in-Asia 2020, “Asia at the Crossroads: Solidarity through Scholarship”, this presentation will focus on the globalizing of education, a key element in facilitating the scholarly exchanges that have become especially important in Asia. The presentation will begin by noting that the bridging of cultural differences through higher education has historical roots, but will then move to consider some of the early issues facing educators as Asian societies entered a new era after the Second World War. A major goal was to provide universal access to basic education, especially in newly independent and decolonizing states, while developing curricula that would instill a sense of national unity. As globalizing forces gathered pace, it also became obvious that preparing students for a changing world required greater attention to the international aspects of tertiary education, a direction that has gained in momentum since the late 20th-century. Developments have been most evident in the nexus between travel and technology, which has opened up new transnational opportunities for student and faculty mobility and for cross-cultural conversations. This has come, however, with unforeseen challenges, for the idea that universities can be “ranked” according to some international standard has led to increased uncertainty about expectations for teaching and research, especially in Asia’s highly diverse environment. The spread of COVID-19 has made us acutely aware of the unforeseen dangers now posed by international travel, and despite the progress in technology the goal of creating a more globalized environment for both students and faculty suddenly seems to be put on hold. Yet in these very difficult circumstances universities still have a special role to play in providing a space where debate is encouraged, where academic difference is tolerated, and where the objective of educating the next generation is prioritized. As the 21st-century advances we can thus affirm the “solidarity of scholarship” in an ever-widening global academy while acknowledging that the intellectual endeavor in Asia (itself a deceptive term) will always reflect the diversity that remains the key characteristic of this vast region.

Barbara Watson Andaya is Professor in the Asian Studies Program at the University of Hawai’i and former Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. In 2005-2006 she was President of the American Association of Asian Studies. Educated at the University of Sydney (BA, DipEd), she received an East West Center grant in 1966 and obtained her MA in history at the University of Hawai’i. She subsequently went on to study for her PhD at Cornell University with a specialisation in Southeast Asian history.

Her career has involved teaching and researching in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and since 1994, Hawai’i. She maintains an active teaching and research interest across all Southeast Asia, but her specific area of expertise is the western Malay-Indonesia archipelago. In 2000 she received a John Simon Guggenheim Award, which resulted in The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Southeast Asian History, 1500-1800. She is General Editor of the new Cambridge History of Southeast Asia and is completing a book on gender in sexuality in Southeast Asia from early times to the present.

Masashi Nishihara

Research Institute for Peace and Security, Japan

Keynote Presentation | Rebuilding a Resilient Liberal-Democratic Order

The worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 is reinvigorating the rivalry between the United States and China, a source of major international tensions today. This rivalry is much more complex than that of the old Cold War period between the US and the Soviet Union. Instead, the new cold war between the US, a status quo power of the liberal-democratic order, and China, an anti-status quo power, represents their competition in trade, finance, technology, research and education, and even public health, not to mention the political and military spheres. This growing competition is seen today in the South China Sea, Taiwan, and the Senkaku Islands. In addition, China’s intervention in Australia’s domestic politics and its strong measures to control Hong Kong’s democratic practices pose challenges to their freedom and democracies. This hegemonic tendency may also extend to the competition between “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” strategy and the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI).

Whereas the United States is seeking freedom, China is seeking control by coercion, and the onset of Covid-19 has encouraged Xi Jinping as well as to a lesser extent Vladimir Putin to reinforce their authoritarian rule and coercive diplomacy. Moreover, they are likely to stay in power beyond the 2030s, and perhaps even longer. At the same time, the US global advocacy of universal values has declined under Donald Trump’s “America First” policy, thereby allowing the balance of power to tilt toward Beijing.

Nonetheless, China and Russia will have to cooperate on such global issues as unequal wealth distribution, excessive military spending, nuclear proliferation, environmental degradation, and pandemic disease. A democratic consultation process is likely to provide the most acceptable solution.

The G7 nations’ total GDP is 45% of the world’s, and is far bigger than China’s and Russia’s combined (15%). The G7, which includes Japan, should thus take the lead in persuading other like-minded nations with strategic plans to reduce their dependence on China’s supply chains, to revitalize the free market economy, and to rebuild a resilient rule-based liberal-democratic order.

Masashi Nishihara has been President of the Research Institute for Peace and Security since 2006. Until then he served as President of the National Defense Academy, Yokosuka, for six years. From 1977-99 he was Professor of International Relations at the Academy. He was also Director of the First Department of the National Institute for Defense Studies. Dr Nishihara was a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra in 1979 and at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York in 1981-82. Nishihara received his PhD in political science from the University of Michigan after having conducted field research in Jakarta. In 1986-95 he served on the Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). He also served on the task forces and panels under Prime Ministers Kiichi Miyazawa, Jun’ichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe.

Nishihara specializes in international security and Asian politics with his works including: The Japanese and Sukarno’s Indonesia (University Press of Hawaii, 1976), The Political Corruption of Southeast Asia (in Japanese, ed. Sobunsha, 1976), Vietnam Joins the World; American and Japanese Perspectives (co-editor, New York, M.E. Sharp, 1997), and “Regional Security Perspectives” in Asian Security (an annual report of Research Institute for Peace and Security).

This page provides information about Keynote Speakers at AAS-in-Asia 2020. For details of presentations and other programming, please visit the Programme page.