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No 6, November 2017The Bulletin of the University Research Priority Program Asia and Europe
Asia & Europe Bulletin
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Infos unter: www.asienundeuropa.uzh.ch/abschlussfest
Essay Agrarian Distress in India p. 4
Interview What Will Remain? p. 8
Farewell Day Farewell, URPP! p. 41
2
Asia & Europe Bulletin No 6, November 2017
Essay
Agrarian Distress in India p. 4
Interview
What Will Remain? p. 8
Reports
Arab Feminism p. 13
Early Classications p. 15
Encounters with the Terrible p. 16
Rediscovered Japanese Stencils p. 19
Research Challenges p. 20
Hong Kong and the “Sinosphere” p. 22
Aer the Transition p. 24
Expanding the View p. 26
Humans as Biological Agents p. 28
Islamic Art in Context p. 29
Seeing with the True Dharma Eye p. 30
So Far, and Still Onward p. 31
The Middle East in Gobal History p. 33
Interlaced Paths p. 35
A l’Orientale p. 37
The Chinese Bildungsroman p. 30
Doctoral Program
Retrospect and Future Prospect p. 40
Farewell Day
Farewell, URPP! p. 41
News p. 43
Published by
University Research Priority Program (URPP)
Asia and Europe
University of Zurich
Rämistrasse 66
CH-8001 Zurich
Editors
Prof. Dr. David Chiavacci, Prof. Dr. Raji C.
Steineck, PD Dr. Simone Müller, lic. phil. Roman
Benz, lic. phil. Nathalie Marseglia
English Language Editor
Dr. des. Phillip Lasater
Articles by
Aline von Atzigen, M.A.
Research and teaching assistant (social and
cultural anthropology) at the Department of
Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies,
University of Zurich
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Behr
Professor of Chinese Studies, University of
Zurich, and Academic Director of the Doctoral
Program Asia and Europe
Roman Benz, lic. phil.
Academic associate at the URPP Asia and Europe
Dr. Natalie Böhler
Postdoctoral researcher (film studies) at the
Department of Film Studies, University of Zurich
Dr. des. Sofia Bollo
Postdoctoral researcher (East Asian art history),
former doctoral candidate at the URPP Asia and
Europe
Dr. des. Ulrich Brandenburg
Research and teaching assistant (Islamic
studies) at the Institute of Asian and Oriental
Studies, University of Zurich
Laura Castro Royo, M.A.
Doctoral candidate (art history) at the Institute of
Art History, University of Zurich
Prof. Dr. David Chiavacci
Academic Director of the URPP Asia and Europe /
Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Zurich
Dr. Kiu-wai Chu
Postdoctoral fellow in Chinese arts and culture,
Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture,
Western Sydney University
Julia Escher, M.A.
Research and teaching assistant (Chinese
studies) at the Institute of Asian and Oriental
Studies, University of Zurich
Fynn Holm, M.A.
Research and teaching assistant (Japanese
studies) at the Institute of Asian and Oriental
Studies, University of Zurich
Dr. des. Eliza Isabaeva
Postdoctoral researcher (social and cultural
anthropology), former doctoral candidate at the
URPP Asia and Europe
Henna Keski-Mäenpää, B.A.
M.A. student (art history) at the Institute of Art
History, University of Zurich
PD Dr. Simone Müller
Lecturer (Japanology) and executive manager
URPP Asia and Europe
Elika Palenzona-Djalili, lic. phil.
Doctoral candidate (Islamic studies) at the
Institut e of Asian and Oriental Studies, University
of Zurich, and at the URPP Asia and Europe
Prof. Dr. R. Ramakumar
NABARD Chair Professor and Dean of the School
of Development Studies at the Tata Institute of
Social Sciences, Mumbai
Dr. Olga Serbaeva Saraogi
Postdoctoral researcher (Indian studies) at the
Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, University
of Zurich
Prof. Dr. Raji C. Steineck
Academic Director of the URPP Asia and Europe
/ Professor of Japanology, University of Zurich
Prof. Dr. Hans B. Thomsen
Professor of East Asian Art History, University of
Zurich
Dr. James Weaver
Senior teaching and research assistant (Islamic
studies) at the Institute of Asian and Oriental
Studies, University of Zurich
Dr. des. Helena Wu
Research and teaching assistant (Chinese
studies) at the Institute of Asian and Oriental
Studies, University of Zurich
Cover
Graphic design: Adrian Hablützel
Photo credits
Nathalie Marseglia (pp.3, 41–43), Roman Benz
(p.14), Hans B. Thomsen (p.10), Helena Wu
(p.25), Moser Familienmuseum Charlottenfels,
Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland (p.37)
Contents
13
Asia & Europe Bulletin No 6, November 2017
Asian studies were and still are a bless-
ing for the methodological disciplines.
Thanks to the URPP, these connections
are now well established for the fu-
ture. For students and PhD candidates
in methodological disciplines, they
impose high standards in terms of lan-
guage skills and intimate knowledge
of the regions. At the same time, these
close connections also mean for stu-
dents and PhD candidates in the eld
of Asian studies that they are continu-
ously working on methodological-
theoretical questions. To hark back to
the URPP Asia and Europe, I was im-
pressed by the fact that great emphasis
was placed on linguistic competence
when selecting junior researchers,
even in awarding funding to PhD can-
didates of methodological disciplines.
This seems important to me, because
we work so closely with colleagues
from all over Asia that a high level of
language competence should no lon-
ger be negotiable even for anthropolo-
gists. Fortunately, the URPP was re-
lentless in this point. Accordingly, the
level of discussion was on a high
level—but so were the demands. I sin-
cerely hope that this orientation can
now be maintained thanks to the con-
tinuation of the Doctoral Program
Asia and Europe.
David Chiavacci: Apart from all the
achievements in research, the success-
fully acquired third-party funding,
and the countless new ideas and im-
pulses that all members got, it must be
re-emphasized that the URPP Asia
and Europe was a means of promoting
junior researchers par excellence. For-
mer junior members of the URPP are
now holding professorial chairs in Ba-
sel, Hamburg, Paris, or Edmonton.
And we can be very condent that the
number of former URPP’s junior re-
searchers appointed to chairs will con-
tinue to rise in the future. Like no other
institution, the URPP brought excel-
lent junior researchers from all over
the world to Zurich in order to send
them back into the world from Zurich.
Arab Feminism
The international workshop “Feminism
and Theory in the Arab World” (March
18–19, 2016) aimed at strengthening the
cooperation and exchange not only be-
tween gender scholars in Switzerland
and their counterparts in the Arabic-
speaking countries, but also between
Arab researchers themselves. The six
speakers presented research on five
Arabic-speaking countries in North Af-
rica and the Middle East, while extended
panel discussions on both days of the
workshop brought the speakers into dia-
logue with each other and with re-
searchers from Switzerland. The work-
shop was jointly organized by the
Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies,
the URPP Asia and Europe, and the Swiss
Society for Gender Studies.
Ulrich Brandenburg
The rst day of the workshop opened
with welcoming, introductory remarks
by the head of the Institute of Asian
and Oriental Studies (IAOS) Angelika
Malinar, as well as the workshop’s or-
ganizers, Beina Dennerlein and
Yasmine Berriane. Malinar stressed
how interplay between the global en-
tanglements of feminist concerns and
their local contexts was vitally impor-
tant to feminist scholars and activists.
Dennerlein and Berriane highlighted
that it was impossible to separate femi-
nist theory from political feminism. In-
stead, the workshop intended to exam-
ine the relevance of theory in a climate
of political upheaval in the Arab world
and, by the use of theory, go beyond
the ideological fault lines in the eld.
As the workshop’s rst speaker,
Marnia Lazreg (City University of
New York) introduced her concept of
the “median space” for Arab feminism,
which she laid out with reference to the
situation of women in Algeria. The me-
dian space in the conception of Lazreg
would mark the convergence of femi-
nist theory and the actual empower-
ment of Arab women. Lazreg’s concern
was especially how to reclaim the value
of freedom for Arab feminists against a
form of cultural relativism which was
used to deny Arab women equality
with women in Western countries.
Sketching the unequal relationship be-
tween feminist movements in the West
and in the Middle East, she described
the emergence of Arab feminism as a
derivative discourse, serving rst as a
projection for Western feminists’ uni-
versalist claims and later being rele-
gated into the realm of cultural dier-
ence. The remedy would be for Arab
feminists to improve on Western gen-
der theory by adapting it to their local
concerns.
Feminism between the Arab World and
Switzerland
The next speaker was Fatima Sadiqi
(University of Fez), who also taught as
a visiting researcher at the IAOS in the
2016 fall semester. Sadiqi described the
situation of feminism in Morocco be-
tween the two extremes of Westernist
secularism and resurgent Islamism.
She envisaged feminist concerns as
having to occupy a center position,
bridging the antagonism and contrib-
uting to the creation of an egalitarian
society in Morocco. The third speaker
was Amel Grami (Manouba Univer-
sity), who approached feminist con-
cerns from another direction and ad-
dressed the phenomenon of male
feminism in Tunisia. She detected two
main trends in male support for the
feminist movement: men who see their
support for the women’s movement as
part of modernism and progressivism
and others who detect a chance of
achieving social justice and even rede-
ning traditional masculinity. As the
rst day’s nal speaker, Zeina Zaatari
(UC Davis) addressed feminism in
Lebanon, identifying intersectionality
as being at the heart of the most recent
struggle for women’s rights. In states
preoccupied with the “war on terror,”
Reports
14
Asia & Europe Bulletin No 6, November 2017
nist Fatema Mernissi and her impact
on feminist discourse. Mernissi strove
for the liberation of Moroccan women
as an indigenous project, demystify-
ing the Orientalist idea of the seclu-
sion of women in Muslim majority
societies. Women’s rights in Mernissi’s
writings were shown not to be a prob-
lem for Islam itself but only for the
male Muslim elite. Mernissi also es-
tablished the concept of Islamic femi-
nism by re appropriating Islam for
women’s rights and actively engaging
in a struggle with the Islamist chal-
lenge about the meaning of Islam.
The workshop ended with a nal
discussion about the workshop’s re-
sults, which was initiated by the dis-
cussants Nadia Al-Baghdadi (Central
European University) and Katrin
Meyer (University of Basel). Points of
discussion concerned especially the
notion of universalism in women’s
rights and the relationship between
feminist theory and the concrete chal-
lenges of local contexts. A question
which was unfortunately only lightly
touched upon concerned the ques-
tionable notion of the “Arab World.”
One wonders about the usefulness of
this Arab framework in view of the
following points: 1) several papers
preferred to describe the region not as
Arab, but as a distinctly Muslim
MENA; 2) the Arabian Peninsula was
largely le out of the picture, with fre-
quent reference instead to develop-
ments in Iran; and 3) a noticeable gap
existed between Arab scholarship in
Arabic and in English or French.
Nonetheless, the benets of this
workshop about the Arab world are
obvious in having brought together
eminent scholars from dierent Arab
countries, who have not been directly
in debate with each other even though
they share similar concerns. It was
also a reminder that feminist concerns
should not be overshadowed by cul-
turalist visions, and that frequent talk
about the “West” and the “non-West”
can never be le unquestioned.
Reports
spaces for women are curtailed and
citizenship rights have become a daily
concern. What is necessary, according
to Zaatari, is thus mutual awareness
and cooperation between dierent
civil society actors against various
forms of discrimination.
The rst day of the workshop con-
cluded with a roundtable on the topic
of “Women’s and Gender Studies in
Arab and Swiss Universities.” It was
moderated by Beina Dennerlein, with
the participation of Hoda Elsadda
(Cairo University), Amel Grami, Fatima
Sadiqi, Marylène Lieber (University of
Geneva), and Regina Wecker (Univer-
sity of Basel). The discussion revolved
around the term and concept of gender
and the current situation of academic
feminism. The participants laid out in-
teresting details about their career
paths and personal motivations to do
gender studies, as well as the trajectory
of gender studies at the participants’ re-
spective universities. What became
clear during the discussion are the
enormous achievements that these pio-
neers of Gender Studies have accom-
plished during the last twenty to thirty
years, making Gender Studies from a
fringe concern into an established,
though not uncontested, eld of re-
search and teaching. At the same time it
was astonishing to see the commonali-
ties and parallels between the dierent
Arab countries and Switzerland, and
that it is not necessarily Switzerland as
part of the so-called West which is at the
forefront of progress. Instead, the inter-
est in Gender Studies was in both cases
triggered especially by developments
in Anglo-Saxon academia, as can also
be seen by the diculties of rendering
the term “gender” not only into Arabic
but also into German. The discussions
gave thus renewed cause to question
the established boundaries between a
“progressive,” “pro-feminist” West and
a “traditional” and “backward” Arab
world.
Universalism in women’s rights
On the second day of the workshop,
Hoda Elsadda spoke about post-
revolutionary Egypt, discussing the
drawing process for the constitution of
2014. Aer the Islamist-inspired consti-
tution of 2012 had taken steps to under-
mine women’s rights, the constitution
of 2014 reinstated the principle of
equali ty between men and women.
One important lever to achieve this was
the open discussion about the issue of
sexual harassment in Egypt since 2013
and the ensuing concerns for the inter-
national image of Egypt. This served as
an example of how rights activists
could employ international norms and
the language of women’s rights in local
power struggles, disproving the claims
of cultural relativists.
The last speaker was Raja Rhouni
(University of El Jadida), who talked
about the work of the Moroccan femi-
Public roundtable discussion on “Women’s and Gender Studies in Arab and Swiss Universities,” March 18, 2016
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