Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures

ASIAN 305: Religion and Violence

About: Recent events have brought the debate about the relationship between religion and violence into the foreground of public debate. Do religions justify and cause violence or are they more appropriately seen as forces for peace and tolerance? In the context of secular modernity, religion has been represented by some as a primary cause violence, social division and war, whilst others have argued that this is a distortion of the ‘true’ significance of religion, which when properly followed promotes peace, harmony, goodwill and social cohesion. Coinciding with the global re-surfacing of religious violence is the work of the media that can be seen both as a key agent in transforming the public’s reception of the relationship between religion and violence, and in many ways affecting the course of national and international politics itself.  This course will explore the relationship between secularism and the globalization of religion and violence. Specific themes for discussion may include but are not limited to: Reconceptualizing the relationship between religion and violence; Violence as an ideological construct; 9/11 and the War on Terrorism; Racial and Religious violence.

ASIAN 550: Asia and Critical Theory

About:This is the department’s graduate seminar for incoming Ph.D students. In this seminar the students are introduced to important theoretical topics and key concepts that are relevant to the comparative and critical study of Asia. Rather than focusing on a particular region, historical period, or disciplinary perspective, the course seeks to equip students with tools essential for a sophisticated and compelling analysis of a variety of regions, historical periods, and disciplinary perspectives. These tools will allow them to move more easily across the disciplines of Asian studies (and beyond) by, among other things, exploring the historical foundations of those disciplines. The syllabus offers a variety of conceptual strategies for understanding Asian cultures, pairing theoretical readings with specific Asian materials. It is our hope that students will thereby gain a purchase on critical theory and productive ways of using it in the study of cultures across national and/or disciplinary boundaries. The seminar is designed both to provide an introduction to Asian Studies as a field and to encourage the development of critical skills. Asian 550 fulfills one half of the Rackham School’s Responsible Conduct and Scholarship (RCRS) requirement.