History (1990 – 2006)

In the 2005-2006 academic year there were 6288 total course enrollments in the Department taught by twenty-four faculty members at the rank of Instructor and above, and thirty-two Sessional Lecturers. These enrollments included 2005 in Asian Studies courses, 2225 in Chinese language studies, 1604 in Japanese, 158 in Korean, 148 in Punjabi, 98 in Hindi, and 26 in Indonesian. This departmental total is three times larger than ten years ago, and five times that for fifteen years ago, so course enrollments have increased dramatically. In 2005 there were 107 Asian Area Studies Majors, 33 majors in Asian Languages and Cultures, 22 Chinese majors and 94 in the Japanese language.  There were a total of thirty-eight undergraduate Asian Studies courses, ninety-one sections of Chinese language courses, seventy sections of Japanese, thirteen of Korean, two of Indonesian, four for Hindi-Urdu, five of Punjabi, and two of Sanskrit. Asian Studies courses included introductions to East, South and Southeast Asia, and courses in the pre-modern and modern literature, history, philosophy and religion of China, Japan, India, Korea and Indonesia. Language courses were offered for classical, modern, written and conversational forms, including readings in literary texts, newspapers, business writing and composition. Graduate-level courses were also offered for studies in all of these culture areas. (For detailed information about majors and courses in the Department see pages 127-128 and 461-463, 484-485, etc. under Asian Studies and the languages involved in the UBC Calendar: Vancouver 2005/06)

Three new faculty members joined the Department this year, Stefania Burk, Adheesh Sathaye and Ted Slingerland; they joined the new appointments made in 2004 of Rebecca Chau as Instructor and Coordinator of the Japanese Language Program, and Christina Laffin; see the following section for information about these and other faculty members. There were three Distinguished Visiting Professors in the Department in 2005-2006, Professors Richard Lynn (Toronto, Emeritus), Tony Liman (Toronto, Emeritus) and Wang Rui (Chinese Film Academy). During this same period twenty speakers from UBC and other noted universities made presentations in the departmental speakers program. The annual Chinese and Japanese Speech Contests were held, as well as a celebration of the Chinese New Year. Mrs. Kyung-Hee Lynn, Instructor of Japanese, retired after a UBC career that began in 1979.
These activities in 2005-2006 continued traditions that began forty-five years ago, as described in the article “Glowing Coals: the First Twenty-five Years of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, 1960-1985”, by D.L. Overmyer, published in the B.C. Asian Review No 3/4:1-27 (1990), an article that actually carried the story up to 1990. The present essay is intended as a brief update of that article. Total course enrolments in the 1990-91 academic year were 1352; by 1996-97 they had increased to 1938, leading up to the present total noted above. Graduate enrolments were 21 M.A and 14 Ph.D. in 1991-1992, and 14 and 32, respectively in 2005-2006, with a high of 36 and 32 in 1999-2000. As of July 1, 1990 there were twenty-two faculty members in the Department at the rank of Instructor and above, so, with some fluctuation over the years, the total number of faculty has remained about the same. The recent Department Heads have been Dan Overmyer, 1986-1991, Michael Duke, 1991-1996, Kenneth Bryant, 1996- 1999, Joshua Mostow, 1999-2003, and Peter Nosco, 2003 to the present.
The founding Head of the Department, William Holland, was given an Honorary Degree by the University in 1991.
Emeritus Professor of Japanese history, John Howes (ret. 1989), published one edited book in 1995, and authored another in 2005. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Government of Japan in 2003, and a symposium in his honor was held at UBC in 2005.
Annual reports by Heads were not kept after 1991, but were resumed in letter form by Peter Nosco in 2003, who arrived in July of that year. He notes that the new director of the Chinese language program, Duanduan Li, arrived that year. For 2003-2004 he notes that Maija Scott and Roger Chow, respectively, were confirmed as the Administrator and Financial Clerk of the Department, joining long time staff member Mina Wong and Graduate Secretary Jasmina Miodragovic to complete the departmental staff. Professor Ken Takashima retired that year, after having been at UBC since 1973. Twenty-one scholars participated in the departmental Speakers’ Program that year. Jinhua Chen organized an international symposium on Buddhist sacred sites, co-sponsored by the Taipei Museum of World Religions. Also in 2004 Peter Nosco co-organized with the Japan Society for the Advancement of Science a symposium on Christianity in Japan.

Asian Studies Faculty as of May, 2006

There are now twenty-four active faculty members in the Department at the rank of Instructor and above, and thirty-two Sessional Lecturers, with twenty-two of them full time. There also six emeritus faculty who retired in the 1990 – 2006 period. One professor, Kinya Tsuruta, died in 1999. The following list is arranged alphabetically by surname, and includes rank, date of highest graduate degree, area of specialization, types and numbers of refereed publications and presentations, research grants, awards or prizes and visiting professorships or lectureships in the period 1990-2005/6. Conference papers and invited lectures are counted together. “Visiting professorships” here means invited positions at other schools that last for a few weeks to a year or more. Of course, many papers given by our faculty are at other universities in a variety of places. Work in progress is not included. Book and manuscript reviews, non-refereed publications, editorships, presentations to the media, conference panels and workshop organized, service to the profession and the university, etc. while important, are not included here. All research by faculty members of this department is based on texts and other materials in Asian languages, and involves working in Asia with Asian colleagues. All faculty at the level of Assistant Professor and above teach both undergraduate and graduate courses, and supervise graduate student research. The information provided here is intended only to give an impression of the extent of faculty activity; it is not feasible to include complete CVs! For the names of publications and papers, conferences and panels organized, offices held in professional organizations etc., the interested reader can contact the individual faculty members.
Aklujkar, Ashok N. Professor, Ph.D Harvard 1970. Sanskrit, Indian philosophy. At UBC 1969- . Two books, one a Sanskrit textbook in four volumes, seventy-seven research articles, thirty-two lectures and papers (selected). Three grants, six visiting professorships at Hamburg, Harvard, Rome, Kyoto, Paris and Oxford.

Aklujkar, Vidyullekha (Vidyut). Acting Assistant Professor, 1990-1992, 1994. Ph.D British Columbia, 1973. Indian languages and literatures. Books, articles, poems, short stories and essays in Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit and English. (See comments on sessional lecturers below). Visiting lecturer at Harvard, 2002.

Baker, Donald L., Associate Professor, Ph. D Washington, 1983. Korean history, philosophy and religion. At UBC 1987-. One book, two co-edited books, one translated book, twelve book chapters, twelve articles, fourteen encyclopedia entries, 105 presentations and lectures, seven research grants. Visiting lecturer at UCLA, Berkeley, Maryland and Washington.

Bryant,Kenneth (No CV submitted)

Burk, Stefania Eliza. Assistant Professor, Ph.D California at Berkeley, 2001, medieval Japanese literature. At UBC 2005-. Two articles, twelve papers, seven grants.

Chen, Jinhua. Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair, Ph.D Mc Master, 1997. East Asian Buddhist history and thought . At UBC 2001- . Two books, twenty-five articles, seventeen papers, eight research grants. Visiting professor, Tokyo.

Chau, Rebecca. Instructor I, Ph.D Tsukuba, 1986, Japanese linguistics. At UBC 1990- One co-authored book in two volumes, one book chapter, three papers, three grants as a co-investigator. Coordinator, Japanese Language Program, 2001-2006.

Chiu-Duke, Josephine. Senior Instructor, Ph.D, British Columbia, 1992 . Premodern Chinese intellectual history. At UBC as a Senior Instructor, 1997- .One book, one edited book, five articles, three book chapters, one translation (with Michael Duke), thirteen papers, four grants. Award: “United Daily News Award for Best Non-fiction Book of 2005”. Visiting scholar and lecturer, National University of Singapore and National Taiwan University.

Duke, Michael S. Professor Emeritus. Ph.D, California-Berkeley, 1975. Modern Chinese literature. At UBC 1982-2006. One book, two edited books, one co-edited book, one translated book. Six articles, ten translations, eight papers. Award, UBC Killam Research Prize, 1989-1991. Visiting Lectureship from the Taiwan Academia Sinica, with lectures at National Taiwan University and Chi Nan University.

Fulton, Bruce. Associate Professor and Young-Bin Min Chair in Korean Literature and Literary Translation. Ph.D Seoul National University, 1999. Modern Korean literature. At UBC, 1999- . Four co-edited books, thirteen co-translated volumes, ninety-five translations, 149 lectures and readings, twelve grants. Five awards for translations of Korean literature.

Harlow, Francesca L. (formerly known as Larry Preston). Assistant Professor. Ph.D Toronto, 1984. Indian history. At UBC as Assistant Professor, 1994- .One book published by Cambridge and Orient Longman in 1989 and 1990. One article, two encyclopedia entries. Six grants. Award for teaching at Red Deer College, 1992.

Harnetty, Peter. Professor Emeritus, Ph.D Harvard, 1958, South Asian history. At UBC 1958-1992. Three articles, four encyclopedia entries. Faculty of Arts Teaching Prize, 1990.

Hellwig,Tineke, Associate Professor, Ph.D Leiden, 1990. Indonesian Language and Literature. At UBC 1989- . Two books, one co-edited book, one book chapter, eleven articles plus one co-authored article. Forty-three papers. Eight grants. Killam Faculty Research Fellowship, 1995-1996. UBC Scholar, Centre for Research in Women’s Studies and Gender relations, 1998.

Hur, Nam-lin. Associate Professor, Ph.D, Princeton, 1992. Japanese History/ Korean-Japanese Relations. At UBC 1994- . One book, seventeen articles, seventy-nine papers. Fifteen grants. Awards: Japan Foundation Fellowship, 1999, UBC Killam Faculty Research Grant., 2004.

King, Ross. Associate Professor, Ph.D Harvard, 1991. Korean language and Literature. At UBC 1994- . Four co-authored books, one edited book, three co-edited books, fourteen book chapters, fifteen articles, three translations. Seven grants, one prize, “Republic of Korea Prime Minister’s Award, 2000”.

Laffin, Christina. Assistant Professor, Ph.d Columbia, 2005. Ancient and Medieval Japanese Literature. At UBC 2005- . One co-edited book, two book chapters, two articles, five translations, nine papers and lectures, twelve grants.

Lee, Insun. Senior Instructor, M.A. British Columbia, 1997. Korean language. At UBC 1997- . One co-authored book, one paper, five grants. Visiting lecturer, Harvard, summers, 1997 and 1998.

Li, Duanduan. Assistant Professor, Ed.D, Columbia,1998. Chinese language. At UBC 2003- .Two co-authored books in several volumes, twenty-two papers, seven grants. Director, Chinese Language Program, UBC.

Lynn, Kyung-Hee. Senior Instructor Emeritus. M. Ed., UBC, 1975. Japanese Language. At UBC as Instructor or Senior Lecturer, 1991-2005. One edited book, one article, twelve lectures/papers. 

Mostow, Joshua Scott. Professor, Ph.D Pennsylvania, 1988. Pre-modern Japanese Literature. At UBC 1989- . Two books, one edited book, three co-edited, one co-authored, sixteen book chapters, fifteen articles, one encyclopedia entry, 103 papers and lectures, sixteen grants, nine visiting appointments at Tokyo, Josai, International Christian University, Heidelberg, California-Berkeley, Gakushuin, Osaka, and Minnesota. Two awards for “Outstanding Academic Book of 1996, Choice Magazine, 1996” and “Outstanding Publication, American Library Association, 2003”. Acting Head, Asian studies, July 1999-April, 2003.

Nosco, Peter. Professor and Head. Ph.D Columbia,1978. Japanese intellectual history. At UBC 2003- . Two books, two edited books, two edited special issues of journals, seven book chapters, four articles. Fifteen encyclopedia entries. Twenty-eight papers. Six grants, six awards while at the University of Southern California, including being elected to the Golden Key and Phi Beta Delta Honor Societies and as a Fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. Elected President of the USC Academic Senate, 2001-2002. Visiting professor at UCLA, Hawaii, and Waseda (in Japan).

Oberoi, Harjot S. Professor. Ph.D, Australian National University, 1987. Comparative Study of Religion and Society, Sikh Studies, Punjabi language and Literature, and other areas of study. At UBC 1987- . One book, one co-edited book, three book chapters, six articles, twenty papers, seven grants. Three awards: “Best First Book in the History of Religions, American Academy of Religion, 1994”, Killam Research Prize, UBC, 1995, “Outstanding Academic Book of 1995, Choice”.

Orbaugh, Sharalyn. Associate Professor, joint appointment with UBC Women’s Studies. Ph.D, Michigan, 1989. Contemporary Japanese Literature. At UBC 1997- Three co-edited books, nine book chapters, seven articles, twenty-five encyclopedia entries, fifty-six papers and lectures, ten grants. Visiting Prof., Ritsumeikan, 2003-2004.

Overmyer, Daniel L Professor Emeritus. Ph.D Chicago, 1971. Chinese Religion and Thought. At UBC 1973-2001. One book, two edited books, two co-edited books, Chinese translations of two earlier books and a Japanese translation of one, sixteen articles, two book chapters, twenty-four papers, eight grants. Two awards: UBC Killam Faculty Teaching Prize, 2000, “Alumnus of the Year, University of Chicago Divinity School, 2001”. Department Head, 1986-1991; appointed “Distinguished Associate Member of the UBC Centre for Chinese Research, 2002-” . Visting Professor, Shanghai Normal University, Heidelberg, Chinese University of Hong Kong, National Cheng-chi University (Taiwan). Conference in his honor organized by graduate students in 2002 at UBC to begin preparation for a festschrift book.

Sathaye, Adheesh. Assistant Professor. Sanskrit Literature and Folklore. Ph.D, California-Berkeley, 2004. At UBC 2005- . Eight papers.

Schmidt, Jerry. Professor. Traditional Chinese poetry. Ph.d Three books . (Still need a complete CV here)

Shin, Leo K. Assistant Professor in History and Asian Studies. Ph.D Princeton, 1999. Pre-modern Chinese History. At UBC 2001- . One book, one article, nineteen papers, ten grants.

Slingerland, Edward Gilman III. Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Chinese Thought and Embodied Cognition. Ph.D Stanford, 1998. Chinese thought. At UBC 2005- . Three books, eight articles, three translations, twenty-seven papers. Award: “Best First Book in the History of Religions”, American Academy of Religion.

Swatek, Catherine Crutchfield. Associate Professor. Pre-modern Chinese Literature. Ph.D Columbia, 1990. At UBC 1990- . One book, one book chapter, three articles, six encyclopedia entries, one entry in a guide to literature. Twenty-six papers. Six grants.

Takashima, Ken-ichi. Professor Emeritus. Ph. D. Washington, 1973. Historical Chinese linguistics and paleography. At UBC 1973-2004. Two books, two co-authored books, two co-edited books. Twenty-nine articles. Twelve grants.  Killam Research Award. Visiting Professor: Washington, Tokyo, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Centre de Recherches Linguistiques sure l’asie orientale),  East China Normal University, Nankai University. Visiting researcher,  Tokyo, Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters; Fellow, Swedish Collegium of Advanced Study in the Social Sciences.

Tsuruta, Kinya. d. 1999. Modern Japanese literature. A conference in his honor, on literary pilgrimages between Japan and the West, was held at UBC in 1999 shortly before his death. (CV being sought)

This is a total of nine faculty in Chinese studies, seven in Japanese, seven in Indian, four in Korean and one in Indonesian.  Together, these scholars published eighty-six books, authored, edited or translated, in a fifteen year period, with hundreds of articles and research papers, and this does not include hundreds more book and manuscript reviews.

In addition to the teaching and research activities listed above, faculty members were actively involved in student advising, departmental and university committees, and in service to the profession and community. Several of them have organized numbers of conferences and panels of research papers, a good example being Chen Jinhua, who organized four conferences on Buddhist topics between 2001-2004. Several faculty members gave numerous interviews to local television and radio stations and newspapers, with the highest totals for such interviews being Josephine Chiu-Duke with more than sixty Mandarin television presentations on China and Taiwan current affairs, and Michael Duke with forty-eight! These are just a few of the many examples that could be provided.
As is noted above, in 2005-06 there were thirty-two Sessional Lecturers involved in teaching, mostly for language courses, with similar totals every year. Such Sessionals provide a vital service to the Department, which could not do its work without them, but they are not eligible for permanent appointments, despite the fact that some of them have Ph.D degrees and have published academic articles. See, for example, the above entry for Vidyut Aklujkar, who has published scores of essays, stories, poems and articles. Alison Bailey, Ph.D Toronto, 1991, published one article and four translations in the period in question, and presented nine papers; she has just been appointed Chair of the Centre for Chinese Research of the UBC Institute of Asian Research. Mou Huaichuan (KevinMou), Ph.D British Columbia,1998, published one book and co-authored two more, and published as well three articles. Other examples could also be adduced. Some Asian Studies Sessional Lecturers are serious scholars in their own right.


As is true with all university departments, there have always been debates in Asian Studies over policies and appointments, and in some cases disputes among faculty members, which appear to have ameliorated in recent years. Here I do not attempt to discuss these matters, but focus on positive activities and accomplishments. These activities indicate that this is a strong and lively department, one of the best of its type in the world, with one of the largest student enrollments anywhere; it is a credit to the university and to Canada. Its work provides all who are interested a wide and deep view of Asian societies and cultures, past and present. Under Peter Nosco’s able leadership its future seems assured. I have just a few suggestions, the first of which is that the Department should continue to build on its strengths in three areas for which good library resources have been built up over the years, Sanskrit language and Indian philosophy, Indian and Theravadin Buddhism, and Chinese local/popular religious traditions. An additional suggestion is that the Department should seek to add a position in Islam in Asia, where there are many millions of Muslims in China, Indonesia, India, Central Asia, Pakistan and elsewhere; Islam is by no means just a Middle Eastern/West Asian tradition. There is an Islam specialist in the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, supported by a Sessional Lecturer in Arabic; an appointment in Asian Islam could complement and strengthen this beginning. Courses in this area are vital, both for their own sake and because of the importance of Islam in the world today.

Dan Overmyer, with the assistance of Maija Scott, Peter Nosco, and others.

May, 2006