What's New from the Secretariat September

The first "What's New from the Secretariat" was issued in September last year, and the IAS-INFOM eNewsletter began in October, so we are now celebrating their first anniversary.

The first Executive Committee meeting after the summer vacation was held on September 21. The Center for Southeast Asia Studies (CSEAS) had a faculty meeting this week, and the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS) a faculty meeting the week before, so the gears are finally shifting away from summer vacation and into the new school term.

The meeting began with a report on the impending graduate student workshop, which is scheduled to be held at the end of next month. During the summer vacation, the Workshop Organizing Committee made up of graduate students and young faculty members continued its work, and set the concrete contents of the workshop. The overall title will be "Kyoto Workshop: 'Spinning from Fieldwork -- Process of Discovery and Analysis.'" Generally up to now, the "results" of fieldwork have been a frequent topic of discussion and academic writings, but not so much the "actual state" of fieldwork. At the planned workshop, 17 graduate students and young faculty members who have recently returned from fieldwork, and who are currently compiling their research results, will conduct discussions in seven sessions, including a special session, dealing with the methods, potential and limitations of fieldwork. The special features of this workshop are that the graduate students and young faculty members planned it themselves based on the confusion and questions they faced, and the awareness they acquired in their own fieldwork, and that rather than emphasizing "just sitting and listening to lectures" or "listening to other people's experience," they are placing weight on exchanges of opinion and debates among the participants from both inside and outside Kyoto University.

For details on the workshop, see: http://areainfo.asafas.kyoto-u.ac.jp/japan/fsws/2004_kyoto/20041030.html (the notice is only in Japanese). There are also plans for special lectures by Professors SATO Ikuya ( Hitotsubashi University ) and Professor MATSUDA Motoji ( Kyoto University ).

There was a report from the Field Station Section on the results of recruitment of students to be dispatched to the FSs in the latter half of FY2004 and on the screening process that they will go through. It was proposed that the final selection be done by a meeting of all FSs on October 5, with this decision being confirmed post facto by the Executive Committee meeting on October 21, and the proposal was approved. It was projected that there would be no need for any extra budget because the number of applying students was not as large as expected, so the staff of the Secretariats felt quite relieved.

From the Network Section, it was reported that the work for ASCOM groupware is going well, that an explanatory meeting will be held soon, and that an English version of the eNewsletter will be launched as early as this month. The Network Section will likely have to surmount many obstacles in this endeavor, as the English version will entail more difficulties than the Japanese one, such as the delivery format.

The Public Relations Section reported that work on the website had continued through the summer vacation. This work included uploading various items, setting links, and considering frameworks for the provision of new information. The most important task was the complete rearrangement of the items on the top page of the Japanese website. Up until now, the main focus has been to introduce the activities of the 21st Century COE Program. Our tasks ahead are to determine how to make sure that the website does not finish its function after the end of the Program at the end of FY2006, but continues to be linked to the future of ASAFAS and CSEAS. It was reported that the top page would be provisionally reviewed before long, based on a concept that prompts people interested in fieldwork to look through the rest of the site. We are already looking forward to seeing how it will turn out.

There were two important agenda items this month. The first was the use of the 6.55 million yen returned to the Program because other budget was appropriated, as discussed at the Executive Committee meeting in July. Following various discussions, it was decided to use the funds to collect books for Southeast Asian studies, gather materials related to South Asia, and create a database of periodicals in Arabic. A decision was also made to provide assistance for the production of an illustrated book of Vietnamese seaweeds titled The Common Marine Plants of Southern Vietnam, as requested by the Vietnam FS. The remaining 550,000 yen will be placed into the reserve fund of the Secretariat.

There was also a report on next fiscal year's international symposium, and the report was approved. The symposium was initially planned to be held in Indonesia, but a new working group (WG) was organized and worked through the summer, drawing up plans to hold it in Thailand and to apply for funds from Kyoto University. This plan was approved by the Executive Committee. The current plan is to hold it on November 12-13 of next year, in Bangkok . The result of the application for funding should be known by November, and the schedule of the WG's activities will depend on the result. There is a lot to do, and we offer our encouragement and appreciation to the members of the WG for their effort.

As you can see, then, some members of the Program were quite busy during the summer vacation as well. One thing that we can be grateful for is that we had no visitors from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). We had heard that there might be visits from them to those programs that had scored poorly on the mid-term evaluation hearings.

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