What does 2018 bring?

Card from the peeps. My nerdy fandom wishes come true. How did they know?
Card from the peeps. My nerdy fandom wishes come true. How did they know?

It has been good to be in a stepped-down space (for those who don’t know, I’m no longer convenor of the AASRN).

The best thing about stepping down is doing so and knowing that the network is in excellent hands. Hands that are much more enthusiastic about developing the network in fresh ways, and have new networks of their own with which to strengthen the groups already there.

It’s not that I didn’t want to grow possibilities, but I had been there so long that the continuous work of managing the network, other projects, and the brain-space it took up made me feel tired towards it. Instead of looking for opportunities and taking risks with new connections, I looked at what was manageable and efficient.

That’s not good for the network or, ultimately, me. Continue reading

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It’s time

Photo by Annie Spratt | unsplash.com
Photo by Annie Spratt | unsplash.com

One of the first things I did in 2018 was to step down officially as convenor of the AASRN.

It’s a role I’ve had ever since the research network was formally established in 2006. Before that, I was functioning more or less as the convenor when the network was an informal group that came together after the original Asian Australian Identities conference in Canberra in 1999.

That’s about 18 years at the helm. That’s a long time.

In that time, I’ve moved through six different jobs, four universities, shifted states, had two kids, and trudged through countless angstful episodes about career direction and professional identity.  Continue reading

The increasing relevance of our Asian Australian cohorts (Tseen Khoo and Jen Tsen Kwok)

[This article originally appeared in Eureka Street on 1 October 2017, and is reproduced here with original figures derived by ABS census data by Jen Tsen Kwok, who blogs at Borderless Democracy]

It would be fair to say that Australia is in a hyper-nationalist phase. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party is back in the Federal Parliament, extremist anti-migration micro-parties have gained a foothold, and recent proposals for migrant entry echo the days of the White Australia dictation tests, which was once used to exclude those who were considered ‘undesirable’.

Asian students in Brisbane

Yet, our national population is more diverse than ever, particularly when it comes to those of Asian Australian heritage. Just how diverse is something we need to examine more closely if we are to develop a more inclusive, welcoming society. Continue reading

Asian Australian voices

Stuff happens | Photo by Kim Tairi Released under CC licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0
Ninja | Photo by Kim Tairi
Released under CC licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0

Just recently, the lovely Katherine Firth (@katrinafee on Twitter) asked what I’d suggest if she wanted to read more from Asian voices in Australia on various sociopolitical issues.

Specifically, she outlined the genres of text she was interested in as “Sociology/ reportage / special editions journals / activist polemic”.

I started crafting a few tweets in my head, and thought of several links and articles straight away, then realised that it was probably much more useful – and user-friendly – if I just blogged it!

At first, when I thought about what Katherine had asked for, I felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t think of what might be the best places to get started or which articles to read. I’d been immersed in Asian Australian Studies perspectives on everything for so long, I had to take a deliberate step back to see how a (savvy, highly intelligent, research-oriented) newcomer might most usefully find a way into the diverse and multi-voiced material that’s out there.

Continue reading

Conversations in contrast

pineapplecrush-TK
Photo by Tseen Khoo

I was at an event at the Immigration Museum recently.

There was a savvy panel of Asian Australian intellectuals and creatives from Peril magazine and Asian Australian Democracy Caucus.

They generated a fantastic critical race conversation and covered big, exciting territory about nation-state identities, exclusionary processes, dispossession, and everyday racisms and their consequences for senses of community.

Most of the people in the room were activist inclined and on board with the debates – not always in agreement, but willing to take on the issues and talk about them.

There were several white audience members – mostly older and male – who were deeply uncomfortable, if not openly hostile, to the presentations taking place in front of them.  Continue reading

2 gigs in two weeks!

  1. Excited to be presenting a workshop on “Getting started on social media” for the AASRN with Tom Cho next Monday night (16 Feb 2015). It has already proven to be good fun and highly educational for me because I’ve never worked with Tom on this kind of thing before. We google-doc’d and Prezi’d together throughout the last week, and it was a very good experience.I’ve never used Prezi before – EVER – so learning about the new app was useful. I have had a few bad experiences with Prezi (that nausea everyone talks about) and wasn’t sure about it. Now that I’ve played with it a bit more, though, I think it has huge potential and people just need to rein in their enthusiasm about any given presentation’s visual mobility!We’re hoping that this session, focussed on helping Asian Australian communities to engage via social media, will be the first in a series of activist/lobbying/outreach events that will get Asian Australian research, topics, and debates out into the broader public sphere. These kinds of processes should also create conversations and further networks within Asian Australian groups that will generate more cultural and political activity. And, to me, this is always a good thing.
  2. The second gig is at ACMI in Federation Square and I’m chairing an amazing panel of Asian Australian creative talent. “Growing up Chinese in Australia” (TUES 24 Feb 2015) is part of the China Up Close festival, and features William Yang, Annette Shun Wah, Benjamin Law, and Juliana Qian. After the panel is the Melbourne premiere screening of Yang’s Blood Links. I have fan-girled these people for varying amounts of time, in different ways, and being able to participate in the event is just dreamy.

benjamin-law-tony-ayres-hero-2-small

Nhu “Ned” Kelly – P.M. Newton’s novels

PMnewtonjI’d been wanting to read P.M. Newton’s The Old School for a very long time. Ever since it came out in 2010, actually.

My buddy, Rodney, who is quite the afficionado of Australian crime fiction, had mentioned it to me and I was immediately taken with the idea of a Vietnamese Australian detective in 1990s Sydney.

It took me till 2013 to read The Old School (thanks, @oanh_1)and I included it as part of my AWW 2013 listing. The impending publication of Newton’s second novel with the same lead character – Nhu “Ned” Kelly – spurred me to get a hold of the first. I inhaled the book, with its fast-paced narrative and tough, adeptly attuned characterisations. Then I eagerly awaited the second.

Beams Falling sat on a library shelf one weekend, tempting me with its new-bookish allure. I snatched it up immediately.

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Placeholder Post

No Little Birdies (Photo by Tseen Khoo)
No Little Birdies (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

Best intentions and all. Life’s totally overtaken my blogging schedule.

I started a new job at a new institution recently, and my new commute is 3 hours a day. While I thought this would mean OMG so much writing time, it has not come to pass. On a swaying bus, the best ‘work’ I can do is checking emails + tweeting from my various accounts (AASRN and Research Whisperer, mostly).

I’m keeping this here as a placeholder until things settle down. I’ve started dozens of posts, but never saw them through. Poised over the keyboard, thinking I needed to write something insightful and worthwhile shunting out into the world, I usually balk.

So, if you’re looking at this blog because you’ve found me via one of the hats I wear, here are some shortcuts for finding the kind of stuff you might be interested in:

Meanwhile, as I’ve been saying for about five years, I need to start shedding some roles…

Top 10 Asian Oz childhood foods

This post is inspired by this article on Foodbeast that floated my way through Facebook: 16 things that taste just like your Asian American childhood.

I browsed through it with glee, loving these kinds of walks down memory lane. Even if it wasn’t necessarily my memory lane.

Oddly enough, I encountered quite a few of the items in my adult life rather than my childhood.

I didn’t have my first Pocky stick, for example, till I was 27 years old. I was in Canada doing research for my PhD, visiting one my favourite Canadian authors, and she offered me a Pocky stick. It was the start of a long and fond relationship (for me and Pocky sticks, that is; the author’s pretty damn cool, too, it must be said).

Some of the food items did strike a chord, and reminded me of my Brisbane childhood, the trips to Fortitude Valley, and the evolving Asian grocery shops and malls through the 1980s and 1990s.

The items from the Foodbeast list that populated my childhood as well are: haw flakes, shrimp-flavoured chips, and pork floss (aka ‘pork sung’ in the Foodbeast listing). There were, however, many others that loomed large for our family. I’m not sure if they were unique to us, or whether they reflected a broader pattern of Malaysian-Chinese consumption.

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Just a bit of fun

Created by the STARS program at Ohio University (Source: angryasianman - http://blog.angryasianman.com/2011/10/were-costume-not-culture.html)
Created by the STARS program at Ohio University (Source: angryasianman – http://blog.angryasianman.com/2011/10/were-costume-not-culture.html)

I’m a bit slow and only now catching up on the “crying racism” frenzy that was generated by Mia Freedman’s recent piece, “The boy who cried ‘Racist’“.

I’d seen a few tweets fly by about how white people shouldn’t tell minorities how they should be feeling, or set themselves up to be arbiters of what constitutes racism.

When I clicked through and finally read Freedman’s piece, I understood what everyone was going on about.

I also did the unthinkable and read (some of) the comments.

Apart from chuckling at Delta tragics who refused to countenance any besmirching of their idol, there was a fair array of opinions being expressed. Including a fan of Andrew Bolt who – unfortunately for Freedman –  was on her side.

What I want to talk about in this post, however, isn’t whether Delta or Freedman are the anti-Christ. Nor whether the blackface depiction of Seal was ‘intended’ to be racist.

I want to engage with the concept, expressed in the comments, that dressing up is ‘just a bit of fun’ and, by implication, harmless.

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