Graduate Research Forum

November 02, 2017
03:00 PM - 04:30 PM
Sedgewick C168

a quarterly CAPI forum featuring graduate research on Asia

Thursday 2 November 2017
3:00 - 4:30pm
Sedgewick C168

An Introduction to the Constitution of Bhutan

PRESENTER: Nima Dorji, PhD student, Faculty of Law
COMMENTATOR: Janice Dowson, PhD(c), Political Science

emblem of BhutanBuddhist principles played a very important role in shaping Bhutan as a nation-state including the institution of hereditary monarchy. Bhutan remained isolated by choice until 1970s, and it virtually opened up to world in 1999. The Fourth King spearheaded the introduction of democracy guided by his concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) which is deeply rooted in Buddhist principles of contentment, respect for all sentient beings, peaceful coexistence and tolerance. The constitution finds a special place for cultural values and Buddhism, while also respecting cultural and religious pluralism and the natural environment. Bhutan is now a ‘democratic constitutional monarchy’ – the King still has very important role to play in Bhutanese democracy. Critics from outside question the excessive power given to the King; however, the sentiment in Bhutan is completely opposite. The people see the King as the symbol of unity and ultimate protector. The role of the King as protector has now become one of the Bhutanese values recognized by the constitution. The presentation will show that except for few minor setbacks, the new system has worked very well for the past ten years.

Nima Dorji is a Lecturer at the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law – the first law school of Bhutan. Before joining the School of Law in 2014, he worked as a Project Coordinator and Legal Officer at the Bhutan National Legal Institute (Judicial Academy of Bhutan). He is currently a doctoral student at UVic and a Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Advanced Scholar. His research focuses on the nature of Bhutan’s evolving approach to constitutionalism and constitutional monarchy, and how it relates to the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH). He received his Bachelor's degree from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, India, his Postgraduate Diploma in National Law (PGDNL) from Royal Institute of Management, Bhutan, and his LLM from University of Canberra, Australia.

Imported Pekalongan Batik: Emblems of Cosmopolitanism in Imagined Communities of Straits Peranakan Women

PRESENTER: Su Yen Chong, master's student, Fine Arts
COMMENTATOR: Tamara Gonçalves, PhD student, Faculty of Law

example of batik cloth patternBatik cloth made in Pekalongan, North Coast Java was popular amongst nyonyas (women who identify themselves as Peranakan are known as nyonyas) in the Straits Settlements. Batik cloth was often worn in the style of a sarong, a tubular fabric wrapped around the waist. The design and dissemination of these imported and signed batiks made by either Indo-European or Peranakan batikers in Java provides scholars with a unique opportunity to explore one very visible aspect of the multiple layers of identity of the nyonyas. The preference for fashionable and luxuriously batik cloth points to a desire to be represented as elites and cosmopolitans. The ideology of cosmopolitanism within the Peranakan community will be analyzed to understand the development of rich layers of identity of the Peranakan Chinese living among Malay and other ethnic groups in the Straits Settlements. My research aims to examine the construction and negotiation of early 20th century diaspora Chinese cosmopolitan identity through the lens of visual culture, colonialism and gender identity.

Su Yen Chong is a CAPI Crossing Borders Queen Elizabeth Scholar in her second year as a master’s student in UVic's Department of Art History and Visual Studies with a concentration on Southeast Asian Art History under the supervision of Dr. Astri Wright. Her research interest lies within the arts and culture of the Straits Settlement Chinese. More specifically, her research examines cosmopolitanism in the imagined community of the Strait Settlements’ Peranakan through the exploration of batik textiles worn by the Peranakan women fondly known as nyonyas. The importance of this research lies in the evaluation the cosmopolitan worldview linked to the spirit of hospitality observed by the Peranakans, which can be applied in facilitating meaningful contemporary conversation between the local and the global.

event poster (click for full pdf):

Nov 2 CAPI Graduate Research Forum poster thumbnail image

Jonathan Woods