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Focus Asia 2011

10 May & 13-14 October

Japan and the Tsunami

Focus Asia in May 2012 took as its topic the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami that on Friday 11 March the same year devastated the seaboard of North-Eastern Honshu. The lectures presented at Focus Asia set the disaster into a context, and examined the consequences of the tragedy.

Drawing upon her extensive research regarding the tsunami that struck Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India on 26 December 2004 and resulted in massive loss of life, Dr. Monica Lindberg-Falk reviewed the resilience demonstrated by different societies when coping with the aftermath of the disaster. In the following two presentations in the morning session Dr. Ingemar Ottosson deald with the recurrent tragedies of earthquakes and tsunamis through Japan’s history, and Dr. Mayumi Saegusa with the social consequences of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

In the afternoon presentations Dr. Monica Braw, who has written extensively upon Hiroshima, discussed the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Power Plant, and Professor Marie Söderberg, Sweden’s leading economist working upon contemporary Japanese economics, presented and analysed the enormous and far-reaching political and economic consequences that could occur as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The presentations provided clear and relevant insights into the Great East Japan Earthquake and its importance to contemporary Japanese society, as well as reflected upon its wider effects upon the entire global community.


Women and Children, Contemporary Agents of Change in Asia

Women in Asian countries face realities that many women in European countries would consider as unacceptable practices, treatments and conditions within the contexts of growing up, family life, marriage, motherhood, work, social relations and mobility.  Religious systems, especially Islam, as well as social systems that subject a woman to her father, husband or son are perceived as a major source for the unequal treatment of women.

During the two-days-lasting 15th Focus Asia, the public was presented with original, contemporary research conducted in the Asian, mostly urban, region including China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Pakistan. While some speakers addressed topics such as motherhood, growing up and identity within particular countries others dealt with problems caused by Asian migration, and national and social sentiments, customs and laws from gender or feminist perspectives.

Several presentations focused on the interplay between social change, especially in regard to rapid changes in the female positioning within society and national laws and policies, which are often in the way of social changes that came into existence to empower women. Speakers also dealt with problematic female categories, with ways how gender is shaped and assumed by male and female actors from childhood on as well as how gender-images are disseminated and discussed. Presentations were concerned with several female (and male) categories such as children, mothers, single women, male feminists and Islam oriented feminists, and thus ensured a specialised – yet broad and unique in its combination – insight into what and who women and children are in contemporary Asia.