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Forthcoming book from ubc press,2009- Asian Religions in British Columbia

by Larry DeVries

Back in the mid-1990s when I was teaching in the then Department of Religious Studies at UBC, I noticed a list of local religious organizations kept behind the desk at the department office.  The list had been compiled for the use of students in Religion 100.  What it immediately suggested to me was a great alternative to the standard term paper; students instead could do original field research and learn an entirely different set of intellectual and social skills.

Most of the list was devoted to Christian religious groups, but the few pages of Asian groups caught my eye.  The multicultural nature of our area seemed an open invitation, warmly extended as the students were to find, to a deeper understanding of the society we were in the process of becoming.  

After I had moved to Langara College, Dan Overmyer (Professor Emeritus, Asian Studies) came to give a talk entitled "Why Study Religion: an Academic and Personal Discussion, with Illustrations from Chinese Religion and Philosophy" and received a copy of the list, now grown from a dozen or so to over 300 Asian religious organizations and sites throughout BC.  Dan suggested turning the list into a book.  Together with Don Baker, we conceived of the intellectual scope and methodology, wrote up the objectives, got approval and funding from the Institute of Asian Research, UBC (which also matched some funds from Langara College and Simon Fraser University), and recruited local scholars to contribute chapters to the book.

The result is 13 chapters unfolding the history and current practices of Asian religious groups in British Columbia:

·         Introduction by Don Baker (UBC) and Larry DeVries (Langara College)

·         Hindu and Other South Asian Religious Groups in British Columbia
by Larry DeVries (Langara College)

·         The Making of Sikh Space in British Columbia: the Role of the Gurdwara
by Kamala Nayar (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)

·         Realizing the Ummah in British Columbia: Religion, Ethnicity, and the Double Diaspora of Asian Muslimsby Derryl N. MacLean (Simon Fraser University)

·         Zoroastrians in British Columbia by Rastin Mehri (University of London)

·         Thai and Lao Buddhism in British Columbia
by James Placzek (ret. Langara) and Ian G. Baird (University of Victoria)

·         Sri Lanka and Myanmar Buddhism in British Columbia
by Bandu Madanayake (Ph.D., University of Toronto)

·         Vietnamese Buddhist Organizations in British Columbia
by Cam Van Thi Phan (UBC)

·         Shelter from the Storm: Korean Religiosity in Comparative Perspective
by Don Baker (UBC)

·         Tibetan Religions in British Columbia
by Marc des Jardins (Concordia University)

·         Japanese Religions in British Columbia: Tradition and Change
by Michael Newton (Simon Fraser University)

·         Christianity as a Chinese Belief in British Columbia
by Li Yu (Langara College)

·         Chinese Religions in British Columbia
by Paul Crowe (Simon Fraser University)

·         Concluding Comments
by Dan Overmyer (Professor Emeritus, UBC)

The book Asian Religions in British Columbia is to be published this year by UBC Press.  The editors, Don Baker, Dan Overmyer, and myself, hope that this will be a significant addition to the understanding of the history and society of British Columbia seen via the complexity, variety, and tremendous cultural reservoir of its Asian religious groups.  We hope it will be of use to scholars, teachers, policy-makers, and the inquiring citizens of our province.

The editors wish to acknowledge the support of the Institute of Asian Research, Simon Fraser University, and Langara College, as well as the hours of study and miles of travel by the contributors, and the helpful hand of UBC Press Senior Editor, Emily Andrew.  Finally, the book could not come to fruition without a generous publishing subvention of the Universal Buddhist Temple (世界佛教会) as a contribution to the scholarly study and to the understanding of our multicultural society (not of course as an endorsement of the multitude of practices contained in the book)

march 19-21, 2009

iar's 6th annual graduate student conference:
the changing face of asia: re-emergence or continuity?


The Institute of Asian Research at The University of British Columbia was pleased to host its 6th Annual Graduate Student Conference under the theme “The Changing Face of Asia: Re-emergence or Continuity?” For this three-day event, 19 panelists, from the University of Washington, the University of Victoria and of course UBC, joined MAPPS students to discuss the changes that have occurred in Asia within the last two centuries. The conference kicked off with a keynote address by Dr. David Ownby, Director of the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Montreal. His talk, “Religion and State Religious Policy in Reform-Era China”, attracted a large number of students and faculty, and stirred up lively conversations among MAPPS students. We also had the pleasure to welcome Dr. Jeffrey Alexander, former graduate student in the Department of History at UBC and past organizer of the IAR Graduate Student Conference. Dr. Alexander is now a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside. His talk, “Japanese Beer in War & Peace: Kirin, Sapporo, and the Industrial Effects of the Command Economy, 1933-1952” was followed by a dinner reception in the lobby of the C.K. Choi Building.

Conference participants and their guests enjoyed a glass of wine along with Indonesian cuisine. Students easily defeated IAR faculty members in the annual Faculty vs. Students Jeopardy quiz, hosted by Dr. Ownby. We now know who needs to practice before next year’s event! Finally, we want to thank our two guest speakers, Dr. Ownby and Dr. Alexander, every panelist and panel chairs as well as everyone else who attended. Your participation and hard work made this year’s conference a true success. Hope to see you all again next year!

Catherine Côté and Martin Rioux-Lefebvre                                                                                                                       MAPPS Graduate Students and Conference Organizers

February 2, 2009

IAR welcomed the Year of the OX

IAR opened its doors to UBC and Lower Mainland communities for a celebration of the Lunar New Year from 11:30 to 2:00 pm. Arts and crafts demonstrations, Asian food sale, lion dancing by Vancouver Chinese Dance Inc. and performance by the UBC Chinese Music Ensemble headed by Dr. Mei Han of the UBC School of Music were just some of the day’s highlights. 

Photos of Lunar New Year 2009 Celebration

april 24, 2008

Jackie Garnett Memorial Gathering

It is with great sorrow that we inform the campus community that Ms. Jacqueline Garnett, long time Managing Editor of Pacific Affairs, passed away on Monday 10 March 2008. She fought a long and astonishingly cheerful battle with cancer for many years. To the end, Jackie was with her friends, concerned about our natural world and local wildlife, and full of good cheer. 

Jackie Garnett was inducted into the UBC 25 Year Club in spring 2007. In truth, Jackie had been at UBC a bit longer, having first come to work here in 1974. Born in Canada, she was raised in the East End of London. Years of travel in the US, Yukon, and Indonesia did not weaken Jackie’s distinctive accent. Her work with Canadian development agencies in Indonesia spurred her interest in Asia and development, and she finished up her UBC BA on just these topics in 1984. She started with Pacific Affairs in 1988 and became Managing Editor in 1997. As current Editor of the journal, I have long said, “If not for Jackie, we would not have PA at the Institute of Asian Research today, and perhaps at all. She kept us going through difficult transitions and got our electronic publication going.” Jackie said of PA, “I find the journal combines my interest in Asia and the English Language, and the industry has been so dynamic in this period it has never been boring. Also I appreciate working at the IAR in these beautiful surroundings, with some of the nicest people.”
The Institute hosted an informal gathering by which to honor and celebrate Jackie’s life on April 24th in the C.K. Choi Building. Touching tributes were delivered by Pitman Potter, Terry McGee, Tim Cheek and Diana Lary. Family, friends and colleagues all came together and recounted memories and experiences that Jackie’s pure, cheerful and giving spirit made unforgettable. A video produced by Karen Jew, one of IAR’s staff, showed glimpses into Jackie’s life and left hardly a dry eye in the room. Our thanks go out to Pacific Affairs and the Institute for European Studies for co-sponsoring this event and to the College for Interdisciplinary Studies for helping with the announcement on Jackie’s demise. She will be sorely missed by all who have been touched by her humor and formidable strength and optimism. Her lilting voice, unmistakable accent and love for nature and earth’s creatures will certainly not be forgotten.


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