Asia research in spotlight

April 11, 2012

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Leading experts on social and political dynamics in Asia will come together at Murdoch University this Friday (13 March) to discuss the emerging issues that will affect Australia's future relations with the region.

The roundtable discussion is among a number of events organised to mark the 20th anniversary of Murdoch's Asia Research Centre, one of the world's leading concentrations of expertise on Southeast Asia and Japan.

It comes as the Australian Government prepares a White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century, which will consider how Australia can position itself to take advantage of the growing influence of the Asian region.

The Asia Research Centre, which was established as a Special Research Centre by the Australian Research Council, has been at the forefront of critical research into economic development and political change in Asia for two decades.

Centre Director, Associate Professor Caroline Hughes, said: "We have a uniquely Western Australian perspective on the Asian region which is crucial in helping WA compete in the growing Asian market.

"The Centre's pioneering studies gave researchers a unique framework for explaining the nature of political contestation in Asia as well as the fortunes of Asian economies, a framework that has become increasingly influential around the world.

"We are now focused on the resource boom that is tying Western Australia and the Commonwealth ever more closely to Asia, and new security threats such as infectious diseases and organised crime. We are also investigating the politics of poor people's movements in Southeast Asia, and the governance of Asia's dwindling natural resources."

The roundtable will involve many prominent figures in the area of political economy. Speakers will include Professor Chua Beng Huat (Head of the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore), Professor Kanishka Jayasuriya (Director of the Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre, University of Adelaide), Professor Andrew MacIntyre (Dean, Australian National University College of Asia and the Pacific), Professor Garry Rodan (Australian Professorial Fellow, Murdoch University Asia Research Centre), Associate Professor Andrew Rosser (Australian Research Council Future Fellow, University of Adelaide) and Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki (Professor of Japanese History, Australian National University).

Professor David Hill, Chair of the Board of Management, Murdoch University Asia Research Centre, said: "The Centre's contribution to Australia's critical understanding of Asia has been considerable. Our international collaborations have brought some of the leading thinkers from the region to Perth to participate in Centre projects."

Also on Friday, there will be workshops on 'The Rise of Capital' by former Asia Research Centre Director Emeritus Professor Richard Robison, regarded as one of the most important books ever written on Indonesia.

A series of portraits of eminent political economists painted by Emeritus Professor Robison will also be unveiled, along with a book marking the Centre's 20th anniversary.

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