The political activism of
local women, urban and rural, also was in an expansion phase at this time. Spurred by
the imminent handover of Hong Kong to China, activists were working to educate and empower
other local women so the Chinese government would find safeguards for their human and
political rights in place.
All this material—especially
after the watershed elections of 1995, which sent as many women to the Hong Kong legislature
as there were in both houses of the U.S. Congress combined—eclipsed pop culture
and became the focus of Lisa’s dissertation.
A decade later, as she looks
at the situation for a class she teaches on women in politics, a new generation of women
has become active in Hong Kong and China, expanding the gains of their predecessors. “There
have been some great strides,” she says, “but
the political climate is always shifting.”
Since joining the Moravian
faculty in 2002, Lisa has worked with students, faculty, and administrators to raise
the profile of Asian studies at the College. She would like to see the field become an
accepted minor or concentration for political science students.
She is one among an increasing
number of Moravian professors who form an advocacy group for pan-Asian studies: Daniel
Jasper (sociology) and James West (economics and business), who have studied and worked
in India; Shalahudin Kafrawi (religion and philosophy) from Indonesia; Donald St. John
(religion), religions of India, China, and Japan; Carol Moeller (philosophy), Tibet;
Jennifer Creamer (cultural anthropology) and Ellen Bearn, who offer courses on Japan
through the interdisciplinary studies program; Paula Zerkle (music) and Jean-Pierre
Lalande (French and European politics), who studied and then traveled in Japan in 2003;
Anne Dutlinger (art), with whom Lisa led a group of students around Japan in the 2004
With the increase of Chinese,
Indian, Vietnamese, and Korean populations in the United States generally and the Lehigh
Valley in particular, their countries and cultures are more visible in the popular media,
in public activities, and in the schools. Outsourcing of American jobs, trade between
Asia Pacific nations, and the rising energy and material needs of Asian countries are
just three of the many reasons that Asian studies are important to American universities,
businesses, scientists, and policy-makers.
“The Lehigh Valley is
growing widely diverse,” Lisa said. “It’s important for
students, and the public, to have the chance to learn more about Asia so they can better
understand the world—including the community in which they live.”
in mind, Lisa is working to put together a learning experience on Hong Kong and China
for the coming May term, taking five students to conduct research on the topic of globalization,
culture, and community in South China, an interdisciplinary area that has become her
current research interest.
“It expands on my dissertation but involves economic
and cultural dimensions of an interdependent planet,” she says, “and there
is a surprisingly strong number of students interested in Asian languages, cultures,
She says the establishment
of an Asian studies minor is a few years away, but the possibility looks bright.
study trips are a good start,” she said, “for giving a boost to Asia and
Asian studies on campus.”
Judith Green contributed to this article.