Far East (Cont.)

The political activism of Hong Kong’s 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 May term.

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.”

With that 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, and issues.”

She says the establishment of an Asian studies minor is a few years away, but the possibility looks bright.

“The 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.

 

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Lisa Fischler introduces students to historical folk images in modern guises that have been used for twentieth-century political purposes. Above, the Monkey King pursues an enemy in the Chinese classic Journey to the West. The Maoist poster behind Lisa in the photo on the previous page bears the slogan “Women hold up half the sky. . . .” The figures bracketing this article are images of ancestral door guards intended to protect households.