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  • Trevor 18:55 on 1 August 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: East Asian Studies, ,   

    Eco-ethics from the mountain to the city 

    I guess everyone spends a few years after undergrad wondering if they should go back to school. I haven’t ruled it out yet. But I have realise one very important thing. Studying doesn’t have to be something I do in school—it can be a hobby.

    I earned a humanities degree and it was truly invaluable—for the connections, the critical thinking, the confidence to learn independently, and the research skills. But the substance of what I studied—east asian religions and english literature—my current interest in those subjects is not enough to carry a career in academia. It’s certainly not deep enough that I want to spend two years learning Classical Chinese, a prerequisite for just starting a Master’s degree.

    It’s all still fascinating of course. I just don’t think I’ll get past the point of simply learning to the point where I could do original research. So at this point, learning is my hobby.

    There’s another possibility, of course. I can help those who are doing the original research share their findings with the world. Help find new ways to bring these fascinating stories to audiences outside the academy. That’s what I hope I’m doing with stories like this.

    Mark McGuire is one of the hip, young professors I met in Montreal that inspired me to learn so much about east asian religions. A professor at John Abbott College on the West Island, his teaching interests are world religions, applied sustainability research, and world cinema. This all crystalized in his film project Shugendo Now, a uniquely poetic documentary focusing on Japanese mountain asceticism in modern times. I had the privilege of seeing an early cut while in school, and it’s wonderful to see what he and Jean-Marc Abela have accomplished in the final product.

    When Terra Informa was planning a live show focused on spirituality and the environment, I immediately thought of shugendo. In this story, hosted with Nicole Wiart, I’ve enlisted Mark’s help to explore the eco-ethics arising out of this little-known Japanese spiritual practice.

    This story originally aired on Terra Informa in August, 2013.

  • Trevor 15:37 on 3 May 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: East Asian Studies,   

    Minjung Christianity Lecture 

    As part of my Teaching Assistantship with Dr Victor Hori, I prepared a lecture on Korea’s Minjung Theology.

    This is a topic I first learned about from Dr Melissa Anne-Marie Curley, during her 2006 stint teaching EAST 253. She spent several days on the subject, exploring the Minjung interpretation of millennium and han. As she explained it, Korea street protesters were using a mixture of Shamanic and Minjung Christian concepts and rituals to neutralise an antagonistic police presence, and to actualise an egalitarian, utopian space.

    This was the first time that I realised that the academic study of religion could be applicable to activism, and to my real world interests.

    My own lecture needed to take a different tact, since our final paper topic was designed around the concept of religious / cultural syncretism. So I concentrated on identifying elements of traditional east asian religion within Minjung Christianity.

    Nevertheless, I hope that I was able to share with the students some of the excitement that comes from realising the religious meaning behind what otherwise seems a purely political form of protest.

    Download the Lecture (MP3 | 39 MB | 45 min.)

    Disclaimer: please note that the banner image used for this post is not my own. It is a portion of the cover of one of the earlier, scholarly volumes on Minjung Christianity (South Korea’s minjung movement: the culture and politics of dissidence. Edited by Kenneth M. Wells)

  • Trevor 12:10 on 28 April 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Anti-Gentrification, East Asian Studies   

    Chinatown Audio Tour 

    For the last several years, I have been leading semi-regular walking tours through the Montreal Chinatown. Depending on the group and my interests, it deals with themes of gentrification, immigration and labour discrimination, racism, and community-building.

    The original tour was designed and researched by a group of Chinese Canadian youth around 2003. They called it The Chinatown Project. Their work included interviews with community members, as well as building contacts with many Chinese organisations.

    I first ran the tour with my friend Zabrina Law, who is friends with one of the original members, James Yap. She has since left town, but I’ve continued adding new research to the tour document, and refining the presentation.

    I was most fortunate to have Josie Caro of CKUT Radio record my latest outing with a group of McGill students. David Koch and I later edited the audio into an ‘Audio Tour’ which was posted to the McGill Daily’s media blog. You can download the podcast, load it onto your portable audio player, and go for a guided stroll through this historic Montreal neighbourhood.

    Audio recorded by Josie Caro. Produced by David Koch and Trevor Chow Fraser.
    Download (27 MB :: roughly half an hour).

    Here’s a map to help guide your tour:

    View The Chinatown Project in a larger map

    Update: January 2013

    To help mark the release of « Être chinois au Québec », the documentary film starring my friends Parker Mah and Bethany Or, I’m digging into my archives and finally putting my notes for the Chinatown Project online. I can’t believe I didn’t do this earlier, but I’m excited to see if the spotlight Bethany and Parker shine on Chinatown can help bring the tour back to life.

    Chinatown Project 2.0 (2006–2010)

    • Hugh Grigg 11:26 on 23 December 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks a lot for making this freely available online, really interesting stuff. I like these kinds of smaller-scale, local projects, and I think they’re perfectly suited to sharing on the Internet. I’m going to see if the Chinatowns near me have anything like this.

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