A Celebration of Books – the inaugural FASS Bookshare

A/P Ho Kong Chong introducing the speakers

This week’s inaugural FASS Bookshare was a great occasion for the whole faculty to recognize books and the crucial part they play in our research output. On Monday 6th of February, authors and bibliophiles alike filled the Faculty Lounge to celebrate the many self-authored, academic books published this last year, 15 of which had an Asian focus. Three authors in particular talked about their work and the different and often long jouneys they had undertaken in the process of writing their books.

First up was Assistant Professor Tim Amos (Japanese Studies) whose book Embodying Difference: The Making of Burakumin in Modern Japan analyzes the burakumin, Japan’s largest minority group, and their perceived place in premodern Japanese society compared to modern interpretations of their identity. Tim shared how his book came to be using an extensive array of original archival material, ethnographical research, and critical historiographical work. 

Next up was Assistant Professor Koh Khee Heong (Chinese Studies) who engaged the audience with the making of his book A Northern Alternative: Xue Xuan (1389-1464) and the Hedong School.  Khee Heong explained that conventional portraits of Neo-Confucianism in China are built on studies of scholars active in the south, yet Xue Xuan (1389–1464), the first Ming Neo-Confucian to be enshrined in the Temple to Confucius, was a northerner. Northern Neo-Confucians tended to be more reliant on the state as an institutional actor compared to their more localized southern intellectual peers, hence their history has been greatly under-researched which has proven a great opportunity for scholars like Khee Heong to share the historical and philosophical nuances of the northern chinese intellectual tradition.

Last up was Associate Professor Vineeta Sinha (Sociology) who spoke about her book  Religion State Encounters in Hindu Domains; From the Straits Settlements to Singapore. Vineeta shared how the idea for the book literally fell into her lap when she was approached to look through some dusty old files which turned out to be the minutes of the Singapore Mohammedan and Hindu Endowments Fund board meetings dating from 1907 onwards. The historical and empirical project of the book is really grounded in a desire to theorise ‘religion-state’ relations in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, secular city-state of Singapore. Taking that state intervention in religious affairs in Singapore is a given, the book reveals the creative solutions to Hindu temple management and observance of Hindu festivals and processions as they were enacted within administrative and bureaucratic frames over the period.

There then followed a lively discussion and lunch while attendees had an opportunity to browse the all the books on display. For the brochure with all fifteen books and their abstracts, please see here: booksharebrochure

The inaugural FASS Student Leadership Camp 2012

The inaugural FASS Student Leadership Camp 2012 (FSLC) was jointly organised by the FASS Dean’s Office and the Office of Student Affairs (OSA). Participants hailed from various leadership positions of the Communications and New Media (CNM) Society, Economics Society (ENS), FASS Club, Geography Society, German Society, Malay Studies Society and Sociology Society.  26 FASS student leaders spent 13-15 Jan 2012 challenging ourselves, amplifying our inner leaders, making new friends, and opening doors for inter-society partnerships.

1: Leaders at Kota Rainforest Resort
Upon arrival at the resort, we were briefed about the objectives of the camp (keep a positive attitude, be considerate, be sensitive, and refrain from smoking and consuming intoxicating beverages) and broken up into two groups for games the next day. After a home-cooked supper by chefs at the resort, we checked into our rooms, which were satisfactorily equipped with air-conditioning and water heaters. Five almost-strangers would step out of their shared room two days later, friends
2: A lost sole
Games the next day were not to be trifled with. Many of us suffered battle wounds in the form of detached shoe soles, but none of us were deterred from pushing our limits through abseiling, flying fox, and rock wall climbing. Cheers for teammates abounded, especially when Lok Liang Xun, Freshmen Immersion Camp Project Director of the Geography Society and Kelvin Poh, President of the Sociology Society, battled the rock wall blindfolded to gain bonus points for their respective teams.
Before lunch that day, we were asked to rate our groups. Siti Zakiyyah Bte Kamaruddin from the Cultural Affairs Team of Malay Studies gave her team a seven, for she felt that the unfamiliarity between leaders from different societies had led to cliques forming.
3: The swimming pool challenge

The swimming pool challenge, Indiana Jones, was a wake-up call to us. Each team was provided with a plank and two poles to transport members to the middle of the pool to retrieve balls. The teams worked separately and though we managed to collect all the balls, it was with much difficulty. During a camp instructor’s debrief, we were told that the task would have been completed more efficiently should the teams had combined their resources to form a stronger structure. With cooperation in mind, the teams breezed through a second round of Indiana Jones. Of course, strong arms and terrific balancing skills of some leaders helped too.

What brought it up to a ten, among many other tens from fellow teammates as shared in the final debrief, was the finale challenge the next day – rafting. Points accumulated from previous games were converted into “currency”, which were used to “purchase” materials such as barrels, poles and rope to create one raft per team. The rafts were to be manoeuvred in a lake, each time bringing a maximum of four balls back. Though each team was allocated a ball colour, teams helped each other by collecting balls nearer to them, regardless of colour. Ties were not only strengthened within the teams through the constructing, rowing and repairing of the rafts, but also between teams.

6: Falling with smiles7: Legs: the human motor

7: Legs: the human motor
8: A/P Vincent Ooi, Assistant Dean (External Relations and Student Life)
A/P Vincent Ooi, Assistant Dean (External Relations and Student Life), shared with us on how the idea of the camp came about, “I was told that the societies would never interact much with one another.” Indeed, the lack of interaction opportunities prior to FSLC resulted in societies being strangers to one another despite most society rooms located together on the 2nd Level of Blk ADM. However, by the end of the camp, the critics would have been silenced. As Zakiyyah concluded her rating, “now, we’re just perfect.”
By Stephanie Yeo, Honorary General Secretary, 32nd Management Committee, NUS Students’ Arts and Social Sciences Club

Internship Opportunity at Focus on the Family Singapore

Focus on the Family Singapore is dedicated to help families thrive in Singapore, providing affordable and quality family life education through talks, seminars and events. The need to reach out to families is an ever-growing endeavor – be it helping children succeed in school and in life, instilling values in our youths, enriching couples with a solid foundation for marriage, or encouraging parents with timeless principles for raising a family.

Click here for more details on the internship opportunity.

Come Celebrate the Department of Political Science’s 50th Anniversary!

The Department of Political Science at the NUS, was formally established in 1961 (before Singapore emerged as an independent nation-state). It is thus, now reaching its 50th year!

In many ways, the evolution and growth of Political Science mirrors that of NUS and modern Singapore itself – having been faced with numerous challenges over the decades, we have now emerged as a Department, which is internationally recognised as among the best in Asia.

Obviously, the Department’s current achievement is not possible without the contributions and sacrifices of its professors, the farsightedness of NUS’ leadership, the quality of the courses/modules offered, and of course, the equally high quality of its graduates whose performance in both the public and private sectors have generally given the Department a good name.

It is thus time for all of us, as staff, students, alumni and friends of Political Science, to celebrate this half a century Golden Jubilee! We have lined up three major activities to be held within this 2011-12 Academic Year: (1) 50th Anniversary Dinner (2) Singapore Forum on Politics (3) Singapore Model Parliament. Brief highlights of each of these activities are given below.

For more details, please go to www.fas.nus.edu.sg./pol/anniversary#dinner.