‘Asian and Pacific Cultural, Media and Gender’ Major Launched

A new ‘Asian and Pacific Cultural, Media and Gender’ major was launched at an event at Hedley Bull today. The major, which can be taken as part of a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Asian Studies degree, includes courses from both CASS and CAP. According to Programs and Courses, it seeks to “investigate culture and gender as forms of everyday power in Asia and the Pacific”.

The major will include a range of existing courses focusing on gender, media, and cultural issues in the Asia-Pacific. Professor Hyaeweol Choi from the School of Culture, History and Language (CHL) introduced the major as “aim[ing] to offer some investigative and critical tools to explore these dynamics – gender, media, and culture – which shape our world”. Speaking to Observer, Choi said that cultural, media and gender studies are about “actually caring, [and] looking into fundamental problems that are hidden in society”.

The convenor for the major, Dr Shameem Black, emphasised that culture, media and gender “are spaces where we can see new transformations happening” in the Asia-Pacific. She suggested it would appeal to “students who look for this opportunity to work with intellectually exciting things that make a difference in the world“.

The major includes four compulsory core courses:

  • ASIA2311 – Gender and Cultural Studies in Asia and the Pacific (CAP)
  • ASIA3032 – Digital Asia: Technology and Society (CAP)
  • GEND1001 – Sex, Gender and Identity: An Introduction to Gender Studies (CASS)
  • GEND1002 – Reading Popular Culture: An Introduction to Cultural Studies (CASS)

The full list of courses available in the major may be found here.

The new major is a step forward for CHL, after highly publicised cuts forced the school to cut multiple courses and let 15 staff go in 2016. Speaking to Observer, Black noted that while “CHL had a very difficult time a few years ago, they’re happily in a much stronger position now”. Dr Ross Tapsell, course convenor of ASIA3032, said that significant work had gone into the creation of the major, including overcoming cuts to cultural studies and collaborating with CASS, “which historically hasn’t been easy”. Black credited “a great working relationship with CASS” as part of the success in getting the major off the ground.

ANUSA Education Officer Harry Needham also spoke at the launch. He reflected on his experience in PASI 3002 – Gender and Sexuality in the Pacific, which is offered as an elective within the major. Needham argued that courses within the major, while often overlooked in favour of more traditional economics or international relations courses, were indeed very useful in terms of practical skills. “From the early voyages of exploration to Margaret Mead, the Pacific has played a major role in Western understandings of gender and sexuality,” he said. “If you’re planning to work in development in the Pacific, you need to understand gender and sexuality there.”

The launch also highlighted student projects from ASIA2311, in which students built working smartphone app prototypes using concepts from the class. These included “Ms. D”, an app providing information on sexual health for Chinese women, and an app made to give information to domestic workers in Singapore on their rights, health services, and entertainment while living on a budget.

Students seeking to transfer into the major should consult the CASS or CAP Office for advice on courses. A number of courses in the major are available next semester.


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