The Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies supports many special events throughout the year, almost all of which are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, visitors to U of T, as well as the broader community outside of the University.


Past Events

Critical Refugee Studies and the Wars in Southeast Asia

Monday, March 14, 2016

Body Counts by Maya Lê Espiritu

Artwork by Maya Lê Espiritu

The current Syrian crisis has alerted us once again to the plight of the tens of millions of displaced people who in recent times have been forced to seek refuge from political persecution, wars, and violence. Yet too often mainstream representations of generic “refugees” have figured them as merely objects of pity and benevolence, or in the worst cases into populations whose diasporic condition is in part a result of their own inability to survive in the modern and contemporary world. This symposium takes last year’s fortieth anniversary of the official end of the Vietnam War as an occasion to question mainstream memories and representations of the wars in Southeast Asia, while also calling attention to the resilience, alternative memories, and self-making of those who have relocated to the United States and Canada.

1:00 PM – 2:45 PM – Dr. David Chu Distinguished Visitor Lecture
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Panel Discussion
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Reception

The Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es): The Production of Memories of the “Generation After”
Yen Le Espiritu, Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego

Focusing on the multiple recollections of the US War in Vietnam, this talk examines the ways in which the mutually constituted processes of remembering and forgetting work in the production of official discourses about empire, war, and violence as well as in the construction of refugee subjectivities. Challenging conventional ideas about memory as recuperation, this talk analyzes the production of the “postmemories” of the post-1975 generation: the young Vietnamese who were born in Vietnam or in the United States after the official end of the Vietnam War.

FILM SCREENING: “Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm”

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Still from Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm

Still from Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm. Courtesy of Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival.

At the heart of this documentary are peaches and a family that has grown them for generations. In California’s Central Valley, the Masumotos grow fruit with their own brand of resilience and dedication; as David ‘Mas’ Masumoto says: “we plant stories.” Originally arid and bought dirt cheap by Mas’ parents upon their release from WWII internment camps, the farm today is 80 acres of Certified Organic land, famed for its sustainability, social responsibility, and magnificent heirloom harvest. But the farm is undergoing major changes as drought looms, Mas’ 60th birthday approaches, and daughter Nikiko returns from college to learn the ropes and take over from her father.

Changing Season follows Mas and Nikiko over the course of this pivotal year, as knowledge and memory pass from father to daughter. Far from Eden, this is the story of a family braving social injustice and the uncertainties of health and climate, and their celebration of labour, food, and home.

Director T. Fujitani moderated the post-screening Q & A and participated in a post-screening panel discussion at the Art Gallery of Ontario: “Food Talk: Mas & Marcy Masumoto.”

Event Photos

Photos are courtesy of the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival.

Beyond Apocalypse: Ruinscape and Ruination in China, Japan, and the United States

Friday, March 20, 2015 – Saturday, March 21, 2015

Beyond Apocalypse March 2015

View a schedule of this interdisciplinary workshop here.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

poster for Kano screening February 2015

Based on a true story, “Kano” traces how an underdog baseball team in southern Taiwan made it to the finals of the 1931 Koshien, Japan’s national high-school baseball championship.

For the boys at Kagi Agriculture and Forestry Public School in southern Taiwan, playing at the finals of the Japanese Empire’s greatest youth sports event, Koshien, would have been a dream beyond reach. But under the leadership of coach Kondo, the team slowly starts making progress toward transforming the impossible into reality. In just one year, the seemingly “ragtag” team from southern Taiwan goes from a losing record to unprecedented honour.

Scripted by Ruby Chen and Te-Sheng Wei, and directed by Taiwanese actor Umin Boya, “Kano” revisits Taiwan’s colonial past within the Japanese Empire and explores the intricate relations between colonialism, sports, race, and ethnicity.

An academic panel composed of Dr. Takashi Fujitani (University of Toronto) and Dr. Andrew Morris (California Polytechnic State University) will help us unravel the history behind the film.

Dr. Andrew Morris is Professor of Modern Chinese and Taiwanese history at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He is author of ‘Colonial Project, National Game: A History of Baseball in Taiwan’ (University of California Press, 2010) and Marrow of the Nation: A History of Sport and Physical Culture in Republican China (University of California Press, 2004; and editor of ‘Japanese Taiwan: Colonial Rule and Its Contested Legacy’ (Bloomsbury Publishing, forthcoming).


Friday, November 21, 2014

This workshop addresses the cultural complexities of visualizing fascism in Germany, Japan and China during the 1930s and 1940s, by raising the political, aesthetic and ethical quandaries posed by trying to see combat and glory, death and destruction contemporaneously and retrospectively.  The central issue is how to relate a political formation to its aesthetic representations.  Is there a single fascist aesthetic, or many?  Does the aesthetic change over time within a fascist state?  Do different fascist states have different aesthetics?  Is it possible or even fruitful to decenter Europe in discussions of fascism? On the one hand, attention must be paid to the strategies adopted and deployed by the fascist states themselves to propagate war and make it meaningful.  On the other hand, state representations can be subverted when seen by the “wrong” people, the unintended viewer or someone with a different perspective, politically or chronologically.  The workshop will therefore consider the contingent relationship between any particular political or ethical stance and any particular aesthetic style.

Doris Bergen, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies, Department of History
Ken Kawashima, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Studies
Andre Schmid, Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Studies


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above is the highest grossing documentary in Taiwan history and the first film that documents this region from an aerial perspective. The audience is taken on a bird’s-eye journey by helicopter across Taiwan’s various landscapes, with background music by award-winning composer Ricky Ho. The documentary describes the “beauty and sorrow” of Taiwan by juxtaposing awe-inspiring views of its rich biodiversity with images of industrial devastation wrought by humans.

Chi Po-lin, a veteran aerial photographer-turned-filmmaker, took tens of thousands of images of the island during helicopter trips over the past two decades. While it is not the film’s agenda to hold individuals or organizations accountable for the state of the environment, the film presents the undeniable reality of the damage and urges viewers to acknowledge the truth. It is a deeply disquieting wake-up call that garnered a pledge from President Ma Ying-jeou to begin work on many of the environmental problems highlighted in the film.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In 1982, at the height of anti-Japanese sentiments, Vincent Chin was murdered in Detroit by two white autoworkers who said, “it’s because of you mother** that we’re out of work.” When the judged fined the killers a mere $3,000 and three years of probation, Asian Americans around the country galvanized for the first time to form a real community and movement. This documentary features interviews with the key players at the time, as well as a whole new generation of activists. “Vincent Who?” asks how far Asian Americans have come since then and how far we have yet to go.

The screening will be followed by a trailer on Curtis Chin’s new film, Tested, and a Q & A session with the director.

Curtis Chin is an award-winning writer and producer who has written for ABC, NBC, Fox, the Disney Channel and more. As a community activist, he co-founded the Asian American Writers Workshop and Asian Pacific Americans for Progress. In 2008, he served on Barack Obama’s Asian American Leadership Council where he participated in helping the campaign reach out to the AAPI community. He has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, Newsweek and other media outlet. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at New York University.


Saturday October 25, 2014

Afterlives of the Korean War

The University of Toronto’s Centre for the Study of Korea and the Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies present The Afterlives of the Korean War Symposium, a two-day event that aims to bring together scholars, artists, filmmakers, and students to explore the multifaceted ways that unfinished wars are lived, experienced, imagined, and transformed.

In this compelling black-and-white portrait, director O Muel depicts the 1948 uprising and subsequent massacre on Jeju island in Korea with authenticity and heart wrenching realism. After a US military decree classifies all inhabitants within 5 kilometers of the coast as “rioters” and orders their execution, over 120 villagers flee to a cave and fight for their survival.

Expertly crafted in documentary-style, Jiseul depicts brutality, human perseverance, struggle, and loss. The stark and wintry landscape of Jeju of is skillfully framed by cinematographer Jung-hoon Yang. As a montage of portraits, close-ups of villagers, soldiers, and protesters condemned as communists, all faced with life-threatening circumstances, O Muel’s striking epic explores the senselessness of war and the tenacity of the human spirit.

Jiseul was the recipient of the prestigious World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Following the screening, there will be a brief presentation by Toronto Filmmaker and recipient of the Canadian Screen Award for Best History Documentary in 2013, Min Sook Lee.

Transnationalizing Sites of Memory: The Asia Pacific

Saturday, May 10, 2014 – Sunday, May 11, 2014

On the weekend of May 10-11, twelve scholars in history, literature and cultural studies from Japan, Korea, the United States, and the University of Toronto gathered for a workshop on the theme: “Transnationalizing Sites of Memory: The Asia Pacific.” The twelve scholars and the local audience made of faculty and graduate students from various U of Toronto departments focused especially on the travels of memories of nationalism, colonialism, and post-coloniality across East Asia, the Pacific, and North America. The panelists discussed the ways in which even as these memories are embedded in material “sites of memory,” they become transformed by local and global politics in the course of their movements across time and space. Local faculty participants included Professors Takashi Fujitani (Director, Chu Program), Janet Poole (EAS), Shiho Satsuka (Anthropology), and Lisa Yoneyama (WGSI & EAS). The workshop was sponsored by the Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies, with co-sponsorship by the Centre for Korean Studies and collaborating institutions in Korea and Japan. Plans have begun for another workshop in Kyoto, followed by publication of the papers.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power following the landslide victory by the Liberal Democratic Party in the 2012 general election. From the outset, the policies of the Abe government have been heavily influenced by two distinct realities: popular dissatisfaction fostered by almost two decades of economic stagnation, and growing uneasiness with Japan’s national security environment.

Japanese Ambassador to Canada Norihiro Okuda will present an overview of the foreign and domestic policies of the Abe Administration. He will discuss their developments in the context of ongoing events in Japan and the Asia Pacific region.

Mr. Norihiro Okuda completed a law degree at Tokyo University before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in 1975. In 1979, Mr. Okuda was appointed to the Embassy of Japan in Egypt. He subsequently returned to the Ministry’s Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau before becoming Deputy Director of the Energy Affairs Division and later served as Deputy Director at the Management and Coordination Agency in the Prime Minister’s Office. In 1987, Mr. Okuda was appointed to the Japanese Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York as First Secretary and three years later was assigned to the Embassy of Japan in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Okuda subsequently served as Legal Coordinator at MOFA before becoming Director of the Middle East Division and then of the Grant Aid Division. In 1997, he became Counsellor at the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C. and then Minister. In 2004, Mr. Okuda was named Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Afghanistan and then to the UN as Deputy Permanent Representative at the Japanese Permanent Mission. He was Ambassador to Egypt before being posted to Canada in April 2013.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Damayan Fundraiser breakfast for the Philippines

In the spirit of damayan, or “mutual aid in time of need,” the Asian Institute and the Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies invite you to join us in a drop-in breakfast fundraiser to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Donations in any amount are welcome, with tax receipts issued for contributions of $20 and over.

As the media has reported, sustained winds reached 250 kilometres per hour, and with wind gusts of more than 300 kph, Haiyan was the most powerful tropical cyclone in recorded history to make landfall. It is estimated that the typhoon and its aftermath have affected more than 11 million people and the death toll is mounting. Our hearts go out to those who have suffered directly and their loved ones, many of whom are our neighbours, colleagues, and friends. We are sure that all of you have been emotionally overwhelmed by reports and images of the suffering and are seeking ways to help out.

Proceeds raised at the breakfast fundraiser will go to the Canadian Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders Canada for Typhoon Haiyan relief. The Government of Canada has pledged to match privately raised funds, so your generosity will automatically be doubled.

Please help us mount a strong collective response to this tragedy.

Film Screening: “The Rocket”

Sunday, November 11, 2013

The Rocket, directed by Kim Mordaunt, is an internationally acclaimed story about a spirited boy’s quest to break through from his ill-fated destiny. Performed by mostly non-professional actors, it is one of the first internationally released feature films from the seldom-seen country of Laos.

This film appears as part of the Reel Asian International Film Festival, where it won the National Bank Best First Feature Film Award, and is co-sponsored by the Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies.

Reorientations: A Retrospective on the Works of Richard Fung

Friday, October 25, 2013 – Saturday, October 26, 2013

ReOrientations Poster

The Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies at the Asian Institute and its co-sponsors are thrilled to present a retrospective on the work of Richard Fung, the renowned Toronto-based video artist, writer, cultural theorist, activist, and educator. Fung’s videos have been screened and archived throughout the world and he has been widely recognized with awards such as the Bell Canada Award for Lifetime Achievement in Video and the Toronto Arts Award for Media Art. In addition to his artistic work and writing, Fung teaches at OCAD University. Beginning in 1985 with Orientations – his pioneering video on queer sexuality and its intersections with race and class – Fung’s creative and often highly experimental works have questioned normative understandings of history and memory, temporality, sexuality, identity, colonialism, empires, racism, classism, labour, authenticity, diasporic communities, the body, illness, trauma, food, writing, and so much more. Tracing diasporic movements and communities as well as the complex and constantly changing identities of Asians and others in places across the globe – most especially North America and the Caribbean – Fung’s works inspire us to “reorient” ourselves toward both the future and the past.

Lost Years Premiere Toronto Screening

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lost Years Poster

LOST YEARS is an award-winning documentary tracing four generations of racism as revealed through the journey and family story of Kenda Gee, a Chinese Canadian. Co-Produced/Directed by Kenda Gee & Tom Radford, the documentary begins in China in 1910 and concludes with the movement to
embrace redress as a concept of social justice in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia, exactly a century later.

Doors open at 6.00 pm with opening remarks and screening to be followed by a Q&A. Our esteemed MC for the evening is Jeannie Lee who covers breaking business news for CBC News Network. Her reports are also heard regularly on CBC Radio.

The documentary’s run time is 90 minutes and we encourage you to bring friends and family to the screening. Remember to print your ticket and present it for admission. A voluntary donation of $5 or whatever you can contribute will be graciously accepted at the door to help offset the event’s expenses.

As this is a free event, please take note that your reservation may not guarantee admission (the theatre’s capacity is 700). Unclaimed seats will be released to standby customers ten minutes prior to the start of the event. We recommend that you arrive early to ensure best seating.


Lost Years Toronto acknowledges the generous support of Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies at the Asian Institute, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s National Conversation on Asia, and University College’s Canadian Studies Department.

Upcoming Events

Check back soon for more events.

Graduate Student Network

We encourage U of T graduate students researching Asia and Asian worlds – whether or not you are currently active at the Asian Institute or new to it – to sign up formally to the Asian Institute Graduate Student Network. We will use this list to keep you informed about events, awards, opportunities, and invite you to take part in our vibrant graduate student community.

Join the Network

Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.