AAS Member Spotlight: André Laliberté

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Dr. André Laliberté, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa

Political science; China and Taiwan

How long have you been a member of AAS?

Since 1992

Why did you join AAS and why would you recommend AAS to your colleagues?

I was looking for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of politics in Chinese societies: the disciplinary conferences are usually too narrow and too one-sided.

How did you first become involved in Asian Studies?

I was interested by Asia from as long as I can remember. The most difficult decision was whether to focus on China or on India. Becoming a member of the AAS allowed me to postpone that choice indefinitely!

What do you enjoy most or what have been your most rewarding experiences involving your work in Asian Studies?

Meeting so many great colleagues, so many of who have become good friends for close to twenty years now!

Tell us about your current or past research.

I have been working on religious philanthropy because I wanted to move beyond the simplistic framework of ‘atheistic government against religion in China’ and chose Buddhism because I felt not enough people were looking at this tradition relative to Christianity. My research agenda is now moving to the issue of social policies in China and Taiwan and how the promotion of traditional values legitimate policies that encourages the provision of child and elderly care in the household rather than in public institutions; how this approach motivates middle classes in urban centers such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei to turn to hiring migrant domestic care-givers to help. Finally, I am also looking at the motivations of the NGOs, religious institutions and other civil society actors who are supporting these vulnerable categories of workers. This is an issue of importance to understand the dynamics of East Asian societies, but because migrant workers are part of a global care chain, it is also relevant to North America’s demographic future and social policies.

What advice or recommendation do you have for students interested in a career in Asian Studies?

Learn the language of Asian countries, go there to immerse yourself, but come back home! Asia is such a fascinating place that sometimes it is hard to leave it…

Outside of Asian Studies, tell us some interesting facts about yourself.

I almost decided twenty years ago not to leave Taipei, but made the right choice in the end: I came back to Canada to finish my degree, and then met a lovely Australian woman who is an expert in French art history, and no, she is not of Chinese background. Our shared appreciation of European cultural heritage and Asian food is our meeting point.

"I was interested by Asia from as long as I can remember. The most difficult decision was whether to focus on China or on India. Becoming a member of the AAS allowed me to postpone that choice indefinitely!"

— André Laliberté