Organizer: Barbara Watson Andaya, University of Hawai'i
Chair: Peter Xenos, East-West Center
Emergent Debates and Policy Directions: Women's Reproductive Rights in the
Maria Lourdes O. Acosta, University of the Philippines
Women's reproductive rights comprise the fundamental right to control one's body. It pertains to the right to reproductive health information and services, and the right to regulate one's fertility. Within the Third World and socio-cultural context of the Philippines, violations of reproductive rights (and other rights) are widespread. The possibilities of extending comprehensive and quality health services for women as basic entitlement have, for instance, been tempered by the harsh realities of economic austerity as well as by political resistance from conservative forces (not the least from the Catholic Church-which of late has issued a circular with overtones of disagreement with the themes of the Fourth International Women's Conference in Beijing, not unlike its strident opposition to aspects of last year's Cairo conference on Population and Development).
This paper is premised on the argument that the full exercise of reproductive rights is possible only within a political context that guarantees personal freedoms (civil and political rights) and social entitlements (social and economic rights) to women. This work will examine the debate on the role and status of women in the population discourse and assess the ethical content of policies on population and family planning, i.e., their implications for freedom, distributive justice and security/survival for women. It will particularly examine the treatment of (or degree of emphasis on) women's reproductive roles and participatory roles in government population policies and programs (such as the POPCOM, Department of Health), national laws (such as Women in Nation-building Act, Philippine Development Plan for Women) and constitutional provisions on women's rights and welfare.
Tastes for Child Quality Amidst Multicultural Modernity: Chinese Lunar Birth
Timing In Singapore
Daniel Goodkind, University of Michigan
In line with traditional folk preferences, many Chinese societies in the 1970s and 1980s began to exhibit birth fluctuations in significant lunar zodiac years-baby booms in the auspicious Year of the Dragon and baby busts during the inauspicious (for girls) Year of the Tiger. This paper explores and compares these two inverse natural experiments in Singapore, a multi-ethnic setting that illuminates the emergence and dynamics of unique ethnic tastes for child quality within a postindustrial society. Lunar birth timing has been more strongly manifested as family sizes have declined, a finding at odds with modernization theory but oddly consistent with the enhanced concerns for child quality one would expect. The demographic dynamics of these tastes are illustrated through an analysis of the seasonality of these birth fluctuations and their prevalence at particular ages and birth orders. Fertility fluctuations among out-married Chinese provide unique perspectives on assimilation theory as well as lunar timing preferences among Chinese mothers and fathers, respectively. Lastly, the paper details how lunar birth fluctuations have interacted with a wider set of family policies instituted by Singapore's shrinking Chinese majority. All in all, neither further development nor assimilative social forces can be expected to weaken these phenomena in the future.
National Education Reform Policies as Seen in Practice at the Local Level: A
Philippine Case Study
Martha A. Adler, University of Michigan
With a public school system of over nine million students enrolled in 55,000 schools, the Philippine government establishes national education reform policies intended to promote productive citizenry, literacy, and national unity. The pursuit of these national goals within a struggling post-colonial, democratic society is confounded by the continuance of a bifurcated social class system in spite of educational reforms. Drop-out rates continue to be unacceptably high and literacy rates low for the public-school-educated poor.
Research, while extensive, has rarely looked at the individuals charged with implementing these reforms at the local level. Theoretically, both teachers and school administrators work together to achieve national goals. However, this paper will show that in a highly centralized, hierarchial system where meritocracy allows for subjective criteria, the potential exists for the manipulation of mandated programs and innovations which may or may not result in goals desired by the national government.
Because of their instructional roles, teachers are often simultaneously situated in the conflicting position of being collaborator and competitor with their peers and superiors. These points of conflict become further complicated as seen through the social actions of teachers who make decisions based on both their professional training and their worldviews, i.e., their "Filipino-ness."
Through the methodologies of ethnography and discourse analysis, the research described in this paper examines the social actions of teachers at one Philippine public central elementary school and the significance of their roles in educational reform as they implemented nationally-mandated policies.
Shifting Boundaries: A Century of Chineseness in Cambodia
Penny Edwards, Monash University, Australia
In pre-colonial Cambodia, the boundaries of 'Khmerness' and 'Chineseness' were fluid and culturally determined: a Chinese could become a Cambodian subject by adopting Khmer customs. The French protectorate in Cambodia (1864-1953) redefined ways of seeing and being Chinese. Through legislation on a range of issues from passports to pigtails, French notions of Chineseness contributed to the emergence of a rigidly delineated, legally-framed and race-bound Chinese community in Cambodia. This community's separate identity was reinforced by the late Ch'ing, Sun Yatsen and the Kuomintang, whose policies and preachings encouraged Chinese overseas to identify with the Chinese empire, race and nation.
Shortly after Cambodia gained independence in 1953, government legislation and definitions of nation reinforced the status of Chinese in Cambodia as members of a distinct ethno-legal community, while Chinese government policy now urged Chinese overseas to identify with their country of domicile. Once feared by the French as a 'state within a state,' Chinese in Cambodia now fell between two nations, and were feared as a fifth column by successive regimes who sought to shape, supress or erase Chineseness in Cambodia.
Since 1990, relaxation of restrictions on Chinese schools and cultural associations has led to a vigorous reassertion of Chinese identity in Cambodia. This paper assesses the relative weight of domestic and foreign policy, social and cultural organization, collective and individual memory in the elaboration, retention and revision of Chineseness in Cambodia over the last century.