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John Lenarcic, Why Australia Needs an Asian Century Institute, 18.04.2012

John Lenarcic, Why Australia Needs an Asian Century Institute, 18.04.2012

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John Lenarcic, Why Australia Needs an Asian Century Institute, 18.04.2012
John Lenarcic, Why Australia Needs an Asian Century Institute, 18.04.2012

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 AU AU UK beta18 April 2012, 2.20pm EST
Why Australia needs an AsianCentury Institute
John Lenarcic
Lecturer in Business IT & Logistics at RMIT University
John Lenarcic does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from anycompany or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
 AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIANCENTURY – A seriesexamining Australia’s rolein the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered inpartnership with the Australian government.Here, Dr John Lenarcicoutlines his vision for aninstitute devoted to the Asian Century.
What are the issues Australiafaces in the Asian Century?Rather than focusing on military strategy or trade, I see the main concerns being centred oncross-cultural philosophy – chiefly ethics and aesthetics.The establishment of an Asian Century Institute is my vision to address this matter.Such an institute would be a pan-cultural resource centre for the public with a firm focus onemergent forms of pop culture from a plethora of ethnicities.
 Asian pop culture is growing in prominence.EPA/EverettKennedy Brown
In truth, “Asia” has always been more a multi-faceted cultural concept than a geographicdesignation. The aim of the institute would be to expand the notion of what it means to be Asian.To some this still principally refers to that which emanates from the Asia-Pacific region of thisplanet, such as China, Japan, Korea, Thailand or Vietnam.But being Asian in the 21st century is a state of mind that should transcend anachronisticoriental imagery. It should offer a distinct Eastern world-view as a counterpoint to atraditional Western framework.
Why an institute for the Asian Century?
Gastronomic influences aside, Asian culture to the West is at present an exotic amalgam ofIndian and Hong Kong genre films, Japanese animation and manga, andthe Korean Wave(stand by forK-pop!). Factor in Chinese geomancy (Feng Shui) and medicine (acupuncture)too. Not to mention Eastern martial arts such as Judo, Karate, Aikido, Taekwondo, Kendo,Jujitsu, Tai Ji, Qigong, Ba Gua, and Xing Yi.
 Are you ready for K-pop?
Social clubs that cater to members of specific Asian nations abound within Australia but Ienvisage an Asia Century Institute as being a public-oriented cultural exposition centre,similar in spirit to the Alliance Francaiseor theGoethe-institut. These organisations are too language-oriented in function and monopolise what is essentiallyone culture in each case. The Asian Century Institute would encompass the philosophy,culture and linguistics of all Asian nations, a kind of UNESCO in microcosm but aimed at the
rank-and-file thinker.It would be an intellectual safe-haven for those with cultural roots in Asian nations, as well asthose interested in learning about ways of life other than their own. Yes, Australia already hasaConfucius Institutebut this is too focused on China.The Asian Institute would look at the cultural connections between all Asian nations (thereare almost 50 of them) ranging in diversity from Afghanistan to Yemen.
How would it work?
The institute would offer seminars or workshops in Asian visual and performing arts, music,languages, mythology and folklore, cuisine and literature with classical examples from Indian,Chinese, Japanese, Persian and Arabic cultures amongst others.
The Asian Century Institute would study the philosophybehind martial arts.Pandiyan
Eastern religion would be represented by similar excursions into Hinduism, Taoism,Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and so forth. It would also provide a platform forpublic lectures in Eastern philosophy, such as Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Hindu andBuddhist metaphysics, Zoroastrianism and Sufi, to name a few possible schools of thought.For a case in point, take Eastern martial arts. These are more about philosophy, examiningaspects of human agency and self-control, rather than merely the grunt-work of self-defence.University of Melbourne philosophers Graham Priest and Damon Young recently edited avolume entitled, “Martial Arts and Philosophy: Beating and Nothingness.” An Asian Century Institute could offer short courses on, say, “Better Business through Aikido.” This may sound off-the-wall, but studies have indicated that Aikido provides asystems-based approachthat can augment conventional mediation strategies.
More than a public space
 As a public space similar to, for example, theWheeler Centrein Melbourne, the AsianCentury Institute could consist of a café, library and gallery, where rotating exhibitions couldbe held, as well as meeting rooms and a lecture theatre for symposiums, classes and/orconferences.

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