Five UCLA Faculty and Students Awarded $89,600 in Pacific Rim Research Grants 2003-2004

Five UCLA Faculty and Students Awarded $89,600 in Pacific Rim Research Grants 2003-2004

UC systemwide competition for 2003-04 selects two professors and three graduate students for funding. UCLA's winning proposals are on environmental and colonial/racial studies.

The UC Office of the President has announced the results of the annual Pacific Rim Research Program competition. This year two faculty members, in Public Health and Anthropology, received research grants, both for topics on the environment. Three graduate students, however, in the History and Theatre departments topped the faculty this year in total awards for their projects in colonial studies and race relations in Asia.

Because of budget cutbacks the total awards by the Pacific Rim program have been reduced from just under $900,000 in previous years to about $700,000 last year and to $521,660 for the coming 2003-04 academic year. This year 35 awards were made across the 10 campuses in the UC system. UCLA received about 18% of the total award money this year. No campus received more than 5 awards.

The awards made to UCLA faculty and Ph.D. candidates illustrate the quality and range of research conducted at UCLA. UCLA had nominated projects in anthropology, atmospheric sciences, environmental sciences, history, literature, performing arts, and public health. The UC PRRP website lists all the awards made. The UCLA representative for the Pacific Rim Research Program is the International Institute's Asia Institute, which organizes the first-level peer review for submissions from the UCLA campus. The program's campus representative is the Asia Institute's Assistant Director Clayton Dube.

The UCLA winners were:

Professor John Froines, Public Health, for a project on "Environmental Pollution, Genetic Susceptibility Genes, and Risk of Lung Cancer Among Chinese Female Non-Smokers in Taiyuan, China." $18,000.

Associate Professor Mariko Tamanoi, Anthropology, "How to Envision the Global Ecological Interdependence? Tracing Wastes in the Pacific Rim Region." $6,600.

Christina Firpo, graduate student in History, "Understanding Race: Civil Rights in Colonial Saigon." $21,000. Her advisor is Professor Geoffrey Robinson.

JoAnna Poblete, graduate student in History, "Conflicting Interests: Colonial and Expansionist Impact on Migration and Labor in Hawaii from 1900 to 1946." $24,000. Her advisor is Professor Henry Yu.

John Swain, graduate student in Theatre, studying "Zainichi-Koreans and Contemporary Japanese Theatre: Nomads Still." $20,000. His advisor is Professor Carol Fisher-Sorgenfrei.

Environmental Factors that Contribute to Lung Cancer, a Study in Taiyuan, China

John Froines in his proposal writes that "The objective of the study is to evaluate gene-environment interactions important in the development of environmental pollution-related lung cancer. Although cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, the role of environmental exposures such as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), cooking oil fumes, coal pollution and outdoor air pollution and their possible interactions with susceptibility genes on the risk of lung cancer among Chinese females have not been investigated. The focus of this research proposal is to 1) elucidate the possible biological and genetic mechanisms in environmental exposure-related lung cancer among Chinese female non-smokers and 2) to contrast the environmental and genetic differences on the risk of lung cancer between Chinese and U.S. white female non-smokers. The project will explore the relationship between environmental pollution exposures and intrinsic host susceptibility on the risk of lung cancer among female non-smokers in Taiyuan, one of the most polluted cities in the world, and compare that with U.S. female non-smokers."

John Froines is professor of Environmental Health Sciences specializing in toxicology in the School of Public Health. He directs the SCPCS, which is a $16,000,000 research center whose primary mission is the determination of the underlying basis for the health effects associated with exposure to airborne particulate matter. Dr. Froines also Directs the UCLA Center for Occupational and Environmental Health as well as the NIH Fogarty Training Program in Occupational and Environmental Health. His co-PI in this study is Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., who is Professor of Epidemiology in the UCLA School of Public Health. The project has collaborators at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Garbage and Colonialism

Mariko Tamanoi in the Anthropology Department is studying waste in the Pacific Rim. In her proposal she writes:

"While the formal colonialism is largely over, the colonization of hinterlands through contamination of their soil, water, and people's way of life has been continuing with increasing speed. Understanding the 'garbage problem' as one representation of such colonization, the proposed project aims to unpack the complexity of global ecological interdependence. For this goal, the project links hierarchically three places of the Pacific Rim region -- metropolitan Tokyo, rural Nagano in central Japan, and the outskirts of Manila in the Philippines -- by following the flow of not only (often hazardous) wastes but also the people who throw away, collect, dispose, scavenge, and re-use them. Who should hold regulator powers over an environmental issue that is local, regional, and global at the same time? How do the people living in the Pacific Rim region understand their mutual differences in a way so that they could reciprocally honor the safety of their everyday lives? These are some the questions that this project will ask."

Civil Rights in Colonial Saigon

History doctoral student Christina Firpo plans to use her award to conduct a year of dissertation research. She will spend five months in France working with Dr. Christopher Coscha at the University of Lyon, followed by seven months in Vietnam working with Dr. Nguyen Van Lich at Vietnam National University. In her proposal she writes:

"Though it was believed at the time to be a scientific-biological category, race was actually a subjective grouping of membership both for the individuals and for whole groups. Therefore racial categories were porous, racial boundaries were negotiable, as were the laws governing them. How, then, did the Vietnamese people negotiate these racial boundaries in the multiethnic, French dominated Saigon society? As a social history of race relations, my dissertation will shed light on the Vietnamese negotiation of their place in the racial hierarchy imposed by the French government and French settlers. In the process of exploring the social history of colonial Vietnam, I will reevaluate the political history of colonial resistance. I will redefine the radicalism of the period as not only an anticolonial movement but racialized civil rights movement as well. Situating the anticolonial resistance in a social history of race relations will fill in flagrant gaps in the literature of anticolonialism and race relations by bridging the postcolonial literature with race theory."

Migrationist Labor in Hawaii

JoAnna Poblete, also a doctoral student in the History Department, has chosen early twentieth century Hawaii as her canvas. "Hawaii has always been a major port of exchange in the Pacific Rim," she writes in her proposal. "From its early days as a supply stop for whalers and traders to its current function as a key economic and military center in the region, Hawaii is a borderland where diverse people, customs, and goods constantly come into contact. This project will study the period between 1900 and 1946, when the flow of Filipino and Puerto Rican labor recruits to Hawaii resulted in diverse and divergent local and national migration and labor policies. My dissertation will study the development of Filipino and Puerto Rican legal identities as workers and political dependents, as well as the impact of such dual status on Hawaiian policy development.

"After the 1898 Spanish American War and the Treaty of Paris ceded their civil rights and political status to the U.S., Filipinos and Puerto Ricans became political dependents of the United States. Formative legal policies from 1900 to 1902 established that Filipinos and Puerto Ricans were neither citizen nor alien of the United States. As dependents, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans could move freely within United States jurisdiction without economic or legal restrictions. So despite increasing anti-immigrant sentiment and legislation throughout the first half of the twentieth century, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans were legally acceptable recruits for the massive labor demand in Hawaiian agriculture. Both groups became easily accessible workers for Hawaii during this period. Due to their dual status as plantation workers and political dependents Filipinos and Puerto Ricans in Hawaii created situations where law became destabilized in Hawaii.

"Economic interests defined Filipino and Puerto Rican bodies as agricultural workers and expansionist interests defined them as political dependents. However, the interests of these power structures were neither unified, homogenous, nor static. Depending on the particular leaders and time period, different aspects of each identity were emphasized or ignored in local Hawaiian policy development. Sometimes the labor needs of Hawaiian agriculture outweighed and contradicted labor and migration policy on the mainland. Other times they coincided. Previous policies did not always set the precedent for future action. Through point of entry cases, Hawaiian movement restriction legislation, and Puerto Rican and Filipino petitions and complaints, I will analyze how dependent and worker identities coincided or contradicted with each other at the local level. Through this investigation of the definition and flow of Puerto Ricans and Filipinos into Hawaii between 1900 to 1946, I can trace the contingent nature of law and the resulting mixture of multiple regional and national legal and labor policies."

Portrayals of Koreans in Japanese Theatre

John Swain, Theatre Department doctoral student, was funded to undertake a study of attitudes toward Koreans in the Japanese theatre. In his proposal he writes:

"I intend to examine aesthetic, cultural and political forces that have shaped the portrayals of Korea and Koreans in contemporary Japanese language theatre. These aesthetic, cultural and political concerns intersect with both traditional and contemporary performance styles and techniques, and the critical discourses surrounding them in Japan. Sympathetic portrayals of Koreans in major roles in recent plays by playwrights from the majority Japanese population is only one factor in the maze that is the Japanese/Korean relationship. Further, and nuanced complexity comes from plays by minority Zainichi-Koreans (Koreans resident in Japan) that portray their own heritage. Both are problematic in light of the relatively negative attitude towards Korea and Koreans that has been prevalent in Japan since the latter half of the nineteenth century when both countries were opening to the West. The historical influences of Korean culture on early Japanese culture, as well as modern cultural interaction, especially the legacy of the modern colonial and postcolonial periods, and the cultural heritage of the Zainichi-Koreans make traditional Korean culture, performance styles and techniques germane to this study."

Swain plans to spend four months in Japan viewing and reading plays both by Japanese authors about Koreans and by Koreans in Japan about themselves. He also plans to spend several weeks in Korea. He will interview playwrights and directors as part of his research. "My research will be aided by my personal acquaintances with theatre practitioners in Japan, among them Hirata Oriza, founder and artistic director of the theatre troupe Seinen-dan; Kaneshita Tatsuo, founder of the theatre production company Office Cottone; Kim Sujin of Shinjuku Ryozan-paku; and Mari Boyd, professor of theatre at Sophia University in Tokyo. Professor Jung-Soon Shim of Soongsil University, Seoul, will be able to mentor me for my work in Korea."

The Pacific Rim Research Program

The Pacific Rim Research Program is an annual grant program funded by the office of the President of the University of California. It is open to faculty and graduate students of the University of California. It goal it to promote the study of the Pacific Rim as a distinctive region. For the purposes of this program, the term "Pacific Rim" encompasses all areas and nations that border the Pacific Ocean, including Pacific America, Southeast and East Asia and Oceania. Recognizing that the interaction of peoples and states in the region has generated new issues of common concern, the program places priority on research that is new, specific to the region, and collaborative -- reaching across national boundaries and bridging academic disciplines. Proposals may come from any discipline and should address questions that contribute to an understanding of the Pacific Rim region as a whole.

There is a two stage selection process: each UC campus conducts a first-level peer review of submitted proposals. Each campus is permitted to forward 12 proposals to the systemwide Pacific Rim executive committee, composed of one faculty member from each UC campus. This year the UCLA review committee included Richard Baum (Political Science), James Lubben (Social Welfare), Val Rust (Education), and An Yin (Earth and Space Sciences). The UCLA's faculty representative to the systemwide committee is Roger Detels (Epidemiology), who also participated in the discussion without vote. Systemwide Program Coordinator Martin Backstrom conducted a workshop in November for prospective grant writers. According to Backstrom, the campus review/revision process markedly strengthens UCLA proposals. This is especially true for graduate student proposals. All three of the funded students submitted draft proposals early in the fall and reworked them several times prior to the final submission.

The systemwide Pacific Rim program is chaired by Michelle Yeh (East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Davis). She plans to step down from this position and a search is currently underway for a new director of the program. All tenured UC faculty may apply.

Information about the program, including lists of previous awardees, is available at the Asia Institute website: <> as well as on the PRRP website at the UC President's Office.

For the 2004-2005 competition, the UCLA submission deadline is 5 pm, Tuesday, December 23, 2003.

In addition to its annual grant competition the Pacific Rim Research Program offers smaller minigrants on a quarterly basis. Application forms are available on the PRRP website. Proposals must be ensorsed by the campus faculty representative to the systemwide PRRP Executive Committee, which at this time is Professor Roger Detels (Epidemiology). Following are the 2002-03 minigrants awarded to UCLA faculty and graduate students:

Professor Pamina Gorbach, "Sexual Risk and HIV/STD in Vulnerable Cambodian Females."

Prof. Stuart Banner, "The Great Mahele: Land Tenure Reform in 19th-Century Hawaii."

Eng-Beng Lim, "Performing Tropical Paradise in the Pacific Rim: Intercultural Balinese kecak, Schneebaum and Singapore Queer Theater."

Melissa Giovanni, "A Geologic Perspective of Earthquake Hazards in the Central Peruvian Andes: an Example from the Cordillera Blanca."

JoAnna Poblete, "Dueling Identities: The Impact of Filipino and Puerto Rican Legal Identities on Migration and Labor Policy in Hawaii and the United States from 1900 to 1946."

The total for these minigrants was just over $8,000.


Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2003