Asian Studies Focus on Religion and Environment – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Asian Studies Focus on Religion and Environment

Syed Rizwan Zamir-56 copyConcluding a pair of talks organized by the Asian Studies Department, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Davidson College Syed Rizwan Zamir spoke on “Muslim Orientations Toward Death, Apocalypse, and the World-to-Come” on March 25 in the Sanford Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.

During his talk, Zamir discussed how Islamic traditions deal with the end of human life as well as that of the world at large. He addressed Muslim thinking on the afterlife, death rituals and burial practices, and teachings and prophesies regarding the meaning of death and best way to prepare for it and the apocalypse.

Zamir is currently working on several book projects, including an overview of Islamic ethical life and practice and a volume on the convergences and divergences among Sunni, Sufi and Shiite traditions. Zamir’s talk was sponsored by the ASIANetwork Speakers Bureau Grant. ASIANetwork is a consortium of 170 North American colleges that works to strengthen the role of Asian studies in the liberal arts. ASIANetwork operates in partnership with external foundations and institutions, including Freeman Foundation, Luce Foundation and Mellon Foundation to offer its members a number of programs for the promotion of the teaching of Asian Studies.

BrianEhlerThe previous talk organized by the HWS Asian Studies Department examined another aspect of life in Asia. Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Stimson Center Brian Eyler discussed “The Last Days of the Mighty Mekong” on March 6 in the Sanford Room.

In addition to his work with the Southeast Asia Program, Eyler is the author of The Last Days of the Mekong, on Asia’s seventh longest river, which has been celebrated for its natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Currently, the river is undergoing profound changes brought about by urbanization and development policies that will harness the river’s energy, interrupting natural cycles and cutting off food supplies for many of the 70 million people who live along it.

Eyler has traveled the length of the river, from the headwaters in China to its delta in southern Vietnam, to explore these changes. He shared his insights into the region’s diverse people and the work being done to save the Mekong and its ecosystem. His talk was co-sponsored by Asian Studies Department and Environmental Studies Program.

Associate Professor of History and Chair of Asian Studies at HWS Lisa Yoshikawa, who coordinated the forums, was excited about the success of the talks that allowed the campus to learn more about “this vigorous and diverse region.”

“Asia is home to half the world’s population and is the center of global technology, finance and manufacturing. It’s also the birthplace of some of the world’s oldest religious traditions as well as art and literary masterpieces,” says Yoshikawa.