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Research Clusters

The White Rose East Asia Centre's four research clusters give broad direction to the Centre’s research agenda by embracing prominent and evolving themes in research on East Asia. Each cluster includes interdisciplinary approaches and combines and coordinates research activities from different disciplines, while straddling political boundaries in East Asia. Each cluster represents an area of existing research strength and priority at Leeds and Sheffield, and builds on the strong track record of language-based area studies and related multidisciplinary research.

Business, Political Economy and Development

Director: Dr Harald Conrad

In the aftermath of the global recession, it is clear that East Asia will play an even more important role than before in providing dynamism for the world economy. In its research and outreach activities the Business, Political Economy and Development cluster is examining both the internal development of the economies of the region from a historical perspective, and the relationship of the region with outside forces and foreign investors.

Members of the cluster have recently published research on Chinese outward foreign direct investment, rural industrialisation in China, Japanese investment in China, the impact of foreign direct investment on the Chinese economy and rural economic development in Japan, among many other topics. Through the Centre for International Business at Leeds, cluster members have contributed to a major study on "Second tier cities in China - What are the opportunities for British business", in conjunction with the China-Britain Business Council, commissioned by UK Trade and Investment and widely publicised throughout the UK and China.

East Asian Identities and Cultures

Directors: Professor Caroline Rose and Dr Marjorie Dryburgh

The ethnic and religious, cultural, social and sexual/gender identities of East Asia's nation states have become central foci in the Centre's cultural studies research on China, Japan and East Asia, reflected in a strong interest in literature, film, music and historiography. The cultural interrelationships in East Asia are profound, in both historical and current contexts, calling for the type of comparative and multidisciplinary research environment that the Centre provides.

The cluster is also examining the rise of Chinese and Japanese diasporas globally and within the East Asian region, focusing in particular on cultural contrasts and identities. Research in this cluster additionally explores how consumer and corporate identities and cultures compete with national and political belonging. The roles of the artist, writer, film director, and others as cultural creator form important strands of research.

Social Change and Transition in East Asia

Directors: Dr Heather Zhang and Dr Peter Matanle

This cluster examines major social upheavals in China and Japan. The main features in China are the rise of new poverty, new forms of social class formation, and huge internal and international migrations. In Japan, research focuses more on change and even disintegration in existing social institutions and anomie of social relations. Gender provides a useful analytical perspective for research on social transition in both China and Japan.

The cluster is also currently examining the role of new middle classes in East Asia and issues of the cultural convergence of tastes, lifestyles and consumer preferences. It additionally explores the theoretical conceptualisations of class and social stratification in East Asia and addresses the nexus of migration, poverty and public policy.

Regionalisation and Globalisation

Directors: Professors Glenn D. Hook and L. Jeremy Clegg

The cluster promotes research into East Asia’s regional institutions and their global roles, a particular strength in the Centre’s research portfolio and a theme which reflects the rapid developments in the region’s economic regimes and the response to the global financial and wider crisis. Regional integration, in terms of growing international trade, inward and outward investment flows and globalising labour markets, is also a major research strand. The cluster continues to develop its current research on regional security, and on the recalibration of risk under the influence of globalisation with one important focus being risk and security. Further research themes are East Asian trade, aid and development cooperation with Africa. A recent publication by this cluster is the prize winning book 'East Asian Regionalism' by Christopher M. Dent, Professor in East Asian Political Economy at the University of Leeds.