Emeritus Professor Terence Hull, Adjunct Professor in ADSRI
In my role as President of the Asian Population Association I attended national population association conferences in the Philippines in January and Nepal in June. Both were invigorating in the breadth and quality of oral and poster presentations.
The Philippine Population Association meetings were held outside of Manila in the former Clark Air Base in the province of Pampanga. Coincidentally the gathering was able to celebrate the half century anniversary of the foundation of University of the Philippines Population Institute. This was an inspiring event, with Emeritus Professor Mercedes Conception and notable UPPI graduate Professor Peter (Smith) Xenos recalling the challenges of the early days of the Institute’s research and training programs, including the struggles of dealing with the poor road system traversed to reach the multiple sites of UPPI offices and activities. Young demographers laughed heartily at Peter’s tales of being the first student in the teaching program, and sat in quiet awe in hearing Professor Conception’s memories of the many outstanding researchers who have worked over the years at UPPI. I was particularly touched by the recollection of my former student Professor Josefina Cabigon, who rose to become Director of UPPI before her untimely death in 2011.
The demographic community of Nepal faced many obstacles in organising the First National Population Conference 5-7 June this year. Mobilising resources for a major scientific conference is challenging for all national associations in Asia. Though Nepal has long been the subject of high quality demographic research, it was only this year that it was possible to provide Nepali scientists together for a critical review of contemporary population research. The convenor of the meeting was Dr Ram Pathak, a graduate of ANU Demography and recent President of the Population Association of Nepal. With a strong team of trained researchers, and six sponsors and two co-sponsors, he gathered a bevy of strong oral presentations and some very impressive posters. I was particularly interested in the work of Demography alumna Narayani Tiwari, to reported on her study of fertility decisions and behaviour among women fighters of the People’s Liberation Army during the long difficult civil war that rent the country asunder for over a decade. Narayani showed incredible bravery in carrying out the fieldwork, and great persistence in completing analysis of the data following a period of debilitating illness. She is currently working on a book to relate this story. It will be of interest well beyond the borders of Nepal. ANU graduate Dr Ram Hari Aryal and current ADSRI adjunct Dr Bhakta Gubhaju contributed to both the organisation and the intellectual content of the event and stood out as role models for the many young students who were being exposed to the first international standard meeting in their chosen field of study.
The Asian Population Association is currently busy with plans for the Third APA Conference to be held in Kuala Lumpur in July 2015. The call for papers requests that abstracts be submitted online by 15 September 2014. The APA Homepage also has a revised secure subscription facility to be used to join or renew membership.