Reflecting on her over 14
years of U.S.-China legal education exchange and legal reform
work, Professor Hom, a former Fulbright scholar in China
(1986-88), delivered informal remarks on legal education
reforms, and roles of Chinese, Chinese Americans, and Asian
Americans in ongoing civil and human rights struggles.
To set the context for her
remarks, she cited recent events in the U.S. and in China,
including, the Memorial Day weekend opening of "Pearl
Harbor," with its dangerously racist and misleading portrayal
of "history," the outrageous treatment by security officials
at the Department of Energy, when U.S. Congressman David Wu,
arrived to deliver a keynote speech at an Asian Heritage
celebration, and the recent detention by China of ethnic
Chinese U.S. citizens and permanent residents scholars and
businessmen, with two charged with spying.
In the shadow of the recent
survey conducted by the Committee of 100, that reported 25%
of Americans have doubts about the loyalty of Asian
Americans, Prof. Hom pointed out the importance of ongoing
civil rights struggles for Asian Americans. At the same
time, the current detention of ethnic Chinese by China
underscores the status of being foreign/suspected "here" in
the U.S. and back "home" in China. Professor Hom also cited
the persecution of alleged ethnic Chinese "Communists" by the
U.S. government during the McCarthy period, when they were
accused of "trading with the enemy" when they sent money home
to China. A recent film, " the Chinatown Files" (2001), by
Amy Chen, has powerfully documented this little known period
of U.S. history.
In the audience, Prof.
Betty Lee Sung echoed her agreement with the importance of
civil rights struggles by pointing out the success of the Wen
Ho Lee case and the role of mobolization and organization of
legal and community organizations.
In her edited collection,
Chinese Women Traversing Diaspora: memoirs, essays, and
poetry (Garland 1999) Professor Hom argued for rethinking
diasporic responsibility. Beyond models of forever looking
"homeward" - sojourner models, or bridge between-countries
models, she suggested a more fluid model of multiple loyalties
and accountabilities of communities that we choose and that
chose us. However, this also suggests the dangers and the
need to be vigilant not to be trapped by the geo-politics of
the ups and downs of U.S-China bilateral politics in the
Discussing her work in legal
education reform in China, Professor Hom first briefly
described the three aspects of Chinese legal reform since
reopening in 1978 (promulgation of formal laws, the training
of lawyers, and the development of institutions such as the
courts). In her efforts to introduce critical and clinical
pedagogy, she introduced role plays, simulations, and
collaborative work to her classes of Chinese law teachers,
judges, and lawyers. As part of foundation funded
initiatives, she was also active in bringing Chinese law
teachers and scholars to the U.S. for advanced training,
organized over 10 sessions of an intensive summer training
workshop in Beijing, Shanghai, and Jilin, and organized
clinical training workshops.
In addition to her law
work, Professor Hom also spoke briefly about her work with
women's groups iin China and the need to be sensitive to the
relationship between human rights and women's rights
discourse and strategies that could open or reduce discursive
or strategic space.
An exciting talk it was.
Members of the audience stayed to discuss with Prof. Hom long
after the conclusion.
As part of her own
trajectory of combining academic, scholarly and activist work,
professor Hom will be working with Human Rights in China, a
group of Chinese students, scientists, and democracy
activists, formed after June 4, 1989. She distributed copies
of HRIC's journal and mateials of current human rights
campaign of the Tiananmen Mothers, demanding accountability
from the Chinese government for their missing children.
Professor Hom was also a judge for the NGO Tribunal on
Violence Against Women convened at the Fourth World
Conference on Women held in Beijing 1995. She co-edited a
Chinese-English Lexicon on Women and Law (UNESCO 1995)
distributed at the Conference.