Forum Spring Semester 2011 - 12
January 27, 2012 - Jenna Nobles (Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, UW-Madison)
Rebuilding a devastated population: mortality and fertility in post-tsunami Indonesia
On the morning of December 26, 2004, a 9.3 earthquake ripped along the Andaman-Sumatra fault 40 kilometers off of the coast of Indonesia. The quake, devastating in its own right, displaced over a trillion tons of water that slammed onto the Indonesian shoreline. In total, over half a million persons were displaced and over 130 thousand were killed. The event has undoubtedly shaped many aspects of life in Indonesia. In the past seven years, scientific analysis of the events’ costs and the communities’ recovery progress has slowly emerged. To date, most studies have focused on the reconstruction of natural and economic resources, including land, housing, and the area’s major industries. This project examines the progress of a different form of recovery – the repopulation of devastated families and destroyed communities through fertility. We examine fertility at both the individual and population level using data from STAR, a multi-level, longitudinal study of over 40,000 individuals fielded in Indonesia before and after the disaster.
February 3, 2012 - Dan Slater (Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago)
Democratic Careening: Indonesia and Thailand, Among Others
In Southeast Asia as elsewhere in the postcolonial world, democracies seem less often to be collapsing or consolidating than careening. This presentation aims to offer new conceptual coherence to this apparent chaos, arguing that this careening most often occurs between populist and oligarchic modes of politics. Such dynamics have been especially evident in the Philippines and Thailand, but Indonesia has been far from immune. By focusing our attentions on the dynamics of particular types of democratic accountability rather than overall “levels of democracy,” Southeast Asianists might better apprehend recent tumultuous events as well as near-term prospects for forging a more inclusive and institutionalized democratic politics.
February 10, 2012 - Yudi Ahmad Tajudin (Director of Teater Garasi Indonesian theater troupe)
Theater as Cultural Activism in Post-1998 Indonesia: Opportunities and Challenges
How do the social and political changes shape the form and the aesthetics of theater in Post-98 Indonesia? The talk will track the answer by examining Teater Garasi trajectory in the field of theatre/cultural activism in Indonesia.
February 17, 2012 - Ken MacLean (Assistant Professor of International Development and Social Change, Clark University)
Digital Patriots: Hacking in Defense of the Vietnamese Nation
The talk explores the emergence of “digital patriots,” who use their computer skills to hack Vietnamese-language websites that raise critical questions about government policies, expose high-level corruption, or call for democratic reforms. The focus of this talk is on a highly sensitive issue: Sino-Vietnamese relations. The details, drawn from recent attacks on prominent websites (e.g. VietnamNet, Ðàn Chim Vi?t Online, X-Cafe.vn) and the arrest of more than a dozen bloggers, shed light on the cultural and technical processes that shape contemporary efforts to limit freedom of expression online.
February 24, 2012 - Natalie Porter (Graduate Fellow, UW-Madison)
Write it Down and the Chicken Dies': Regulating Life in Vietnamese Avian Flu Management
Outbreaks of SARS, swine flu, and avian influenza are prompting a burgeoning global effort to control diseases transmitted between species. Using a series of ethnographic examples, this presentation explores how individuals negotiate avian flu interventions in Vietnam's poultry producing sector. It reveals that pandemic strategies confront heterogeneous moral codes, in which animals play a dynamic role in Vietnamese knowledge hierarchies, village economies, and estimations of individual worth. This research suggests that avian flu both circumscribes and expands possibilities for regulating and valuing lives in communities of humans coexisting with animals.
March 2, 2012 - Serhat Uenaldi (Doctoral Candidate, Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Humboldt-University of Berlin)
The Politics of P(a)lace: Royal Space in Downtown Bangkok
Since the geographer Edward Soja (1989) first coined the term “spatial turn” in a brief section of an extended critique of historicist thought, the humanities and other social sciences have increasingly come to acknowledge that places and spaces have a role to play in the understanding of the human condition. The production of space is always socially and culturally contingent and it is here where area studies can contribute to the debate. In Thailand, space has long been conceived of as related places (Thongchai 1994), not as an absolute container space as in the dominant stream of Western thought. Among these related places, royal space has long stood at the center of the spatial hierarchy. This is especially true in today’s Thailand where a “network monarchy” (McCargo 2005) around the reigning King Bhumibol Adulyadej has put strong limitations on what can be said and thought. Downtown Bangkok, namely the urban space that stretches from the Skytrain interchange "Siam" to the intersection “Ratchaprasong”, spatially reflects – and helps sustaining – this hegemonic royal discourse. It is also the site of a violent military crackdown on anti-government protests in May 2010. A close reading of Siam/Ratchaprasong helps to shed light on the sociopolitical structures that underlie the ongoing crisis of the Thai state in general and the role of the Thai monarchy in particular.
March 9, 2012 - Laura Junker, (Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago)
Drinker, Trader, Warrior, Spy: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives
on the Social Dynamics of Trade in 10th-16th Century Maritime Trading
Chiefdoms of the Philippines
Dr. Junker will be speaking on the porcelain trade in the Philippines and how it engages lowland chiefs, their retinue of warriors, tribal peoples and foragers on the periphery of these chiefdoms (who, along with the lowland chiefdoms, use porcelain primarily to feast and drink and use trade to collect intelligence on military capacities of their trading partners).
March 16, 2012 -
No Friday Forum, AAS Meetings
March 23, 2012 - Resil Mojares (Arthur Lynn Andrews Distinguished Visiting Professor in Asian Studies, University of Hawaii)
The Spaces of Southeast Asian Studies: The Philippine Perspective
In locating the center of gravity of Southeast Asian Studies within the region itself, we need to trace the history and shape of regional studies by Southeast Asians. The lecture takes up the emergence of malayismo, the interest in “Malayness” and the “Malay civilization,” among nineteenth-century Filipino intellectuals. Scholars like Jose Rizal, Pedro Paterno, and Trinidad Pardo de Tavera did studies on the Malay world, networked with scholars in Europe, mined the advantages of “home” location, published in the Philippines and abroad, and tried to gain visibility in the “world” at the same time that they sought to create the space for a “national” scholarship. The lecture reflects on the trajectories taken by this interest in the decades that followed, and what these tell us not only about regional studies in the Philippines but the dynamics of “area studies.”
March 30, 2012 - Jonathan Padwe (Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaii)
Rice on the run: Agricultural interruptions and upland farming during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia
A series of upheavals in the late 1960s and 1970s transformed the lives of Jarai ethnic minority farmers living along Cambodia's northeast border with Vietnam. The Jarai experienced massive aerial bombardment by American aircraft during the American-Vietnam War. Shortly thereafter, Khmer Rouge soldiers forcibly relocated upland villagers to a series of agricultural collectives (sahakor) along the floodplain of the Sesan River, where they were made to cultivate lowland "wet" rice. The dislocations of the war lasted for years: early reports suggested that some villages were unable to practice traditional agriculture for ten years or longer. And yet, highlanders living along the Cambodia-Vietnam border today have returned to their original village sites and now actively practice agro-ecologically diverse forms of swidden agriculture. How did Jarai agriculturalists reconstitute their swidden system following years of interruption? How did the many crop varieties that the swidden system relies on find their way back to highland farms? And what does this agricultural history tell us about the historical transformation of social relations in the highlands over the past several decades? This paper seeks to answer these questions by providing a detailed, ethnographically rich account of agricultural interruption and transformation in Cambodia's northeast hills.
April 6, 2012 -
No Friday Forum, Spring Break
April 13, 2012 - Jim Glassman (Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia)
The Drums of Development: War and Uneven Industrial Transformation in South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines
The foundations of economic growth and industrial transformation in East Asia, as well as the proclaimed role of developmental states in this process, remain inadequately theorized. This talk argues that the Vietnam War was crucial to the dynamics and forms of this transformation, making geopolitics central to the political economy of East Asian regional growth. Adequate theorization of regional dynamics thus requires a geopolitical economic approach, one that highlights interconnections between militaries and markets. In particular, the incorporation of South Korean military forces and industrial firms into the US military-industrial complex (MIC) during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and their aftermath illustrates how militaries and markets not only mutually constitute one another but produce much of the transnational geopolitical economic space associated with capitalist globalization. Moreover, differences in the growth dynamics and state projects of different US Vietnam War allies—South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines—can be explained in part by the differential terms of their incorporation into the US MIC.
April 20, 2012 - James A. Harris (Founder, We Help War Victims, Inc.)
Laos and explosive remnants of war: evolving strategies for clearing land, saving lives, and fostering economic development
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic holds the distinction of being, per capita, the most heavily bombed country in the world. During the Vietnam War the United States flew more than 500,000 sorties over Laos, dropping four million general-purpose bombs and at least 280 million cluster munitions. Approximately 10 to 30% of those munitions failed to detonate on impact. It’s estimated that approximately 75 million cluster bomblets still litter the Lao countryside. Since war’s end Laos has experienced over 20,000 civilian casualties to old ordnance.
The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions is a legally binding international treaty that comprehensively prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, requires destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years, and clearance of contaminated land within ten years. While the United States is not a party to the convention, it never-the-less is the largest donor to Laos and this year will provide over 9 million dollars to assist in the removal of cluster bombs and other explosive remnants of war. Recently, other nations, mostly State Parties, have also increased their assistance to Laos.
Since 2006 Jim Harris, founder of We Help War Victims, Inc., has been the sole American in Laos working hands-on, in the field, destroying UXO. He has just returned to Wisconsin, having successfully completed dry season clearance of expansion agriculture sites in Sekong province. Harris will discuss the need to integrate UXO clearance with development efforts and will describe how strategies for accomplishing clearance are evolving..
April 27, 2012 - Mark Sidel (Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School)
Donors, constitutional debate, and legal reform in Vietnam: Some informal observations
The foundations of economic growth and industrial transformation in East Asia, as well as the proclaimed role of developmental states in this process, remain inadequately theorized. I argue that the Vietnam War was crucial to the dynamics and forms of this transformation, making geopolitics central to the political economy of East Asian regional growth. Adequate theorization of regional dynamics thus requires a geopolitical economic approach, one that highlights interconnections between militaries and markets. In particular, the incorporation of South Korean military forces and industrial firms into the US military-industrial complex (MIC) during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and their aftermath illustrates how militaries and markets not only mutually constitute one another but produce much of the transnational geopolitical economic space associated with capitalist globalization. Moreover, differences in the growth dynamics and state projects of different US Vietnam War allies—South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines—can be explained in part by the differential terms of their incorporation into the US MIC.
May 4, 2012 - Yang Dao (Retired, University of Minnesota)
Note Room Change! 8417, Social Science
How did the Hmong people get involved in the Secret War of Laos (1961-1975)?
After the Geneva Conference in 1954, Laos became an independent country from French Indochina. However, in 1959-1960, a Lao civil war, between royalists, neutralists and communists, started with interference from great powers such as China, the Soviet Union and the United States of America.
In August 1960, Captain Kong Le, a military officer of the Royal Lao Army, staged a coup d’Etat in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, and proclaimed his political neutrality. This situation led to the attack of General Phoumi Nosavanh’s troops, which forced Captain Kong Le’s neutralist army to retreat toward the northwestern part of Laos. On December 31, 1960, reinforced with communist support, the neutralist troops forced the Royal Lao Army, under the command of Colonel Kham Hou and Lt. Colonel Vang Pao, to evacuate the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khouang Province. On January 6, 1961, responding to a desperate call for help from Lt. Colonel Vang Pao, General Phoumi Nosavanh sent Colonel Bill Lair, a C.I.A. officer, to meet with the Hmong military leader in Thathom-Thavieng, who promised to be loyal to the Royal Lao Government. In Feburary 1961, General Adaholt, who was an officer of the U.S. Air Force, representatives of the C.I.A., and the Royal Lao Army held a historic meeting with Lt. Colonel Vang Pao in Padong, south of the Plain of Jars. They came out with a military strategic plan to fight against the communist expansion in Lao territory. Thus the Secret War of Laos began. It would end in May 1975 as a consequence of the disaster of the Vietnam War. This presentation explains how the Hmong became involved in the Secret War in Laos, including rectifying some of the mistaken understandings related to this period.