Friday Forum Fall Semester 2014 - 15

September 5, 2014 - Daniel Doeppers (Professor Emeritus of Geography and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Feeding the Mega-City in Wartime: Manila 1944-45: Starvation and Flight
The coming of the Japanese invasion in 1941-42 was not unexpected and the Philippine Commonwealth government took a number of extraordinary steps concerning food supply. As the war and occupation wore on, urban provisioning quickly lost all those items that were typically imported: flour, preserved milk products, foreign citrus and apples, hams, etc., bringing substantial change to local diets. As the Japanese military took more and more of the declining rice harvest, there was less and less to be distributed through the neighborhood rationing scheme. For many in the formerly comfortable middle class, this meant selling off their household goods in order to eat. And what they were able to eat steadily declined in nutrition and appeal. There was almost no work for most manual workers that paid enough to keep up with the roaring inflation in food costs--and their babies and young children died in great numbers. Finally trucks were needed to remove the dead from the sidewalks everyday. A disaster of biblical proportions.

September 12, 2014 - No Friday Forum, Special Event:
Asian Studies in the 21st Century

September 19, 2014 - Christi-Anne Castro (Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan)
Musical Dialogues with the Homeland
The social aspects of music making and reception have received much attention from ethnomusicologists, as performance settings provide intriguing opportunities for people to negotiate interpersonal dynamics and play with modes of identity representation in ways that differ from every day interactions. In this talk I will analyze the performance practices of a Filipino American rondalla on a recent musical tour in the Philippines and the various messages about diaspora, tradition, and hybridity communicated between musicians and Filipino audiences. Semantically unanchored, the music of the group successfully opened up a wide interpretive space for Filipino audiences. At the same time, the ensemble struggled to adapt to a startling range of performance contexts and local expectations.

September 26, 2014 - Lynette J. Chua (Assistant Professor of Law at National University of Singapore)
Negotiating In/visibility: The Political Economy of Lesbian Activism in Singapore, Myanmar, and China
This talk draws from qualitative fieldwork to examine how lesbian activists in Singapore and Myanmar, as well as China, negotiate their political, legal, and economic conditions. Despite the challenges that render them at times politically and economically less "visible" than their gay counterparts, these lesbian activists manage to negotiate their restrictive conditions in ways that help to advance gay and lesbian rights advocacy more broadly in their respective countries.

October 3, 2014 - James Tyner (Professor of Geography, Kent State University)
Hydraulic Engineering under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979: A Geographical Analysis
Between 1975 and 1979 approximately two million men, women, and children died in what has become known as the Cambodian 'genocide'. Of these deaths, approximately half were directly murder through torture and execution; the remained perished from a combination of indirect causes--starvation, exhaustion, and lack of medical care. In their totality, these deaths are the consequence of a series of political-economic decisions that produced the conditions of widespread mortality. Most salient was the Khmer Rouge's attempt to increase agricultural productivity. The attainment of this objective however required a monumental effort to rapidly expand irrigation projects (i.e. dams, dikes, canals, and reservoirs) throughout Democratic Kampuchea. To date, little sustained research has theoretically or empirically attempted to document the hydraulic engineering projects of the Khmer Rouge. This paper constitutes one component of a larger, on-going project that seeks to fill this gap in our understanding of the Cambodian 'genocide'.

October 10, 2014 - Yukti Mukdawijitra (Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology, UW-Madison, and Asst Professor of Anthropology Thammasat University}
The Linguistic Politics of Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam: The Case of the Black Tai.

October 17, 2014 - Chayan Vaddhanaphuti (Professor of Ethnic Studies, Chaing Mai University)
Displaced Persons, Repatriation and Political Uncertainty at Thai-Burma Border      

October 24, 2014 - Krisna Uk (Trustee, The Cambodia Trust, New director of CKS)
Resuming Life after the Bombing: Remembrance and Consolation in a Jorai Village of Cambodia
This talk examines the ways in which the inhabitants of a Jorai village in northeastern Cambodia have adjusted to the impacts of thirty years of conflicts that have destroyed their man-made and natural environment. It explores how a subsistence farming village has rebuilt life following the Americans' intense bombardment of the region from the mid-1960s to 1973. This paper deals with post-conflict continuity and changes in relation to life and death. It discusses the ways in which traditional rituals adapt to the disruption of war and how the war-injured are physically and morally re-incorporated into the social body of the community. Its central focus is how long drawn-out conflicts have interrupted and influenced funerals and propitiatory ceremonies, with a succession of wars producing new causes of bad death and postponing – if not taking away – the time to grieve.

October 31, 2014 - Maureen Justiniano (PhD Candidate, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Profiling Colonial Manila: The Cuerpo de Vigilancia’s Surveillance Network as Agent of Control
This paper will analyze one of the reactionary forces that strongly depended on native engagement in intelligence gathering at the twilight of Spanish rule in the Philippines. Mired in political and social turmoil in the metropole and its remaining colonies, Spain extended its surveillance system overseas as part of its effort to retain what was left of its dwindling colonial possessions. The creation of the Cuerpo de Vigilancia de Manila in March 1895 expanded the existing native spy network within and without Manila as the colonial state intensified its campaigns against perceived enemies of Spain. However, this study focuses not on this colonial apparatus but rather the native involvement to ensure continuation of Spanish rule. By examining the urban surveillance network, it allows us to re-evaluate our understanding of Manila’s colonial society on the eve of revolution, and provides us with clues about the motivations of urban residents who favored the status quo or represented those at odds with conspirators of rebellion.

November 7, 2014 - Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn University)
Dams, Rivers and Rights: Winners and Losers in the New Political Economy of Hydropower in Southeast Asia
Within mainland Southeast Asia, an extensive program of large hydropower dam construction is in progress in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar to meet domestic demand and for power export to neighboring Thailand and Vietnam. Shaped by ongoing processes of regional economic integration and (partial-)liberalization, these projects are mostly joint endeavors between state agencies and transnational private sector developers and financiers. This lecture will explore the implications of the growing number of projects for inter-government cooperation on trans-boundary rivers and for communities affected by them, and identifies novel arenas of justice that are emerging as civil society grapples with the new political economy of hydropower in the region.

November 14, 2014 - Tyrell Haberkorn (Research Fellow, Department of Political & Social Change in the School of International, Political & Strategic Studies ANU College of Asia and the Pacific)
Who Can Be Killed and Who Cannot Be Impugned: Limits of the Legal and the Human in Thailand
Who can be killed with impunity and who cannot be impugned in Thailand? During the crackdown on red shirt protestors by Thai state security forces in April-May 2010, at least 92 people were killed and over 2000 injured. Following investigations by several state and independent agencies, and marking a sharp departure from the past, in December 2013, the former prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, and the former deputy prime minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, were indicted for their role in orchestrating the crackdown. Yet in late July, the case against them was dismissed with a court decision based on a logic that departed significantly from the letter of the law. In contrast to the difficulty of holding perpetrators of the April-May 2010 killings to account, those deemed to speak, write, or otherwise act in a manner than insults the institution of the monarchy have been swiftly punished. SMS messages, off-hand comments inside the home, and bathroom graffiti have all been treated as grave crimes against the crown and state. There has been a sharp increase in prosecution of cases of alleged violation of Article 112 since the 19 September 2006 coup, and an even sharper intensification since the 22 May 2014 coup. In many cases, the identification of crimes and the reasoning deployed to justify a ruling of either guilty or innocent also departs significantly from the letter of the law. This paper takes these departures as neither accidental nor unrelated, but rather foundational and reflective of a logic informing social and political relations in the Thai polity. Through a comparison of the legal logics surrounding the proceedings related to the April-May 2010 crackdown and several Article 112 cases, this talk offers a specific set of answers to the question of who can be killed with impunity and who cannot be impugned and considers what this means about law and who can be human in late-reign Rama IX, coup era Thailand.

November 21, 2014 - Justin McDaniel (Professor of Buddhist Studies & Chair of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania)
Making Buddhism Asian
Any student of Buddhism or traveler to Asia will tell you that Buddhism is a religion without a center. Until very recently, there have been very few pan-Asian Buddhist institutions, universally recognized Buddhist symbols, holidays, or flags, and no mutually agreed upon center of devotion nor standard canon/liturgy. Aesthetically, politically, doctrinally, and ritually Buddhists from Korea to Tibet to Burma to Java to Japan have little in common. Buddhist history has been characterized and built by independent and eccentric travelers, translators, and artisans instead of powerful transnational/transregional institutions radiating from a mutually-accepted Buddhist Vatican-like center. However, recently, several architects and intellectuals have attempted to create pan-Asian Buddhist ecumenical spaces in an effort to make an "Asian Buddhism." This talk focuses on the work of three architects of Buddhist public and leisure spaces in Nepal, Singapore, Japan, and Thailand and is designed to start a discussion about the very idea of Buddhist ecumenical space in modern Asia.

November 28, 2014 - No Friday Forum, Thanksgiving

December 5, 2014 - Jean Geran (PhD, Co-director of Social Transformations to End Exploitation and Trafficking for Sex (STREETS) in UW-Madison's new institute, 4W: Women Well-Being Wisconsin and the World Institute.)
Trafficking, Statelessness and the Rights of the Child in S.E. Asia
The STREETS Project - Social Transformations to End Exploitation and Trafficking for Sex, works to end human trafficking in the US and around the world. Activities include anti-trafficking and survivor support projects with partners in Madison, WI and across Asia, a service learning program in Spain, and a global policy initiative. The project also will be exploring how technology may be used in innovative ways to identify and support women and girls affected by trafficking or other forms of gender-based violence.
In addition to her involvement with UW-Madison's STREETS project, Dr. Geran is a Senior Fellow at Sagamore Institute and founded a social enterprise called Each Inc. to provide technology support to child care practitioners globally. She helped establish a think tank in London through work on human trafficking issues and child protection.She served as the Director for Democracy and Human Rights on the National Security Council and as Advisor on United Nations Reform. Her academic work focused on social networks in Asia, Africa and Latin America and she taught as an adjunct professor at George Washington University. She was a 2007 recipient of the UW Distinguished Young Alumni Award.