Friday Forum Spring Semester 2013 - 14

January 24, 2014 - Anna Gade (Associate Professor, Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Recent Indonesian Islamic Fatwas on the Environment
This presentation explains how Muslims expect norms of Islamic law to mobilize religious response to environmental crisis. It surveys attempts since the 1990s to develop “environmental fiqh" (Muslim jurisprudence) in Indonesia. Many Indonesians expect Islamic ecological rulings to fill a critical gap in global persuasion, and to be successful when other (non-religious) environmental messages fail. Considering several key fatwas (non-binding legal opinions given in answer to a question) from the local level to the national in Indonesia, this paper explains how law and “outreach” (Ind. dakwah) come together to cast Islamic law of the environment in terms of foundational causes and ultimate effects. These religious norms coexist with and complement other globalized constructions (such as those of the nation-state and NGOs) that they increasingly incorporate.

January 31, 2014 - Simon Springer (Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Victoria, Canada)
Illegal Evictions? Overwriting Possession and Orality with Law’s Violence in Cambodia
The unfolding of a juridico-cadastral system in present-day Cambodia is at odds with local understandings of landholding, which are entrenched in notions of community consensus and existing occupation. The discrepancy between such orally recognized antecedents and the written word of law have been at the heart of the recent wave of dispossessions that have swept across the country. Contra the standard critique that corruption has set the tone, this paper argues that evictions in Cambodia are often literally underwritten by the articles of law. Whereas ‘possession’ is a well-understood and accepted concept in Cambodia, a cultural basis rooted in what James C. Scott refers to as ‘orality’, coupled with a long history of subsistence agriculture, semi-nomadic lifestyles, barter economies, and–until recently–widespread land availability have all ensured that notions of ‘property’ are vague among the country’s majority rural poor. In drawing a firm distinction between possessions and property, where the former is premised upon actual use and the latter is embedded in exploitation, this article examines how proprietorship is inextricably bound to the violence of law.

February 7, 2014 - Faisal Nurdin Idris (Lecturer, State Islamic University, Jakarta, and Visiting Fulbright Scholar, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
The Politics of Anti-Human Trafficking: Indonesia, Thailand, and the United States in Comparative Perspective
Indonesia, Thailand, and the United States in Comparative Perspective Human trafficking, universally described as modern-day slavery, has become a major concern over the past two decades. With growing recognition of the complexities regarding the trafficking phenomenon, many works have been undertaken to deal with the problem. In this paper, I attempt to examine the significance of political institutions that constrain and support efforts to fight against human trafficking. The main objective of my study is to analyze robust intersections between state interventions to combat human trafficking and anti-trafficking movements in Indonesia, Thailand, and the United States. In doing so, I explore different configurations of contention between the state and society in anti-trafficking policies across these three countries. The argument underlying this study is that democratic governments with open political systems and strong anti-trafficking movements are variables in explaining variations of counter-trafficking policies. Different patterns of political organizations and state structures have led to varied opportunities that inhibit or encourage anti-trafficking efforts, thus resulting in different outcomes.

February 14, 2014 - Derek Hall (Associate Professor of Political Science at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada)
Land Commodification and Decommodification in Southeast Asia
Commodification is one of the most important dynamics of the neoliberal era in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. It is also a complicated process to analyse, and these complexities are nowhere more evident than in land relations. This talk investigates the forms that land commodification is taking in rural and periurban Southeast Asia, the dynamics driving commodification, and the forces that push against it. I examine market demand and state-backed land titling and formalization programs as key sources of pressure towards commodification, and then take up state, smallholder, and NGO efforts to restrict commodification. I argue that the state plays a complex and often contradictory role with respect to land commodification, that land commodifications “from below” are extremely important, and that there is little reason to expect that all land in Southeast Asia will end up commodified.

February 21, 2014 - Sinae Hyun, (Doctoral candidate, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Thai Black Tigers in Laos: Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit and CIA’s Secret War
The CIA’s secret war in Laos is no longer a secret but the involvement of the Thailand's Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit (PARU) remains little known and understudied. Based on archival research and on interviews with the former PARU members, this presentation will discuss an important aspect of the so-called secret war in Laos, the role of this CIA-military organization based in Thailand. After explaining the formation of the PARU in the early 1950s, the talk will interrogate the historical and political context of the CIA’s mobilization of PARU in its secret missions and how this impacted the conduct of the war in Laos. By tracing PARU’s activities from Thailand to Laos at the height of the Vietnam Wars, this presentation will also illuminate the indigenization of the Cold War by local elites, some of whom were able to re-deploy the CIA's secret soldiers to serve their own initiatives.

February 28, 2014 - Andriana Supandy (Consul General, Indonesian Consulate General of Chicago)
Contemporary Indonesia: Domestic Resilience, Bilateral Partnership and a Growing Global Role

March 7, 2014 - Cheong Soon Gan (University of Wisconsin-Superior)
The National Anthem: Contested and Volatile Symbol of Post-Colonial Malaysia, 1957-1969
In this talk, Dr. Gan examines the discourse surrounding the disrespect shown to the National Anthem in Malaysia during the first decade of independence. Initially, those who refused to stand silently when the Anthem was played were characterized as rude and/or ignorant of the new responsibilities of citizenship. However, the discourse was eventually submerged into the wider and continuing contestation over the meaning of this newly independent nation, and those showing disrespect for the Anthem racialized and accused of disloyalty to their nation. Gan argues that while a national anthem might be a symbol that resonates most with a citizenry due to music’s ability as a vessel of emotional (and national) expression, it is precisely an anthem’s performative nature that makes it an unstable and malleable symbol of national identity, vulnerable to varying interpretations of the meaning of the nation.

March 14, 2014 - No Friday Forum, Spring Break

March 21, 2014 - No Friday Forum, Spring Break

March 28, 2014 - No Friday Forum, AAS Meetings

April 4, 2014 - Film Screening: "The Act of Killing"
Time and Location To Be Announced

April 11, 2014 - Joshua Oppenheimer /
Discussion with director of film, "The Act of Killing"

April 18, 2014 - Nick Turse (Nation Institute Fellow and author of Kill AnythingThat Moves)
The Real American War in Vietnam
Dr. Turse's presentation will be based on research for his latest book.
     Based on classified documents and first-person interviews, a startling history of the American war on Vietnamese civilians Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by "a few bad apples." But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of orders to "kill anything that moves."
     Drawing on more than a decade of research in secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time how official policies resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded. In shocking detail, he lays out the workings of a military machine that made crimes in almost every major American combat unit all but inevitable. Kill Anything That Moves takes us from archives filled with Washington's long-suppressed war crime investigations to the rural Vietnamese hamlets that bore the brunt of the war; from boot camps where young American soldiers learned to hate all Vietnamese to bloodthirsty campaigns like Operation Speedy Express, in which a general obsessed with body counts led soldiers to commit what one participant called "a My Lai a month."
     Thousands of Vietnam books later, Kill Anything That Moves, devastating and definitive, finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts Americans to this day.

April 25, 2014 - Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick
NOTE ROOM CHANGE! Room B19 Ingraham Hall. 12:00 pm.
Conversation with Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick
UW-Madison Professor Alfred McCoy will lead a conversation with film director Oliver Stone and American University Professor Peter Kuznick on their collaborative work on their recent film, The Untold History of the United States, and on Mr. Stone's previous films and other projects.

May 2, 2014 - Erin Zimmerman (University of Adelaide)