Friday Forum Lecture Archive

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2017 Fall Semester Friday Forum


Associate Professor, Department Of Geography, UW-Madison

“The Hmong And The Communist Party Of Thailand: A Transnational, Transcultural And Gender Relations-Transforming Experience”

In the 1960s, a large proportion of the Hmong people living in the mountains of northern Thailand joined the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) due to various injustices and abuses. The Hmong became an important group within the CPT. However, by the early 1980s most Hmong and non-Hmong in the CPT had given up and taken advantage of the amnesty offered by the government in 1980 and 1982. Here I generally explain the history of Hmong involvement with the CPT, but I specifically focus on demonstrating how Hmong experiences associated with the CPT were not simply isolating with the Hmong living “in the forest” with others who joined the CPT, but were actually transnational, transcultural and gender relations-transforming.


Assistant Professor Of History, Eastern Connecticut State University

 “From China To Vietnam: Trade And Ethnicity In The Nineteenth Century”

Before the establishment of “Chinois” as a demographic category during French colonial rule, people from the Qing Empire (1644-1911) played a variety of essential roles in imperial Vietnam. Although maritime merchants from southern China connected Guangdong and other provinces to coastal Vietnam, laborers and merchants from inland China linked northern and central Vietnam to migratory networks that flowed across the borderlands. Based on work in the Vietnamese imperial archives, this presentation considers the nexus of trade and ethnicity in Southeast Asia before European colonialism, demonstrating that “Chinese,” as a unified category, fails to capture the sophisticated negotiations at the center of Chinese circulations in nineteenth century Vietnam.


Harrington Professor Of History, UW-Madison

Showdown In The South China Sea: Beijing And Washington Struggle For Dominion Over The “World Island”

Today, the shoals of the South China Sea are arguably the only place on the planet where there is a risk of armed conflict between nuclear-armed superpowers, drawing several Southeast Asian nations into these rising tensions. Using Sir Halford Mackinder’s seminal 1904 treatise that both created the study of “geopolitics” and identified the “world island” as the pivot for global power, this presentation sees current tensions arising from rival superpower strategies for the exercise of global power. Washington is struggling to maintain its chain of bases along the Asian littoral from Japan to the Philippines as leverage for control over the vast Eurasian land mass. By contrast, Beijing seeks to unify Eurasia economically through a trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure, while slicing through U.S. strategic encirclement of the continent by building military bases in the Arabian and South China Sea.


College Fellow & Assistant Professor, Weinberg College Of Arts & Sciences, Northwestern University

“Reading Between The Lines: A Text-As-Data Approach To Studying Myanmar’s Parliament”

This paper presents an approach to bridge qualitative and quantitative methods in political science, using expert assessments of participation in Myanmar’s parliament derived from textual sources to inform a quantitative analysis. Accessing diverse expertise, particularly in challenging developing or authoritarian contexts, requires expanding the pool of “experts” and leveraging information not just in interview contexts but also through written works as a way to systematically apply previous knowledge to current modeling challenges. This paper investigates participation in Myanmar’s parliament and demonstrates a method for characterizing expert opinions from newspaper, ethnographic, and other qualitative sources using text-as-data analysis. Specifically, the paper elicits expert opinions from 4,126 English-language newspaper articles about Myanmar’s parliament published from 2010-2013 across 12 national and international sources. I treat the editorial boards of these sources as “experts” and use sentiment analysis to characterize their opinions and uncertainty about how certain variables such as party affiliation and ethnicity impact participation in Myanmar’s parliament. I evaluate the opinions extracted from these textual sources against opinions from Myanmar experts gathered through an online survey. The paper then demonstrates the text-as-data method for eliciting expert opinions with additional qualitative sources of scholarship about Myanmar’s parliament, and discusses how this approach generalizes in order to bridge the qualitative/quantitative divide and leverage new materials for studying politics in authoritarian contexts throughout Southeast Asia.


Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages & Cultures, Columbia University

“Nationalism And The Sinograph In Early 20th Century Tonkin”

The specter of nationalism has cast a long shadow over the study of Vietnamese history, literature, language, and culture.  Not only have nationalistic formations resulted in deeply anachronistic visions of the past, but reactions to the enormity of these effects have likewise led many scholars to overly cynical views of cultural, intellectual, or social identities in premodern times.  In this paper, I argue that a matrix of elite cultural identity was forged in early 15th century Vietnam, which bears distinctive similarities to what Benedict Anderson famously defined as the “imagined community” of the modern nation.  In particular, I suggest that an abstracted cultural fraternity was constructed among Đại Việt elites in the wake of a twenty-year occupation by Ming China, which was imagined in contradistinction to Ming cultural elites, with whom they otherwise shared virtually indistinguishable philosophical, religious, literary, and even linguistic practices. In other words, post-occupation Đại Việt was engaged in constructing a quasi-national identity. I argue that it was this incumbent, quasi-national sense of cultural identity that eventually clashed deeply with the Europeanized nationalism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   The drive to fashion a Vietnamese nation-state, in other words, led to a rivalry of competing nationalisms, and ultimately, a rebranding of cultural identity—with specific attention paid to the realms of writing and language. In this analysis, I focus particularly on the great literary and historical projects of 15th century Đại Việt, in comparison with the specific debates over language and writing that obtained in early 20th century French Indochina.


Associate Professor, Department Of Political Science, Affiliated Faculty In Environmental Studies, Carleton College

“Citizen Science And Sustainability: How Does Individual Knowledge Relate To System Level Social-Ecological Interactions In The Pak Mun Dam Case In Thailand”

Over half a century of the power struggle between local communities and the state on environmental governance issues in Southeast Asia, the conception of data, knowledge, and science went through critical interpretation as more open framework of governance structures emerged in the majority of the countries.  In Eurocentric view of educational practices and political orders, the science is perceived to belong only to official academic research practices and in research.  That science is believed to be taken as the ultimate authority in decision making processes of governmental institutions.  This view of science considers local knowledge and tacit knowledge of individuals as inferior in decision making processes.  The paper examines the case of Thai Baan research which counters the Eurocentric practice of science.  In so doing, the paper explains how cooperative science conducted by local communities and individuals plays critical role in animating associational life in democracy and democratic decision making processes of social ecological systems.

OCTOBER 20, 2017 – The Third Annual Judith Ladinsky Lecture: LIEN-HANG T. NGUYEN

Dorothy Borg Professor in the History of the United States and East Asia, Columbia University

“Rethinking The Tet Offensive Fifty Years Later”

Although the Tet Offensive represented a major turning point in the Vietnam War, much of North Vietnam’s decision making surrounding the offensive remains unclear even fifty years later. Based on recently-declassified materials and publications from Vietnam, this talk reveals how North Vietnamese domestic politics and foreign relations influenced Hanoi’s strategy deliberation for the 1968 offensive.

OCTOBER 27, 2017 – Ambassador (Ret.) John Maisto

“Us-Philippine Relations: An Insider’s View Of Diplomacy During The Marcos Years And Beyond”

The U.S.-Philippine relationship was born into and crafted by the emergence of the United States as a Pacific power. World War II victory and Philippine independence found both countries dealing with the Cold War, the Korean War, Vietnam, China, new regional realities, and interlocking development, security, military basing, economic, and trade issues. Bilateral ties from the 1960s through marital law and the end of the Marcos years, People Power, the bookend Aquino governments (Cory and Benigno, Jr.), and now Rodrigo Duterte have to be viewed through these prisms. U.S. diplomacy during the 1970s and into the fall of Marcos in 1986, seen and executed from inside the American embassy in Manila and then the Philippines Desk at the State Department in Washington, will provide that look, to be followed by a review of bilateral ties to the present.


Professor Of Art History, School Of Art & Design, Northern Illinois University

“Sacred Spaces, The Art Of Merit Making And The Trans Asian Trade: Looking Beyond The Glass Of Buddhist Mainland Southeast Asia”

Reverse Glass Paintings —which in Myanmar/Burma particularly, flourished in the mid-19th century— are proving a fascinating, yet a comparatively-unknown aspect of Southeast Asian artistic traditions. Originally of European provenance, these exotic productions in luminous colors were re-created by Chinese and Indian artists who had been introduced to this medium by Jesuit missionaries. Much admired by royal patrons, and later by prosperous landowners and city merchants during the colonial period, Reverse Glass Paintings became favored within mainland Southeast Asia as sacred objects for Buddhist merit-making, delineating sacred places. This vanishing art came to play a notable role in the trans-Asian trade: both between Europeans and Asian courts; and directly between China and India. Our 2014-2017 field research explored how artisans within the Chinese diaspora spread an emerging tradition of Reverse Glass Painting as a medium especially suitable for religious iconography across South and Southeast Asia.


Professor Of Asian And African Studies, Colegio De Mexico

Transnationalizing Buddhism: Cambodian Temples, Student Monks, And Pilgrims In Sri Lanka And India

When socialist restrictions on Cambodian Buddhism were loosened in the early 1990s, Cambodian monks began traveling to Sri Lanka and India, as well as other Buddhist countries, to study. Eventually a pattern emerged where the study of many young monks was supported by individual sponsors from Cambodia or, more commonly, the Cambodian diaspora communities of Europe, the U.S., Canada, and Australia. This corresponded with the growing phenomenon of Cambodian groups going as pilgrims/religious tourists to the two South Asian countries in trips organized by Cambodian monks and prominent lay figures. Pilgrims, in turn, sometimes became sponsors of student monks or publicied their need for sponsorship. These trips, and the videos generated by them, would also generate support for projects to build Cambodian-style temples in India and Sri Lanka; most of the Indian temples were close to sacred Buddhist sites. The talk offesr an overview of these interrelated processes and explores the negotiation of religious and national identities taking place among Cambodian and South Asian actors.


Assistant Professor Of Political Science, Department Chair Of Russian, Central, And East European Studies, Grinnell College

“Religious Practice And Political Participation In Indonesia: Is There A Link?”

Religion has a longstanding role in Indonesian public life, with religious organizations serving as important actors in the political realm, including the country’s democratization efforts. Yet, since the end of authoritarian rule in 1998, increased freedom of speech and a strengthening of political rights have contribute to an increased politicization of religion and rising tensions between the limits of religious tolerance. What is the connection between religious practice and political participation? This project examines the role of houses of worship in facilitating political participation among Indonesian Christians and Muslims. Drawing on participant observation of over 350 worship and non-worship gatherings in eight Muslim, Protestant, and Catholic religious communities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, as well as interviews with members of these communities and an original survey, this project investigates several key questions: 1) what opportunities exist for members of Indonesian worship communities to develop and practice the civic skills that are believed to facilitate political participation? 2) are individuals exposed to political messages in their houses of worship? and 3) is there observable variation across religious denominations regarding the intersection of religious practice and political opportunity? Research findings show that mosques are less likely to develop civic skills among their worshippers than are churches, but are also more likely to use religious spaces for political communication. These findings have important implications for the interaction between democracy and religion in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.


Assistant Professor, History Department, University Of Wisconsin-Whitewater

“Disenchanted: American Cold War Missions In Thailand Through The Stories Of The Young Family”

Oliver Gordon Young was a son of American Baptist missionary who had served the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the 1950s and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the 1960s in Thailand. He left Thailand in 1974 with disenchantment of his missions while his father and younger brother who had shared similar working experiences remained in Thailand. Based on personal correspondences, archival and field researches, this presentation will examine the Young family’s missions in Thailand during the Cold War. The stories of the Young family will elucidate indigenizing nature of the American Cold War and innate limitation of the U.S. foreign policymaking establishment for comprehending the consequence of collaboration with the local Thai ruling elites.


Doctoral Candidate, Maxwell School Of Citizenship And Public Affairs, Syracuse University

“Reshuffling The Deck? Organizational Evolution, Officer Promotion, And Military Reform In Post-Authoritarian Indonesia”

The process of reforming the Indonesian military is essential to the post-authoritarian democratic consolidation process. Since 1998, some reform policies (e.g. disbanding the dual-function doctrine) were successfully undertaken while others fell by the wayside (e.g. dismantling the territorial command structure). Recently under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the military has been re-inserting itself into non-military duties. Its generals, meanwhile, have been exhibiting conservative and political tendencies while proposing antiquated notions of ‘state defense.’ Scholars have seized on these regressive behaviors as yet another sign of Indonesia’s growing ‘illiberal turn.’ Contrary to this argument, this presentation provides an organizational perspective of the military reform process. It focuses specifically personnel policies and how officers rise and rotate through the ranks. Drawing from dozens of organizational documents and a new empirical dataset of 1,863 senior officers, it demonstrates how officer promotional logjams—too  many officers but too few positions available—have taken place over the past decade with broad institutional and political ramifications. More broadly, the presentation will highlight the promises and pitfalls of relying on a ‘democratic liberal’ lens in understanding contemporary civil-military relations in Indonesia.

2017 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 20, 2017 – Felicitas Pado,  Amelia C. Fajardo, and Leonor Diaz

College of Education, University of the Philippines

“Muslim Education Initiative Review in the Philippine Public Schools”

This talk examines Muslim Education Initiatives (MEIs) in the Philippines that are being implemented by the Department of Education and external stakeholders.  It evaluates the relevance, appropriateness and responsiveness (RAR) of the Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) in Basic Education, Teacher Education and Instructional materials based on Muslims’ perspectives and the effectiveness and efficiency of the implementation. The talk also presents findings on the effectiveness of other initiatives by the private sector in improving equitable access to quality education for Muslim Filipino learners. Finally, it discusses promising practices and offers recommendations to address the gaps in the framework, program design, and implementation mechanisms for these initiatives in the context of multicultural education, inclusive education, peace education, education for sustainable development, and lifelong learning.

January 27, 2017 – Julia Cassaniti

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Washington State University

“Remembering the Present: Mentality and Mental Health in Theravada Southeast Asia”

This talk will discuss an ethnographically based research project on the mindfulness practices of monks, psychiatrists, and lay Buddhists that I recently carried out in the Theravāda countries of Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka. Drawing from data collected from over 600 participants I map out some of the ways that mindfulness, as understood through its Pali-language root sati, is associated in Southeast Asia to psychological processes in ways that are different from how they are usually understood in other cultural contexts. I attend especially to what I have called the TAPES of mindfulness: Temporality, Affect, Power, Ethics, and Selfhood, and demonstrate how each suggests new perspectives for thinking about the complicated relationship between culture and mind. I begin with a case study of a man named Sen staying at a psychiatric hospital in Chiang Mai, and through an examination of the meanings that he and his family and friends make of his problems show some of the connections that local ideas about the mind have to the wider circulation of Buddhism across Asia and around the world.

February 3, 2017 – Shelly Chan

Assistant Professor of History, UW Madison

“Histories that Don’t Fit: The Chinese ‘South Seas’ and its End in the Twentieth Century”

This talk asks how Chinese diaspora histories across the “South Seas” (Nanyang)—a maritime region connecting East and Southeast Asia from its height in the 1920s to its end in the 1960s—may help advance the understanding of trans-Asia. Two moments serve as the center of this discussion: a surge of Chinese nationalist writings about migrants to Southeast Asia during the 1920-30s, and an influx of migrants “returning” to China from Southeast Asia during the 1950s-60s. Together they demonstrate both the present limits and future directions of the “transnational turn” on twentieth-century Asia: a dominant focus on multiple spaces has eclipsed an attention to multiple times; studies of transnational crossings have tended to be land-based rather than seaward. The rise and demise of the Chinese “South Seas” suggest that diaspora can be better understood as temporal fragments intersecting with other temporalities of human action, sometimes cropping up and ripping through the telos of the nation. These histories that don’t fit in linear narratives, therefore, invite a writing of not only multiple geographies but also of multiple chronologies. They will also contribute to a more dynamic interpretation of trans-Asia.

February 10, 2017 – Keith Barton

Professor of Curriculum Studies and Social Studies Education,  Indiana University

“‘Don’t Be Like Other Countries!’ Promoting National Identity in Singapore Schools”

It’s not surprising that schools tell national stories meant to develop certain kinds of citizens, but it’s less obvious how they use stories of other nations for the same purpose. This talk compares curricula in the United States, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, and Singapore, with a focus on how young people in Singapore learn about other countries as cautionary tales that warn of vulnerability and the need for harmony.

February 17, 2017 – Duncan McCargo

Professor of Political Science at the University of Leeds
and Visiting Professor of Political Science at Columbia University

“Doing Humanistic Research on Southeast Asia’s Politics”

In this presentation, Duncan McCargo makes the case for using political ethnography as a primary research method for understanding contentious issues in Southeast Asia. He discusses some of his experiences in deploying this approach during three year-long periods of fieldwork in Thailand. The first project involved participant observation research inside the newsrooms of Bangkok’s leading Thai language dailies, asking what kind of political role the media performs: just how much participation could an academic observer get away with? A decade later, a thousand kilometers away from the capital in the country’s Muslim-majority Southern border provinces, McCargo traveled around Patani in an attempt to understand the underlying causes of an ongoing violent insurgency that had already claimed thousands of lives. Most recently, he spent 2012 conducting fieldwork in Thai courts and police stations, seeking to examine the interplay between justice and politics. His presentation aims to stimulate discussion about how best to conduct academic research in a rapidly changing region where many political and social issues are highly charged and emotive.

February 24, 2017 – Tyrell Haberkorn

Fellow in Political and Social Change at the Australian National University

“Towards an Accounting of Late Cold War Human Rights Violations in Thailand”

The 6 October 1976 massacre and coup first ended nearly three years of open politics in Thailand, and then began an extended period of arbitrary detention, torture, and killing of citizens who came to be seen as Communists, dissidents, or simply ran afoul of state officials in Thailand. While evidence prior to the massacre and coup supports the idea that the definition of ‘human rights’ in use by the state did not account for the violations of the rights of certain citizens deemed to be enemies, shifting geopolitics and the emergence of the international and domestic human rights movements during the late Cold War period (1976-1988) made this no longer tenable. This paper begins by drawing on state archival documents, primarily a series of exchanges about torture and detention between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Corrections, to trace the emergence of a new awareness about human rights within the state and to then examine how the state accounted for human rights violations. New forms of bureaucratic obfuscation emerged and to account for human rights violations became part of the very process of evading accountability for them. Then, as a response to what the state documents do not reveal, drawing primarily on the materials of new domestic human rights organizations, as well as solidarity and diaspora groups, the paper then creates an alternate accounting of the rights violations that took place during these years. The profound discrepancies between the two different histories of human rights violations offered by the records of the state and human rights activists invite reflections on how the process of creating an accounting of human rights violations is shot through with questions of evidence and politics, questions that are no less urgent for scholars than they are for state officials or human rights activists.

March 3, 2017 – Lisa C. Niziolek

Boone Research Scientist, Asian Anthropology, Integrative Research Center at The Field Museum

“Early Maritime Trade in the South China Sea Region: Evidence of Globalization?” 

Globalization has become a central concern of anthropology, and, recently, scholars have debated its definition, origins, and social implications. For example, some contend that it is a process associated with modern times while others argue that the first long-lived networks involving regular, transregional trade emerged between East Asia and the Mediterranean around AD 1000. It has become increasingly evident, based on a growing corpus of data, that long-distance economic and social interactions were very important in the ancient world in many different regions and had transformative effects on the communities involved. In this lecture, I examine current debates surrounding globalization and discuss how shipwrecks and other maritime archaeological sites can be used to investigate this phenomenon in East and Southeast Asia during the late first to mid-second millennia AD. In particular, I will highlight the Java Sea Shipwreck, a 12th-13th-century trading vessel thought to have been sailing from China to Java when it foundered in the Java Sea.

March 10, 2017 – Alfred W. McCoy

Harrington Professor of History, UW-Madison

“Global Populism: Filipino Strongmen from Marcos to Duterte” 

In the last years of his martial law dictatorship, President Marcos sanctioned some 2,500 extrajudicial killings, and during his first months in power President Duterte has presided over 6,000 such killings. Are these simply senseless murders, or do they have some larger significance that can help us understand the sudden proliferation of populist leaders in nominally democratic nations around the globe?

The rise of Rodrigo Duterte as a populist strongman resonates deeply with his country’s political culture, but it also reflects broader global trends that make his blunt rhetoric and iconoclastic diplomacy seem unexceptional. Although seemingly universal in depicting the way populist demagogues generally rely on violent rhetoric, extant academic models omit a defining attribute of populism in the Philippines: that is, the way Filipino leaders can win exceptional power by combining the low politics of performative violence, with corpses written upon and read as texts, and the high politics of global diplomacy.

In the 80-year history of the modern Philippine state, just three presidents—Manuel Quezon, Ferdinand Marcos, and Rodrigo Duterte—have been adept enough to juxtapose geopolitical calculus with manipulations of local power to gain extraordinary authority. All three were skilled in manipulating the world powers of their day, using this international imprimatur to reinforce their domestic authority. Apart from a shared ability to navigate the great power politics of their eras, these successful Filipino strongmen succeeded by projecting strength and offering a promise of order that appealed to their country’s impoverished masses.

April 7, 2017 – Brett Reilly

Ph.D. candidate in History Department, UW Madison 

“Before the first Indochina War: Redefining the Origins of Vietnam’s Civil War” 

Debates among historians of the Indochina Wars have centered on the degree to which they were characterized by colonialism or communism. Histories of the First Indochina War – predominantly authored by diplomatic historians – offer a distinct periodization of the conflict. First, an anti-colonial phase (1945-1948) characterized as a clear-cut battle between returning French colonialists and Vietnamese nationalists; second, a Cold War phase (1949-1954) when French diplomats internationalized the war and the Vietnamese, without other recourse, aligned with the Soviet bloc. Finally, with the division of Vietnam after 1954, American support for an illegitimate South Vietnamese state cemented the Cold War in Indochina.

This periodization is largely based on an exogenous interpretation of the First Indochina War’s causes and a focus on external actors. Conversely, this paper argues for an understanding of the Indochina Wars as an endogenous process that originated within Vietnamese society, and not simply a tragedy authored by French colonialists or American internationalists. Achieving this understanding requires looking beyond 1945, back toward 1935 and even 1925. From Marseille to Saigon and Kunming to Canton, this paper follows the heated debates and battles between Vietnamese as they struggled over the character and pace of reform and revolution in Indochina. By expanding the periodization of the conflict between Vietnam’s communist and nationalist organizations, and the civil war that would only end in 1975, we can see it originated in this earlier era.

April 14, 2017 – Valerie Kozel

Adjunct Associate Professor at LaFollette School of Public Affairs, Former World Bank Senior Economist, UW Madison

“Has Vietnam ‘Made Poverty History?'”

The World Bank worked together with the Ministry of Labor and Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the Government Statistics Office (GSO), and Vietnamese research institutes and universities to update the government’s poverty standards and reframe the national debate about progress and remaining challenges.  Consensus was reached that Vietnam has not (yet) made poverty history, and in important respects, the task of poverty reduction is becoming more difficult. The remaining poor are harder to reach; they face difficult challenges—of isolation, limited assets, low levels of education, poor health status—and poverty reduction is becoming less responsive to economic growth.  Ethnic minority poverty remains a growing, persistent, and poorly addressed challenge.  Based on updated statistics and standards, 58 percent of ethnic minorities still live below the poverty line in 2014, compared to only 6 percent of the Kinh majority, and share of  minorities among Vietnam’s remaining poor increased to 60 percent.

April 21, 2017 – Alison Carter

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Looking Beyond the Temples: Exploring the Residences of Ancient Angkorians” 

Angkor, centered in the modern nation of Cambodia, was one of the largest preindustrial settlements in the world and has been the focus of more than a century of epigraphic, art historical, and architectural research. However, few scholars have examined the lives of the people who built the temples, kept the shrines running, produced the food, and managed the water. This presentation will focus on my recent work with the Greater Angkor Project examining Angkorian habitation areas and specifically the June-July 2015 excavation of a house mound within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure. Through this multidisciplinary research, we aim to better understand the nature and timing of occupation within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure and the types of activities taking place within an Angkorian household.

Co-Sponsored by the Archaeology Brown Bag Lecture Series

April 28, 2017 – James T. Collins

Emeritus Professor James T. Collins
Principle Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

“Documentation and Revitalization of Indonesia’s Minority Languages: A Tale of Two Projects” 

In the last twenty years, language documentation of endangered languages has emerged as a new field of linguistics with contemporary priorities and procedures. Significant funding from diverse sources, including the Volkswagen Stiftung, the Arcadia Fund and the Documenting Endangered Languages Programme, has yielded accessible, archived materials of high quality. Very often these language documentation projects and programs are linked to aspirations of language revitalization. Recently, however, some consideration has been given to the strength of that link. As Peter Austin (2016), one of the leading scholars engaged in language documentation, somewhat indirectly pointed out:

“…there are opportunities for language documentation to adopt a more socially-engaged approach to languages to and linguistic research, including better engagement with language revitalisation.”

Beginning in 2015, Malaysian and Indonesian fieldworkers, in collaboration with a few experienced foreign scholars, have launched two projects focused specifically on language revitalization. The first project, Language networks and variation of the Bandanese (Eastern Indonesia), was funded by the Kone Foundation of Finland, under the direction of Prof. Timo Kaartinen (Helsinki University). The second project, Attitudes Towards Language Choice and Ethnicity: Multigenerational Divergence and Rapprochement, was funded by the Toyota Foundation of Japan under the direction of Dr Chong Shin (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia)

These projects may represent a paradigm shift or, at least, a reshuffle of priorities. By putting language revitalization first with documentation as a spin-off, new procedures and new products are being tested. Perhaps this reshuffle will contribute to the empowerment of local communities to revitalize their own languages.

May 5, 2017 – Kanjana Thepboriruk

Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University

“Mandating Modernity: The 12 Cultural Mandates and the New Thai Woman” 

This talk explores the nationalist campaign waged by the 1st Phibunsongkhra Regime from 1939 – 1942, in particular, those policies that were directed at women. I discuss the mandates and the supplemental propaganda texts produced by the Department of Publicity that targeted women, as well as the afterlife of the Mandates in current day Thailand. Sources include original texts (books, pamphlets, and speeches).

2016 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 9, 2016  Katherine Bowie

Professor of Anthropology, UW-Madison

“Kruba Srivichai, the Saint of Northern Thailand:Exploring the Historical Context of his 1935-36 Detention”
Kruba Srivichai is the most famous monk in northern Thailand, yet he was also the most controversial. He was sent to Bangkok for investigation in 1920 and 1935-35. Over 400 northern monks and novices were forced to disrobe before Srivichai was allowed to return to the north. After being disrobed, some monks reordained under central Thai authority, some wore white robes the rest of their lives in protest, and some returned to lay life. Elsewhere I have explored the circumstances surrounding his first detention. In this talk I will consider the historical circumstances surrounding the 1935-36 detention.

September 16, 2016  Kheang Un

Associate Professor of Political Science, Northern Illinois University

“Weak State and the Limits of Democratization in Cambodia, 1993- 2016”
This talk analyzes the nexus of democracy and state building in Cambodia following the 1993 United Nations intervention. It reveals that over two decades later, Cambodia’s democracy has landed in the zone of electoral authoritarianism while its state capacity remains weak. These conditions are by-products of the nature of the state at the time of the introduction of democracy. Despite the promulgation of a new liberal democracy in 1993, the structure of the Cambodian state has remained based on a neo-patrimonial system which constitutes of formal political institutions and informal networks of patron-clientelism. This talk traces the formal and informal structures to discern their interactions and impact on state capacity and the quality of democracy.

September 23, 2016 – Francis Allard

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

“Southeast Asia’s Early Maritime Exchange Networks and their Impact on Southern China during the Han Dynasty”
Archaeological evidence from Southeast Asia points to the operation of trade and exchange networks linking the region to the Indian subcontinent – as well as coastal areas within the South China Sea – by the mid-first millennium BCE. However, it is not until the first century BCE that evidence of sustained trade with southern China emerges, with the ports of Hepu and Panyu playing an important role in this development. Even as burials at these coastal locations have yielded significant amounts of materials originating from Southeast Asia, relatively few such artifacts have been found inland, a spatial pattern which encourages caution when evaluating the impact that Southeast Asia’s early maritime exchange networks had on southern China during the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE).

September 30, 2016 – Thierry Cruvellier

International Journalist and Visiting Lecturer, UW-Madison

“The Remarkable Story of the Duch Trial”
Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, was the first senior Khmer Rouge to be tried before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Thierry Cruvellier, a UW-Madison Visiting Lecturer and author of The Master of ConfessionsThe Making of a Khmer Rouge Torturer, explains why this trial stands out as the judicial symbol of Pol Pot’s terror and as a unique case in contemporary war crimes justice.

Thierry Cruvellier is an international journalist and author whose specialty is international criminal justice, especially the workings of international justice systems after war crimes and atrocities. He is the only journalist in the world who has attended and reported on all of the important post-Cold War international tribunals. He is the author of three books: Court of RemorseInside the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, The Master of ConfessionThe Making of a Khmer Rouge Torturer, and, coming out later this year, The Richest Poor Man Stories from Sierra Leone. Writing in The New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch has called him, “a deeply informed and deeply thoughtful observer of the legal, political, moral, and psychological complexity of his subject. He is an elegant, understated writer, with a keen and rigorous intellect, and a wry, quiet wit.”

Mr. Cruvellier, who has a master’s degree in journalism from the Sorbonne, is spending the fall semester of 2016 in residence in the UW-Madison’s Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS). While here, he is teaching an undergraduate course: International Studies 601, “International Criminal Justice: Models and Practice.”

October 7, 2016 – C. Michele Thompson

Professor of History, Southern Connecticut University

“The Early Life of the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Physician Tuệ Tĩnh and the Medical, Religious, and Physical Environment of 14th Century Ðai Việt”
The Vietnamese monk physician Tuệ Tĩnh (c. 1330-c.1400) is most famous for having been sent, in 1885, as a living present to the Ming Dynasty from the Vietnamese royal court. This is at least in part because the medical text he wrote while living in China had a profound impact on the history of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine. Tuệ Tĩnh wrote his most well known text, Nam Dược Thần Hiệu (Miraculous Drugs of the South), specifically to explain Vietnamese medicine to the Chinese. Tuệ Tĩnh had attracted the attention of the Trần Dynasty (1225-1400) through his work in the medical gardens and clinics attached to most Buddhist monasteries in Vietnam. Through royal land grants and other forms of patronage Buddhist monasteries formed the closest thing to a public health system that Vietnam had and many members of the Vietnamese sangha were healers, pharmacists, and field botanists. Before being sent to China, Tuệ Tĩnh had traveled extensively, within Vietnam, on a common Buddhist circuit of monasteries. While some of his monastic companions spent most of their time studying and writing religious texts, Tuệ Tĩnh spent his time studying plants and composing texts in Nôm on them. He also gathered local knowledge of plants and their properties, in fact some scholars regard Tuệ Tĩnh’s work as ethnobotanical in nature.

While the Trần Dynasty has long been acknowledged as the most devoutly Buddhist of all Vietnamese royal dynasties, and the political influence of prominent Buddhists has been discussed by several scholars, the entwinement between the Trần royal family, Buddhist personages and institutions, and health care in Trần ruled Vietnam has received scant attention and to my knowledge no one has yet published on the physical and political environment which shaped this.

October 14, 2016 – Nathan McGovern

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

“Buddhist Brahmans: The Royal Court Brahmans of Thailand”
Even in the present day there is a coterie of Brahmans who perform rituals for the King of Thailand. Although these Brahmans are fully assimilated into Thai culture and have been so for many generations, they claim descent from actual Indian Brahmans who migrated to Siam in the Ayutthaya period or earlier. This talk will explore some of the evidence for the history of Brahmans in Siam, as well as ways of theorizing the role they play in an overwhelmingly Buddhist context.

October 21, 2016 – Lecture and book discussion by Pulitzer Prize winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen

“Creative Criticism, or Writing as an Other”
Viet Thanh Nguyen is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Associate Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, and is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Sympathizer; Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War; and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. For more info, see:

October 28, 2016 – Haydon Cherry

Assistant Professor of History, Northwestern University

“The New Vietnam Revolutionary Party in Colonial Annam”
Between 1925 and 1929, the New Vietnam Revolutionary Party was the most intellectually vibrant and politically vital Vietnamese political grouping in colonial Annam. A clandestine organization, the party successively went by many names: the Phục Việt, Hưng Nam, the Việt Nam Cách Mệnh Đảng, the Việt Nam Cách Mệnh Đồng Chí Hội, and the Tân Việt Cách Mệnh Đảng. The party provided an important meeting place for a wide variety of anti-colonial nationalists, ranging from reformers to radicals and nascent Communists, such as Trần Mộng Bạch, Đào Duy Anh, Tôn Quang Phiệt, and Trần Phú. This paper draws on published and unpublished colonial security reports, party documents, memoirs, newspaper articles, local and provincial histories, and retrospective assessments by former party members. The paper has three main objectives. First, it discusses the organization of the New Vietnam Revolutionary Party, its membership, and goals. Second, the paper argues that members of the Party were involved in a lively and contentious intellectual culture in the old imperial capital of Huế that became increasingly radical: they published tracts, pamphlets, books, and newspaper articles, introducing modern social, political, and economic ideas to readers in Annam. Third, the paper argues that contrary to the received historiography, the New Vietnam Revolutionary Party had a broad rural base in the countryside of colonial Annam. This latter point has significant consequences for our understanding of the revolutionary high tide of the Great Depression in Tonkin and Northern Annam, particularly the Nghệ Tĩnh Rebellion.

November 4, 2016 – Anthony Medrano

Ph.D. Candidate in Southeast Asian History, UW-Madison

“People, Fish, Ocean: Enduring Encounters in Interwar Southeast Asia”
The world’s oceans have long been instrumental in shaping the fates and fortunes of human societies, and yet figure no more than saltwater in the archives of the written past. Indeed, historiographically, seas and basins have been largely conceptualized as infrastructure, linkages between shores. Anchored in a landlubber’s world, this otherwise rich literature has kept in place the assumption that oceans are unlike forests, deltas, and rivers, and thus exist “outside of history” (Bolster 2006: 574).

This talk, however, assumes a different approach. It examines the Asian marine environment not as a surface or linkage, but as an ocean of enduring encounters between people and fish, science and society, and technology and nature. The talk focuses on how these multiple encounters transformed the Philippine seascape in the wake of the nineteenth century. In particular, it looks at the rise of Mindanao’s tuna industry in the interwar years. By casting this iconic frontier within a wider milieu of peoples and environments, the talk shows how the ocean was central to Mindanao’s colonial development and its postwar positioning as one of the world’s leading tuna capitals.

November 11, 2016 – Dr. Eunsook Jung

Faculty Associate, Department of Political Science, UW-Madison

“Campaigning for All Indonesians: The Politics of Healthcare in Indonesia”
Many scholars argue that democratization is conducive to the development of social welfare policies and that democracy brings about redistributive reform due to demands from the newly enfranchised poor. In reality, however, democracy does not necessarily bring about comprehensive social welfare reform. If not democracy, what explains social welfare expansion in developing countries? This article examines Indonesia, which began the process of democratization in 1998 following the fall of President Soeharto, and which has since become a stable democracy with a consistently growing economy. More than a decade after Soeharto’s resignation, Indonesia started to implement a comprehensive health care policy. What explains the gap between the enactment and the implementation of this social policy reform? In answering this question, this talk argues that electoral competition alone does not shape social policy reform. Instead, social reform has institutional prerequisites, such as the broad-based organization of its advocates. A broad-based organization goes beyond its narrow interests, builds cross-class alliance and pressures the government. Without this prerequisite, democracy does not necessarily result in comprehensive social reforms.

November 18, 2016 – Dr. John Edward Terrell

Regenstein Curator of Pacific Anthropology, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

“Decolonizing the Prehistory of Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific”
We can now see how assumptions once widely held to be true in previous centuries about human diversity and prehistory in island Southeast Asia and Oceania are not only historically implausible but racist and demeaning. Yet many of these assumptions are still used today to interpret the results of new scholarship in archaeology, historical linguistics, and human molecular genetics. Drawing on decades of research in the southwest Pacific, this talk describes an alternative networks science approach to understanding history and diversity.

December 2, 2016 – Isidora Miranda

Ph.D. Candidate in Historical Musicology, UW-Madison

“Mythology and Modernity in the Musical Theatres of Early Twentieth Century Philippines”
In the early years of American colonialism in the Philippines, the theatrical stage became a contested space for the older form of komedya performance and the emerging musical theatre, the zarzuela. Set in the tenuous political landscape of Manila, the komedya-zarzuela debates shed light onto competing ideas on Filipino identity and modernity in theatrical representations. Leading intellectuals and writers of the period saw the fantastical elements of the komedya for its creative possibilities of incorporating local mythologies to produce new works, while others favored the realism of the zarzuela as a vehicle for social commentaries on contemporary issues. More importantly, music became a crucial factor in these debates where stage artists and musicians navigated a transitional space between different genres of popular performance. As the Tagalog zarzuelas began to dominate the cultural life of urban Manila, composers found opportunities to write new music while seasoned artists found it more difficult to transition to the lyrical stage. By examining these tensions between the ‘old’ and the ‘new,’ this paper shows how cultural legacies are also entangled histories in need of careful re-evaluation and study.

December 9, 2016 – Jeffrey Gale Williamson

Laird Bell Professor of Economics, Emeritus Harvard University

“A Century of Philippine Spatial Inequality: Searching for Explanations”
This SEAC Forum presentation is in two parts. The first deals with the present and the second deals with the last century. They are connected.

Income inequality is higher in the Philippines than in most of its Asian neighbors, and spatial (urban-rural and provincial) inequality accounts for a fairly large share of it. However, there is little evidence of labor market failure since, when properly measured, real wage gaps by skill are modest or absent. Rather, unequal endowments account for most of the urban-rural and provincial income gaps, not wage or underemployment rates. That is, human capital endowments of workers and households explain the vast majority of the gaps. Workers born in the cities and immigrants to the cities invest much more in human capital than do rural workers and workers in poor provinces. But how much of that is due to better human-capital-building infrastructure supply in the cities and rich provinces, and how much is due to higher urban and rich province demand for that infrastructure? It’s very hard to disentangle these two by looking only at modern urban-rural and provincial comparisons, but a look at history certainly does.

By using census-based provincial Human Development Indices (first constructed by the UN in the 1990s), the second part of the presentation identifies an abrupt trend reversal from regional convergence 1918-1960 to regional divergence 1960-2010, and offers explanations for the reversal favoring human-capital-building infrastructure supply. It appears that the American imperialists favored inclusive convergence while the independent Filipino politicians did not.

Jeffrey Gale Williamson is Laird Bell Professor of Economics, emeritus, Harvard University; Honorary Fellow, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Adjunct Professor, University of the Philippines, School of Economics. His most recent books are: Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700 (Princeton 2016: with P. Lindert), The Spread of Modern Manufacturing to the Poor Periphery since 1870 (forthcoming Oxford: ed. with K. O’Rourke), Latin American Inequality in the Long Run (forthcoming Springer: ed. with L. Bértola), The Cambridge History of Capitalism (2 vols. 2014: ed. with L. Neal), Trade and Poverty: When the Third World Fell Behind (MIT 2011); Globalization and the Poor Periphery before 1950 (MIT 2006); and Global Migration and the World Economy (MIT 2005: with T. Hatton).

2016 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 22, 2016 – Sherry Harlacher

Director of the Center for Textiles and Design, Pleasant Rowland Endowed Director of Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, UW-Madison. 

“Exhibiting Southeast Asian Material Culture in Higher Education.”
In 2014, Dr. Catherine Raymond, Director, NIU Center for Burma Studies and Dr. Sherry Harlacher, Director, Denison Museum, Denison University combined objects from two university collections for an exhibition entitled Dressing Difference: Exploring Ethnicities in Modern Burma.  The collaboration was inspired by the discovery of painted ethnographic albums created by local artists from the Shan States. The exhibition featured textiles, jewelry, weapons, and photographs dating from the late 19th to mid-20th century.  Taking into account the differences in available gallery space and differences in student audiences (a liberal arts college versus a public university), the curators chose to emphasize different concepts while preserving the same layout where objects were arranged in an arc that followed the distribution of the various upland ethnic groups along Burma’s eastern, northern, and western frontiers.  This collaboration provides a useful case study about how teaching and learning about Southeast Asia is practiced in two very different academic settings.

January 29, 2016 – Saowanee Alexander

Sociolinguist in the Department of Western Languages and Literature, Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand

“Who Speaks ‘Lao’ Anymore? Upward Social Mobility, Language Change, and Issues of Inequality in Northeast Thailand.”
Under Thai nationalist policies, the Northeast (or Isan), which was historically dominated by Lao culture, has gradually become “Thai.” Isan today is in many ways different from what it was in the past. Nevertheless, the default Bangkokians’ view of Isan people remains unchanged: Northeasterners are still their inferiors (see Hesse-Swain, 2011). Yearning to attain a “higher status” drives many Isan people to try to prove that they too are members of Thai society. Those who have embraced the term khon Isan have also embraced the Thai identity (Saowanee and McCargo, 2014) while others persist in identifying themselves as Lao. The talk explores relationships between Isan identity from a linguistic perspective. In particular, it examines changes in lexical and phonetic features of Lao (also known as phasa isan) spoken in the region in the speech of speakers across generations, and how these changes reflect social inequality, which is pervasive in Thai society.

February 5, 2016 –  Amy Quan Barry

Professor of English and Creative Writing, UW-Madison.

“She Weeps Each Time You’re Born: Vietnam Beyond the American War.”
Quan Barry’s luminous fiction debut brings us the tumultuous history of modern Vietnam as experienced by a young girl born under mysterious circumstances a few years before the country’s reunification, a child gifted with the otherworldly ability to hear the voices of the dead.
At the peak of the war in Vietnam, a baby girl is born along the Song Ma River on the night of the full moon. This is Rabbit, who will journey away from her destroyed village with a makeshift family thrown together by war. Here is a Vietnam we’ve never encountered before: through Rabbit’s inexplicable but radiant intuition, we are privy to an intimate version of history, from the days of French Indochina and the World War II rubber plantations through the chaos of postwar reunification. With its use of magical realism—Rabbit’s ability to “hear” the dead—the novel reconstructs a turbulent historical period through a painterly human lens. This is the moving story of one woman’s struggle to unearth the true history of Vietnam while simultaneously carving out a place for herself within it.
Co-sponsored by UW-Madison’s Religious Studies Program, Center for the Humanities, and Center for Southeast Asian Studies

February 12, 2016 –  Zhang Li

Ph.D. Candidate, Institute of International Studies/Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Yunnan University, China. 

“Water Diplomacy: Transboundary Cooperation Between China and the Lower Mekong Countries.”
Against the background of transboundary cooperation on water resources and the scramble for water power increasing steadily among countries, some international agencies and countries have begun to attach importance to “water diplomacy” and regard it as one of the important means to maintain foreign relations. The issues between China and the Lower Mekong Countries on the transboundary development of water resources of the Mekong River urgently need to be solved by water diplomacy. After defining this term, the talk explores the problem of transboundary water cooperation between China and the Lower Mekong Countries. It then highlights factors that contribute to the inadequate implementation of water diplomacy by China and proposes suggestions on what China should do in the future.

February 19, 2016 – Sunil Amrith Mehra

Family Professor of South Asian Studies and History, Harvard University. Trans-Asia Lecture, UW-Madison. 

“Environmental History as Trans-Asia History.”
How does environmental history reshape our perception of the regional boundaries that have shaped area studies, and the boundary between South Asia and Southeast Asia in particular? This lecture explores alternative conceptualizations of Asia that have arisen from attempts to understand the relationship between climate, land and sea. Beginning with the the history of meteorology in India, the talk explores the origins of the idea of “monsoon Asia,” and proceeds to discuss its unexpected reemergence in current debates on climate change in Asia.
Far from making area studies irrelevent before a “planetary turn” in the humanities, an understanding of the environmental crises that confront South and Southeast Asia can be enhanced by drawing on the inter-regional and trans-Asian perspectives that have emerged from recent scholarship. A more connected, trans-Asian environmental history lies at the heart of that project.

Co-Sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies, the Center for South Asia, and the History Department

February 26, 2016 – Kerry Ward

Associate Professor of History, Rice University. 

“Undercurrents: British Perceptions of Human Smuggling and Slaving in the Western and Eastern Indian Oceans in the Mid-Nineteenth Century.”
British perceptions of slave trading in the western and eastern Indian Oceans varied partly as a result of policies regarding anti-slavery activities in both regions. Human smuggling and slaving were generated both by unrest in local societies combined with intensifying European colonial encroachment that affected the vulnerability of people to slave raiding as well as creating new markets for bonded labor. Intense British ‘anti-slavery’ intervention along the east African coast and western Indian Ocean contrasts markedly with the muted response to slave trading in the eastern Indian Ocean and South China Sea.
Sponsored by the University Lectures Committee and co-sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

March 4, 2016 – Thomas Borchert

Associate Professor of Religion, University of Vermont. 

“Thai Monks, Freedom of Speech and the Ability to Speak in a Time of Protest.”
Monks are generally perceived as having a special place within the Theravada world. They are leaders within society, and their speech, broadly construed, is effective, as demonstrated by recent events. The “Saffron Revolution” in Burma was triggered by monks asserting their right to express themselves on behalf of the nation; recent speeches by monks in both Burma and Sri Lanka are thought to have triggered Buddhist attacks on Muslims in both countries and in Thailand, and in 2014, the monk Buddha Issara set up a protest stage from which he preached twice a day in order to bring down the caretaker government of Yingluck Shinawatra. While it was not his speech alone, of course he was an important member of the coalition that ultimately precipitated a coup in May of that year. At the same time, within Thailand, the right to speak freely is not one that all monks share equally. Although as citizens the right of Thai monks to free speech has been constitutionally guaranteed (when there has been a constitution), as members of the Sangha they are often subject to greater constraint, in society as a whole and even in the wats in which they live. In this talk, Dr. Borchert considers the attitudes of monks with regard to the right to free speech and also speculates about the conditions that enable and constrain their ability to speak in post-Coup Thailand.

March 11, 2016 – Duncan McCargo

Professor of Political Science, University of Leeds and Visiting Professor of Political Science, Columbia University.

“(Un)Happy Stories from Thailand’s Constitutional Court.”
This presentation discusses some key cases brought before Thailand’s Constitutional Court following the 2006 military coup, borrowing its title from a memoir penned by former Court president Wasant Soypanit. It argues that behind the formal complaints levied by the petitioners lay accusations along the treason spectrum: that pro-Thaksin politicians were seeking to undermine the system of government and alter the status of the crown. The 2012 constitutional amendment case, which almost precipitated a major political crisis, will form the main focus of the discussion. Did the workings of the court illustrate a new politicization of the Thai judiciary? Or were these cases simply business as usual?

March 18, 2016 – Dr. Prajak Kongkirati

Lecturer, Faculty of Political Science and Head of the Southeast Asian Studies Center, Thammasat University, Thailand. 

“Bullets and Ballots: Electoral Violence and Democracy in Thailand, 1997-2014.”
From 1997 to 2006, the 1997 Thai Constitution, its newly designed electoral system, the rise of a strong populist party led by Thaksin Shinawatra, and the 2006 coup transformed local political structures and power balances. Thaksin’s ambitious goal of monopolizing the political market raised the stakes of electoral competition, forcing provincial bosses to employ violent tactics to defeat their competitors. Consequently, the demand for and supply of electoral violence increased, as witnessed in the 2001 and 2005 elections.  After the 2006 coup, political settings at the national and local levels underwent another major change. The royal-military intervention in the electoral process combined with growing ideological politics stifled and marginalized provincial bosses, thereby decreasing the demand for violence. As a result, incidents of violence during the 2007 and 2011 elections declined. The exercise of privatized violence by the provincial bosses was a remnant of the political and economic order established in the 1980s. This unsettling phenomenon will not entirely disappear until the patrimonial structure of the state is radically transformed and personalistic fighting over government spoils and rent-distribution are substantially reduced. However, the February 2, 2014 elections witnessed a significant change in the pattern of electoral violence in Thailand. It changed from targeted killings among the rival candidates to mob violence aimed at disrupting the electoral process and institutions. The protesters mobilized under the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and employed violent tactics to disrupt electoral voter registration, vote casting, and vote counting activities. The degree of violence was the highest in the country’s electoral history. The PDRC’s animosity towards the election marked an unprecedented development in the country’s prolonged political conflict.

April 8, 2016 –  Yos Santasombat

Professor of Anthropology, Chiang Mai University.

“The Impact of China’s Rise on Southeast Asia.”
This talk analyzes the impact of China’s rise on the Mekong Region at a critical period of Southeast Asian history. Three decades of sustained economic growth have given rise to a powerful and prosperous China. As the most populated country and the second largest economy in the world, China has become an increasingly influential player in global and regional affairs. Economic ties between China and her southern neighbors are particularly strong. Yet relations between China and the Mekong region are inherently complex and embedded in other socio-cultural and political issues. China’s accelerated growth, increasing economic footprint, global search for energy and natural resources and rapid pace of military modernization have created a wide range of new challenges for smaller countries in Southeast Asia. These new challenges both encourage and limit cooperation between China and the emerging ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The talk addresses some of these challenges, with particular focus on the impact of Chinese investment, trade, foreign aid and migration, and some of the consequences of each.
More broadly, over the past decade, the increasing political alliances between China and the Mekong region have been established by three interdependent factors, namely (1) the expansion of trade, investment and foreign aid; (2) increasing territorialization through large-scale concessions and mega-projects; and (3) the expansion of Chinese economic culture that goes hand in hand with the increasing flows of new Chinese migrants into the Mekong region.

April 15, 2016 – Anthony Irwin

doctoral student in Languages and Cultures of Asia, UW-Madison

“Surrounding the Sacred: Rebuilding the Buddhist Landscape in Chiang Rai, Thailand.”
When Chiang Rai was resettled in 1844 the city and its surrounding territory had been abandoned for a period of forty years. As new communities sprang up over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, people found themselves living amongst scores of abandoned Buddhist temple sites. Still today, stupa ruins stick up in the verdant river valley like the stumps of great trees, and tumbled piles of bricks punctuate karst cliffs that rise into the surrounding mountains. The presence of this abandoned Buddhist material has been central to the motivations and techniques behind Buddhist construction in Chiang Rai. Many of the active temples throughout the city are built over older sites, and current Buddhist construction often incorporates older material into new structures.
This talk explores one way in which Chiang Rai Buddhists have approached and dealt with abandoned Buddhist material in their midst—they have covered it up. The specific building practice known as khrop [ครอบ] is a technique of encasing, surrounding, and covering over older Buddhist material with new, outer facades. Khrop is more than a building technique; it is an important ethic of preservation, protection, and reverence. Performing acts of khrop, and the material products of the practice, are leveled on specifically Theravada Buddhist foundations. This talk investigates acts of khrop to plumb Buddhist understandings of time, community, and power.

April 22, 2016 – Cleo Calimbahin

Executive Director of Transparency International-Philippines/Associate Professorial Lecturer of Political Science, De La Salle University, Manila. 

“No Dirge for Dynasties: DNA, DQ, and Drama in the 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections.”
On May 9, the Philippine electorate will head to polling precincts to vote for over 18,000 elective posts. At the precinct, the Filipino voter faces the burden of remembering multiple candidate names given the synchronized nature of elections in the Philippines. It therefore comes as no surprise that in the 2016 presidential and national elections, celebrities and dynasties will have the edge. The persistence of dynastic politics in the Philippines weakens efforts at political party building and uncontested seats are on the rise. Recent political events also show that Estrada and Arroyo have re-defined the vice-presidential race. Some politicians have shifted their aim at the vice-presidency because of its increased relevance, competition and possibilities. The campaign for the vice-presidency is evolving, becoming more competitive and contributing further in undermining the creation of genuine political parties and exacerbating campaign finance issues. With President Aquino’s positive end of term rating, Filipinos continue to hope for reform and improved economic and political conditions. The 2016 election is crucial and can build on the gains of the Aquino administration. Looking at the front runners, will the Philippines vote for continuity or change?

April 29, 2016 – David Biggs

Professor of History, University of California-Riverside.

“In the Footprints of War: Environmental History and Militarized Landscapes in Central Vietnam.”
In many historic places, war does not simply sweep across the landscape. Often, militants and military camps become embedded in spaces long-shaped over decades or even centuries by earlier “footprints” of military conflict.  On the central coast of Vietnam, journalist Bernard Fall described “The Street Without Joy” as a narrow corridor of fields and villages along the coastal highway that French troops struggled to hold from 1947 to 1954. Meanwhile, the Việt Minh retreated to the mountains and built new “tactical zones” and a rebel “inter-zone” government in the interior. Their success derived not only from new construction – weapons workshops, safe zones, and supply routes – but also a deep engagement with the long-militarized landscapes of the coast. This talk examines the First Indochina war through a landscape lens, considering how combatants negotiated with each other and historic landscapes in their campaigns.  Military and political success hinged on the ability to build new networks out of these conflict-prone, historic spaces.

2015 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 4, 2015 – Hue-Tam Ho Tai, Kenneth T. Young

Professor of Sino-Vietnamese History, Harvard University

“The Contested Afterlives of Ho Chi Minh”
(the first annual “Judith Ladinsky Lecture”—made possible through support from the Judith L. Ladinsky Memorial Fund)
This talk concerns the Religion of Uncle Ho whose central figure is Ho Chi Minh. Ho, who is considered the father of the modern Vietnamese nation-state, has become an object of commemoration, worship, and contestation on the part of the Communist Party and ordinary Vietnamese who claim to be his devotees.The contention involves who speaks for and through Ho: the Party which has compiled his collected works and constantly invokes his writings and sayings in support of often contradictory policies or the devotees who claim to be able to channel him? Other areas of contention involve control of space and of time. Space is understood as both the world in which we live, but also the Other World of the dead, of gods and goddesses and of unseen but powerful forces. Time is not only commemorative time but also the past and the future, both of which are being re-interpreted in the light of new postwar circumstances. At the center of this re-interpretation is Ho Chi Minh, the mythical figure created by the Party over which it is losing control.

September 11, 2015 – Ounkeo Souksavanh

Correspondent for Asia Times and RFA (Radio Free Asia), former radio broadcaster and NGO activist in Laos

“Modern Laos and The Term “Human Rights”
This talk focuses on the small, single-party country of Laos that has been under the rule of the Lao People’ Revolutionary Party since 1975. Laos has promoted an “open policy” since 1986 and the government has declared that it will upgrade itself from poverty status in 2020. As this talk explains, to do this, the Lao government is promoting the following types of development:
            Turning Laos into the battery of Asia
            Turning lands into capital
            Turning Laos from a landlocked to a landlinked country
In its rush to make the country modern, the Lao government often proceeds without adequately considering the social and environmental impact of development efforts and the consequences faced by local people, including land grabbing. These circumstances are also linked to the detention of some Lao people in relation to land conflicts with investors, and the disappearance of Sombath Somphone, a leader of Lao civil society, on December 15, 2012. In this presentation, Mr. Souksavanh explains the present situation in Laos, including the way the term “human rights” is used in the country, and how it relates to development efforts.

September 18, 2015 – Erik Harms

Associate Professor of Anthropology and of Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University

“Rights Gone Wrong on the City’s Edge: Evidence from Ho Chi Minh City”
This talk will discuss the story of Ho Chi Minh City residents who have been evicted from their homes in order to make way for a new master-planned urban development called the Thu Thiem New Urban Zone. Facing eviction, residents mobilized a strong and unambiguous language of “rights” to support their cause. On one level, their example is an inspiring story of bravery and resistance that clearly shows how an emerging “rights consciousness” can inspire new forms of agency and collective action. But on another level, I also describe the ways in which this emergent rights consciousness has also come to operate as something of a fetish. By focusing on property value, legal documents, petitions, and other artefacts central to the expression of bureaucratic rights, residents have participated in the proliferation of abstract rights that are not in fact realized in practice. After the dust settled and the bulldozers finally retreated, these residents found themselves dispossessed from house and home. Their evictions were made final at precisely the moment that they had so forcefully managed to understand themselves as rights-bearing subjects. This suggests that the new conception of rights emerging on the edges of Vietnamese cities cannot be disentangled from the very processes fueling dispossession.

September 25, 2015 – Stephen B. Acabado

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of California-Los Angeles

“Highland Responses to Spanish Colonialism: Economic and Political Transformations in Ifugao, Philippines”
This presentation focuses on the economic and political transformations that happened after AD 1600 in Ifugao, Philippines. The investigation reported here is part of the Ifugao Archaeological Project, a collaborative research program that investigates the political and economic impacts of Spanish colonialism in highland Philippines, particularly, in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ifugao, Philippines, where the most extensive rice terraces in the world are located. Previous models suggest that the rice terraces are at least 2,000 years old. Recent archaeological information, however, indicates that the agricultural marvels were constructed after the arrival of the Spanish in the northern Philippines at c. AD 1600. In addition, rapid social and environmental change occurred in the region shortly after the appearance of the Spanish in the Magat and Cagayan Valleys.

Recent findings of the Ifugao Archaeological Project indicate that landscape modification (terraced wet-rice cultivation) intensified between c. AD 1600 and AD 1800, suggesting increased demand for food, which could also indicate population growth. This period also shows increased social differentiation and apparent elite manipulation to maintain their position in the society. It is argued that, although the Spanish colonial government never controlled the interior of the Philippine Cordillera, the economic and political transformations in the region was drastic and this was likely due to the Spanish presence in the lowlands. Excavations from the Old Kiyyangan Village (Kiangan, Ifugao) also imply that the settlement had continuous contact/interaction with lowland groups and other highland groups between c. AD 1600 and late AD 1800, refuting the idea of isolation.panish Colonialism: Economic and Political Transformations in Ifugao, Philippines

October 2, 2015 – Rebecca Hall

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA

“Banners, Palaces, and the Art of Navigating Liminality in Northern Thai Funerals”
The creation of beautiful, often elaborate works of art, including funeral banners and cremation structures, for the purpose of their complete destruction is one of the most fascinating characteristics of Northern Thai funeral arts. Their presence functions as a physical embodiment of impermanence, echoing the overall theme of the ceremony itself. Only after these objects are decimated by fire are surviving family and friends able to put to ease concerns about the successful transition of the deceased from one existence to the next. In this presentation I examine how funeral arts give form to the immaterial, help to guide the spirit of the deceased, and have the power to affect observers’ attitudes towards the dynamics of life and death.

October 9, 2015 – Walden Bello

Senior Analyst of Focus on the Global South and Professor of Sociology at the University of the Philippines

“Promise and Performance: The Politics of ‘Good Governance’ in the Philippines under Aquino III”
Dr. Walden Bello is a senior analyst of Focus on the Global South and professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines. He is one of the leading critics of the current model of economic globalization, combining the roles of intellectual and activist. As a human rights and peace campaigner, academic, environmentalist and journalist, and through a combination of courage as a dissident, with an extraordinary breadth of published output and personal charisma, he has made a major contribution to the international case against corporate-driven globalization. During the fall 2015 semester, Dr. Bello is an Activist-in-Residence Writing Fellow with the Havens Center.

October 16, 2015 – Laurie Sears

Walker Family Endowed Professor of History, University of Washington

“Critical Spirituality and a Critical Path in Ayu Utami’s Indonesian Novels”
Ayu Utami is one of Indonesia’s most acclaimed writers. Her first two novels were written in the very late New Order and soon after its fall. The first one, Saman, won prizes. The second one, Larung, was a difficult read. Hardly anyone in Indonesia or outside of it could understand the text outside of her intellectual circle. Having established her reputation as a serious writer, Utami’s next work is a tale of three friends and their adventures as they pursue critical spirituality and a critical path. Known for her liberal use of sexuality in her novels, this third book, The Fu Numeral, is no different, and the three friends pair up sexually in different ways in their journeys in the novel. This third 500-page but more accessible novel has also spawned what Utami promises will be 12 more novels drawing on themes from the first one. Three have been written so far, and it’s clear Utami now wants a bigger audience. This talk will explore Utami’s notions of critical spirituality and a critical path, her use of the Oedipus complex, and why these novels are important for historians.

October 23, 2015 – Mai Na Lee

Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies, University of Minnesota

“Back to Zomia: Hmong-French Relations During the Colonial Era”
This talk will examine how French appointment of a paramount leader led to internal competitions between Hmong leaders, complicating French power at the margins of empire.

October 30, 2015 – Dr. Mari Pangestu

George W. Ball Adjunct Professor, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs Fall 2015, and Indonesian Minister of Trade, 2004-2011

“Indonesia and the East Asian Region in the Global Economic Crisis”
The world is still filled with uncertainties after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Although there are some signs of recovery in the US, the world economy remains in a slow growth trajectory, and most worrying is the new normal for China. Indonesia and East Asia have gone from the East Asian Miracle of the 1980s-1990s to the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and East Asia Rebound, while showing different degrees of resilience during the recent crisis. How should countries like Indonesia navigate the “new normal” of slow external growth and volatility? Where should the new sources of growth, productivity and innovation come from? How can governments ensure sustainable development and safeguard vulnerable groups? Is there a role for regional cooperation through groups such as ASEAN?

November 6, 2015 – Hannah Bulloch

Research Fellow in Anthropology, Australian National University

“Fetal Personhood in the Christian Philippines: The View from a Visayan Island”
While issues of fetal personhood have been controversial in the Philippines in the context of reproductive health debates, little is understood about how ordinary Filipinos actually construct fetal and early infant personhood in the context of their everyday lives. This paper draws on ethnographic research on Siquijor, an island in the Central Visayas region with a devout Catholic population. Based on conversations about pregnancy, miscarriage and mortuary rituals, I show that unlike the notions promoted by elites of the Catholic Church which see personhood as fixed to the moment of conception, Siquijodnon see the acquisition of personhood as a gradual process. Significantly, while ensoulment is thought to occur at conception, this is not sufficient to produce a person. I conclude with reflections on broader implications and avenues for future research.

November 13, 2015 – Laura Steckman

Cyber Warfare and Security Expert, Command Social Scientist for the Marine Corps Information Operations Center (MCIOC) at Whitney, Bradley and Brown

“Exploring the Digital Age and Local Conflict: Kalimantan’s Dayaks versus the FPI”
In February 2012, Central Kalimantan’s Dayaks refused to allow the Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defender’s Front, FPI) to land at an airport in Palangka Raya. Hundreds of ethnic Dayaks swarmed the runway until the airline diverted the plane. Subsequently, the FPI also tried to increase its foothold in West Kalimantan. Faced with protests, its efforts were hindered, though the organization managed to retain some standing in the province. From that point, the FPI committed itself to expanding across the island and over the past three years, have encountered continued resistance but nonetheless renewed its efforts to gain traction. During the 2012 protests, online news outlets such as the Jakarta Post wrote that SMS, social networking applications, and social media helped to combat the FPI. At the same time, rumors spreading across these networks caused schools to close in West Kalimantan and, allegedly, deepened the Dayak-FPI conflict in Kalimantan. If this statement is true, it leads to the question: what can online and social media tell us about local conflicts? Can they deepen our understanding? Or do they just add layers of complexity to our analyses? Revolving around the Dayaks’ sporadic conflict with the FPI, this talk will provide an overview of the Internet in Indonesia, cover several Dayak-FPI incidents, and explore some of the ways in which the digital age can both influence and limit our understanding of local conflicts.

November 20, 2015 – Pavin Chachavalpongpun.

Associate Professor, Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University

“Neo-Royalism Ideology and the Future of the Vajoralongkorn Reign”
Video Link
This event was free and open to the public.

November 27, 2015 – No Friday Forum, Thanksgiving

December 4, 2015 – Valerie Kozel

La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison, formerly Senior Economist at the World Bank.

“Building Consensus on Poverty & Inequality Challenges in Myanmar”
Myanmar launched into a “triple transition” in early 2011–from a military system to (emerging) democratic governance; from a centrally-directed, closed economy to a market-oriented one; and from 60 years of conflict in its border states to peace. Myanmar’s level of development was at one point on par with strong performers such as Thailand and Malaysia. However, it is now one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, due to its long history of isolation, conflict, and mismanagement linked to extensive military control of economic and political life. 37.5 percent of its 51 million residents live below a parsimonious poverty line, life expectancy is among the lowest in ASEAN countries, and infant and child mortality rates among the highest. Less than a third of households are connected to the main electricity grid, road density remains low, and—until very recently—cell phone and internet penetration was also low. Moreover national averages mask extensive heterogeneity across regions: access to infrastructure and basic services is much lower in Myanmar’s ethnic minority border states.

Early on, the new administration expressed interest in addressing the needs of the poor and promoting a more equitable development path. International agencies have re-engaged in Myanmar and are keen to support the government in these efforts. However the data base on poverty and living conditions in Myanmar is weak and widely contested—internally as well as by international researchers and partners. As input for its re-engagement in Myanmar and to support country programming, the World Bank launched new analytic work in 2012 to (1) assess the reliability of existing data on poverty and vulnerability and (2) to work with government and other stakeholders in Myanmar to construct updated measures of poverty and inequality that better reflect the reality of living conditions in Myanmar as well as global good practice.

The exercise aimed for greater openness and transparency in data and methods, with the aim of building consensus on the extent and nature of poverty and inequality in Myanmar, and supporting an informed discussion about priority measures to address them. The work met with mixed success: although it was successful at raising awareness and resolving technical issues, it was much less effective on the political front.

2015 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 23, 2015 – Billy Noseworthy

Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, UW-Madison

“Po Romé [r. 1627-1651]: Champa’s First Highland Sovereign as a Watershed Moment in Cham History”
This presentation begins with the argument that Po Romé’s reign was a watershed moment in the history of the Cham. For the first time, a member of the Churu highland servant class intermarried with a Bini-Islamic influenced religious minority-Cham princess and became the ruler of the last Champa negara polity, Panduranga. He established a peace between the warring Cham Balamon Shaivite Hindu influenced majority and Bini Islamic influenced minority. His reign also established the Cham script Akhar Thrah, still used by both Eastern and Western Cham speakers today – although variants of Arabic [Al-Arabiyyah] script also became popular. Third, Po Romé’s reign established the luni-solar sakawi calendar that is used to bring Hindu oriented and Islamic oriented elements of Cham society together through calendar rituals and life-cycle oriented events, which always occur during ‘auspicious times’ according to the sakawi calendar. Finally, Po Romé’s reign is credited with the re-solidification of the Cham philosophy of awal and ahier. Awal and ahier are Arabic root loan words meaning ‘first’ and ‘last.’ In Cham philosophical conceptions, awal represents the moon, femininity and Islamic oriented elements of the universe. Meanwhile, ahier represents the sun, masculinity and Indic oriented elements of the universe. The inherent co-dependent relationship between awal and ahier is thought to be the key to understanding Cham culture and the universe. The chapter concludes that the narratives presented in Cham manuscripts connected to Po Romé establish a uniquely Cham understanding of history as sakarai.

January 30, 2015 – Li-Ching Ho

Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, UW-Madison

“Sorting Citizens: Differentiated Citizenship Education in Singapore”
Using Singapore as a case study, this paper examines how the discourses of democratic elitism and meritocracy help allocate different citizen roles to students and define the nature of the social studies citizenship education programmes for different educational tracks. While the Singapore education system is not unique in its stratification of students into distinct educational tracks with diverse educational outcomes, it is one of the very few countries with explicitly differentiated formal national citizenship curricula for students from different educational tracks. Students are formally allocated different citizenship roles and responsibilities according to the hierarchy defined by the state. Three distinct roles can be identified: (1) elite cosmopolitan leaders; (2) globally-oriented but locally-rooted mid-level executives and workers; and (3) local ‘heartlander’ followers. To cater to these different citizen roles, the three programmes encompass significantly different curricular goals, content, modes of assessment, civic skills, and values. The findings indicate that only the elite students have access to citizenship education that promotes democratic enlightenment and political engagement. The social studies curriculum for students in the vocational track, in contrast, focuses almost exclusively on imparting a pre-determined body of knowledge and set of values deemed necessary for academically low-achieving students.

February 6, 2015 – Fritz Schenker

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Ethnomusicology, UW-Madison

“Filipino Musical Mobilities: The Rise of the Asian Professional Jazz Musician in 1920s Colonial Asia”
In the decade after World War I, jazz quickly became ubiquitous across Asian port cities from Mumbai to Yokohama. The premier performers of this U.S.-based dance music were not Americans, however, but Filipinos. Hundreds of musicians left the Philippines throughout the 1920s to answer the demand for dance bands in hotels, cabarets, and cruise ships along the Asia littoral.

Filipino musicians have commonly been dismissed as mere mimics in histories of music and Southeast Asia, yet their proliferation suggests that these narratives of mimicry distort the ways an emerging global popular music was experienced and became meaningful in different contexts. In this presentation, I explore how Filipino musicians and composers grappled with the changing demands for popular music throughout western colonized parts of Asia. In particular, I focus on the complex interworking between imperial racial hierarchies and the growing global market for dance music. As colonized subjects of the U.S., Filipino jazz musicians performed music heard to signify western modernity even though they themselves were considered racially inferior “natural” musicians, unable to demand the wages of white performers. Filipinos sought to capitalize on the demand for cheap musical labor by seeking employment abroad and by imagining themselves part of an empire of musical labor.

February 13, 2015 – Gerald Sim

Associate Professor of Film Studies, Florida Atlantic University

“Postcolonial Cinema Aesthetics in the Era of Global Capital”
Situated astride Malaysian and global film culture, the late director Yasmin Ahmad’s fresh model of postcolonial poetics is both a departure from traditional hybridity tropes and an indicator of the nation’s postcolonial-global duality. Set in globalized social and cultural milieus, Ahmad stages interethnic squabbles between speakers of different languages. First, using imperfect or absent subtitles, Ahmad steers attention away from dialogue’s linguistic meaning, toward the purely acoustic pleasures of dueling cultural phonemes or prosody – what language simply sounds like. The resultant national soundscape harbors an aesthetic that transcends the hybridity paradigm associated with postcolonial culture. Ahmad’s second predilection, for highlighting characters who speak ethnically incongruent languages, does not require audience comprehension either. It offers a cinematic experience that is thoroughly aural, spatially marginalized, and yet seductively immersive. Through French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s Listening, and his eponymous writing vis-à-vis globalization in The Sense of the World and The Creation of the World or Globalization, we find that the films evoke a phenomenology that speaks to Malaysia’s geopolitical “sense of the world.”

February 20, 2015 – Alfred W. McCoy

Professor of History, UW-Madison

“Policing the Imperial Periphery: The Philippine-American War and the Rise of the U.S. Surveillance State”
In 2009, Alfred McCoy published a monograph titled, Policing America’s Empire, about the rise of America’s “first information regime in the colonial Philippines,” getting a few nice reviews and even winning a prize. But he soon realized that the book had completely overlooked an obvious question: If that was the “first American information regime,” then was there a second, or even a third? Plunged into three Asian crucibles of counterinsurgency during the past century, America’s information infrastructure has advanced through three distinct technological regimes: first, the manual regime (during the Philippine War, 1898-1907); next, the computerized (in the Vietnam War, 1963-75); and, most recently, the robotic (in Afghanistan and Iraq, from 2001 to perhaps 2014 or beyond). During each of these attempts to subjugate a dense Asian rural society, the U.S. military has been pushed to the breaking point and responded by drawing together all extant information resources, fusing them into an infrastructure of unprecedented power, and producing a new regime for data management. Reviewing this succession of information regimes over the span of a century leads to an ambiguous prognosis about the future of U.S. global power.

February 27, 2015 – Ben Tausig

Department of Ethnomusicology, School of Music, SUNY Stony Brook

“A Division of Listening: The Sonic Broadcasts of the Thai Military at Bangkok Political Protests”
The Thai military’s psychological operations unit (PJW) has consistently been at the front lines in recent military operations against protesters and in support of the ruling junta. Among PJW’s strategies is to use live and recorded music, comedy, and soothing speech to manipulate crowds on behalf of the military. This talk narrates and contextualizes PJW’s fifty-year history, which has not been critically represented in any language. But more urgently, I advance an argument about PJW’s role in the past fifty years of Thai governance and citizenship. I claim that PJW’s musical practices typify a Cold War-era instrumentalization of culture in Southeast Asia that has been sustained through a series of historical contortions and revived fervently in the present. In the past five years, PJW’s musical performances reveal above all the ascendency of class politics, even as such politics remain discursively forbidden in Thailand at literal gunpoint. Class division in Thailand is apparent wherever Thais listen to PJW these days. I examine these listening practices, and demonstrate their relationship to what I regards as a class-based political fissure in Thailand that is growing ever-wider.

March 6, 2015 – Ian Coxhead

Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Do export booms discourage schooling? Evidence from Southeast Asia”
Economic growth is strongly associated with increased education, yet export booms in low-income countries often seem to spark an opposite trend. Rapid growth of jobs in low-skill occupations may reduce overall returns to schooling and raise dropout rates, especially among teens from relatively poor origins. We explore this idea and examine the links between changing job market opportunities and educational outcomes in some emerging regional economies, with particular emphasis on the case of Indonesia.

March 13, 2015 – Lorraine Paterson

Research Fellow, University of Oxford, UK

“Life Writing and Colonial Southeast Asia: New Perspectives on Biography, Archival Traces and Ethnographic Texts”
Dr. Paterson’s recent research has interwoven extensive archival research, ethnographic accounts, oral histories and literary texts in order to map trans-colonial cultural flows and connections from French Indochina to the wider French empire centering on the lives of Vietnamese and Cambodians deported to other parts of the French empire. By looking at Vietnamese and Cambodians living in different cities in Algeria in the 1890s, we can trace some fascinating lives lived in another part of the French empire and the constraints, but also the possibilities, of new lives made through social displacement. In such a way, we can examine the complexities of a historical and ethnographic picture of identity, agency and contingent possibilities within a trans-global colonial context. Doing so can also lead to some new approaches to life–writing about Southeast Asia in a broader colonial context in order to try and understand circulations of ideas, mobility of individuals, and the lived experience of empire.

March 20, 2015 – Oona Paredes

Mindanao, Phillipines, National University of Singapore

“Preserving ‘Tradition’: Discourses of Governmentality and Identity Among the Higaunon of Mindanao”
What does ‘indigeneity’ mean for Indigenous Peoples (IP’s), when there are often quite divergent conceptions and objectives in play when the term ‘Indigenous’ is employed in practice? This paper examines the practical consequences for IP’s in the Philippines of state-driven discourse regarding indigeneity and ‘tradition.’ Drawing on preliminary data from an ongoing field research project, I discuss the case of the Higaunon Lumad people northern Mindanao, in the southern Philippines, which is comparable to the experience of many other Lumad groups on the island. Local trends in participatory development and democratization over the years have required the increased engagement of IP leaders with broader Filipino civil society, national state bureaucracies, and in the local government unit (LGU) system. The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1987 has also added an Indigenous-centered bureaucracy that is supposed to respond directly to the special needs of IP’s, including the preservation of cultural traditions and securing title to ancestral lands. While laudatory and promising on the surface, in practice these developments have only added more layers of bureaucracy for IP’s, and many of these bureaucracies impose their own stereotyped expectations of how an IP, especially a “chieftain,” is supposed to behave. This in turn forces IP’s to perform these roles in order to deal successfully with (multiple) agencies and powerbrokers, just to get on with the business of being Indigenous in the modern Philippines. While such bureaucracies are already opaque and inherently corrupt in the Philippines, IP’s face additional challenges due to their marginalization. In response to this dynamic, two distinct types of indigenous leader or datu have emerged among the Higaunon Lumad in northern Mindanao: the “cultural datu” and the “government datu.” Each competes for authority, power (political/supernatural), and cultural legitimacy vis-à-vis contradictory expectations of how a “proper” datu – as “culture bearer” of the Higaunons – ought to behave and perform. At the heart of this tension is a larger and more profound internal, cross-generational debate regarding the nature and essence of Higaunon tradition, how it can and should be ‘preserved,’ and what it actually means to be a ‘Higaunon,’ and what it means to be an IP, in the context of modern Philippine society.

March 27, 2015 – No Friday Forum, AAS Meetings

April 3, 2015 – No Friday Forum, Spring Break

April 10, 2015 – Ward Keeler

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas
NOTE ROOM CHANGE! Room 1920 Van Hise. 12:00 pm.

“Masculinity, Autonomy and Attachment in Buddhist Burma”

Taking religious discourse and practices as commentary (witting or unwitting) as well as instances of social relations, I see in the institution of the monkhood in Burma an idealized rendering of how people, and especially males, should enter into relations with others. Specifically, Burmese males should seek to maximize their autonomy. So whereas in many societies, masculinity implies sexual athleticism and the exercise of power, in Buddhist Burma withdrawing from attachments wins individuals special prestige. Monks, for whom both sexual activity and overt intervention in worldly affairs are forbidden, instantiate this idealized pattern particularly dramatically.

April 17, 2015 – Dr. Kanokwan Manorom

Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts at the Ubon Ratchathani University in Thailand

“Neo-liberalism and Land Uses along the Isan Frontier in the Context of Mekong Transformation”
This presentation is based on research conducted for the project, “Land Use Changes, Land Control and Land Ownership along Isan’s Borders” supported by the Thailand Research Fund. My main argument is that land uses along Isan’s frontiers have been heavily impacted by neoliberalism. Three issues are discussed. First, Isan’s frontiers are no longer peripheral, remote or backward; rather they are at the heart of the economic integration of the Mekong region. In particular, land along Isan’s borders with neighboring countries has been greatly expropriated, controlled, used, seized and exchanged at high prices over the past 20 years, and these changes have resulted from neoliberal economic agendas. Second, there is a conflict between nature conservation and national security and a shift of modes of agriculture and natural resource use and management to promote Mekong rapid economic interdependence. This has resulted in the transformation of natural areas and national security zones into agricultural frontiers where forest has been encroached upon to grow cash crops, or has been transformed into commercial areas. Finally, peri-urban areas along Isan’s borders have been transformed, resulting in rural land being converted into houses, factories, border facilities, highways, wholesale or retail shops, hotels, resorts, etc. Thus, it can be said that neoliberalism has greatly influenced and is rapidly changing the border region of Isan.

April 24, 2015 – Capt. Dick Diller

Delta Air Lines and author of Firefly: A Skyraider’s Story About America’s Secret War Over Laos

“Air Operations Over Laos, 1969, 1970”
Captain Diller is the author of Firefly, A Skyraider’s Story About America’s Secret War Over Laos, the only book written about night flying over Laos during the Vietnam War. Capt. Diller flew 203 missions over Laos, mostly at night, during USAF operations that were a major part of the U.S. government’s secret war in Laos conducted as part of the war effort. In this talk, he tells of three missions, the difficulties of finding a target at night, and the two major areas of flight operations. In an account that tells of the rescue of one pilot of Boxer 22 and the loss of the other, he explains the search and rescue mission and the main reason why A-1s were still being used in the war, and also tells of the losses, including 7 out of 20 in his squadron while he was there, and 104 out of approximately 700 who flew the airplane for the air force during the war. He further describes different types of missions in northern Laos and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and explains why we supported one side of what was essentially a civil war.

May 1, 2015 – David Brown

Writer, retired US diplomat

“Looking for Đổi Mới II, or Vietnam Today: a Political-Economic Tour”
2015 is shaping up as a momentously political year in Vietnam. Factionalized and more reactionary than revolutionary, the Vietnamese Communist Party is preparing to convene its 12th Party Congress in January 2016. The 87 million Vietnamese who are not Party members are watching hopefully. Leaving aside a vocal but quite small bunch of dissidents,they’re not restive. The average Vietnamese feels that Vietnam had quite enough chaos in the last century. He’d like to believe that the all-powerful Party will agree on policies needed to liberate new energies and ensure a stable path to a prosperous future. The reforms that are needed are obvious; what’s not so clear is whether the Party can get its act together.

2014 Fall Semester Friday Forum

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.

2014 Spring Semester Friday Forum

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 Anything That 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

2013 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 6, 2013 – Ian Coxhead

Professor of Agricultural Economics, UW-Madison

“Southeast Asian Economic Growth in International Perspective: From Malthusian Trap to Middle Income—and Beyond”
Southeast Asia’s 600m people have lived through a remarkable transition from widespread poverty to comparative wealth. The region’s long-run GDP growth rate is second only to that of East Asia, far ahead of average rates for other developing regions. This differential has been sustained in spite of internal shocks and global volatility. Tens of millions have been lifted out of poverty as a result.

This impressive record contradicts pessimistic predictions from many global growth models. Is Southeast Asia different, and if so in what ways? In the 21st century the region is undergoing broad and deep regional and global integration with relatively stable macroeconomic conditions. Nevertheless, numerous old problems remain, and new issues have arisen. Sustaining growth and reducing vulnerability to shocks remains a daunting challenge for the future.

September 13, 2013 – Pamela Nguyen Corey

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University

“Cities Compared: Contemporary Art and Artistic Subjects in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia”
Within the framework of comparative analysis, the notion of contemporaneity underscores two important aspects of contemporary art. First, it indicates a particular conceptual artistic outlook towards certain practices and ways of responding to and interpreting current conditions. Secondly, as a state of temporality, contemporaneity serves as a useful lens through which to approach regional and transnational studies within the larger context of the globalized art world. This talk looks at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as urban nodes within a micro-region, examining the two cities’ respective trajectories of contemporary art history. Several turning points in histories of nation and city reveal parallel instances of cultural development in the twentieth century, with shared historical foundations for the visual arts, orienting contemporary Vietnamese and Cambodian artists in convergent and divergent ways through the present. Contemporary artists in the two cities express concerns with the discursive nature of contemporary art, and the urgency of artistic intervention in response to the impacts of wartime legacies, late or post-Socialist ideologies of development, and the processes of neoliberal globalization. I suggest that the scale of the city is a productive starting point for examining the formation of contemporary artistic subjectivity, as these are individuals shaped by myriad forces of social determination that find convergence in urban centers. For many artists, mapping the city is akin to mapping the self.

September 20, 2013 – Micah Morton

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology, UW-Madison

“From Blood to Fruit: Akha ancestral burdens and the pursuit of a modern authenticity in mainland Southeast Asia and Southwest China
This talk focuses on the efforts of certain members of the Akha transnational minority to promote a pan-Akha sense of belonging of a profoundly religious nature. Some 700,000 Akha reside in the mountainous borderlands of North Thailand, East Myanmar (Burma), Southwest China, Northwest Laos and Northwest Vietnam. This region is being transformed from the battlefields of the Cold War to an international market for labor, natural resources and tourism. Akha are being integrated into their respective nation-states and an emerging regional economy on unprecedented scales.

In response to these pressures, a growing number of Akha are converting to Christianity, others are incorporating Buddhist practices, and yet others are seeking to promote a pan-Akha identity by ‘modernizing’ traditional ancestor worship. Through a highly creative and often contentious process of religious synergism, the latter group is transforming Akha ancestor worship into a form of monotheism as a means of both promoting the very survival of ‘Akha’ as a distinct people and solidifying a regional pan-Akha identity. Following a general introduction to contemporary Akha identity politics, the talk then explores the ways in which Akha religiosity is being transformed by the latter group of ethnic entrepreneurs. It concludes with discussion of the implications of these findings for dominant conceptions of religious syncretism, “return conversion” movements, and the religious and secular aspects of social life.

September 27, 2013 – Mary Grow

Anthropology, Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture

“Reflections on a Column Raising Ceremony: Revitalizing the Wooden House in Cambodia”
Many architects working in countries recovering from the devastation of civil war or international conflict are dedicated to revitalizing the built environment. Efforts in new construction, as well as historic preservation, attempt to provide communities with shelter and a sense of place that is connected to cultural identity, local knowledge, and historical memory. How this takes place is a valuable inquiry, and the focus of this field report that describes the work of Hok Sokol, an architect in Cambodia, who is building and restoring Khmer wooden houses. It explores how the ritual practices of an age-old column raising ceremony are integrated into design and construction, thereby reconstituting a worldview and cultural inheritance that were threatened severely during the brutal years (1975-1979) of the Khmer Rouge regime.

October 4, 2013 – Donald K. Emmerson

PhD, Director, Southeast Asia Forum (SEAF), Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University

“The Panda’s Long Paw: China, ASEAN, and the South China Sea”
Tensions over the South China Sea (SCS) implicate multiple issues and actors: sovereignty, access, resources, regionalism, domestic politics, international law, ASEAN, ITLOS, UNCLOS, Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United States, and Vietnam, including differences between agencies inside some of these countries. Questions on this vortex worth raising in a talk co-sponsored by CSEAS and Political Science include: What do these tensions mean for East Asian regionalism and the claimed “centrality” of ASEAN? What do they imply for relations between ASEAN, China, and the United States? And, most broadly: Is the SCS becoming a “Thucydides trap” that will ensure major Sino-American conflict between rising and ruling powers and thereby confirm the “offensive realist” position among analysts of international relations?

Time permitting, points of reference in the talk may include prospects for a “code of conduct” in the SCS; Beijing’s “ten-dash line”; Washington’s “freedom of navigation”; Jakarta’s “dynamic equilibrium”; Manila’s suit against Beijing under UNCLOS, Xi Jinping’s “new type of great power relations”; and Obama’s “pivot/rebalance” toward Asia. Reference may also be made to Obama’s planned 6-12 October 2013 trip to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines, including his expected attendance at the AELM and the East Asia Summit—two other vortexes (Assad’s Syria and the Tea Party’s House) also permitting.

Note: AELM = the APEC [Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation] Economic Leaders’ Meeting; ASEAN = the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; ITLOS = the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; UNCLOS = the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

October 11, 2013 – Santikaro

“Contemplating Dhamma, Nature, & Society”
This talk will share insights on the Buddhist monk Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (1906-1993), known for his teachings on transcendent aspects of Buddhism. It will discuss how Buddhadasa’s reflections on Nature, based in his Buddhist study & practice, were also responses to current social & political circumstances. Finally, it will address other aspects of his teaching, including the significance of the fact that he never separated Wat from Baan (temple from village & society).
Other themes:
Nature as essentially cooperative
Dhammic Socialism Streams of dependent co-arising
Politics as a branch of ethics (sila)
Natural truth rather than Ideologies

Santikaro was ordained as a Theravada monk in 1985 and soon after began practicing under the tutelage of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu at Suan Mokkh in Southern Thailand. He served as Buddhadasa Bhikku’s primary English translator for many years. In 2001, he returned to the United States and retired from formal monastic life in 2004. He continues to teach and study Buddhism with an emphasis on early Pali sources. He is the founder of Liberation Park in Norwalk, Wisconsin.

October 18, 2013 – Tharaphi Than

Assistant Professor Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Northern Illinois University

“Juggling between Religion and Modernity: The World of Burmese Women Writers”
Burmese women writers often attempt to balance religion — Buddhism — and modernity: but this is frequently a real struggle. Change is often challenged by a determination to protect Buddhism and tradition, and women writers, though highly educated, struggle to reconcile these two powerful forces. One of the most prominent writers, Ma Ma Lay, wanted to disseminate Buddhist teachings in her stories, yet one of her characters broke the fundamental Buddhist precept—not to kill. Khin Myo Chit was inspired to become a writer by the religious writings of Ledi Pandida U Maung Gyi. Moe Moe (Inya)’s characters—who often found themselves trapped in an unhappy marriage—often seek refuge in religion. But as one of her stories suggest, women have started to find courage to break taboos of divorce. Contemporary women writers are also trying to find a different path; some of them seem to have found courage to break taboos of divorce, and they attempt to send a message that religion is often not an answer but daring to ask for a divorce. It is likely that more women writers would speak more freely about divorces and not offer religion as a refuge but breaking abusive and troublesome marriages as a pathway to women’s liberation and happiness.

October 25, 2013 – James C. Scott

Professor of Political Science, Yale University

“Some Histories of State Evasion in Southeast Asia and Elsewhere”

November 1, 2013 – Eli Elinoff

PhD Candidate Department of Anthropology, University of California-San Diego

“‘A House is More than a House’: On the Architectural Aesthetics of Being and Belonging”
In this talk, Dr. Elinoff explores the way that architecture and the architectural production of the home have become a site for contestations over models of citizenship in the slum and squatter communities in the Northeastern Thai city of Khon Kaen. He argues that the home and its form—both real and imagined—offer a critical window into contemporary disagreements over notions of national belonging and questions of what it means to live a good life in contemporary Thailand. He demonstrates this argument by describing how the home becomes a site of intervention for both state planners and NGOs who use the house as a pedagogical tool to transform the values and lifestyles of poor residents along the tracks. He also describes the aesthetic choices made by residents as they attempt to enact their ideal sense of citizenship by transforming their homes to reference multiple, often contradictory, projects of belonging. These houses (and their ideal forms reflected in architectural plans, models, and day dreams) simultaneously evoke political equality, capitalist consumer success, modernity, sufficiency, sustainability, and collectivity. These contradictory visions bind together multiple pressures experienced by residents who see the home as both a site to demonstrate their good citizenship and a space in which to live a good life. These competing and contradictory pressures evoke not only the trials of being seen as a legitimate resident of the city and member of the nation, but also broader questions about what it means to live a good life in late-capitalist Thailand.

November 8, 2013 – Duncan McCargo

Professor of Southeast Asian Politics, University of Leeds

“Dispensing Justice? The Work of Thai Police Investigators”

November 15, 2013 – Christian Lentz

Assistant Professor of Geography, University of North Carolina

“Cultivating Subjects: Opium Monopolies from Colony to Nation in Vietnam”
In this talk, Dr. Lentz taps a rich vein of archival sources to trace opium’s course through the transition from colonial to national rule in 1950s Vietnam. Ever since the People’s Army defeated the French Expeditionary Forces at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954, the Vietnamese government has celebrated 1954 as the year of national liberation and made the once-obscure town central to its revolutionary mythology. Yet fetishizing rupture belies how the celebrated battlefield was and remained a hub for an opium regime spanning a post/colonial divide.

Exploring resonances where officials have talked of rupture, the talk traces the remaking of rule and the making of national subjects from the embers of colonialism. French and Vietnamese tax records, official reports, and market studies show remarkable continuities governing agrarian relations of land, labor, and capital. Following colonial precedent, the national state encouraged smallholder opium production and instituted a monopoly on the crop’s purchase, trade, and tax. Just as before, buying and taxing opium upstream and then channeling it downstream into state coffers and morphine manufactories was no simple task. Undercut by smuggling into and out of China and Laos, the Democratic Republic’s monopoly spawned official corruption and resulted in fraught negotiations with growers ultimately backed by force. National opium politics combined relations of production and rule into a potent mix, contributing towards a millenarian movement that peaked in 1957. Cultivating subjects threw issues of citizenship and property into sharp relief by querying the terms of nation-hood, offering alternatives, and provoking an armed response.

November 22, 2013 – Dacil Quang Keo

PhD candidate, Department of Political Science, UW-Madison

Title To Be Announced

November 29, 2013 – No Friday Forum, Thanksgiving

December 6, 2013 – Alexander R. Arifianto

Ph.D. Postdoctoral Research Fellow Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies University of Notre Dame

“Faith, Moral Authority, and Politics: The Making of Progressive Islam in Indonesia”
Several Islamic organizations in the world, including in Indonesia have experienced major changes in their theological frames and political identities away from fundamentalist/revivalist political theology to one that embraces a “progressive” Islamic theology that supports democracy, human rights, and religious tolerance, and is based on both classical Islamic thought and Western political philosophy. What are the factors that help lead these groups to pursue these theological changes? Who are the actors that promoted these changes? What cultural and institutional factors help to make these changes happen?

Using constructivist international relations theory, I argue that Islamic groups are able to change their theological frames and political identities if the changes are promoted by religious leaders with ‘moral authority’ status who are using both ideational and instrumental strategies to reconstruct the theological frames of their organizations. In addition to charismatic ‘moral authority’ leaders, other influential variables that also affect the likelihood of a theological change within Islamic groups are the institutional culture of the organization, the lack of a strong theological opposition within the group, and the relationship between the Islamic group and the state.


2013 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 25, 2013 – R. Anderson Sutton

Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Centripetal and Centrifugal Musical Fusions in Indonesia: Dwiki Dharmawan’s Cosmopolitan Regionalism”
In 1975 Guruh Soekarnoputra, son of Indonesia’s first president, stunned Indonesia’s young elite with a cassette album that seemingly looked forward and backward, outward and inward at the same time, celebrating Indonesia’s age-old regional musical traditions while mixing them with Western-style pop, jazz, and art music. Taking Guruh’s lead and moving from his sensational start as a jazz keyboardist, Dwiki Dharmawan, in a variety of musical endeavors, has, Professor Sutton contends, done more to constitute a range of “Indonesian” musical practices than Guruh or any other of his compatriots. This talk outlines Dwiki’s diverse musical output in light of the verbal discourses around his music. The music ranges from his long-standing ethno-jazz-pop fusion group Krakatau (consisting of jazz musicians from his earlier jazz-fusion group), collaborations with Islamic pop musicians (Hadad Alwi and Rafli), and a highly fluid music project he calls “The Soul of Indonesia” (which has included rock musicians Dewa Budjana and Indra in a 2009 touring version, and a large Western orchestra and Balinese gamelan performing in Indonesia in 2008). The verbal discourses include album liner notes, print and digital commentary, and the multiple conversations Professor Sutton has been having with Dwiki and his colleagues since 1999. What emerges–and what challenges us to rethink the standard notion of neat pockets of local gamelan and other styles, securely wedded to their places of origi–is a newly complex view of how musicians in Indonesia are interacting with one another, and how they engage the cosmopolitan world, both within Indonesia and beyond.

February 1, 2013 – Peter Vandergeest

Geography, York University, Toronto

“A Cultural Politics of Agrarian Conservation in Thailand”
This talk takes up the cultural politics of collaboration between NGOs and farmers active in the Thai alternative agriculture movement on one hand, and some government agencies on the other hand. Influential cultural conservatives in government positions have found in the work of the alternative agriculture movement common cause in preserving rural communities, increasing farmer self-sufficiency, and moderating desires for addictive consumer good and chemical inputs. Some of the key projects around which they have collaborated include the promotion of organic agriculture, and the conservation of traditional rice varieties. The broader interest in conservation also helps to explain why improved traditional varieties have remained dominant in Thailand, as opposed to modern or hybrid varieties that dominate elsewhere, and related unique characteristics Thailand’s agrarian sector. However, the collaborations among conservatives and NGOs have also led to tension and seemingly contradictory politics as will be discussed in the presentation.

February 8, 2013 – Dr. Michael Cullinane

Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Kinsa si Juan Diyong? The 1814-15 Uprising in Cebu: Rural Uprising or First Salvo in the Augustinian-Chinese Mestizo Conflict, 1820-1850?”
This talk focuses on an uprising presumably against the Spanish authorities in Cebu in 1814-15, led by an obscure native, Juan Diyong. The causes of the uprising, even the targets of the discontent, are concealed in local legends, hagiographic accounts of missionaries, and Spanish investigations conducted shortly after the upheaval. The presentation attempts to unravel these narratives and, in so doing, argues that this seemingly anti-Spanish uprising was in fact the first salvo in an intense struggle (1820-1850) between a resurgent Augustinian missionary project based at the Convento de Santo Niño in Cebu City and the leaders of the wealthy and powerful Chinese mestizo community of the city’s Parian. All these events will be interpreted within the larger context of a significant decline in Spanish hegemony in the central Visayas and northern Mindanao in the second half of the 18th century (la retirada) and a reassertion of Spanish dominance in this region at the start of the 19th century (la reconquista).

February 15, 2013 – Joshua Gedacht

Doctoral Candidate, History Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Islamic-Imperial Encounters: Colonial Warfare, Coercive Cosmopolitanism, and Religious Reform in Southeast Asia-1801-1901”
These conflicting pressures beg the question: why did Islamic cosmopolitanism take root in some Southeast Asian locations, but not others? My dissertation argues that colonial violence, and specifically, variations in the degree, intensity, and duration of that violence, played a determinative role in orienting religious ethics toward either the global umma or ethnic particularism. Drawing from documents collected during fieldwork across three continents, this presentation will focus on a comparison of two colonial wars of conquest against Muslims: the Padri War in West Sumatra (1801-1839) and the Dutch-Aceh War (1873-1901) in Aceh. Specifically, I examine how advancements in technology, variations in local political dynamics, and shifts in colonial objectives structured not only the conduct of war itself, but also the subsequent development of outward-looking religious reform movements. In West Sumatra, colonial military weakness and a pre-imperial mindset allowed Dutch officials to reach out to potential Muslim allies, in the process providing the space necessary for the development of a vibrant, autonomous Islamic reform movement. Fifty years later, paradoxically, the illusion of martial supremacy and mounting imperial bellicosity drove the Dutch to forsake potential Acehnese Muslim allies in favor of destructive total warfare, in the process suffocating nascent reform movements. In sum, this presentation will contribute to our understanding of how the complex and multifarious nature of colonial conquest impacted Islamic reform movements in Sumatra during the nineteenth century.

February 22, 2013 – Noah Theriault

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The Dreams of Others: Palawan Ethics and the Fantasies of Environmental Government”
How do invisible beings in the forested hinterlands complicate the work of bureaucrats in the capital? What do dreams and the beings who visit them have to do with state power? Questions such as these remain marginal to the study of statecraft and state-minority relations. They should, however, be taken seriously, especially as an increasing number of states seek to “co-manage” frontier landscapes in cooperation with indigenous and minority groups. Observers of this trend are well acquainted with the “unruly subjects” who complicate the plans of neoliberal government, but we are only beginning to ponder how extra-human forms of agency, such as invisible forest people, might do the same. In this talk, Mr. Theriault advocates a more ontologically diversified understanding of how governmental authority is (dis)assembled in contexts of difference. His argument arises from ethnographic fieldwork on Palawan Island in the Philippines, where post-authoritarian reforms have made indigenous rights a central concern in environmental regulation. Officials there have sought to employ the indigenous Palawan ethic of restraint as a conduit for biodiversity conservation. Their ethic, however, is based on relations with invisible beings who, acting through dreams and other mediums, often defy the expectations of bureaucratic regulation. What results is better described as misunderstanding or distrust than as a tidy population of eco-subjects or an empowering devolution of authority. To better understand the operation of neoliberal government—and to hold it accountable to its goal of local empowerment—we should, the talk argues, attend more carefully to the ontological diversity of forces that shape social and ecological processes.

March 1, 2013 – Tania Li

Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto

“Involution’s Dynamic Other: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier”
Many scholars have debated Geertz’s characterization of Java as a site of social and economic involution, in which impoverished peasants worked ever harder to achieve static results. Fewer have taken up his characterization of Indonesia’s Outer Islands as a zone of extremes – islands of export production surrounded by “a broad sea of essentially unchanging swidden making.” The image, shared by the contemporary indigenous rights movement, suggests that change arrives among indigenous people living in remote areas from an alien source (e.g. globalization, corporate investment). Drawing on her ethnographic research in Sulawesi and comparative material from across the Southeast Asian region, Tania Li examines the emergence of capitalist relations among indigenous people in frontier areas, and explains why these zones have a more dynamic character than has been recognized thus far.

March 8, 2013 – Nancy Smith-Hefner

Professor of Anthropology, Boston University

“The Gender Paradox: KAMMI Women and the Appeal of Conservative Islam”
Like many other Muslim-majority countries, Indonesia has in recent years witnessed the relative decline of ulama authority in the defining of gender roles. More generally, the country has witnessed the pluralization and individualization of gender models, not least of all with regard to women’s education, romance, sexuality, and family relations. A core ideal, however, has continued to influence public discussions of these gender matters. The ideal is that, however much Muslims accommodate new models of gender and the individual, these models must still be legitimated with reference to a putatively authentic Islam. In this presentation, Professor Smith-Hefner examines this ethical tension by way of the lives and experience of young Indonesian women affiliated with the Muslim-Brotherhood-influenced, moderate Islamist group known as KAMMI. The critical dependency of social and ethical ideals on legitimation with reference to an authentic Islam has guaranteed that the new and individualizing currents in gender culture as in other aspects of Islamic ethical culture have been regularly subjected to argument and challenge. The challenge is by no means just a matter of explosive public argument and political campaigns, but has reached into the most intimate and personal domains of everyday life.

March 15, 2013 – Pavin Chachavalpongpun

Associate Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University

“Après Moi, le Déluge: The Monarchy and Thai Politics Since the 2006 Coup”
The military staged a coup in 2006 overthrowing the elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra. This was the 18th coup since Thailand abolished the absolute monarchy in 1932. Although the military’s intervention in politics is not uncommon in Thailand, the 2006 coup has generated a different impact. The coup that was meant to protect the political interests of the military and to safeguard the royal prerogatives gave birth to an anti-establishment movement whose members identify themselves in red shirts. That coup, initially staged to solidify the monarchy’s position in politics, also stirred up an anti-monarchy reaction among many Thais. They became aware of the extent to which the monarchy had long been actively involved in politics, with the backing of the army, despite its confined role under the constitution. 

While many Thais tend to concentrate on Thaksin’s authoritarian behaviour and his corrupt policies as the root causes of the Thai crisis, Professor Chachavalpongpun argues that, based on the above context, the monarchical institution has played a large part in instigating and deepening the political conflict and that blaming Thaksin alone would be immeasurably misleading. Not just Thaksin, but the Thai monarch is an equally divisive figure. The monarchy has increasingly become estranged with the ongoing democratisation. In fact, it has acted as an obstacle to the country’s democratic development. The military, in the meantime, has continued to take advantage of the crisis it created, and at times has exploited the monarchy, in order to ensure its position in politics, with the support of the royalists. The brutal crackdowns on the red shirts at Rachaprasong from April-May 2010 which produced up to 100 deaths and the multiplying cases of lèse-majesté demonstrated the extent to which violence and law have become important instruments in the elimination of those threatening the interests of the establishment.

Professor Chachavalpongpun will discuss Thailand’s political developments since the military coup of 2006 with a special emphasis on the role of the monarchy in the current crisis.

March 22, 2013 – No Friday Forum, AAS Meetings

March 29, 2013 – No Friday Forum, Spring Break

April 5, 2013 – Kikue Hamayotsu

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Northern Illinois University

“Testing Religious Intolerance and Quality of Democracy in Indonesia: Comparative Cases from West Java”
The growing incidence of violence and intolerance against religious minorities in Indonesia, both Muslim and non-Muslim, poses a serious threat to the constitutional rights of freedom and quality of democracy in the country. What explains the growing incidence of violence against religious minorities in Indonesia in recent years? Conventional explanations broadly fall under the following two categories: (1) weak and corrupt state security apparatuses and their close relations with Islamic hardliners; and (2) the political use of religion by opportunistic political elites in the context of decentralized elections.

Based on fieldwork and comparative case studies conducted in various localities in West Java, I test those contending claims. The case study of anti-Ahmadiyah violence in the province of West Java shows that these two factors are not sufficient in explaining significant variation in anti-minority violence across regions. Instead, this paper finds that the varying outcomes of anti-minority violence in the region are shaped by decentralized religious authority and institutions, as well as competition among various religious organizations over religious authority and political power.

April 12, 2013 – Ian Baird

Assistant Professor of Geography, UW-Madison

“Presenting a Sensitive History: Different Representations of Hmong Involvement in the Communist Party of Thailand”
Between the late 1960s and the 1980s, large numbers of Hmong joined the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) and fought against the Royal Thai Army. Despite the importance of Hmong involvement in the CPT in northern Thailand, surprisingly little has been written about their crucial role in the CPT. In the early years after the CPT disintegrated as a result of battlefield defeats, internal conflicts, discontinuation of support from China, and the general amnesty in 1981, a lack of reporting about the role of the Hmong in the CPT might be explained by continued political sensitivities. Recently, however, the Hmong people become more interested in telling their story, and to advocate for land rights based on past CPT involvement. 

Here, I compare information collected from former Hmong CPT members in Thailand in 2012 with two filmic representations of Hmong involvement with the CPT. The first is a 2010 Hmong language documentary, Hmoob Thaib Keeb Kwm: Kob Rog 1968-1987. The second is a 2012 full-length historical fiction movie in Thai and Hmong (with Thai sub-titles) called Blood for Freedom. Through considering different representations of Hmong involvement in the CPT, one can see how history is much more than simply clarifying and presenting facts. Rather, I argue that Hmong involvement in the CPT is being represented in quite different ways depending on the presenters, the political context, and the intended audience. Indeed, history is never neutral or apolitical.

April 19, 2013 – Yves Goudineau

Director of EFEO (Ecol Francaise d’Extreme-Orient)
Note Time and Room Change: 11:00AM Pyle Center!! 

“The Invention of a Multiethnic Heritage in Laos”
The multiethnic nature of the nation has long been part of the official discourse in Laos. However, when referring to a national culture, it seemed until recently as if Lao historical heritage had to be its only foundation. Prior to the organization by Unesco in 1996 of an international conference in Vientiane aimed at underlining the importance of the local cultures and of the different ethnic minority heritages in Laos, this issue was generally ignored and not discussed. Local folklore was showcased, mostly songs and dances, but many aspects of village social organization and belief were regarded as backward and superstitious. By contrast, Lao PDR nowadays declares the importance of “the fine cultures and traditions of all ethnic groups.” Several provincial museums devoted to local popular culture have been recently created and about five-hundred villages across the country have been awarded the status of “cultural villages.” Still, one can wonder, what is the local or multiethnic cultural heritage that is supposed to be preserved. In the last two decades, economic and social constraints, administrative pressures and resettlement processes with the grouping of different ethnic minorities together have deeply undermined the former ways of village life, with considerable losses in terms of specific social dynamics and ritual practices. As a result, most of the so-called local cultures tend to be a negotiated mix between the villagers’ self-presentation (some ethnic groups being better prepared for that than others) and the borrowing of Lao cultural norms strongly encouraged by provincial officials. If ethnography can provide relevant comparison with ancient village cultural patterns, history must help to put the issue of ethnic and multiethnic heritage into perspective.

April 26, 2013 – Michael Laffan

Professor of History, Princeton University

“At Sea with Sayyid `Alawi: The Life and Times of a Yemeni Mystic in Java and South Africa”
This presentation seeks to unite the Javanese and and South African experiences of an itinerant Arab teacher of the 18th century, the opaquely named Sayyid Alawi, questioning the nature of his teachings and influence as well as exploring the ways in which his memory has been successively used by the Muslims of Cape Town after manumission in the early 19th century.

May 3, 2013 – Christopher Sneddon

Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies, Dartmouth

“From the ‘Mekong Spirit’ to ‘Our Mekong’: Identity, Geopolitics and Technical Knowledge in the Making of a River Basin”
In what sense is a river basin constructed through both ideological and material processes? Dr. Sneddon explores this question by tracing the genealogy of two “basin narratives” in the Mekong River system from early interventions by water resource experts in the 1950s to more recent efforts by grassroots and regional advocacy networks to re-imagine a Mekong-based identity. He draws on maps and other kinds of “inscriptions” to show how the scalar configuration that eventually became the “Mekong basin” was forged within a very specific set of geopolitical and developmental agendas—in oftentimes contradictory ways—that only partially reflect the complex socio-ecological networks encompassing livelihoods, biophysical dynamics and the interrelations between the two in large river systems. He also considers the possibilities of a radical scalar politics in the basin that incorporates a “Mekong identity” into the complex interactions among present-day geopolitics, development agendas and scalar representations of the basin. In the hopes of provoking further discussion of what is a neglected dimension of the intriguing and growing work on water and scale, he explores whether or not a scalar categorization originally defined by developmental agendas can be re-scaled and re-articulated as an emancipatory political project.

2012 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 7, 2012 – Thongchai Winichakul

Professor, Department of History, UW-Madison

“Christian Missions, Comparative Religions, and Buddhist Superiority in Siam, 1850s-1950s”
The formulation of Buddhist superiority in Siam was achieved through 1) debates/reactions against the attacks on Buddhism by Christian, especially Catholic, missions, and 2) the developing discourse (eventually a formal study) of comparative religions. The photo (on the flyer) is the cover of a highly infamous and controversial book in Siam by a Catholic archbishop of Siam. First written in the late 1840s, it became the prototype of the vicious slander/criticism on Buddhism. There were 4-5 rounds of attacks across 100+ years.

September 14, 2012 – Elizabeth Drexler

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Michigan State University

“Fatal Knowledges: The Legacies of Collaboration and Betrayal in East Timor”
Violence in East Timor, which was occupied by Indonesia between 1975 and 1999, has been examined and narrated by a range of tribunals and commissions, but its legacies continue to challenge legal accountability, the legitimacy of post-conflict institutions, the writing of public histories, and the rebuilding of the social fabric in both Indonesia and independent Timor Leste. Analysis of surreal short fiction by Indonesian author Seno Gumira Ajidarma suggests how particular kinds of knowledge, even when acknowledged, may haunt post conflict landscapes becoming fatal to individuals, institutions and social trust in the aftermath of transitional justice processes.

September 21, 2012 – John Amos Marston

Professor, Center for Asian and African Studies, Colegio de Mexico

“The Construction of a New Relic Stupa in Cambodia ”
This talk describes the massive celebrations which took place in Cambodia in 1957, the year 2500 in the Buddhist calendar, considered the half-way point in the current Buddhist era. The occasion included the bringing of Buddha relics from Sri Lanka to be installed in a new stupa in front of the Phnom Penh railway station. The talk will discuss how the celebrations relate to prophecy and, at the same time, to emerging national identity soon after French colonialism ended in Cambodia.

September 28, 2012 – Robert Hefner

Professor of Anthropology, Boston University

“Whatever Happened to Civil Islam? Democracy and Violence in Contemporary Indonesia”
In the mid-to-late 1990s Indonesia witnessed one of the largest and most intellectually sophisticated movements for democratic reform ever seen in the Muslim-majority world. Yet since the early 2000s, this Southeast Asian country has been plagued by social violence, the most recent form of which has involved attacks on religious minorities and non-conformist Muslims. Reflecting on the promise and pitfalls of Indonesian democratization over the past 15 years, this paper asks, What happened to Indonesia’s civic-pluralist Islamic tradition? And why has democratization in Indonesia continued to be afflicted by violence in the name of religion?

October 5, 2012 – Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung

Associate Professor, Political Science Department, University of Massachusetts

“Coping with Daily Life in Myanmar [Burma]: Strategies and Implications”
This talk will examine various widespread and regularized adaptive strategies adopted by individuals, households, and communities in Myanmar, and will demonstrate that not all locally initiated strategies for daily survival and for addressing individual and collective needs lead to the promotion of trust, autonomy, collective welfare, or democratic culture. Most of these efforts are responses by individuals, households, communities, and organizations to manage, evade, or take advantage of constraints and opportunities that are often specific to local areas and may have long-term detrimental effects on society, polity, and the economy. This research highlights the utility of applying interdisciplinary and holistic lenses to assess political implications, and recommends context-specific policies that are more sensitive to the needs of targeted populations.

October 12, 2012 – Susan Russell

Professor of Anthropology, Northern Illinois University

“Civil Society and the Conflicts of Peacebuilding in Northern Mindanao”
Despite cheery pronouncements put forward for the media, the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are essentially stalled since the collapse of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in August 2008. This talk compares the different goals and strategies of ‘cultural empowerment’ among Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples’ grassroots peacebuilding efforts in northern Mindanao. These efforts by NGOs and peoples’ organizations have revived ancient practices of establishing ritualized peace pacts and kinship ties between communities in conflict.

October 19, 2012 – Michael Herzfeld

Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University

“A Miniature Polity: Heritage and the Search for Social Justice in a Bangkok Community”
The Pom Mahakan community (Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok) has now been fighting for two decades against a constant threat of collective eviction. They have exhausted their legal resources but the authorities have hesitated to move decisively against them, in part because of internal divisions within the bureaucratic structures of state and municipality; moreover, they have reworked official heritage discourse to advance their cause. In this talk, I suggest that both local and international concepts of social justice would be best served by a resolution that recognizes the broad land-sharing plan advocated by the residents.

October 26, 2012 – Florentino Rodao

Professor of Asian History, Complutense University of Madrid

“Francoists Against Franco: An Alternative History of the Spanish Civil War As Fought in the Philippines”
The Spanish Civil War of the 1930s reverberated strongly within the Philippine Commonwealth, which was a transitional regime on a ten-year path to independence from U.S. colonial rule. Not only did Manila’s powerful Spanish community suffer a marked loss of political influence (due in part to the new fascist party, the Falange, which challenged the old oligarchy’s power), but Hispanism as a cultural option for a future Philippine Republic lost legitimacy–in part because Manila’s Spanish mestizos embraced Franco’s fascism and its allies in the right-wing of the Catholic church. The impact of the Spanish War in the Philippines, then, is a case study that allows us to better understand, first, the role of the Spanish global diaspora in supporting Franco’s revolt against the Spanish Republic and second, the overwhelming influence of Washington in the Philippines after independence, since Hispanism lost its previous role as a potent cultural counterweight to the Americans and their ‘Anglo-Saxon’ culture.

November 2, 2012 – Charnvit Kasetsiri

Visiting Professor, Cornell University

“Cambodia-Thailand Relations: The Questions of the Preah Vihear Temple and a Clash of Two Nationalisms”
This talk will briefly explore conflicts between Thailand and Cambodia, clashes between their brands of nationalism, and the question of war and peace. Citing the example of the July 2008 registration by UNESCO of the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site belonging to Cambodia, Prof. Charnvit argues that history has been distorted for Thailand’s domestic politics. The second proposal to set up an ASEAN Eco-Cultural Trans-Boundary World Heritage site was designed to foster close cooperation and collaboration at the Temple site, with the administration done by ASEAN.

November 9, 2012 – Ian Lowman, American Council of Learned Societies

New Faculty Fellow, Languages and Cultures of Asia, UW-Madison

“Sanskrit and Ethnicity in Angkorian Cambodia”
Historians of early South and Southeast Asia have tended to treat the region’s Sanskrit political culture as incompatible with the politics of ethnicity. Where universal kingship was the only ideal and loyalties of patron-client, sect, and family were the only political reality, there was no room for ethnicity, or what Sheldon Pollock calls “the political salience of fictive kin group sentiment.” Angkorian Cambodia (9th-14th centuries CE)—one of the most recognizable beneficiaries of Sanskrit culture and one of the few that never developed a vernacular literary tradition—has been held up as the standard of the universalist and ethnic-blind state. Through a close reading of the Sanskrit and Old Khmer inscriptions, this talk will address the advantages and limitations of the universalist model when trying to understand the political identity of early Cambodia/Kambujadeśa: “the land of the descendants of Kambu.”

November 16, 2012 – Izak Lattu

Fulbright doctoral student Interdisciplinary Studies of Religion, Graduate Theological Union, University of California-Berkeley

“Kapata: The Role of Folksong in Malukan Indigenous Peacebuilding Process”
This lecture will examine the embodiment of social memory in folksong that bridges Christian and Muslim communities in Maluku, Indonesia. Drawing on concepts developed by memory studies, the talk will explore the narrative of Malukan folksong as a mnemonic device which works to create common place, topos, for social solidarity in Maluku. Malukans have shared communal narratives known through the idea of Nunusaku, the invisible mountain (Bartels, 1977) from which the original Malukans are believed to have come. These narratives continue to serve as a site for a collective memory, which plays an enormous role in preserving Maluku’s communal narrative and transmitting it from one generation to the next. The way the narrative remains in the heart of society is through the singing of kapata, or folksongs,  that serve as a  mnemonic of unity. Through kapata, Malukans articulate themselves as members of a single community with the spirit of the ancestors and with God. Hence, kapata covers the twofold world of the Malukans: the visible and invisible.

The cultural narrative of peace has currently come to dominate the discourse on Christian-Muslim relationships in Maluku. From 1999 to 2002, Malukans experienced violent outbreaks of conflict between Christians and Muslims. These conflicts were resolved by recollecting the communal consciousness through renewing the memory of Nunusaku as a point of common origin. Despite the differences between Christians and Muslims, it is this narrative that has helped to reunite the people.

The story of common origin and the way in which it is narrated appeals to deep inner feelings (rasa). Remembrance comes from rasa in the folksongs as the vehicle of local narrative toward peacebuilding in Maluku. So, the songs lead memory to Nunusaku as the common place, a topos of togetherness, which creates the common rasa to reinforce a strong community feeling. In short, if the identity of a community is in fact imagined, then oral collective memory founded on rasa is the spirit of Malukan identity. It is here that the engagement between Christian and Muslim finds solid ground.

November 22, 2012 – No Friday Forum, Thanksgiving

November 30, 2012 – Neal Keating

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, SUNY College at Brockport

“Indigeneity in Asia: The case of the Kuy peoples in northern Cambodia”
Indigeneity is an emergent form of transnational human rights-driven collective human identity that in the last three decades has gone global. It first emerged in the course of settler-state colonization, particularly in the Anglo-colonizations of Canada and New Zealand, finding public expression during the 1920s when Iroquois and Maori activists attempted to engage with the League of Nations with requests for recognition of their peoples as sovereign states, and for the League to intervene on their collective behalf against what they saw as unjust aggressor alien states. While these particular attempts were unsuccessful, they nevertheless mark the emergence of Indigeneity discourse, which took hold not only within the subject populations of the discourse, but also within the North Atlantic imaginations of what Shiv Visvanathan dubs “the other colonialists;” those who viewed the terrains of colonized peoples not as sites for domination and control of the other, but as possibilities for liberation and a “theatre of alternative knowledge,” and places to try out sociological experiments that had failed in the West, such as pluricultural states based on human rights. Indigeneity discourse remained largely dormant for the next 50 years, only to regain transnational traction in the 1970s, again led by peoples within settler states. Then in the 1980s and 1990s it began to travel to postcolonial Africa and Asia, and it has continued to move around the world since then. It began to take hold in Cambodia around the turn of the 21st century, although here as elsewhere its existence is highly contested. Today there are approximately 70 states within which groups claiming Indigenous identity are situated. Although there is significant variation, in none of these states does Indigeneity go uncontested.

Indigeneity poses considerable challenges to the hegemonic international system of states precisely because it calls into question the basis of what is most important to states: the maintenance of political unity and territorial integrity. While not an overtly secessionist movement, Indigeneity nevertheless implies this possibility through its basic assertions of collective rights to self-determination and to traditional lands, territories, and resources. This ontological radicality aside, Indigeneity discourse more explicitly aims at reformulations of power structures within states, and in this sense is arguably much more reformist than it is radical. Both immediately before and since the UN’s 2007 adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigeneity discourse increasingly moved into the mainstream of the international system, including UNESCO, the World Bank, the OHCHR, the ILO, INGOs, and many other transnational agencies.

In Cambodia, Indigeneity has emerged in the form of a nascent movement, that is mobilized in part by national legislation, and part by transnational actors who appear on the scene starting in the 1990s, in addition to its subject groups. However, the Cambodian state’s recognition of Indigeneity remains highly ambivalent, as it does among many Cambodian scholars, NGOs, and even Indigenous peoples themselves. In the anxieties over the identification of just who Indigenous peoples are, what often gets silenced is the question of defining the state, which is no less theoretically and historically ambivalent than a peoples. The explanation of Cambodian Indigeneity and its received ambivalence requires more than an account of the actors involved on the ground. It also requires an account of what are the historical and structural conditions of possibility of Indigeneity in the first place, and why it is happening in Cambodia now. Given that Indigeneity has historically emerged in parallel with modernist development and economic globalization, to what degree and on what scales are Indigeneity and neo-liberalism imbricated with each other? By focusing these questions through the long history of the Kuy peoples, one of the more prominent groups in the contemporary Indigenous rights movement in Cambodia, it becomes possible to map out these imbrications.

December 7, 2012 – Christopher Goscha

University of Quebec-Montreal

“Plural Vietnam? From Singularity to Plurality”
The History of Vietnam remains a prisoner of its past. Thirty years of war, much of it civil, made history a contested phenomenon for Vietnamese at odds over the present, to say nothing of the foreign powers who used history to justify their armed interventions in this country. At the same time, those writing on Vietnam in the West tend to accept that the Vietnam we see on the map today is the one that was always there or that was certainly destined to be, with the major difference being over whom should run the country.

This paper tries to suggest that it is time to step back and think about the history of this country in different ways. At the heart of this paper is the simple caveat that there has never been one Vietnam, but several remarkably varied ones, none of which was necessarily destined to “be”. Rather than focusing on the “singularity” of Vietnam’s past, this paper will investigate the plurality of Vietnam’s pasts, providing a number of examples and thoughts for how it might be able to write a different, more complicated account of this country and its peoples. After all, Vietnam has only existed in its present national form for about 82 years – never before 1802, for forty-three years in the 19th century, six months in 1945, and (as of 2012) for thirty-seven years since 1975.


2012 Spring Semester Friday Forum

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, 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.

2011 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 9, 2011 – Eunsook Jung

Assistant Professor, Department of Politics, Fairfield University

“Moderate Parties and Immoderate Outcomes: The Case of Indonesia”
Under what circumstances do Islamist political parties pursue moderation in a democratic state? And will such moderation on the part of an Islamist party serve to temper politics in a Muslim majority nation? This presentation will explore a question with global  implications by examining the impact of growing moderation by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) upon politics in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation. In this case, competition between secular and Islamist parties sustains a political climate of intolerance, blunting the impact of moves toward greater temperance by this major Muslim party.

September 16, 2011 – Phan Van Do

Project Coordinator for Madison Quakers, Inc. Humanitarian Projects in Vietnam

“Reflections on Healing in Post-war Vietnam”
Vietnamese activist Phan Van Do is a founder of the My Lai Peace Park Project and the driving force behind Madison Quaker Inc.’s humanitarian projects in Vietnam. Mr. Do will speak on the success of these projects, described by American veteran Mike Boehm as “putting bricks together in the context of evil”—notably, the construction of schools for children and ‘compassion houses’ for victims of Agent Orange, and the empowerment of women through microloans. As someone who lost many members of his own family during the Vietnam War, Phan Van Do will also tell his story of putting hatred aside to devote his life to peace and to bridging divides caused by war and atrocity. Finally, as part of this story, he describes the establishment of the My Lai Peace Park that has transformed the iconic event of the My Lai Massacre—the slaughter by US soldiers of over 400 members of one village, primarily women and children—from a symbol of horror to a means of reconciliation, and now serves as an inspiration and model for others, whether nations or individuals, seeking to overcome traumatic pasts.

September 23, 2011 – Wasan Panyagaew

Head of Centre for Research and Academic Services, Chiang Mai University

“Remembering with Respect: Tracing a cross border journey of one charismatic Lue monk
For two decades now, people’s mobility in the borderlands of the upper Mekong region has accelerated and been regulated by development projects and regional cooperation in trade and investment between China and mainland Southeast Asia, resulting in massive flows of cultures, commodities, capital and information across the relevant borders. In this talk, I will trace the cross-border journeys of one charismatic Lue monk, Khruba Khuen, or Phra Khru Veruwanpitak (1929-2005), the second Abbot of Wat Phra Buddha Bath Tak Pha in Pa Sang district, Lamphun Province in northern Thailand, which took place during such historical moments over two decades from the early 1980s to the beginning of the 21st century. The journeys and religious activities he conducted played a significant part in cultural revivalism in the region, both in his hometown in northern Thailand, and in other Tai communities in the eastern Shan state of Burma and Sipsong Panna in southern Yunnan, China. Ethnographically, I will show how Khruba Khuen’s transnational practices played a significant part in the revitalisation of Theravada Buddhism and the transportation of cultures across the borders in the borderlands of the upper Mekong.

September 30, 2011 – Gerald Fry

Distinguished International Professor, Professor of International/Intercultural Education

“‘Inscrutable’ Thailand: Thai Exceptionalism, Myth or Reality?”
Multiple theoretical and conceptual approaches provide the basic framework for this exploratory study. Those include perspectives from Said, Chomsky, Foucault, L.T. Smith, Myrdal, Deming, and Steet/Lutz/Collins. It is argued that the four areas in which Westerners are most likely to distort Thailand are politics, the monarchy, gender, and religion. Another complex issue discussed is the controversy surrounding “Thai exceptionalism”and distortions involved in this debate. The presentation concludes with a discussion of strategies for transcending misunderstanding, distortion, and misrepresentation of Thai culture and society and improving the quality of “outsider” research on Thailand.Multiple theoretical and conceptual approaches provide the basic framework for this exploratory study. Those include perspectives from Said, Chomsky, Foucault, L.T. Smith, Myrdal, Deming, and Steet/Lutz/Collins. It is argued that the four areas in which Westerners are most likely to distort Thailand are politics, the monarchy, gender, and religion. Another complex issue discussed is the controversy surrounding “Thai exceptionalism”and distortions involved in this debate. The presentation concludes with a discussion of strategies for transcending misunderstanding, distortion, and misrepresentation of Thai culture and society and improving the quality of “outsider” research on Thailand.

October 7, 2011 – Susan Darlington

Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies, Hampshire College

“Mainstreaming Ritual: The Evolution of the Thai Buddhist Environmental Movement”
The tree ordination is the quintessential symbol of the Thai Buddhist environmental movement. Since the late 1980s a small number of monks have performed these rituals in which they consecrate a tree and the surrounding forest to bring attention to environmental problems, especially concerning the forests and water, that make life difficult for Thai villagers, and by implication, for the nation as a whole. The “ordained tree” has gone through different manifestations that represent change in the forms, meanings, and control of the Buddhist environmental movement. They illustrate a general progression from an understated belief in spirits and honoring of the Buddha to ritual and symbolic invocation of the Buddha’s teachings to protect the forest and the humans who depend on its resources, often in a manner that criticizes the direction of state-led economic development. The ritual eventually became associated with the King and the state, and even incorporated within popular culture. Behind these manifestations lies a set of interrelated and contested discourses: of how Buddhism can and should be used in the modern, social world; of the goals of environmentalism and the relationship between humans and the natural world; of the meaning of “development,” and the related tensions between material growth and spiritual progress as measures of improving the lives of Thai citizens; of concepts of power and knowledge, and the construction and appropriation of new forms of knowledge, including interpretations of Buddhism itself.

October 14, 2011 – Nam Kim

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, UW-Madison

“Legend, History, and Archaeology: Co Loa and Emergent Statehood in Ancient Vietnam”
Millennia after original construction, the earthen ramparts of the Co Loa site located in northern Vietnam still remain standing today, a silent reminder of a powerful society. Believed by many to be an ancient capital of proto-Vietnamese civilization, Co Loa was purportedly founded during the closing centuries BC. Scholarship regarding its establishment as a seat of power has been based conventionally on a blend of oral traditions, folklore, and historical accounts. In recent years, archaeological investigations have helped to enhance our understanding of the site and of the florescence of social complexity and centralized authority in the region. Findings from recent archaeological fieldwork suggest that an early, state-level polity was responsible for Co Loa’s monumental system of earthen ramparts. Excavations focused on the site’s fortification features indicate significant political consolidation was necessary for construction. These findings have broad implications for both Vietnamese history as well as cross-cultural theories pertaining to the formation of ancient states.

October 21, 2011 – Nancy Buenger

Visiting Assistant Professor, Legal Studies, College of Letters and Science, and Fellow, Institute for Legal Studies, Law School, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Looking Beyond the Law’s Letter: The Philippines and U.S. Statecraft, 1900 – 1920”
The US occupation of the Philippines is often analyzed in the context of constitutional law, particularly the failure of the Bill of Rights to follow the American flag. But US Philippine lawmakers relied on a jurisprudence that lay beyond the law’s letter: equity. A Roman canonical heritage, Thomas Aquinas described equity as the virtue of setting aside the fixed letter of the law to expediently secure substantive justice and the common good. In summary, juryless equity proceedings, courts can craft discretionary remedies from the dictates of conscience and alternative legal traditions—such as foreign precedent, natural law, ecclesiastical decrees, or public policy—rather than the law’s letter. Spanish and Anglo American courts have long invoked equity/equidad when administering semi-sovereign populations, at home and abroad. This presentation will consider how equity fostered transnational exchange as well as US expansion. American jurists described Manila as an intercontinental hub for streams of legal ideas. Insular litigation, observed a US colonial advisor, would promote greater attention to equity on the mainland, impressing the United States with “a more liberal conception of our duties as a nation.”

November 1, 2011 – Pavin Chachavalpongpun

Fellow, Regional Strategic and Political Studies (RSPS), ASEAN Studies Centre (ASC), Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

“Thailand’s July 2011 Election: The Re-Thaksinisation of Politics?”
Five years ago, on 19 September 2006, the military staged a coup which overthrew the elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra. Tanks rolled on the streets of Bangkok. Some Thais were seen offering flowers to the so-called patriotic soldiers. They accused Thaksin of triggering the worst crisis in the country’s history. But little did they know that the coup that was supposed to kill the “Thaksin disease” was indeed another kind of disease that was to severely demoralise Thai democracy. The traditional elite thought that they were successful in deracinating Thaksin’s political influence by launching an unlawful coup. But five years on, in 2011, Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, came to power through the legitimate electoral process. Not only did they fail to eliminate Thaksin, the military and the old establishment together have further intensified the crisis. Violent confrontations have become a feature of Thai politics.

The July election witnessed the homecoming of the Shinawatras. While new Prime Minister Yingluck has been overly careful not to upset her enemies in high places, she is clearly pushing her own political agenda at the behest of her brother. A series of populist programmes à la Thaksin have resumed. She has gradually appointed a number of red shirt members in her cabinet. She has also been determined to mend Thailand’s ties with Cambodia, damaged by the Thai nationalists who also declared themselves royalists. Yingluck might be Thaksin’s puppet, but she has played her own game of leadership. The latest polls reveal that Yingluck is more popular than both Prime Ministers Thaksin and Abhisit. Since the Pheu Thai Party won a landslide election in July 2011, Thailand has witnessed the re-Thaksinisation of politics. Yet, the return of the “Thaksin’s disease” is likely to outrage the traditional elite. Pavin’s talk will focus on a myriad of obstacles for the Yingluck administration which arrive with the re-Thaksinisation of politics, including the renewed attempts of the military to intervene in politics, the politicisation of the monarchy, and the exploitation of lèse-majesté law which has emerged as a weapon to undermine political opponents.

Note Date, Time and Location Change! Tuesday, November 1, 2011. 7:00 pm, 206 Ingraham Hall

November 4, 2011 – Jeff Samuels

Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Western Kentucky University

“Seeking Unity, Seeking Legitimacy: Buddhism as an Alternative Source of Citizenship in Malay-Muslim Malaysia”
Leading up to and following the birth of the modern nation state of Malaysia, policies were enacted to ensure the preeminence of Malay Muslims over other ethnic communities.  Such policies were tolerated at first; however, they were soon challenged by non-Malay communities seeking equal treatment with regard to the economy, education, and religion.  Given certain “security-related” restrictions that were subsequently enacted to prevent challenges to the state and state policies, ethnic minority communities in Malaysia had to turn elsewhere to seek a sense of belonging.

This paper examines the role that Buddhism plays among Chinese communities seeking legitimacy in Malaysia.  I explore the role that Buddhism, as a world religion, plays in drawing together disparate Chinese communities in Malaysia and linking them to wider transnational networks.   Turning to the more recent proliferation of pan-Buddhist societies and religious ecumenical organizations, I discuss how Buddhism provides minority communities with a more flexible sense of citizenship that enables them to coexist with and/or challenge the Malaysian ethnocracy and Islamization.

November 11, 2011 – Kathryn Robinsin

Anthropology and RSPAS at Australian National University

“Modalities of propagation of Islam in the Sulawesi interior: lessons for understanding Islamisation in eastern Indonesia?”
The people of the mountainous interior of Sulawesi (Indonesia), at the confluence of the contemporary borders of South, Southeast and Central Sulawesi, were connected by trade in jungle products, as well as iron ore and weapons, to coastal sultanates that embraced Islam from the 15th century (Ternate) to the 17the century (Luwu). However, they retained distinctive local identities and did not embrace Islam until the region came under Dutch control in the early twentieth century. Anthony Johns wrote in 1975 that there was little written about the modality of spread of Islam in the Indonesian archipelago. Scholarship since then has filled some of this the gap in knowledge, but has revealed diversity in the modalities of the propagation of Islam and its social and political effects. Accounts of the (relatively late) spread of Islam in South Sulawesi, in Bugis and Makassarese communities, have focused on the role of trade as well as political elites, Islamic institutions and also textual traditions. This paper explores the manner of Islamic conversion in the villages on the shores of Lake Matano at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the intensification of piety linked to the Darul Islam rebellion post-Indonesian independence. How does this local history of Islam, and the forms of everyday religious practice that have emerged relate to the current response in these communities to the national move to intensification of everyday religiosity? The paper draws on fieldwork in the mining town of Sorowako, South Sulawesi from 1976 to the present, as well as historical sources. It will bring a comparative perspective from the emerging research findings of an Australian research Council –funded project ‘Being Muslim in eastern Indonesia’ in progress at the Australian National University, on which Robinson is Chief Investigator.

November 18, 2011 – Tomas Ryska

Fulbright fellow, Anthropology. University of California, Berkeley

“Learning to be a Chao Khao: Ethnography of Akha education through Christian Children’s Home in contemporary Thailand”
Christian-based development organizations dramatically increased their activities in Northern Thailand from the mid-1990s on. Over the past 15 years, dozens of Christian children’s homes have been founded, enabling Akha children and other mountain ethnic minority groups to obtain education at urban state schools. However a high percentage of young mountain dwellers living in these development institutions do not complete their education and drop out of school prematurely. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural capital, symbolic violence and habitus in conjunction with Appadurai’s concept of imagined worlds, this talk describes the three worlds that generate the dispositions of Akha children, which help us better understand the resistance students from Christian Homes employ: the Akha parents and village, the Christian children’s home, and the state as represented by the school system.

December 2, 2011 – Ian Baird

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The Monks and the Hmong: The Special Relationship between the Chao Fa and the Tham Krabok Buddhist Temple in Saraburi Province, Thailand”
The Tham Krabok temple in Saraburi Province, central Thailand is the home of an unusual Buddhist order, one that was founded by a female, Mian Parnchand, a self-professed Bhikkhuni commonly known as ‘Luang Por Yai,’ and was led by her nephew, an undercover Thai policeman-turned-monk, Luang Por Chamroon Parnchand, and his younger brother, Charoen Parnchand. The temple is best known for treating large numbers of drug addicts over more than half a century, and for being the home for large numbers of Hmong people from Laos during the 1980s and 1990s, until the majority were accepted as political refugees in the USA and elsewhere in 2004. Although Wat Tham Krabok (WTK) is well-known for supporting the Hmong, most observers have little understanding about the special relationship between the Hmong—particularly those led by Chao Fa leader Pa Kao Her—and WTK. In this presentation I explain the circumstances that led to the development of this relationship between two unorthodox religious movements, including the history of WTK and how Hmong political refugees from Laos came to become closely linked to the temple through anti-communist militant resistance and violence while the monks there maintained strict Buddhist practices, including not using any form of transportation other than walking.

December 9, 2011 – Kobayashi Satoru

Assistant Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University

“Sima and Barami: Rethinking Cambodian Syncretism through Buddhist Institutions”
The ancient people of Cambodia are believed to have created a distinctive culture in the Southeast Asian monsoon zone, receiving the great Indian traditions of Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism. After most of the population came to believe Theravada Buddhism in by the 13th century, Buddhist culture then experienced French colonial rule and the process of modern nation-state building. More recently, Cambodian Buddhism suffered complete cessation under the totalitarian rule of Democratic Kampuchea during 1975-79. However, Cambodian people restarted their Buddhist activities just after the fall of DK regime. The distinguishing characteristics of the cultural substratum that had formed within its unique natural and historical environments can be observed in diverse ways at present. In this talk, I examine processes of establishing various Buddhist institutions in contemporary rural Cambodia, and explore how the local usage of Buddhist concepts – sima and barami (boundary and benevolent power)– reflect their trans-boundary imagination of their own religious tradition.

2011 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 28, 2011 – Paul Hutchcroft

Professor of Political and Social Change and Founding Director of the School of International, Political and Strategic Change, Australian National University

“Linking Capital and Countryside: Patronage and Clientelism in Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines”
Through a comparison of Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines–three Asian polities with well-developed systems of patronage politics–this presentation will examine the degree to which patronage structures provide a critical “political cement” between national and local levels. The relative importance of patronage as a territorial glue, I argue, relates to the nature of the broader institutional context, most importantly linkages between national bureaucracies and local government units as well as linkages that can be provided by coherent and well-institutionalized national political parties.

February 4, 2011 – Jennifer S. Esperanza

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Beloit College

“Carving Culture, Carving the Cosmopolitan in Bali, Indonesia”
In recent decades, Bali has served as an important source for international wholesalers and retailers in search of inexpensive, mass-produced handicrafts. Taking advantage of this new economic opportunity, some woodcarvers have diversified their repertoire to produce the ethnic arts of foreign cultures. This presentation will examine the impact the ethnic arts industry has had on the village of Tegallalalang, where African masks, Native American totem poles and Australian dijeridu are a few of the popular ethnic objects produced and sold for export. Using ethnographic data, I will argue that the export handicrafts industry serves as a platform from which Balinese can assert cosmopolitan, global and modern identities for themselves, in ways that the tourism industry has not accomplished.

February 11, 2011 – Ian Coxhead

Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

“Baby Tigers on Steroids: Indonesia, Vietnam and the Global Economy”
Indonesia and Vietnam have grown robustly through the global financial crisis, even as their regional neighbors slipped into recession. This continues a long run of GDP expansion that has seen Vietnam join, and Indonesia consolidate its position in, the ranks of the middle-income economies. These are tremendous achievements, but what is the basis of this growth and can it be maintained into the future? Each country has its own story, but in each case there are reasons to believe that the momentum of growth will be hard to sustain without significant changes in economic policy and development strategy.

February 18, 2011 – Kevin Woods

Ph.D. Student of Environmental Science, Management and Policy (ESPM), Society and Environment Division, UC Berkeley

“Modernizing’ Land Politics: Emerging Agribusiness Trends in Post-Election Burma”
Since post-Nargis reconstruction efforts and the recent national election, land and agriculture in Burma are becoming redefined by fantasies of modernization and mechanization, pushed by the regime leaders and spearheaded by the military’s preferred Burmese businessmen. Following previous socialist peasant crop campaigns, the government has liberalized their approach to reach export quotas and meet domestic demand by dispossessing peasants of their swidden land in order to carve out large-scale agricultural concessions to Burmese business/political elite, backed by illicit revenue streams and transnational investment. This newest wave of enclosure reflects racial and geo-political histories, with marked differences in agricultural development trajectories for Burman Burmese in the heartland versus restive ethnic populations along the frontiers. While businessmen explore contract farming arrangements for Burman Burmese in the Delta, military commanders confiscate Kachin and Shan mountains and villages in northern Burma who then hire Burman Burmese migrant laborers. The power of these constructed industrial landscapes is in the material politics they paint, which is exactly what the country’s post-election political façade tries to erase from view.

February 25, 2011 – No Friday Forum

March 4, 2011 – Leif Jonsson

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University

“Wartime Identities and National Scholarly Frameworks:  Northern Laos and the Long 1970s”
Research with US-based refugee immigrants from Laos is faced with multiple legacies of war. One of them is ethnographic; characterizations of the Iu Mien or the Hmong are entangled in national frameworks and debates – American, Japanese, French, German, Thai, etc. The recent characterization of mainland Southeast Asia’s highland peoples as freedom-loving Zomians suggests a paradigm rooted in the current wars in Burma. Laying out the main features of this analytical complex as OMG – Our Moral Geographies – I ask if area scholarship and anthropology can do better. Anthropology may be the worst enemy of the people we draw on for our descriptive and analytical kicks, and only a serious consideration of the ethics, politics, and pleasures of representation can change this situation.

March 11, 2011 – No Friday Forum: Spring Break Eve

March 25, 2011 – Jeremy Menchik

Dissertator of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Tolerance Without Liberalism: Islam, Violence and Coexistence in Twentieth Century Indonesia”
Indonesia is frequently lauded as a model of peaceful coexistence among diverse religious communities. Yet, as in other nations, this pluralism has at times broken down resulting in persecution, mass riots and even genocide. What is the basis for tolerance in Indonesia, and why does it sometimes break down? Drawing on three types of variation, I suggest that rather than being rooted in theology or ideology, tolerance is a negotiated outcome of political struggle. This argument is based on two years of field research including archival work, interviews, and survey data of 1000 cabang leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah, and Persatuan Islam.

April 1, 2011 – No Friday Forum: AAS Meeting

April 8, 2011 – Ara Wilson

Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and Cultural Anthropology and Director of Sexuality Studies, Duke University

“Medical tourism in Southeast Asia”
Over the 2000s, foreigner consumption of health care in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines has grown markedly through the emergence of a “medical tourist” sector. Medical tourism in the region is the result of deliberate government and business strategies to reconsolidate the national economy in the aftermath of the 1997 economic crisis and “natural” crises (the 2005 tsunami, SARS, Avian Flu). This talk focuses on the outsourcing of medical care to Thailand, where more than a million foreigners from Asia, the Middle East, and first world countries receive medical treatment. It analyzes this phenomenon in relation to reformulated social scales, including transnational, regional, national, public, private, and bodily registers.

April 15, 2011 – Jim Hoesterey

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Islamic Studies, Lake Forest College

“Shaming the State: Pop Preachers, Islamic Psychology, and the Anti-Pornography Campaign in Indonesia”
The anti-pornography bill – eventually passed into law in 2008 – was one of the most divisive pieces of legislation in post-authoritarian Indonesia. Opponents of the bill bemoaned the Islamization of Indonesia, whereas those in favor lamented the degradation of national morality. From his public pulpit, celebrity TV preacher cum pop psychologist Abdullah Gymnastiar admonished politicians for not having any shame. During television programs, congressional testimonies, and public rallies to support the anti-pornography legislation, Gymnastiar summoned government officials to heal the Indonesian state through an Islamic Psychology – or Psikologi Islami — that depends on shame as a productive social and moral force. In this paper I explore how the burgeoning industry of Psikologi Islami invokes a politics of affect that redefines the moral and religious commitments of state officials and citizen-believers.

April 22, 2011 – Erik Davis

Instructor of Religious Studies, Macalester College

“Khmer Spirits, Chinese Bodies: Spirit Possession in Contemporary Sino-Khmer Communities in Cambodia”
“Khmer spirits, Chinese bodies” explores two Neak Ta spirit possession rituals, performed by reconstituting and ascendant ethnic Chinese and Sino-Khmer community organizations and business groups throughout Cambodia. Neak Ta are ancestral place spirits conceived of as ‘ancestral spirits.’ This presentation examines the underlying Khmer beliefs and practices relating to Neak Ta cults, and focuses on the practices of spirit possession among Chinese Cambodians in these cults. The two examples discussed challenge a current typology of spirit possession and diasporic religion, opening up the possibility of diasporic practice that is localizing without assimilating.

April 29, 2011 – Mike Dwyer

PhD Candidate of the Energy and Resources Group, UC-Berkeley

“The territorial fix? Chinese investment in Laos and its implications for the global land grab”
As global food prices climb for the second time in the last half decade, transnational land deals involving Third World governments and “sovereign” wealth and are once again a topic of growing interest. China in particular has been at the center of debates as about a new “global land grab”, and has helped turn northern Laos into a case study of global significance. As a major investor in foreign resource development who recently announced that it will “stay home” when it comes to food staples, China is a quirky development partner. What should we make of this distinction between food and non-food crops? And what of the apparent tension between China’s economic expansionism and this apparent geopolitical caution? With these questions in mind, my talk will focus on the political-economic landscape of northwestern Laos, which has been home to Chinese agricultural investment boom since the mid-to-late 2000s, and which continues to attract commercial investment in special zones along the border. Examining the different geographies of these “special” and “normal” commercial landscapes, my talk will follow a third question increasingly posed by the media: Is northern Laos turning into Chinese territory? Focusing on the rubber planting boom that has apparently staked out a foothold for Chinese capital for at least the next few decades, I will argue that economic expansionism needs to be distinguished from the sovereign dimensions of territory, even as the two articulate with one another in unexpected and productive ways. Suggesting that this “territorial” question is in some sense the wrong one to be asking (or at least only the beginning), I will outline what I take to be a more practically adequate approach to the study of transnational farmland access.

ROOM CHANGE – 12:00-1:30pm, 336 Ingraham Hall

2010 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 10, 2010 – Carla Jones

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado-Boulder

“Heaven Sent: Virtue and Vanity in Indonesian Islamic Fashion”
The vibrant Islamic fashion scene in Indonesia provides a striking counterpoint to Western European and North American assertions that Islamic piety and fashion are antithetical. In the weeks prior to the start of Ramadhan, Jakarta is abuzz with fashion shows featuring new collections for the coming month. Yet in spite of the apparent distinction between Indonesian and Western ideas about Islamic fashion, both systems traffic in a particular anxiety about the superficiality of fashion, the feminine impulse to self-decorate, and the role of religion in ameliorating that anxiety. Using examples from Indonesian consumers and designers, especially Itang Yunasz, I argue that Indonesian Islamic fashions address this anxiety through the question of virtue, making Indonesia an illuminating site for broader theoretical questions about the intersection of consumption and devotion.

September 17, 2010 – Taylor Easum

Dissertator of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Old Power and the ‘New City’: Chiang Mai as a Micro-Colonial Space”
Within the field of Thai studies, Siam’s coloniality remains a key question. Scholars have highlighted the compromising of Siamese sovereignty, the cultural allure of the West among the Siamese elite, and the extension of Bangkok’s power and control to its vassal neighbors, thus creating the peripheries of modern Siam. The city at the center of this emerging state, Bangkok, saw a diverse array of foreign actors as well as Siamese elites, which gave shape to the social and political space of the city. But the distinctiveness of Bangkok as the primate city of Siam/Thailand means that the intermediate or regional centers in the peripheries of the kingdom have been largely ignored, or viewed primarily as the larger national narrative writ small. 

Chiang Mai’s urban and spatial history is much more than Bangkok’s tale in miniature, however; it tells a story of overlapping colonial powers, negotiated domination, and a spatial re-centering of power. Chiang Mai’s urban space can be seen as a ‘micro-colonial’ reflection of the late 19th-early 20th century formation of the modern Siamese state. The ‘internal imperialism’ of the Siamese state shaped Chiang Mai through a complex, gradual transition from a pre-modern vassal-overlord relationship to a modern colonial form of domination. This transition manifested itself in different and distinct urban formations–one based in and around the old royal capital within the city walls, and another around the commercial center along the Ping river. By the early twentieth century, these two urbanisms had come together, as the old city was effectively colonized by the new.

September 24, 2010 – Michael Sullivan

Director, Center for Khmer Studies

“Chinese Investment and Aid in Cambodia “
This paper investigates Chinese investment in Cambodia in the context of strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. The apparent symbiotic nature of Chinese business interests and China’s foreign policy objectives in Southeast Asia augurs well for Cambodia’s controlling political-economic elite. Because of this, some western observers have expressed concerns about China’s capacity to affect the behaviour of Cambodian state power holders that will not bode well for donor attempts to promote democratic reform. It is suggested here that Chinese investment, backed by China’s regional foreign policy goals, potentially creates new rent-seeking opportunities for powerful political and economic networks within the Cambodian state, at the expense of the government’s reform agenda. At the same time, Chinese influence is unlikely to dramatically alter donor efforts to push the current Cambodian government down the reform path. After almost two decades of government-donor engagement very little has been achieved in reforming sectors seen as key to Cambodia’s future development and prosperity, like the judiciary and the civil service. The upshot of Chinese investment, for the foreseeable future, will be the further entrenchment of Cambodian state political elites and their business associates, alongside a continued government-donor dialogue that to date has failed to bring about substantive reform where it is needed most. This also raises a number of important questions concerning the overall long-term benefits accrued to Cambodia from Chinese investment and aid.

October 1, 2010 – Joe Harris

Dissertator of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“A Right to Health?: Expert Networks, HIV/AIDS, and the Politics of Universal Health Care in Thailand”
The presentation will provide a brief overview of my dissertation, which explores the recent trend towards expansive state commitments to health care in the developing world, grounded in case studies of Thailand, South Africa, and Brazil.  The talk will focus primarily on a discussion of my findings from my year-long fieldwork in Thailand that was generously funded by the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad. Joe Harris is currently a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

October 8, 2010 – Kullada Kesboonchoo-Mead

Associate Professor of International Relations, Chulalongkorn University

“Re-thinking the Economic Crisis in Thailand”
The talk will deal with Thai economic crisis in 1997 from historical and theoretical points of view. In her discussion, Dr. Mead will analyze how Pax American shaped the Thai political economy. She will also examine the role of Pax Americana under a neo-liberal order. Her study observes the working relationship between the IMF and the Bank of Thailand. As a result, the Thai economy was forced to adopt the priorities and structures of neo-liberalism.

October 15, 2010 – Wynn Wilcox

Associate Professor of History and Non-Western Cultures, Western Connecticut State University

“War or Peace in Vietnam? Vũ Nhự and the 1868 Palace Examination”
In 1867, as the French government seized three provinces in Southern Vietnam, giving them control of the entire Mekong Delta area, the Vietnamese court in Hue debated their response. The court was divided between two factions: one argued for war, and the other for peace. Early in 1868, the Emperor decided to put the two factions to the test by ordering that the main essay question on the imperial examination that year was to be “make war or make peace?” This paper will present a close reading of the answer provided by Vũ Nhự (1840-1886), the only person to pass this examination at the exalted hoàng giáp level. Vũ Nhự’s essay advises the Emperor that upright government will deter French intervention without the need for the Vietnamese to attack. This paper argues, however, that within this seemingly traditional Mencian position is interspersed evidence of the influence of the rhetoric of modernization and self-strengthening, and that the examination system was an avenue for political reform.

October 22, 2010 – Anne Blackburn

Associate Professor of Asian Studies, Cornell University

“Buddhist Diplomacy in Colonial Southern Asia”
As British and French colonial control deepened in Lanka and Southeast Asia during the latter half of the 19th century, Buddhist monks and devotees relied increasingly on regional Buddhist networks in order to address the direct and indirect effects of colonial presence on royal courts and Buddhist communities. Drawing on epistolary and newspaper records in Pali, Sinhala and English from Lanka, this paper explores Buddhist collaborations within the Indian Ocean world, especially those related to ritual, pilgrimage, and monastic institution-building.

October 29, 2010 – Puanthong Rungswasdisab

Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University & Visiting Research Fellow of The Shrorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center, Stanford University

“The Uncivil Society Movement in the Thai-Cambodian Relations over the Preah Vihear Temple Conflict”
One of the major arguments in literature on foreign policies of the ASEAN states is that, on the one hand, the increasing democratization in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, since the 1990s has allowed the non-state actors to participate in the foreign policy making process greater than ever. On the other hand, the non-state actors, especially the civil society movement, have been pushing the elitist foreign policy makers toward democracy and consideration of human rights and human security issues. The problem is Thailand in the last five years witnessed a push toward authoritarianism by civil society groups who explicitly called for military intervention to topple the Thaksin government. The coup d’état in 2006, followed by a series of protests by colored groups, widespread media censorship, suppressions of the Red Shirts movement, and the existing Emergency law, led Thailand spiral down the authoritarian path. Thai society is greatly divided than ever. The questions is what would be the implication for Thai foreign policy and possibly the regional organization. This lecture will use the recent conflict between Thailand and Cambodia over the ancient Temple of Preah Vihear to discuss the impact of the authoritarian civil society movement and the divided Thai society.

November 5, 2010 – Ian Baird

Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The Hmong Come to Southern Laos: Local Responses and the Creation of Racialized Boundaries”
There is a long history of Hmong migrations from the north to south. Most recently, Hmong have begun emerging in the southern-most parts of Laos, including Champasak and Attapeu Provinces, places where they never lived before. It appears that some Hmong movements into southern Laos have been accepted, while others have not. The movement of the Hmong from the north to the south, and the reactions of others to them, are important for understanding the ways Hmong are geographically positioning themselves, and how others are attempting to construct spaces and associated boundaries designed to restrict them.

November 12, 2010 – Heather Akin

PhD Candidate of Life Sciences Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“New Media and the West Papua Movement: Political Message Construction in a Controlled Media Environment”

Communication by social and political movements demonstrates how new media may be leveraged by social or ethnic groups to mobilize the global community. Separatist movements, collective groups seeking independence from a dominating society, are one form of movement that is understudied in communication scholarship. Dominating societies may not offer a level of freedom of expression that it is assumed in a democratic society if it poses a threat to their power. Looking at restive West Papua, where groups are seeking independence from Indonesia, this study explores how messages are constructed using a discourse analysis of three Web sites that convey a plea to the international community. The study finds the West Papuan movement’s online presence expresses a strongly unified, powerful, and emotional voice, that the sites frequently use West Papuan cultural symbols, and that authors are often anonymous, implying dissemination of such a message may put authors at risk.

November 19, 2010 – Robert Pringle

Former Ambassador and Retired Foreign Service Officer, US Department of State

“Writing about Islam in Indonesia for Non-Specialists”
Understanding Islam in Indonesia by Robert Pringle is a book written for generalists (students, professionals and others), with the aim of providing them with an introduction to the subject and – just as important — tools to facilitate further learning. Pringle will explain the organization of the book, its main conclusions, what surprised him most in writing it, and the challenges of writing and publishing on a specialized topic for a non-specialist audience.

December 3, 2010 – Anna M. Gade

Associate Professor of Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“‘Green Islam’ in Indonesia”
Muslim Indonesia is becoming known globally as a leader in faith-based responses to environmental challenges. Based on recent fieldwork in Indonesia, in this presentation Professor Anna M. Gade explains recent trends in this area, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. She focuses on the new movement in traditional Islamic education, called “eco-pesantren,” that represents old and new approaches in teaching, learning, and practice of global Islamic ecology with respect to multiple issues of concern, including deforestation and climate change. Professor Gade teaches in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia and the Religious Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is also a Faculty Member of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment. She is author of the books, Perfection Makes Practice: Learning, Emotion and the Recited Qur’an in Indonesia (University of Hawai’i Press, 2004) and The Qur’an: An Introduction (Oneworld Publications, 2010). She has also carried out in-depth fieldwork studying Islam, religion and development in Cambodia.

December 10, 2010 – Keith Barney

PhD Candidate of Geography, York University

“The Political Ecology of Cumulative Effects: Remaking Environmental Governance and Livelihoods through Resource Concessions in Lao PDR”
Contemporary Laos is a site for major investments in resource sector development in hydropower and mining, and is also a hot-spot in the ‘global land grab’ phenomenon. On the ground, existing constraints in the regulatory capacities of the Lao state are being compounded by the ways in which the externalities of different resource mega-projects often combine and cascade, and interact with the environmental practices of local communities, producing cumulative and unpredictable outcomes. A chaotic and semi-regulated pattern of resource concession activity in Laos is thus producing complex mosaics of environmental degradation and community (under) development. Drawing on Latour-inspired geographers such as Paul Robbins, my talk will first explore how the environmental classificatory schemes of the state and professional resource managers, which seek to delineate political-administrative jurisdictions over forests, land, water, and communities, are constantly transgressed by local, relational socio-ecological processes. Second, I explain how the establishment of this ‘relational resource frontier’ in Laos is altering regimes of political authority, and producing novel governmental orders in the countryside. The proliferation of new spatial-territorial configurations in Laos challenges our understanding not only of the multiple scales of resource governance, but also of the nature of state authority and sovereignty in an era of global connection.


2010 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 22, 2010 – Jacob Hickman

PhD Candidate, Department of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago

“Ancestral Personhood and Value Pluralism:  Changing Identities in the Hmong Diaspora”
In this talk I discuss the design and results of my dissertation project, a comparative ethnography of Hmong who have resettled from Laos to Thailand and the United States. Focusing on 18 families with members in each resettlement location, I analyze the moral discourse and life narratives of both parents and children in each location. This includes a particular emphasis on how idiosyncratic models of moral personhood vary from normative models (i.e., a “person-centered” ethnographic approach), whether Thai, American, or “traditional” Hmong. The data and analysis I present here will address the ways in which Hmong deal with these competing models – what old identities are solidified, what new ones emerge, and how Hmong experience psychological conflict over competing moral goods and conceptions of self. The comparative dimension of this project looks at how generation and resettlement location factor into the results, and I address these findings within an ethnographic context of the rituals and practices that reinforce different cultural models.

January 29, 2010 – Hjorleifur Jonsson

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Arizona State University

“Ethnography, Mimesis, and the Peoples of Southeast Asia”
This talk argues that the notion of Southeast Asia in terms of discrete ethnic groups is a fundamentally national project, and one that needs ethnographic and theoretical critique which pays equal attention to regional diversity and internal differentiation. Indications of state oppression of highland ethnic groups such as Mien and Hmong need to be situated historically and examined in relation to the dynamics of mimetic identity work. The case I make is anchored to the historical period for the region and to the contemporary setting in Thailand. In both periods, official and vernacular realms of culture and identity assume separate kinds of relationships and inequalities within and between ethnic groups. Thailand’s current multiculturalism has opened avenues of minority recognition, within a pervasively gendered national public sphere where “the Thai” come into being through their ethnic others, on landscapes that are variously spiritualized, sexualixed, or militarized.

February 5, 2010 – Xianghong Feng

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Ball State University

“Tourism in Fenghuang, China:  Accommodations and Resistance in Hmong (Miao) Women’s Traditional Handicraft Practice”
In 2002, Fenghuang County in rural Hunan Province of China started its elite-directed “Tourism Great Leap Forward”.  Since then, changes have been dramatic in local socioeconomic structure including increasing disparity and conflict. This talk particularly focuses on the impacts tourism has on the local Hmong (Miao) women and their traditional handicraft practice.  According to the official state development discourse, local Hmong’s traditional ethnic culture is associated with both poverty and the solution to poverty. This ethnographic research looks at local Hmong women and their handicraft practice in the context of tourism to illustrate how local people react to this dilemma, and how ethnic minorities and rural residents are being drawn into the widening orbit of contemporary China’s economic growth in the process of accommodation, competition, and resistance.

February 8, 2010 – Special Lecture:  Ian Baird

POLIS Project for Ecological Governance, University of Victoria

“Internal Resettlement in Laos:  Past, Present and Emerging Issues”
The upland peoples of Laos—whether Hmong, Brao, Khmu or others—have long been the targets of attempts by states and others to socially (re)organize them. While the reasons for promoting such changes have differed, in recent years they have often related to eradicating swidden agriculture and opium cultivation, maintaining military security, making public services such as health and education more easily accessible, and promoting the assimilation of ethnic minorities into mainstream lowland Lao society. Spatial (re)organization has frequently been a key tool for bringing about social transformation, and discursive constructions of place have often been a pivotal part of the struggle over space. In this presentation I consider the political geographies of internal resettlement in Laos, and the experiences of the Brao in southern Laos. I also examine broader government policy frameworks and state efforts to socially and spatially organize upland peoples in Laos. I show how the context of the times and various nuanced factors have greatly affected resettlement policies and practices, the ways they have been justified, and local responses. I also briefly consider how a new trend with important links to internal resettlement is developing in Laos, one in which is associated with the granting of large economic land concessions. While recently much attention has been devoted to the forced repatriation of Hmong refugees from Thailand to Laos, more interest needs to be given to other forms of resettlement occurring in Laos, as they are crucial for large numbers of highlanders, including many Hmong.

February 11, 2010 – Special Lecture:  Prasit Leepreecha

Researcher, Center for Ethnic Studies and Development, Chiang Mai University

“Transforming Ethnicity: Hmong Kinship Identity under State Formation”
Although James Scott’s recent book, the Art of Not Being Governed (2009), argues that throughout the history of mainland Southeast Asia hill peoples are best understood as runaway, fugitive, and marooned communities who have been fleeing the oppression of state-making projects, my findings in contemporary Hmong hill society in the region are quite different. It is my argument that Hmong ethnic identity is gradually absorbed by the state’s assimilation practices. On the other hand, as a transnational ethnic group, the Hmong have employed appropriate technologies to strengthen their kinship and ethnic ties. My talk will focus on Thailand’s state registration system and the transformation of Hmong ethnic identity, by emphasizing kinship issues. My empirical evidence is based on ethnographic fieldwork among Hmong people in northern Thailand, as well as the neighboring countries of Laos, Vietnam, and China.

ROOM CHANGE: 12:00-1:30pm, 260 Bascom Hall 

February 12, 2010 – Rachmi Diyah Larasati

Theatre Arts and Dance, University of Minnesota

“Choreographing Memory: Dance Technique and Militarized Space”
Focusing on Indonesia, where histories of colonialism, dictatorship, genocide and global tourism have intervened in the creation of the dancing body, my interest centers on theoretical questions about the political economy of dance in the construction of national identity while the centralized violence by the state emerge. An integral piece of my research project questions the vanishing of dancing bodies and the effects of Indonesia’s state-sponsored cultural reconstruction after the 1965-68 massacre. In this presentation I elucidate the complex, often paradoxical relationships between the dancing body and the Indonesian state since 1965. In the brief period from late 1965 to early 1966, approximately 1,000,000 Indonesians, including a large percentage of the country’s musicians, dancers, and artists were killed, arrested, or disappeared as then-general Suharto took control of the nation, implanting his “New Order” regime, which would rule for the next 30 years. Looking back on the New Order from the context of the present, I interrogate the specific ways in which female dancing bodies have been dealt with by the state: vilified, punished, then replaced with idealized, state aligned bodies who must nonetheless continually prove their allegiance and adherence to nationalized culture.

February 19, 2010 – Katherine Bowie

Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Regional Variation in Performances of the Vessantara Jataka in Thailand: A Historical Perspective”
This essay notes significant variations in both interpretations and performances of the Vessantara Jataka. While the Vessantara Jataka continues to play an important role in the annual cycle of temple festivals in northeastern Thailand, its importance in central and northern Thailand has been steadily declining. This essay will explore possible historical explanations for this regional variation.

TIME CHANGE: 12:30pm, 206 Ingraham Hall

February 26, 2010 – Tong Soon Lee

Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, Emory University

“Peranakan Music and Cultural Representations in Singapore”
The Peranakan community in Singapore has made much concerted efforts in enhancing public understanding of their culture. With a mix of Chinese and Malay heritage, the roots of the Peranakan communities can be traced back to 17th century Malacca. Since the 1980s, Peranakan culture has been represented in the form of restaurants specializing in their cuisine, revival of Peranakan plays, and permanent exhibits of their architecture, dress, household paraphernalia, and crafts in museums. Such efforts complement, and indeed constitute the broader State’s effort to create interests and concern on local heritage, thereby affirming the community as an integral part of the State’s conception of a national culture. Peranakan musical practices in Singapore include the performance of music and songs in Peranakan plays, singing of Peranakan hymns and translations of English hymns in the Peranakan patois for Catholic masses, and dondang sayang singing sessions.

Much of the State’s representation of Peranakan culture is inclined towards nostalgic and reified perspectives of Peranakan identities and belies the current state of anxiety the community faces in affirming a sense of who they are in the Singapore context. In this presentation, I would like to explore the ways in which Peranakan music underscores the changing dynamics of Peranakan identities in Singapore.

Co-sponsered with Center for East Asian Studies

March 5, 2010 – No Friday Forum: CSEAS Lunch

March 19, 2010 – Andrew Walker

College of Asia & Pacific, Australian National University

“Exploring Power Among Thailand’s Middle-income Peasants”
Extraction of surplus by external power holders is often seen as a central definitional criterion of the peasantry. In The Moral Economy of the Peasant, James Scott wrote that “taxes and rents, together or individually, form the twin issues around which peasant anger in Southeast Asia has classically coalesced”. Scott’s famous “moral economy” derives from the subsistence vulnerability of rural cultivators: with only a fine line separating sufficiency and hunger, peasants are driven to resist any externally imposed measures that undermine local security or disrupt social protections. But what happens to peasant politics when the rural economy becomes much more affluent and when peasants become a target of state subsidy and electorally-motivated benevolence? What happens when resistance is transformed into desire? This paper addresses these questions by exploring orientations to power in the northern Thai village of Ban Tiam. It briefly surveys four different domains of power: the supernatural world, the state, the market and the community. The paper argues that these overlapping networks of power are important elements in a new form of “political society” which is oriented towards binding powerful forces into relationships of productive exchange. In forming this new political society, Ban Tiam’s peasants are confronting some of the classic economic and political challenges faced by middle-income countries.

March 26, 2010 – No Friday Forum: AAS Meeting

April 2, 2010 – No Friday Forum: Spring Break

April 9, 2010 – Justin McDaniel, Ph.D.

Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania

“Affixing Gold: Beyond Symbology and the Very Idea of Studying a Buddha Image in Thailand”
The study of symbols once dominated both the fields of Religious Studies and Art History. In the past two decades scholars have moved away from studying symbols for a variety of reasons and the socio-historical context of individual pieces of religious art is now looked at closely. However, certain aspects of “symbology” have not changed. This paper will further question the study of not only symbols, but also the idea of study “individual” pieces and the notion of “a context.” Moreover, since, Art historians in Southeast Asia have primarily concentrated on the study of images, stupas, manuscripts, and murals produced by the elite before the nineteenth century. I will shift focus in this talk and concentrate on vernacular art made in the last 150 years. While certain images in Thai Buddhism are lauded for their age or precious materials, most are honored for their connection to certain powerful monks, ghosts, and kings. Many of these highly revered and powerful images are made out of wax or wood, or crudely and mass–produced bronze, plastic copper, resin, or clay. Furthermore, instead of concentrating on the origins of pieces of art, I want to study art as it exists and operates in dynamic ritual activities and highly complex synchronic relationships with other images and with patrons, artists, and visitors. I want to move beyond aesthetic and iconographic analyses of individual objects, and focus on recipients, rituals, and agents, as well as the agency of the “things” themselves. Finally, I argue that images, photographs, murals, amulets, and buildings do not only exist in synchronic relationships, but also diachronic.

April 16, 2010 – Mary McCoy

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Arts, UW-Madison

“Indonesia – The Triumph of Transparency”
In the past turbulent decade of bitter partisan divisions in Thailand and the Philippines and persistent dictatorship in Burma and Vietnam, Indonesia stands out as one ASEAN state that has made a successful democratic transition, surviving numerous reversals and ongoing corruption. While the causes are complex, a flawed but assertive media and increasing institutional transparency are key factors in this successful transformation.

April 23, 2010 – Dierdre de la Cruz

Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures and Assistant Professor of History, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan

“Of Crusaders and Crowds: The Family Rosary in the Philippines (1951-1985)”
An American apostolate dedicated to propagating devotion to the Virgin Mary through Rosary prayer, the Family Rosary Crusade was one of the first organizations of its kind to self-consciously recognize and deploy various media—including rallies, film, and television—as tools of evangelization during the Cold War. This talk will examine the history of the Family Rosary Crusade as it took root and developed in the Philippines, paying particular attention to its reception and the means through which it spread, its purchase for thinking about U.S. Empire in the postwar period, and its transformative effect on Filipino Marianism and religious visual culture.

Friday, April 30, 2010 – Mitch Aso

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History of Science, UW-Madison

“Between individual and collective prophylaxis:  Moral economies of malaria prevention efforts in Vietnam, 1925-1954”
My talk explores the tensions between malaria prevention efforts aimed at individual bodies and those attempting to deal with larger collectives in French colonial Vietnam. This talk argues that the range of anti-malaria efforts can be understood within a moral economy of disease at work in Vietnam during the 20th century. In particular, while some anti-malaria approaches worked to link bodies more tightly to particular environments, others worked to enable bodies to move more easily through diverse landscapes.

ROOM CHANGE: 12:00-1:30pm, 849 Van Hise 

2009 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 11, 2009 – Shawn McHale

Director, Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, George Washington University

“Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kampuchea Krom: Ethnic Violence in an ‘Invisible’ Land, 1945-50.”
This talk arises out of an accident of research — stumbling across accounts of Khmer massacres of Vietnamese in a region stretching from Phnom Penh down through the lower Mekong delta from 1945 to 1949. This fortuitous “accident” has led me, of course, to try to fathom why these killings occurred. But it also opens a window on the overlooked place of the lower Mekong delta and Khmer Krom struggles in scholarly accounts of modern Vietnamese and Cambodian history. Last but not least, I would like to suggest that these killings shed light on an enduring feature of Cambodian and lower Mekong delta life: the Khmer antagonism to the Vietnamese that has shaped post-1945 Cambodian history, including the Khmer Rouge period.

September 18, 2009 – Francis Bradley

Dissertator, Department of History, UW-Madison

“Islam after Apocalypse: The Rise of the Patani Shaykhs and the Transformation of Southeast Asian Islam, 1786-1869.”
In this talk I discuss the rise of the Patani shaykhs and the role they played in the development of Islamic scholarly communities around the Indian Ocean rim. At its furthest extent, the Patani scholarly network reached from Mecca to the Malay-Thai Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, Cambodia, and the South African Cape, and its participants spread texts, teachings, and schools throughout those regions.

September 25, 2009 – Kenneth M. George

Professor, Department of Anthropology, UW-Madison

“Ethics, Iconoclasm, and Qur’anic Art in Indonesia”
This talk throws light on some of the ethical and ideological energies that have animated today’s Muslim art publics by looking at the anxiety and outcry in Indonesia’s art world over the use of Qur’anic script in fashion and in painting. By looking at problems that have befallen designer Karl Lagerfeld, painter A. D. Pirous, and other Indonesian artists, I suggest how a custodial ethics for handling Qur’anic Arabic has played into the hands of Muslim religious conservatives as they extend their authority into national and transnational art worlds, and more generally how Qur’anic art has become a space of struggle over the scope of secularism, religion, and culture.

October 2, 2009 – Kristy Kelly

Educational Policy Studies, UW-Madison

“Whatever happened to “comrade”? Learning to Mainstream Gender in Vietnam’s Development Policy”
Kristy’s research examines transnational spaces, places and processes that inform how national and local-level policy-actors engage with global development projects, in ways that often contradict their framers’ intents. In this presentation, Kristy examines the role that education and training plays in how a key development policy called gender mainstreaming, is understood and implemented in a variety of local contexts in one country – Vietnam – where the state claims a long history of promoting women’s equality vis-a-vis men. Through a contextualization of how gender mainstreaming is accepted, resisted, ignored and/or transformed through the process of training, Kristy presents a new framework for theorizing the transnational as an important site of struggle and engagement between global and local understandings of “equality,” “rights” and “development.”

October 9, 2009 – No Friday Forum

October 16, 2009 – Benny Widyono

Department of Economics, University of Connecticut

“The International Dimensions of the Cambodian Tragedy”
The speaker will focus his talk on the basic premise of his recent book:  that Cambodia had, during the cold war, due to its geopolitical location, experienced enormous chaos, turmoil, civil war and deep despair in the ongoing power struggle for hegemony in Southeast Asia. Thus, when the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime was ousted by Vietnamese troops on January 7 1979, diplomatic maneuverings in the United Nations in New York continued to recognize the Khmer Rouge regime as the legitimate government of Cambodia for another 11 years culminating in Paris Peace Agreements which were themselves flawed.  These past unjust decisions continued to haunt Cambodia long after the Khmer Rouge was ousted and sent to the jungles near Thailand.

October 23, 2009 – Tony Day

Visiting Professor, Department of History, Wesleyan University

“Time and Freedom in Asian Film”
Since the 1980s, but particularly in the last ten years or so, films have become the vehicles for powerful artistic statements about the struggle for freedom in Asian societies. In my talk I want to focus on the representation of time and freedom in four rather different movies that received wide acclaim either domestically or internationally: Sepet (“Slant-Eye,” 2004, Malaysia);  Mùa Hè Chiều Thằng Đứng (“summer solstice,” The Vertical Ray of the Sun, 2000, France/Vietnam); Sud Pralad (Tropical Malady, 2004, Thailand); and Hao Nan Hao Nu (好男好女, Good Men, Good Women, 1995, Taiwan). My talk will suggest variations but also common themes in the experience and perception of time, history, and human freedom in four different Asian societies.

ROOM CHANGE – 12:00PM, Room 336 Ingraham Hall

October 30, 2009 – Parsit Leepreechaa

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, UW-Madison and Professor, Social Research Institute, Chiang Mai University

“Reconstructing Ethnicity: The Role of Media Technology in Reproducing Hmong Ethnic Identity”
While the Hmong scattered in different parts of the world have had their ethnic identities gradually eroded by nationalism and globalization, they are using media technologies to reproduce and reconstruct their Hmong-ness. Hmong ethnic identity, as defined by shared memory and common sentiment, is being reproduced and reconstructed by media technologies and disseminated through kinship, business, church, and internet networks. This presentation is based on ethnographic fieldwork primarily carried out in Hmong communities in Southeast Asia and the United States.

November 6, 2009 – Leslie Woodhouse

Professor, Department of History, University of California-Berkeley

“A ‘Foreign’ Woman in the Siamese Harem: Princess Dara Rasami and the Politics of Performing Ethnic Difference during Siam’s Fifth Reign”
This talk will shed new light on Siam’s famous Fifth Reign, which is typically known as Thailand’s era of “self-modernization” under King Chulalongkorn. At the same moment Siam began to undertake becoming “siwilai” (civilized), the practice of royal polygamy was reaching its apex, with over 150 consorts in King Chulalongkorn’s palace. Leslie’s talk will focus on one royal consort who was not herself ethnically Siamese: Princess Dara Rasami. Dara played an important political role by cementing the loyalties of her home kingdom, Lan Na, and Siam — but ultimately it was her role in shaping the Siamese perception of the people of Lan Na (now northern Thailand) which may have had a greater impact.

November 13, 2009 – Ayehlaphyu MayOo Mutraw

Ph.D Candidate, Maurer School of Law, Indiana University

“Burma: A Struggle for [Democratic] Change”
I will discuss how the different versions of the nation’s history continue to shape the structure and dynamics of the [pro-democracy] movement for change.  And, I will then put forward an additional cause of the current crisis: the competing nationalisms and the conflicting narratives to which each ethnic group subscribes.  I argue that in order for a relatively successful transition to a democratic Burma to be accomplished, the military regime, as well as the non-ethnic democracy movement, must devise a system that can accommodate the nation’s rich diversity both structurally and politically.

November 20, 2009 – Patrick Pranke

Professor, Department of Humanities, University of Louisville

“‘Nibbāna Now or Never?’ Vipassanā and the Weikza-lam: Two Competing Soteriologies in Contemporary Burmese Buddhism”
Vipassana “insight meditation” and the weikza-lam “path of esoteric knowledge” are two competing soteriologies in contemporary Burmese Buddhism. As is well known, vipassana holds out the promise of freedom from sa?sara, the cycle of birth and death, in nibbana as an arahant. In sharp contrast the weikza-lam promises not the termination of sa?saric life in nibbana but rather its indefinite prolongation through the attainment of virtual immortality as a weikza-do or Buddhist wizard. In this presentation I will compare these two paths to Buddhist salvation in contemporary Burmese Buddhism and discuss the contested religious claims they make. As part of this discussion I will review what is known of the modern evolution of these traditions in Burma noting their possible historical antecedents.

December 4, 2009 – Rosalie Hall

Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Department of Political Science, Loyola University in Chicago; Associate Professor of Political Science, University of the Philippines Visayas

“From Rebels to Soldiers: Interrogating the Integration of Moro National Liberation Front and Falintil Combatants into the Philippine and East Timorese Armed Forces”
The lecture compares the political contexts, scope and processes of the rebel integration projects in Philippines and East Timor. It examines how integree identities (based on religion, ethnicity, region and gender) are re-negotiated or re-defined as they move from non-state to state spaces. The lessons from and implications of the integration policy to the future prospects for peace in both countries are explored.

December 11, 2009 – Nicola Tannenbaum

Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University

“Flying His Soul to Heaven: The Funeral for the Abbot of the Naaplaatsaat Temple in Maehongson Thailand”
The abbot of the Naaplaatsaat temple passed away in March of 2008, the funeral was held in February 2009. When I visited in the summer of 2008, I saw the preparations for funeral, including a sketch of the giant bird that would hold the coffin. Although I could not be there, I draw on videos, photographs, and discussions with various participants to provide this account of the funeral.The Naaplaatsaat monk’s funeral was the most elaborate one I know about.

2009 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 23, 2009 – Jim Collins

Foreign Languages and Lieratures, Northern Illinois University

“Language Shift and Language Death in Island Southeast Asia”
From the earliest historical records of the Southeast Asian archipelago, we can read about language shift and even language change, whether because of genocide, natural disaster or, more likely, changes in speakers’ attitudes about languages. Language allegiance shifts in almost imperceptible but accumulative stages, sometimes slowly and often rapidly, such as in Maluku and Kalimantan (Indonesia), the cases discussed in this paper.

January 30, 2009 – Andy Sutton

Ph.D. Music, UW-Madison

“Music, Islam, and the Commercial Media in Contemporary Indonesia”
Though secular pop music still dominates Indonesia’s broadcast and recording media, Islamic pop and other forms with Islamic content have been gaining ground over the last decade. A new mediascape encompassing genres, styles, and songs identified as “Muslim,” is broadly represented in the popular media–from audio cassettes, CDs and videos to national and private radio, television, and the internet. This talk provides an introduction to this fast growing mediascape, with focus on audio and video recordings.

February 6, 2009 – Prista Ratanapruck

Ph.D. Center for Historical Analysis, Rutgers

“Market and Monastery: Manangi Trade Diasporas in South and Southeast Asia”
My talk will explore the social arrangements and ideas that have enabled a trans-regional community to sustain itself over centuries. Manangis’ trade and social practices challenge the concept of progress, contemporary discourse on globalization, and the common narrative of the rise of the West.

February 13, 2009 – Michael Jerryson

Ph.D. UC-Santa Barbara

“Militarizing Buddhism in Southern Thailand”
Since January 2004 random attacks on Buddhist monks and locals provoke a growing distrust and fear throughout Buddhist and Muslim communities of southern Thailand. During the last several years Michael Jerryson has conducted fieldwork in this region, participating in international workshops and conferences on solutions to the escalating violence. Looking at the influence religion brings to a violent climate, he examines how Buddhist monks affect the violence, and conversely, how the violence affects the Buddhist monks.

February 20, 2009 – Yosef Djakababa

Dissertator, History, UW-Madison

“Revisiting “Mahmillub”: Staging the anti-communist triumph during the 1965 upheaval in Indonesia.”
“Mahmillub” or the Special Military Tribune was a special court for those accused to have involvement in the 30th September movement coup attempt. “Mahmillub” is arguably the “Show Trial” for the military regime while the complicity of the process reveals larger roles in laying foundation and cementing legitimacy for grand narrative of the event.

February 27, 2009 – Michael Buehler

Ph.D. Political Science, Columbia University

“The 2009 legislative elections in Indonesia and Political Islam: Prospects and Challenges”
Despite a rise of political Islam in post-New Order Indonesia, Islamist movements failed in past elections. The lecture will shed light on this phenomenon.

March 6, 2009 – Dacil Quang Keo

Dissertator, Political Science, UW-Madison

“The Trials and Tribulations of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal”
The Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) is among the “third generation” of criminal courts operating under hybrid UN-Cambodian laws, officials, and staff. This talk addresses some of the challenges faced by the tribunal and the extent that it can offer “justice” to the millions of Cambodians who suffered and died under the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979.

March 13, 2009 – No Friday Forum: Spring Break

March 20, 2009 – No Friday Forum: Spring Break

March 27, 2009 – No Friday Forum: AAS Meeting

April 3, 2009 – Nagasura Timan Medale

Mindanao State University/Northern Illinois University

“Current Issues On Mindanao Affairs: Problems and Prospects for Peace”
Perspectives on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front differ—from the Supreme Court that considers the issues “void,” to the Moro’s own reactions. The talk presents an alternative solution to the conflict given the present state of this struggle for a Moro nation/bangsa.

April 10, 2009 – Cynthia Bautista

Sociology, University of the Philippines

“Why Reforms Don’t Transform: Reflections on Institutional Change Through the Prism of Philippine Education”
The presentation will reflect on the dynamics of institutional change in the Philippines using basic education as a metaphor for other institutions in the country. Tracing the evolution of reform initiatives in this area, the presentation will focus on the constraining effects of national politics as well as the prevailing culture of the country’s biggest bureaucracy.

April 17, 2009 – Richard Ruth

History, US Naval Academy

“Sawadi Vietnam: Thailand’s Embrace of the Second Indochina War, 1967-1969”
This talk examines the role of Thailand’s military, government, palace, and Buddhist order in generating popular support for involvement in the Vietnam War. It analyzes public events celebrating the volunteer forces, such as royally-sponsored funerals and well-publicized hospital visits by national and international celebrities, to show how the Thai government parlayed the sacrifice of early casualties into a national ethos that opposed internal challenges to its authority.

April 24, 2009 – Marc Benamou

Music, Oberlin College

“Concepts of Ownership in Central Javanese Musical Practice”

May 1, 2009 – Mytoan Nguyen

Sociology, UW-Madison

“Diasporic Return Migration in Contemporary Vietnam”
This paper presents questions about the role of the state and its post-1975 diasporic returnees, and the implications this set of relations has for various theoretical perspectives on social and economic development and transformation.


2008 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 5, 2008 – Alfred McCoy

J.R.W. Smail Professor of History, UW-Madison

“Imperial Mimesis: Colonial Conquest of the Philippines & Rise of the US National Security State”
From the first hours of the US occupation in August 1898, the Philippines served as the site of a protracted social experiment in the use of police as an instrument of state power. Indeed, America’s ad hoc innovation with colonial policing was mutually transformative, central in both the transformation of the Philippine polity and the formation of an American internal security apparatus, creating supple private-public covert nexus central to US political life for much of the twentieth century.

September 12, 2008 – Andy Hicken

Ph.D. Candidate, Ethnomusicology, UW-Madison

“Toraja people do not have a word for love: Popular song, emotion, and economic development in Sulawesi, Indonesia”
This paper discusses the recent emergence of romantic love songs in the popular music of Toraja, a region in Eastern Indonesia in which I did long term fieldwork. Some Toraja people, I argue, compose and listen to romantic love songs in part because the songs idealize love-marriage, critiquing traditional arranged marriage and, by implication, the economic obligations of children in the exchange-based local economy.

September 19, 2008 – Andrea Molnar

Anthropology, Northern Illinois University

“Pattani Malay Muslim Women’s Political Engagement in Southern Thailand”
The presentation looks at the contexts in which women do engage politically and factors influencing such engagement. I will also highlight some of the key actors and the way the young generation of women are conceptualizing politics.

September 25, 2008 – Paul Kramer

Professor of History, University of Iowa

Film Showing: The Real Glory
This film is the subject of the September 26 Friday Forum talk.

NOTE LOCATION – 7:00PM, Room 1101 Humanities

September 26, 2008 – Paul Kramer

Professor of History, University of Iowa

“An Enemy You can Rely On: Islam, Hollywood and Philippine-American History”
This talk will explore the discursive and material production of The Real Glory (1939), the one feature-length narrative film (starring Gary Cooper) produced by Hollywood dealing with the history of Philippine-American colonialism in the early 20th century. Through a careful reading of the film itself, the novella upon which it was based and extensive archival sources relating to the film’s production, the lecture will explore race-making and the production of imperial cultures in Philippine-American history, with an emphasis on the representation of U. S. empire, on the one hand, and Christian/Muslim interactions, on the other.

October 3, 2008 – Eunsook Jung

Political Science, UW-Madison

“Taking Care of the Faithful: The Relationships between Muslim Societal Organizations and Political Parties in Indonesia”
My paper seeks to explain the political participation of mainstream and moderate Muslims in Indonesia by examining why and how the relationships between mass-based Muslim organizations and Muslim political parties have changed in newly democratized Indonesia.

October 10, 2008 – Thongchai Winichakul

Department of History, UW-Madison

“Between the Bad and the Worse: The Pathology of Anti-Democracy in Thailand”
Thai democracy is at the crossroads (again). Will it survive down the road or make a wrong turn and die? Let us take a look at the causes of the current political crisis in the country and its future implications.

NOTE LOCATION – 8417 Social Science (8th floor)

October 17, 2008 – H. Leedom Lefferts

Professor Emeritus, Drew University

“Becoming Active in a Theravada Buddhist Narrative: The Vessantara Painted Scrolls of Northeast Thailand and Lowland Laos”
Scholars have paid little attention to the elements of material culture used by the people of Northeast Thailand and Lowland Laos to insert themselves into the annual retelling of the story of Prince Vessantara. A focus on material culture, especially the 30-40 meter long painted scrolls carried from forest into neighborhood and temple, highlights the assumption by participants of narrative voice, moral action, communal merit-making, and the relationship of individual to state.

October 24, 2008 – Tanet Charoenmuang

Political Science, Chiang Mai University

“Thailand’s Political Mess Since September 19, 2006, and Its Impacts in the North”
The talk will look at 1) the effects of the coup and its government in the North and among the Northerners who are among the strong supporteres of Thaksin; 2) political attitudes and behaviors of the northerners, esp. on the election of Dec 23, 2007; and 3) the reaction in the North to the anti-Thaksin movement which is currently against the elected government.

October 31, 2008 – Cleo Calimbahin

Dissertator, Department of Political Science, UW-Madison

“Retarding or Promoting Democracy: The Commission on Elections in the Philippines”
The Philippines serves as an excellent case to examine and understand the long-term nature of democratization. Despite more than fifty years of experience with election administration, the Commission on Elections has shown itself to be an imperfect democratic institution having gone through periods of institutional reform and deformation.

November 7, 2008 – Tyrell Haberkorn

Peace and Conflict Studies Program, Colgate University

“When Occupational Training is Compulsory: Identifying Violence in Southern Thailand”
In July 2007, nearly 400 citizens were arrested as suspected “terrorists” involved in Islamic insurgency in the three southern-most provinces of Thailand. Denied knowledge of the evidence mobilized against them, they were given the option of being formally charged under the criminal code or undergoing a four-month “occupational training” course. This paper examines the genealogy of compulsory “occupational training” in Thailand, interrogates the lack of legal basis for this practice, and considers it as part of the spectrum of violence perpetrated by state actors in southern Thailand.

November 14, 2008 – Nela Florendo

Department of History and Philosophy, University of Philippines- Baguio

“History and Nation-Building in Southeast Asia: The Social Purpose of Historical Narratives After 1945”
The lecture is a presentation of the historiographic upheaval that took place after Southeast Asian nations gained their political independence. Aside from the the economic rehabilitation that was urgent at that time, the Southeast Asian nations found it an imperative to re-write their histories. There are discernible patterns of memory-making that were undertaken by Southeast Asian countries, but there are also unique contexts that defined some divergences.

November 21, 2008 – Florentino Rodao

History of Social Communication, Faculty of Journalism, Universidad de Madrid Complutense; Visiting Professor, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard

“For God and Franco: The Fascist Movement in the Philippines During the Spanish Civil War”
In the Philippines, the branch of the pro-fascist Falange Party became the first institution of the Spanish community independent to the most wealthy families of the Islands. And in spite of following their leadership in pro-Francoist activities, Falangistas focused instead into anti-oligarch policies, appropriating the fascist discourse into their own ambitions.

December 5, 2008 – Sudarat Musikawong

Media Studies, Willamette University

“Gendered Casualties: Memoirs in Activism and the Problem of Representing Violence, Thailand 1973-2006”
“Gendered Casualties” examines the connections between 1970s feminist activism and sexualized violence against women during the October 6, 1976 massacre as a trauma that refuses to be forgotten, but cannot be articulated. Women involved in the social movements during the 1970s were disciplined first by the operations of nationalism employed by the national security state and were later marginalized by leftist fractured memories about the 1970s.

2008 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 25, 2008 – Megan Thomas

Dept. of Politics, UC-Santa Cruz

“History without Documents: Sources and Methods in the Historical Writings of Philippine Nationalists”
In the 1880s, a number of young Filipinos became interested in writing the history of their people(s) before the arrival of the Spaniards. Hampered by a lack of surviving documents, they employed novel methods—including those of ethnology, linguistics, and folklore—and read Spanish sources against the grain, writing innovative histories during this period of nationalist thought and political agitation.

February 1, 2008 – Shoua Yang

Visiting Asst. Prof., UW-Stevens Point, Political Science

“Hmong Social and Political Capital: The Formation and Maintenance of Hmong-American Organizations”
Previous studies on Hmong-American organizations focus on the issues of intraorganizational conflicts, managerial styles, and functional responsibilities. Although these studies have provided meaningful analyses on serveral aspects of these organizations, what has been left undetected is the topic of organizational formation and maintenance. The talk examines a sample of Hmong-American organizations to explain the formation and maintenance of these cultural émigré organizations. How are these organizations formed in the first place? How have these organizations survived over time?

February 8, 2008 – Kevin Hewison

Director, Carolina Asia Center; Dept. of Asian Studies, UNC at Chapel Hill

“Post-Thaksin Thailand”
Thaksin Shinawatra came to power as a representative of the business class, transformed into a “populist” representative of the poor and dispossessed and was overthrown in a palace-military coup. The paper traces these developments and reflects on the emergence of a conservative Thai-style democracy as an opposition to “populist” mass politics.

Made possible by the University Lectures Committee

February 15, 2008 – Kikue Hamayotsu

Dept. of Political Science, NIU

“The Welfare State or Faith? Explaining Weak Islamist Mobilization in Malaysia”
How do Islamists recruit committed activists and what are the conditions for successful recruitment for Islamist movements? This talk attempts to explain outcomes in the interesting case of Malaysia, where Islamist movements have largely been unsuccessful in recruiting committed followers in one of the most important electoral constituencies: the urban middle-class. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, Prof. Hamayotsu shows that the Malaysian State’s provision of both secular and religious services significantly affects organizational and ideological conditions for Islamist recruitment, and sets Malaysia apart from many other Islamic societies by moderating forces for Islamic radicalism.

February 22, 2008 – Nora Taylor

Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

“Anti-Art in Vietnam: Adventures in (in)visual anthropology”
In spite of rapid economic growth and increased international attention, in the past few years artists in Vietnam have also been subject to greater creative restriction and renewed government censorship. This talk will examine the imaginative ways in which some Vietnamese artists have created experimental works that remain invisible to officials and manage nonetheless to find their way into international bienniales and triennials under the category of non-object, event based, collaborative art.

February 29, 2008 – Gadis Arivia

Philosophy/Women’s Studies, University Indonesia

“Women and Freedom in the Reformasi Era in Indonesia”
Women in Indonesia are facing problems of political and civil liberties in the Reformasi Era. Although Indonesian women have enjoyed some political freedom, they are restricted in their civil liberties due to a new kind of fundamentalism.

March 7, 2008 – Christina Schwenkel,

“Tales of Salvation: Humanitarian Tourism and Historical (Ir)Reconciliation in Vietnam”
This paper looks at the return of US veterans to Vietnam and their efforts to “heal the wounds of war” and mitigate suffering through humanitarian interventions that reinvoke capitalist rescue narratives. Tensions that arise in joint Vietnamese-US commemorative practices that accompany such interventions show reconciliation to be a highly ambivalent, multifaceted process with complex notions of “healing” for all involved.

Co-Sponsered by Trauma Tourism

March 28, 2008 – Nancy Smith-Hefner

Boston University

“Print Culture and the New Muslim Sexology”
Recent studies of Islam in Indonesia, as with studies of Islam in most parts of the world, emphasize pluralized or fractionalized models of religious authority and leadership. One of the most striking features of the contemporary Muslim scene in countries like Indonesia has been the catapulting of various new Muslim intellectuals into a broad array of heretofore secular scholarly topics. In contemporary Indonesia nowhere is this more striking than in the new scholarship and publication on sex, and with it the emergence of a new Muslim sexology.

April 11, 2008 – Duncan McCargo

Professor of Southeast Asian Politics, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

“Reflecting on the Southern Thai conflict:  Islam and Legitimacy in Pattani”
Thailand’s Malay Muslim majority Southern border provinces have been experiencing a renewed violent conflict since January 2004.  This presentation will explore the political underpinnings of the violence, arguing that this is essentially a struggle over land, legitimacy and power, rather that an example of  a global or regional jihad.

April 18, 2008 – Sheila Coronel

Journalism, Columbia University

“Print Culture and the New Muslim Sexology”
Twenty-two years after they ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a peaceful uprising, Filipinos are pessimistic about the future of their damaged democracy. What are the prospects for democratic reform in the Philippines? Who are the change agents?

April 25, 2008 – Christina Schwenkel

“Tales of Salvation: Humanitarian Tourism and Historical (Ir)Reconciliation in Vietnam”
This paper looks at the return of US veterans to Vietnam and their efforts to “heal the wounds of war” and mitigate suffering through humanitarian interventions that reinvoke capitalist rescue narratives. Tensions that arise in joint Vietnamese-US commemorative practices that accompany such interventions show reconciliation to be a highly ambivalent, multifaceted process with complex notions of “healing” for all involved.

Co-Sponsered by Trauma Tourism

May 2, 2008 – Carl Thayer

Political Science, University New South Wales, and currently Frances M. & Stephen F. Fuller Distinguished Visiting Prof. of Southeast Asian Studies, Ohio University

“Vietnam’s One-Party System and the Challenge of Civil Society”
Vietnam’s economic transformation and opening to the outside world has produced a variety of domestic responses ranging across the spectrum from civil society groups willing to work within the system to non-violent opposition groups that have confronted the communist regime. This lecture looks at recent developments and highlights two new factors: growing cross-fertilization among Vietnam’s civil society groups and increased involvement by overseas Vietnamese pro-democracy groups.

May 9, 2008 – Francis Gealogo

History, Ateneo de Manila University

“The 1918 Influenza Pandemic in the Philippines: A Social and Demographic History”
The talk discusses the impact of the 1918 influenza pandemic in Philippine society and its population. It provides some demographic data both on the national and local level, with emphasis on the mortality and morbidity rates that were caused by the pandemic. At the same time, the paper analyzes the implementation of public health programs, the politics of colonial health policies and the reception of the people to the public health measures implemented by the American colonial government during the pandemic.

2007 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 7, 2007 – Ruth De Llobet

History, UW-Madison

“Creole Awakening and the Formation of Filipino Political Consciousness in the 18th and early 19th Centuries”
The awakening of a new political consciousness among the Creoles in Manila occurred within the framework of economic reforms brought by the Bourbons to the colonies at the end of the eighteenth century, as well as the disintegration of the Spanish empire, and the reformulation of the relationship between the metropolis and the remaining colonies in the first half of the nineteenth century. Out of this consciousness developed a new identity among Creoles differentiated from that of the Spaniards, setting the basis of mainstream political discourse over nation, ethnicity, and modernity in the late nineteenth century.

September 14, 2007 – Chito Gascon

International Forum for Democratic Studies

“Democratic Recession in the Philippines: What’s Going On?”
The Philippines is in the midst of a long-running political crisis characterized by serious election irregularities, systemic corruption, continuing conflicts, weakened institutions, and increased human rights violations. The talk will describe the impact of these developments on contemporary Philippine society, consider the factors that have led to this manifest decline, and explore alternatives that could respond to them.

September 21, 2007 – James Warren

Southeast Asian Modern History, Murdoch University

“Typhoon : Climate, History and Society in the Philippines; Some Preliminary Thoughts”
In the Philippines more damage is caused by typhoons,and, the floods they trigger,than by any other natural hazard.This talk will examine aspects of the speaker’s thinking about framing and the impact of cyclonic storms on Philippine society and culture over five centuries.

4:00PM – Film Showing introduced by James Warren
Broken Birds: An Epic Longing
A video of a fusion of docu-drama and music theater inspired by Japanese prostitutes, known as the Karayuki-san–broken by their harsh lives in Singapore.

September 28, 2007 – Dr. Phorphant Ouyyanont

Sukhothai Thammathirat University; Lehigh University

“The Crown Property Bureau in Thailand and the Crisis of 1997”
This paper examines the Thai Crown Property Bureau and the ways in which the 1997 financial crisis affected it. The Bureau survived the crisis by making significant changes in its own management and investment policies, and by promoting similar reforms in two affiliated companies. As a result, the Bureau emerged with an income significantly higher than its peak pre-crisis level.

October 5, 2007 – Ian Coxhead

Agricuture and Applied Economics, UW-Madison

“‘I Dreamed Misery Number 1, Misery Number 2’: Burmese Workers in the Thai Economy” 
Migration by Burmese workers to Thailand has risen dramatically in the past two decades. We review the available data and ask why this migration occurs. We evaluate effects on the welfare of native workers, conditions experienced by Burmese workers in Thailand, and possible effects on Burmese economic welfare. We conclude with some broader discussion of the phenomenon of South-South migration.

Co-Sponsored by the Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy

October 12, 2007 – Ricardo Trota Jose and Lydia N. Yu Jose, Ph.D.

Ricardo Trota Jose- Department of History, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City; Visiting Professor, Saint Norbert College
Lydia N. Yu Jose- Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University; Adjunct Professor and International Visiting Scholar, St. Norbert College

Joint topic: “Historical Memories between the Philippines and Japan.”

Historical Memory as Soft Power: Focus on Japan and the Philippines
LYDIA YU-JOSE: This paper argues that the Philippines and Japan have both used historical memories for diplomatic purposes, but Japan tends to recount pleasant memories, while the Philippines, being the victimized state during World War II, tends to use adverse historical memories to increase its leverage with Japan. The case of the Philippines and Japan shows that the tendency to abuse pleasant memories is greater than the tendency to use adverse memories because the accurate recall of adverse memories is enough to empower the Philippines via-a-vis Japan.

Historical Memory as Soft Power: Focus on Japan and the Philippines
RICO JOSE: In the sixty years since the end of World War II, the Philippines has put up memorials to various events and personalities connected with the war. Some of these were put up by the government, others by private groups, still others by American or Japanese veterans groups. Similarly, commemorative ceremonies are held every year to mark events deemed significant either by the government (national or local), veterans groups or private organizations. The memorials and ceremonies sometimes dovetail with each other, but sometimes cause controversy, such as in the erection of a monument to the Kamikaze in October 2004. Movies dealing with the war, not being bound by the same rules or circumstances of the monuments and ceremonies, first reflected standard views of the war, moving on to explore other less popular themes.

October 19, 2007 – Ingrid Jordt

Anthropology, UW-Milwaukee

“Burma In Crisis”
Burma’s military regime has sought to solidify its hold on power, since the last popular uprising in 1988, by undertaking patronage of monks, nuns and Buddhist edifices. The talk explores whether the junta’s efforts to present themselves as legitimate rulers in Buddhist terms are now forfeit following the murder and brutal treatment of monks engaged in non-violent rebuke of the military through refusing the military’s alms. What policy implications might be drawn from mass non-violent protest against totalitarian regimes in an age when states appear to have the capability of ruling through force alone and not through moral legitimacy?

October 26, 2007 – Elizabeth Drexler

Anthropology, Michigan State University

“Securing the Insecure State”
Indonesia under Soeharto was a fundamentally insecure state. The state sustained itself through anxieties and insecurities generated by historical and human rights accounts of earlier violence. This talk considers the legacies of imagined enemies In the Aceh conflict and questions the assumption of international human rights organizations that the exposure of past violence promotes accountability and reconciliation rather than the repetition of abuses.

November 2, 2007 – Don Emmerson

Professor & Senior Fellow, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Freeman Spogli Institute for Intl. Studies, Stanford University

“Re-imagining Indonesia: NKRI, Nusantara, and the Enigma of National Identity”
Indonesian nationalists are proud that their country stretches from “Sabang to Merauke” more than 3,000 miles west to east, but in what sense is this true, on maps or in our minds? What will inspire the country’s future identities: Pancasile, Democracy, Islam, the clear-cut and non-negotiable borders of Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia, or the porous and pre-nationalist ones of Nusantara?

November 9, 2007 – Nirwan Dewanto

Essayist/Poet/Editor, Founder of Kommunitas Utan Kayu, Jakarta; Fellow, Intl. Writing Program, University of Iowa

“Holy Dog, Rubber Time: 15 Indonesian Contemporary Artists”
This lecture will introduce 15 emerging Indonesian visual artists. While no longer exercising seriousness, heroism, didactism, they long for national identity as did their “modernist” precursors. Their works can be appraised as social allegory, and they debunk the nature of visual representation. Their passionate inclusion of mass culture, local craft-works, and trash, indicates that they not only to strive towards an alternate modernity, but they also allude to the absence of public space.

November 16, 2007 – Jacques Bertrand

Asian Institute, University of Toronto

“Being “Indigenous” in Indonesia and the Philippines: Contradictions and Pitfalls”
In recent years, a number of groups in Southeast Asia have tapped into the international discourse, networks, and instruments on “indigenous peoples” to gain leverage over their national governments and improve their political, social and economic status.The paper argues that efforts by groups such as Papuans in Indonesia and Igorot peoples in the Philippines for such recognition raise some unique problems. While being recognized as “indigenous” might help to build networks internationally, the “indigenous” prism creates contradictions, and perhaps even pitfalls, internally, as other groups dispute these claims to “indigeneity.

November 30, 2007 – Thak Chaloemtiarana

Director, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University

“Autobiographies of the Rich, the Gorgeous, and the Comical: Iconic Achievers in Contemporary Thai Society “
Autobiographies of famous people is currently trendy in Thailand. What do we learn about the society from the stories of movie and sport stars, TV anchors, tycoons, politicians, beauty queens, comedians and more?

December 7, 2007 – Diep Phan

Agricultural & Applied Economics, UW-Madison

“Inter-provincial Migration and Inequality during Vietnam’s Transition”
Vietnam’s economic boom during the transition to a market economy has centered on very rapid growth in some sectors and some provinces, yet poverty has diminished across the entire country. With capital investments highly concentrated by province and sector, geographic labor mobility may be critical in spreading the gains from growth. Conversely, rising income inequality may be attributable in part to impediments to migration. We first use census data to investigate migration patterns and determinants. We then examine the role of migration as an influence on cross-province income differentials. The former analysis robustly confirms economic motives for migration but also suggests the existence of poverty-related labor immobility at the provincial level. Examination of income differentials between pairs of provinces reveals that the impact of migration on inequality can be either negative or positive. A robust inequality-reducing impact of migration is found for migration flows into provinces where most of Vietnam?s trade-oriented industrial investments are located.

December 14, 2007 – Kazuhiro Ota

Graduate School of Human Development & Environment, Kobe University

“Poverty in the Philippines: Adverse Mixture of State, Civil Society, and Market”
Why has the situation of the poor improved very slowly although anti-poverty policies have been implemented by the governments since 1980s? The functions of State, Civil Society, and Market, and the mixture of them would explain this underperformance.

2007 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 26, 2007 – Karen Turner

History, Holy Cross College

When Enemy Women Speak: New Voices from Vietnam;
Evening film title: Hidden Warriors: Women on the Ho Chi Minh Trail”

50 minute film to be shown Friday evening 7:30 pm, 114 Van Hise, discussion to follow.
The presentation will center on the memories of women soldiers from North Vietnam, their views of the U.S., their lives during the war, and their post-war experiences. Turner attempts to place Vietnam’s women warriors in the context of women soldiers more universally and asks what we can learn from Vietnamese women as female U.S. soldiers in Iraq cope with war and its aftermath.

February 2, 2007 – Andy Sutton

Music, UW-Madison

“New Developments in Indonesian Music”

February 9, 2007 – Michael Salman

History, UCLA

“Collecting the Empire: Jose E. Marco’s Forgeries and the Confabulation of American Imperial Knowledge in the Chalabian Moment”
Formalistic assumptions can direct attention to the colonial state as the defining institution of empire, leading us to see colonialism and empire primarily as the acts and actions of particular national governments and their colonial states abroad, as in the case of the American colonial state in the Philippines. I will suggest that we might then miss seeing how the commercial basis of American world power – operating through libraries, museums, universities, mass media, and myriad other loci of transactions – worked to construct colonial relationships and knowledge in dispersed ways that exceeded the reach and national definition of colonial states, always depending upon networks of services, knowledges, and politics extending from and interlaced with the colonized.

February 16, 2007 – TBA

February 23, 2007 –  Karen Derris

Religious Studies, University of Redlands

“Seeing a mythic sangha: Paccekabuddhas in Pali commentaries and Thai mural paintings”
Mural paintings of paccekabuddhas, mythic Buddhas, fill the walls of the monastic hall at Wat Suthat, a royal temple in Bangkok. The relationship between these paintings and commentarial narratives of Paccekabuddhas potentially opens new approaches to understanding this category of enlightened being.

March 2, 2007 – Prajak Kongkirati

Political Science, UW-Madison

“The Art of Resistance under Military Dictatorship: Thai Student and Intellectual Movement before the October 14 Uprising”
Kongkirati investigates the October 14th, 1973 mass uprising, focusing on the intellectual movements of students and other intellectuals in Thailand under military dictatorship from 1963-1973. The study centers on the nature of the cultural ideological currents–nationalism, the new left, Thai socialism, and royalism, derived from diverse local and foreign sources that prompted these two groups to challenge state authority.

March 9, 2007 – Allen Hicken

“Constitutional Reform and the Rise (and Fall?) of Thaksin”

March 16, 2007 – Vince Rafael

“The Afterlife of Empire: Sovereignty and Revolution in the Philippines”
This paper asks about the notion of sovereignty that emerges in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Philippines, relating it to the legacies of Spanish-Christian colonial rule, nationalist revolution and American imperial intervention.

March 23, 2007 – No Friday Forum

(Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting)

March 30, 2007 – No Friday Forum

(Spring Break)

April 13, 2007 – Muhammad Haji Salleh

“Rowing Down Two Rivers”
A reading of a selection of poems in Malay and English from 30 years of Muhammad Haji Saleh’s work, written from the experience of Southeast Asia, Asia, Europe and USA.

April 20, 2007 – Bhavia Carol Wagner

“Soul Survivors: Women and Children of Cambodia”
Thirty years of violence, including US bombing, genocide and civil war, shattered Cambodian society. Bhavia Wagner describes with slides the lives of Cambodian women and children today including those who are rebuilding Cambodia and addressing the current challenges of poverty, corruption, AIDS, trafficking and landmines.

2006 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 8, 2006 – Ian Coxhead

Ag. Econ., UW-Madison

“Vietnam’s WTO Accession: Process, Progress and Prospects”
In May 2006, Vietnam and the U.S. agreed to terms under which the U.S. would support Vietnam’s bid to join the WTO. What does Vietnam stand to gain from WTO accession? What sacrifices has it made to achieve this? In 2000, Vietnam and the U.S. had signed a bilateral trade agreement. Why were new talks required? How important to Vietnam are economic relations with the US? How will WTO accession interact with the doi moi reform program?

September 15, 2006 – Paul Handley


“The King Never Smiles: The Politics of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej”
In 60 years on the throne, Thailand’s venerable King Bhumibol has established an image as being above politics and as an independent force for liberal democratic values. Handley, whose recent biography of the king was banned in Thailand, will talk about how Bhumibol created this image, all the while playing an active and highly conservative political role which has stifled democratic development.

September 22, 2006 – Kris Olds

Geography, UW-Madison

“Global Assemblage: Singapore, Western Universities, and the Socio-Economic Development Process”
This talk focuses on the critical role of academic freedom as an underlying factor in the globalization of education services, and global knowledge flows. This issue is explored via an analysis of the 1997 to present creation of opportunities for the provision of new foreign-led or foreign-linked “education services”, especially Western higher education services, in Singaporean space.

September 29, 2006 – Wilfrido Villacorta

Professor Emeritus, De La Salle University

“ASEAN: A Continuing Experiment in Regioncraft”
The institutional development of ASEAN is a process of managing the diversity of its member countries–the differences in political systems, cultures, economic development, geo-strategic traits, and foreign relations. As ASEAN’s former Deputy Secretary-General, Villacorta examines what binds member countries, and the implications for the Asia-Pacific region’s future.

October 6, 2006 – Terence Lee

Political Science Ph.D., UW-Madison & Post-Doc. Fellow, Harvard University

“Crackdown? The Military and Regime Maintenance in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand”
In a political crisis, under what conditions will militaries comply with an authoritarian regime? order to suppress demonstrations and protect the regime? The presentation analyzes the cases of military non-compliance to the task of regime maintenance during the October 1973 Thailand, February 1986 Philippines, and May 1998 Indonesia political crises in which major demonstrations led to the collapse of the Thanom and Praphat, Marcos and Suharto regimes, respectively. The presentation also examines why the Thai military complied with orders to put down pro-democracy demonstrations in May 1992.

October 13, 2006 – James Ockey


“Identity and the Religio-nationalist pilgrimages of Haji Sulong Abdulkadir al Fattani”

October 20, 2006 – No Friday Forum

October 27, 2006 – Eric Tagliacozzo

Associate Professor of History, Cornell University

“Remembering Devotion: Oral History and the Pilgrimage to Mecca from Southeast Asia”
This talk explores the pilgrimage to Mecca (or Hajj) through oral history testimonies of Muslims from many countries in Southeast Asia. The talk is the last chapter of an ongoing book project which is attempting to write the history of the Hajj from this huge and extremely diverse region.
Room Change: 8411 Social Sciences

November 3, 2006 – Thongchai Winichakul

History, UW-Madison

“Conversations with the Perpetrators”
Thirty years after the October 1976 massacre in Bangkok, how do those who involved in the killing look back and talk about their roles in the incident? What are “patterns” of their views of the past? Is there any revealing truth? What is the future of the memory of the massacre?

November 10, 2006 – No Friday Forum

November 17, 2006 – Nonglak Rojanasaeng

Development Studies, UW-Madison

“Problems and Prospects of Adaptive Co-Management (ACM) of the Fishing Communities in Phangnga Bay, Southern Thailand”
There is now evidence that the plan for ACM is both feasible and applicable, and that the present conditions are conducive to such planning in at least three areas–in resource management, in a capable local community, and in the support and collaboration with stakeholders.

November 24, 2006 – No Friday Forum

(Thanksgiving break Nov 23-26)

December 1, 2006 – Erick Danzer


“Rise of the Farmers: Democratization and Agricultural Politics in Indonesia”
In this talk, Erick Danzer describes key patterns of agricultural politics during the New Order as well as how those patterns have changed since 1998. In particular, he shows how the political position of farmers has improved as a result of economic and political liberalization.

December 8, 2006 – Mary McCoy

“When Stories Get Legs: Baligate, Bulogate and All the Gates”
The talk addresses the question of why some stories, and not others, get legs. Cases from both the US and Indonesia provide a key to understanding the narrative arc of non-proprietary coverage of scandal.

December 15, 2006 – Last class day: No Friday Forum


2006 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 20, 2006 – Ulil Abshar-Abdalla

Religion, Boston University

“The Debate on Pluralism in Indonesia: The Case of MUI’s Fatwa”
In 2005, Majelis Ulama Indonesia(MUI), a state-sponsored body of Muslom clerics, issued an edict rendering liberalism, seculiarism and pluralism as un-Islamic ideas, sparking a debate on the issue of pluralism in Indonesia. Since the collapse of Suharto’s authoritarian regime in 1998, the debate on pluralism indicates that the search for the cultural grounding of democratic notion within the local cultural framework of Islam is not an easy task.

January 27, 2006 – Ehito Kimura

Poli. Sci., UW-Madison

“Provincial Proliferation on the Indonesian Archipelago”
Kimura addresses the historical and institutional roots of the “pemekaran wilayah” phenomenon–the creation of new provinces and districts in Indonesia.

February 3, 2006 -Michiko Tsuneda

Anthropology, UW-Madison

“Kathoey Islam? Pone Siam?: Transgendering and Border-Crossing Among Malay-speaking Muslims in Southern Border Communities of Thailand”
This presentation will examine the ways in which transgendered individuals cross national and ethnic boundaries in order to manage their ambiguous social position in Malay-speaking Muslim communities near the southern border of Thailand.

February 10, 2006 – Damien Kingsbury

Intl. and Political Studies, Deakin University

“The Aceh Peace Process: Achievements and Prospects”
On August 15, 2005, the Free Acheh Movement (GAM) and the Government of Indonesia signed a peace agreement to end almost three decades of separatist conflict. The peace agreement has flaws, and there are serious obstacles to its implementation. However, the framework for peace now exists, so that the parties can return to it should implementation stumble.

February 17, 2006 – Yang Thai Vang and Va Choua Vang

“Hmong Shamanism”
Cheng who is a UW-Madison student, along with his father who is also a Shaman will talk about the Hmong religion and other aspects of Hmong culture. The lecture will most likely be in question/answer format.

February 24, 2006 – CSEAS Student Symposium

March 3, 2006 – Takeshi Kawanaka

Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan. Visiting Scholar, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University

“Political Institutions and Fiscal Policy in the Philippines”
The talk will explore how constitutional setting shapes policy outcomes in the Philippines. The president’s control over budget and the congress’ strong veto power in policy legislation are considered to intensify bargaining and, eventually, affect policies.

March 10, 2006 – No Friday Forum

(Spring Recess)

March 17, 2006 – No Friday Forum

(Spring Recess)

March 24, 2006 – Discussion with Paul Hutchcroft and Thonchai Winichakul

Paul Hutchcroft– Poli.Sci., UW-Madison
Thonchai Winichakul– History, UW-Madison

“Democratization Derailed?: Analyzing the Current Political Crises in Thailand and the Philippines”
In both Thailand and the Philippines, chief executives are facing–and resisting–widespread demands for their resignation. The speakers will analyze various facets of the current political turmoil: the grievances against Prime Minister Thaksin and President Arroyo, the strength and character of opposition forces, and possible paths toward resolution of the crises afflicting the two countries.

March 31, 2006 -Anne Booth


“Did it really help to be a Japanese colony? The East Asian Miracle in Historical Perspective”
A comparison of Japanese colonial policies in Taiwan and Korea, with those in Southeast Asia reveals that in parts of Southeast Asia–particularly the Philippines–levels of development during the late 1930s were comparable with those in Taiwan, and better than in Korea.

April 7, 2006 – No Friday Forum

April 14, 2006 – Yukti Mukdawijitra

Anthro., UW-Msn

“Multiple Literacy, Contesting Identity: Tai Indigenous Literacy in Contemporay Vietnam”
In light of modern nation-state building, along with the national script, ethnic scripts play a significant role to maintain ethnic diversity and construct national unity. How Vietnam struggles with the dilemma between national identity and ethnic diversity is demonstrated through state policies and local use of ethnic Tai script.

April 21, 2006 -Alfred McCoy

History, UW-Madison

“American Colonial Policing in the Philippines & the Origins of the US National Security State”

April 28, 2006 – Susan Walton

Ethnomusicology, Michigan

“Aesthetic and Spiritual Correlations in Javanese Gamelan Music”
Music making, the structure of the music, musical styles and the creation of melodies have close parallels in the Javanese mystical world. The talk addresses these connections between the tradition of gamelan music in Java and mystical traditions.

May 5, 2006 – No Friday Forum last day of classes

2005 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 2, 2005 – Denni Purbasari

Economics, University of Colorado Boulder

“Rent Seeking in Developing Countries: Firm-Level Evidence from Indonesia”
Political connections have been widely discussed in the literature of corruption, but little work has been done to empirically identify either the presence of corruption or the channels through which it operates. Using Indonesia as a case study we find that politically connected firms are more likely to receive trade protection which impose substantial welfare cost on the Indonesian economy.

September 9, 2005 – Andy Sutton

Music, UW-Madison

“Beyond Bricolage? Music and Image on Indonesian VCDs” 
Since their first appearance in Indonesia in the late 1990s, VCDs have become the dominant mode of distribution not only for movies but for music as well. Sutton’s lecture considers VCDs of national and regional popular music, focusing on the content of these multi-layered media products and the aesthetic puzzles they pose.

September 16, 2005  – Fadjar I.Thufail

Anthropology, UW-Madison

“Possessed Nation: Forging Political Community Five Years after the May 1998 Riots”
The May 1998 riots in Indonesia remain an uncharted space years later. Soeharto’s resignation and the New Order regime’s downfall following the riots are historic events but provide little to assure a political climate for Indonesians to revisit the legacy of past violence. Amidst this uncertainty, human rights advocacy groups and victims of New Order violence confronted the legacy of violence by holding an unprecedented national gathering of violence victims (Temu Korban Nasional) in 2002-2003. This talk charts the landscapes of possessed grievance that both the human rights activists and the victims evoke to make their experiences of suffering and injustice meaningful.

Room Change: 1418 Van Hise

September 23, 2005 – Mary McCoy

Communications, Northwestern

“Scandal in the Making of a Modern Democracy: the Case of Indonesia”

September 30, 2005 – Paul Hutchcroft

Poli. Sci., UW-Madison

“The Deepening Crisis of Democracy in the Philippines”
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo struggles to retain power as she faces allegations that close relatives are involved in gambling syndicates and still more damaging accusations of complicity in fixing the May 2004 elections. Unlike the crises of 1986 and 2001, when “people power revolutions” brought new leadership and nurtured fresh hopes, the crisis of 2005 reveals a democracy desperately struggling for legitimacy.

Room Change: 1418 Van Hise

October 7, 2005 – Joseph Liow

Institute of Defense & Strategic Studies, Singapore

“Islam and Resistance in Pattani and Mindanao” 
Since 9/11, we have all been seized by how Islam appears to define the ideological and tactical parameters of conflicts involving Muslim populations. This talk hopes to critically interrogate the role of Islam in the ongoing conflicts in southern Thailand and southern Philippines.

October 14, 2005 – Ramon Santos

Music, U. Philippines

“Traditional Music in Religion and Worship in the Philippines”
Prof. Santos will focus on the religious music, the liturgical and extra-liturgical rites in Filipino cultural communities.

October 21, 2005 – Nancy Smith-Hefner

Anthropology, Boston University

“More Sex in the City?  Youth and Sexuality in Muslim Java”
This paper looks at contemporary Muslim Javanese youth in the Central Javanese city of Yogyakarta and the current controversies surrounding youth sexuality.

October 28, 2005 – Aaron Pitluck

Sociology and Anthropology, Illinois State

“Investors and their Brokers in the Malaysian Stock Market: Some New Ideas on Investor Confidence”
Drawing on over one hundred ethnographic interviews with financial workers in Malaysia, Aaron Pitluck advocates a social networks perspective to better understand Malaysian investors’ behavior. The talk will explore implications to understand the rapid construction or destruction of investor confidence in a nation.

November 4, 2005 – Karen Coates and Jeremy Redfern

“Cambodia Now: Life in the Wake of War”
Cambodia has never recovered from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime and two decades of war that ripped the country apart. Award-winning journalist Coates and photojournalist Redfern speak about their new book that provides a portrait of contemporary Cambodia through its people.

November 11, 2005 – Eric Haanstad

Anthropology, UW-Madison

“The State Demands Sacrifices: Yaa Baa, Red Bull, and Ritual Killings in the Thai Drug Wars” 
Haanstad investigates Thailand’s drug wars, highlighting some of the campaign’s most profitable political economies, as well as violent displays of order and overt deceptions.

November 18, 2005 – Pegi Deitz Shea


“The Search for Hope: The Whispering Cloth and Tangled Threads” 
Author Pegi Deitz Shea discusses how she found her story to tell young readers about the Hmong, their struggles and their strength, their tragedies and their triumphs.

November 25, 2005 – No Friday Forum (Thanksgiving break Nov 24-27)

December 2, 2005 – John Peck

Ph.D., UW-Madison Institute of Environmental Studies

“The Struggle for Fair Trade, Food Sovereignty, and Rural Justice in East Timor: Report Back from the 2005 Madison Ainaro Sister City Delegation”
John E. Peck received his PhD in Land Resources (IES) from UW-Madison in 2004.  He is currently executive director of Family Farm Defenders, a national grassroots organization based in Madison, WI that works on issues of sustainable agriculture, rural justice, fair trade, consumer safety, animal welfare, farm worker rights, and food sovereignty. In Aug. 2005 John participated in a three week visit to East Timor.

December 9, 2005 – Evan Winet

Asian Languages and Cultures, Macalester College

“Under the Veil of Nationalism: Islam and Modern Indonesian Theatre”
Evan Winet received a Ph.D from Stanford University in Drama and Humanities in 2000. His particular areas of interest include Indonesian and Other Asian Theaters; Directing and Dramaturgy; Masks, Puppets and Performing Objects; History and Theories of Drama, Theater and Performance and Postcolonial Theory.

December 15, 2005 – Last class day No Friday Forum

2005 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 21, 2005 – Cliff Thompson

Law School, UW-Madison

“Developing Economic Law Capability in Indonesia” 
Law reform began in the 90s without sufficient Indonesian capacity to carry it out. The talk will focus upon the role of Thompson and others to help build a viable situation.

January 28, 2005 – Megan Sinnott

Anthro., Yale University

“Sexuality in Thailand and the Trouble with Queer: Why We Need to Bring Gender Back into the Study of Global Queer Sexuality” 
Scholars are increasingly turning to the topics of gay and lesbian sexualities in non-western settings, and the effects of transnationalism and globalization on these sexualities. However, the lack of feminist analysis of gender dynamics has led to decontextualized descriptions of homosexuality and transgenderism. An examination of the dynamics of the sex/gender order in Thailand will illustrate the importance of a feminist analysis for the understanding of male and female sexual subcultures.

February 4, 2005 – Joseph Errington

Anthro., Yale

“Shapes of Change in Javanese Indonesia(n): Language and Identity in Troubled Times”
Since the fall of the New Order, movements for autonomy have emerged all over Indonesia, including newly fragmented regions of Java. This talk provides a language-centered outline of political and cultural issues involved in ongoing shifts from older, “official” versions of Javanese ethnicity to newer, more localized senses of collective identity.

February 11, 2005 -Philip Short

Writer, BBC Correspondent ’77-’98

“Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare”
The Cambodian leader, Pol Pot, was the architect of a revolution whose radical egalitarianism exceeded any other in history. In the three years he held power, he transformed his country into a slave state in which more than a million people–a fifth of the population–perished. How did an idealistic dream of justice mutate into one of humanity’s worst nightmares? The writer, Philip Short, discusses the causes of the Cambodian tragedy; the responsibility of outside powers, including the US; and the perils of imposing simplistic solution on complicated problems–an issue which remains highly relevant today.

February 18 – Ara Wilson

Women’s Studies, Ohio State University

“The Intimate Economies of Bangkok”
This talk builds on my 2004 ethnography, The Intimate Economies of Bangkok, which examines the intimate effects of globalization on Thais by highlighting the interaction of global capitalism with local moral economies. Using a range of examples, including Amway, sex work, and shopping malls, I show how gender, ethnicity, and sexuality are intertwined with the expanse of the transnational market economy.

February 25, 2005 – Sally Ness

Dance, UC Riverside

“Going Back to Bateson; Towards a Semeiotics of Balinese Dance”
Gregory Bateson’s collaborative work with Margaret Mead on Balinese nonverbal activity is generally recognized as pioneering research that originated the field of visual anthropology. Bateson’s extensive work filming Balinese body movement practices also produced a distinctive interpretive perspective on dance movement that deserves recognition as having anticipated analytical frameworks developed only many decades later. While Bateson’s achievements were to a considerable extent methodologically driven, the question remains as to what distinctive features of Balinese dance also contributed to the development of Bateson’s extraordinary analytical perspective.

March 4, 2005 – Alda Blanco

Spanish and Portuguese, UW-Madison

“Memory Work and Empire: Madrid’s Philippine Exhibition, 1887” 
This paper analyzes the “General Exhibition of the Philippine Islands” which took place in Madrid in 1887. The only colonial exhibition to be held in Spain, it attempted to invigorate Spain’s colonial relationship with the Philippines by displaying the material culture of the archipelago and its inhabitants.

March 11, 2005 – Steve McKay

Sociology, UW-Madison

“Born to Sail? Filipino Seafarers and the Colonial Construction of an Ethnic Labor Niche” 
The paper analyzes the historical rise and contemporary reproduction of the Filipino ethnic niche in global seafaring. I first document the role of three American colonial institutions that helped racialize Filipino labor and channel it into the US Navy and Merchant Marines. I then turn to how the contemporary Philippine state continues to regulate the labor niche and craft narratives of heroism and masculinity to reinforce it.

March 18, 2005 – No FF

April 1, 2005 – AAS No FF

April 8, 2005 – Panel with Dr. Srisompob Jitpiromsri, and Dr. Wattana Sugunnasil

Prince Songkhla University-Pattani

“Violence and Conflicts in the Malay-Muslim Region of Southern Thailand”
Violence in the Malay-Muslim region of Southern Thailand has become a crisis since 2004. Why? How the Thai government’s response to the crisis has failed, perhaps even exacerbate the crisis?

April 15, 2005 – Alexander Horstmann

Institut für Ethnologie, Westphalian University of Münster

“Religious Purification and Resistance in Southern Thailand: The Tablighi Jama’at in Nakhon Si Thammarat”
The talk explores the tensions and the borderline between local and universal concepts of Islam. Research on the Thai-speaking Muslim communities in Nakhon Si Thammarat in the Gulf of Thailand reveals that the Tablighi Jama’at, probably the largest Islamic missionary movement of the world, are flourishing in Muslim villages, take over control of the mosques and of the local public sphere. Yet, as local Muslim authorities stick to the old ways, the purification campaign cannot be fully implemented.

April 22, 2005 – David Engel

Law School, State University of New York – Buffalo
“Globalization and the Decline of Legal Consciousness: Torts, Ghosts, and Karma in Thailand”
Based on fieldwork in Chiangmai in the 1970s and in the 1990s, the talk explores the chaning role of law in the consicousness and behavior of ordinary Thai people, suggesting that injured people in Chianmai actually rely less on the law than in the past. The “decline of legal consciousness” can be explained in terms of a transformation in the relationship between Buddhism and locality-based remediation practices.

April 29, 2005 – Rene Lysloff

Ethnomusicology, UC-Riverside

“Seni Posmo: The Dilemma of Contemporary Indonesian Music”
Yogyakarta, the heart of Central Javanese traditional high culture, is also the epicenter of contemporary arts, including new music. These artists view themselves as postmodernists, rejecting the nihilist and reactionary urges in modernism, while drawing inspiration from traditional and popular forms even as they criticize the crass commercialism of pop or the elitist values of Western classical and Javanese court music. In this context postmodernism can also be seen as an expression of post-colonial sensibilities, an aesthetic strategy to embrace and reject Western cultural domination.

2004 Fall Semester Friday Forum

September 3, 2004 – Mike Boehm

Project Director for the Madison Quaker Projects in Vietnam

“Micro Loan Projects and Other Experimental Projects in Central Vietnam”
Micro loan projects among poor women in Quang Nai Province in Vietnam; slide show that is very moving, showing many of the women who have received loans in My Lai Village. The loan projects, which are similar to those of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, are very impressive.

September 10, 2004 – Andrew Causey

Anthropology, Columbia College, Chicago

“Out of the Swim: Post-Tourism Times at Lake Toba, North Sumatra”
Andrew Causey discusses the effects of severely declining tourism on the lives of Toba Bataks living on Samosir Island, Lake Toba, Sumatra. Based on a recent return trip to the area, Causey addresses social and economic changes that have transpired since his fieldwork in 1994-1995.

September 17, 2004 – Ken George

Anthropology, UW – Madison

“Violence, Culture, and the Indonesian Public Sphere: Reworking the Geertzian Legacy”

September 24, 2004– Robert Hefner

Anthropology, Boston University

“Islam & the Cultural Possibility of Democracy: Some Bittersweet Lessons from Indonesia”
This paper examines recent developments in Indonesian Muslim politics with an eye to assessing the obstacles and achievements of Indonesia’s civil-democratic Muslims. It also uses Indonesian case as a point of reflection on some general challenges to democratization in the Muslim world.

October 1, 2004 – Felicidad A.Prudente

Ph.D. Ethnomusicology, University of the Philippines

“The Jama Mapun Kulintangan: Gong Tradition of Tawi-Tawi, Philippines”
The presentation expounds on the Jama Mapun kulintangan as a metaphor of dynamic interaction within the Sulu zone. Video clips of kulintangan ensemble performance will complement the lecture.

October 8, 2004 – Paul Kramer

History, John Hopkins University

“The Blood of Government: Race and Empire Between the United Sates and the Philippines”

October 15, 2004 – Baskara T. Wardaya

History, Sanata Dharma University

“Cold War Shadow: U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Indonesia During the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations (1953-1963)”
With the Indonesian communists continuing to be on the rise, the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) decided to involve itself directly in preventing a communist takeover of Indonesia. Working through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in 1957-1958 the administration supported the Indonesian regional military commands in their opposition to Indonesia’s central government and military command, which the administration thought were pro-communist. In policy attitudes slightly different from those of the Eisenhower administration, the short-lived administration of President John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) presented itself to be more open to the aspiration of the Indonesian people, as it was more open to the aspirations of other newly-independent countries. The administration’s willingness to mediate Dutch-Indonesian dispute over West New Guinea as well as its eagerness to prevent Indonesia’s opposition to the Federation of Malaysia into a direct military conflict demonstrated such openness.
Continuing the Truman and Eisenhower administrations’ tradition of viewing Indonesia under the shadow of the Cold War, however, the Kennedy administration’s policies on the two issues were motivated by fear of losing Indonesia to the communists.
As it realized the importance of Indonesia to remain noncommunist and to stay neutral in the Cold War antagonism—particularly when in Vietnam the communists appeared to be gaining control by the day—the administration intended to address Indonesia’s concerns and rebuild U.S.-Indonesian relations. Unfortunately, President Kennedy’s plans to deal with the concerns and to build closer relations with Indonesia—including a plan to visit the country in early 1964—never materialized. The bullets that killed the President on November 22, 1963, also destroyed his initiatives to restore U.S.-Indonesian relations.

***260 Bascom Hall***

October 22, 2004 – Ian Coxhead

Agricultural and Applied Economics, UW-Madison

“Emerging Trade with China and the Natural Resource Curse in S.E. Asia”
The rapid growth of China and its increasing integration with Asian and world markets is expected to have significant effects on the structure of production and trade in SE Asian economies, including the increased demand for natural resources. These trends will interact with decentralization, a phenomenon sweeping through Southeast Asia. If sufficiently severe, the combination of higher demand for natural resources and diminished constraints on their exploitation could expose the region to reduced rates of aggregate economic growth.

October 29, 2004 – Adam Knee

Film, Ohio University

“Reappearing Bodies: The Curious Persistence of the Horror Genre in Contemporary Thai Cinema”
This talk will examine the prevalence of the horror genre in post-1996 Thai cinema. The focus will be on the genre’s consistent preoccupations with issues of gender, of the body, and of history. The talk will close with speculation as to why this genre, resonant of woman’s oppression and historical trauma, appears to so peculiarly haunt contemporary Thai culture.

***1418 Van Hise*******

November 5, 2004 – Martha Ratliff

Linguistics, Wayne State University

“The Hmong Homeland”
The notion of a prehistoric “homeland” is mysterious and evocative, and therefore serves as a frequent topic of folk tales and popular histories. Although linguistic evidence can only take us back so far, I have used this more secure and objective form of evidence to establish a rough location for the Hmong-Mien peoples of Southeast Asia at c. 2000 BP that contradicts popular accounts.

November 12, 2004 – Michael Cullinane

CSEAS & History, UW-Madison

“Bringing in the Brigands: The Politics of Pacification in the Colonial Philippines, 1902-1906”
Sponsored by Empire in Transition: A Cultural and Historical Case Study of the
Philippines Lecture Series and Friday Forum Lecture Series.

November 15,2004– James Siegel

Anthropology, Cornell University

“The Expedition to Samalanga: Sword and Camera in Atjeh (1901)”

The jihad takes on multiple meanings in Islam. One example occurred in the war between Acehnese and Dutch which began in 1873. It is striking that in the war that wages today between Acehnese and the Indonesian army, the jihad in its old form is missing. Just what jihad was in the 19th and early 20th centuries and its effects on memory is approached obliquely through the use (and refusal) of photography in Indonesia. Necessarily this is accompanied by a commentary on the aesthetic of the photograph.

Sponsored by Cultural Anthropology Seminar Series and The Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

November 19, 2004 – Jack Rutledge

Agricultural and Life Sciences, UW-Madison

“Applications of Reproductive Biology Technology and Indigenous Knowledge to Dairying in Southeast Asia” 
Increased domestic milk production is a goal of many third-world countries, but productive breeds lack tropical adaptation while tropically adapted breeds (or species) lack productive capability. For centuries it has been known that crosses of the two types yield an excellent dairy animal, but breeding from the hybrid base is fruitless. Since reproductive excess in cattle is meager and half the calves born are male and useless for milk production, systems of production based on natural reproduction utilizing the crosses are untenable. Technology intervention using sex-control and in vitro embryo production remove these impediments.

November 26, 2004 – Thanksgiving Recess: NO FF

November 29, 2004 – John Duffy

English/Writing Center, Notre Dame University

“Literacy, Identity, and the Hmong in Laos, 1950-1975”
This talk examines the intersections of literacy development and identity construction as experienced by the Hmong of Laos from 1950 to 1975. Duffy will discuss the role of the state, of missionary Christians, and of the United States CIA in using literacy to promote identities for the Hmong people, and he considers the ways in which the Hmong used their newly developed literacy skills to revise and re-imagine these

December 3, 2004 – Kurt Schwabe

Environ. Sci., UC-Riverside

“Orang Asli Communities in Peninsular Malaysia: Activities, Income, and Well-being”
While overall poverty in Malaysia has been reduced to less than 8% in recent years, a disproportionate 81% of Orang Asli still live below the poverty line (Nicholas 2002). This research investigates the potential role of markets, natural resource availability, and government in influencing the poverty and well-being of one particular Orang Asli community, the Jah Hut.

December 10,2004 – Ingrid Muan

Fine Arts, Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh

“Haunted S: Painting and History in Phnom Penh”cenes (Last Friday Forum)
This presentation considers the history of painting and the painting of history in Phnom Penh during the 20th century. Muan will briefly sketch successive representational regimes of two dimensional ornament (the Protectorate period) and the view from life (the period of Independence), before considering the way in which these two regimes intertwine to haunt contemporary painting in the city today. Bringing undercurrents to the surface through this formal analysis, Muan then considers the subjects of contemporary painting in order to speculate what these representations and their omissions – might reveal about contemporary urban society in Cambodia.

2004 Spring Semester Friday Forum

January 23, 2004 – Michael Malley

Political Science, Ohio University

“Incompatible Institutions? Centralized Parties, Fragmented Legislatures, and Decentralization in Indonesia”
Decentralization is a common goal of countries around the world, including several in Southeast Asia. One of the most ambitious efforts to empower local governments is taking place in Indonesia. Critics typically attribute the widespread corruption and other problems that have accompanied its implementation to shortcomings in the laws that govern decentralization and to the venality of Indonesian politicians. I argue that such problems are also the unintended consequence of other institutions. Paradoxically, the laws that democratized Indonesia also tend to limit local voters’ ability to hold their elected officials accountable. This tends to create a permissive environment for corruption, clientelism, and other practices that place the private interests of elected officials above the public interest.

January 30, 2004 – Julian Go

Sociology, Univ. of Illinois, Champaigne-Urbana

“American Empire and the Politics of Meaning in Puerto Rico and the Philippines.”
Between 1898 and 1902, the United States asserted sovereignty over two far-flung territories, the Philippines and Puerto Rico, thereby turning itself into an overseas colonial empire. How was this made possible? The use of guns and bullets tells one part of the story, the other part has to do with the making of meaning. To establish its rule, the American regimes relied upon “cultural power,” deploying signs and symbols to win hearts and minds. A closer examination of how those signs and symbols were received by the Puerto Rican and Filipino elite shows the workings of this form of power, as well as its limits.

February 6, 2004 – Courtney Johnson

Spanish & Portuguese, UW-Madison

“White Love? White Masks? Institutionalizing a Filipino Hispanist Intelligentsia 1898-1908”

February 13, 2004 – Victoria Beard

Geography, UW-Madison

“The Localization of Development and the Risk of Elite Capture: An Analysis of Community-Based Poverty Alleviation in Indonesia”

February 20, 2004 – Kevin Niemi

Center for Biology Education, UW-Madison

“Reform and the Thai Classroom: A View of U.S. Science Education in Thailand”
Dr. Niemi assesses the Thai educational system and reflects upon the goals and challenges of the current educational reform efforts in Thailand.

February 27, 2004 – Victor Bascara

English & Asian American Studies, UW-Madison

“Where Isolationism Meets Colonialism: The Anomalous Spectacle of the Filipino American Domestic”
What better way to reckon with anarchy of empire in the making of U.S. culture than to examine one of the great ironies of interwar isolationism: the Filipino American Domestic?

March 26 , 2004 – Chatchai Panananon

Fulbright Scholar, N. Central College, IL

“Ayutthayan Slavery in the Bankok Legal Code”

April 2 , 2004 – Warwick Anderson

Medical School, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Colony As An Exemplary Site: Disease, Affect and Citizenship at Culion and in the Philippines”

April 16, 2004 – Charnvit Kasetsiri

Former Rector of Thammasat, Visiting Professor, U. of Hawai’i

“From Colonization to Globalization: Will the Mekong River Survive?”

April 23 , 2004 – Ben Brimmer

Department of Music, University of California, Berkeley

“The Cultural Ecology of Learning, Memory, and Performance: Some Javanese & Balinese Musical Examples”

April 30 , 2004 – Chalong Soontravinich

History, Chulalongkorn University

“Small Arms, Romance, and Crime and Violence in Post World War II Thai Society”