This Week in Southeast Asian Studies (TWISEA)
January 6, 2017
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Petirtaan and the Concept of a Nation: Remembering Benedict "Oom Ben" Anderson

This week we are featuring an article written by our MA student Dimas Romadhon from Indonesia. We hope that this article gets you excited for our Southeast Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference in March that is inspired by Benedict Anderson. Abstracts (up to 500 words) are due February 13.

Ben Anderson at the re-launching of
Indonesia dalem Api dan Bara, credit Edward Manik

Pertitaan is one of the ancient kingdoms relics in Indonesia, in addition to candi (temples) and istana (palace). Petirtaan is not just a place for the noble family to take a bath. It functions as a sacred place for kings and queens to clean their heart and soul from stains and sins, from lust behaviors. That is why petirtaan is very sacred in the history of ancient kingdoms in Java. It symbolizes that the king, a descendant of Gods, could not escape from committing sins and lustful behaviors. In “The King’s Witch” (2000), Goenawan Mohammad retells about a conspiracy designed by the King of Kahuripan, Airlangga, and should-be- ascetic priest, Empu Baradah, to end the life of Calon Arang. A conspiracy, even if it was done by a king and claimed as for good sake, is still a conspiracy: it is a stain. Maybe that is why, in the history of Kahuripan kingdom, Airlangga owned not only one but two petirtaan which still exist until today: Petirtaan Candi Belahan and Petirtaan Jolotundo.

Ben Anderson (also known as “Oom Ben” in Indonesia) certainly knew it, and he loved Petirtaan Candi Belahan and Petirtaan Jolotundo. Even a day before his death, he visited both petirtaan. He completely understood that no leader is really clean. He wrote it in “Petrus Dadi Ratu” (2000), which discovers cruelty committed by Soeharto and the regime that he built in Indonesia for 32 years. Anderson’s article is about those who were betrayed and were killed by Soeharto, just like how Mohamad writes about the conspiracy and slaughter committed by Airlangga. No leader is really clean.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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Featured Courses

*Indicates new content this week

If you are interested in sharing an article you wrote, an event in the greater Seattle area, or any other information you would like to see in TWISEA, email us at

Featured Courses - Winter 2017

ANTHROPOLOGY ANTH 473 (1-10 cr) with Peter Lape
Pacific Archaeology
MW 1030-1220 BMM 112

ARCHAEOLOGY ARCHY 325/ARCHY 525 (1-10 cr) with Peter Lape
Pacific Archaeology
MW 1030-1220 BMM 112

EDUCATION EDUC 401 H (1-10 cr) with Christine Stickler
Miseducation of the Filipino: History, Decolonization, and Action
Th 230-350 MEB 237

GRADUATE SCHOOL GRDSCH 525 (3 cr) with Tikka Sears & Theresa Ronquillo
Acting Up: Amplifying Voices Through Interactive Theater as Pedagogy
T 130-420 DEN 303 

HISTORY HSTCMP 205/JSIS A 205 (5 cr) with Vicente Rafael
Filipino Histories 

TTh 230-420 JHN 175

HISTORY HSTAS 530/JSIS A 580 (5 cr) with Laurie Sears & Christoph Giebel
Field Course in Southeast Asian History

T 130-320 THO 215

MUSIC MUSEN 411/MUSEN 511 (1 cr) with Christina Sunardi
Gamelan Ensembles

MW 330-450 MUS  058

Upcoming Events (2)

In Search of Alternative Futures: Religion and Environmental Activism in Indonesia
A Department of Anthropology Dissertation Colloquium


Speaker: Ulil Amri, Sociocultural Anthropology
Date: Thursday, January 12, 2017

Time: 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Denny Hall (DEN) 313


My research explores the complexity of religious, political, economic and scientific forces and formations motivating the emergence of religious environmental activism in Indonesia in searching for alternative futures (ethics and practices). This research focuses on a pesantren (a traditional Islamic institution) community in East Java that is now tailoring Islamic environmental ethics and practices in region. This research investigates particular "technologies" employed by the pesantren to mobilize its resources to get involved in the activism, and negotiate its positions and aspirations with other social entities to shape the country's future. This research brings perspectives from social movements, environmental politics, anthropology of religion, and science and technology studies.

Save the Date!
Public talk with Ki Midiyanto

Date: Friday, February 3, 2017
Time:10:30 AM - 11:20 AM
Location: Music Building (MUS) 213

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Recommended Resources

This section lists news items and other recently-published resources that have been recommended by faculty and grad students over the past week. To submit an item for next week, email
  • Seattle Globalist: "Seattle author's fiction blends her Filipino and Latino family influences" by Mayumi Tsutakawa

  • New York Times"That Thing With Feathers Trapped in Amber? It Was a Dinosaur Tail" by Nicholas St. Fleur

  • Our MA student Dan Murphree was featured on the FLAS blog this week. "Studying Abroad with the Murphree Family in Myanmar."

  • IMPORTANT! Is your house or office filled with knick-knacks from your visits to Southeast Asia? The Southeast Asia Center is happy to take your donations of material cultural items! We are working on curating cultural kits for K-12 educators and would to make your items available to students throughout Washington State. We will group the itmes with related items and develop item information sheets for educators to use in their classrooms.

    Please keep in mind:
    -Items will not be returned, so please donate items knowing that we cannot secure their return to you
    -No delicate items that children cannot potentially handle
    -Must be small enough to fit in a medium flat-rate box through USPS

    What are we looking for?
    -Original items from Southeast Asia
    -Samples of bills or coins
    -Cloth, weavings, batik, etc.
    -CDs of music
    -Small musical instruments
    -Writing samples
    -Children's book
    -Anything really!

    Please be sure to include a short bit of background information if you have it. You can bring items to the Southeast Asia Center (Thomson Hall 303) or send us an email at to arrange a pickup. Thank you in advance for your participation.

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Fellowships and Funding

Newly Listed:

  • Royal Thai Embassy/University of Leeds - Thai Studies Scholarship 2017/18 - application due June 30. Apply to study here and for the scholarship here.

  • Don't forget! The FLAS application is open until January 31. For more information, check out the upcoming info sessions:
    Wed, January 11, 3:30-4:30, Thomson Hall, Room 317
    Thurs, January 19, 1:30-2:30, Thomson Hall, Room 317
    Wed, January 25, 3:30-4:30 PM PST, Web Chat (see website for access instructions)

  • The Consortium for the Teaching of Indonesian (COTI), June 15 - August 9 - deadline February 10

Previously Listed:

  • Summer Study Abroad in Laos (SAIL), June 27 - July 31. Undergraduate and graduate - Scholarship Deadline March 15, Application Deadline April 3

  • Don't forget! The FLAS application is open until January 31. For more information, check out the upcoming info sessions:
    Wed, January 11, 3:30-4:30, Thomson Hall, 317

  • The Boren Fellowship is now accepting undergraduate applications to study languages abroad including Khmer, Javanese, Malay, Vietnamese and Thai. National deadline is January 31.

For general information on funding sources, including FLAS, visit the SEAC website
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Conferences and Calls for Papers

Previously listed opportunities:

  • CFP: The UW Southeast Asia Center is hosting a Graduate Student Conference March 24-25 - abstracts due February 13

  • CFP: The Theravada Civilizations Project's Doctoral and Post-doctoral Workshop, University of Washington, March 15 - proposals due January 21

Previously listed opportunities:

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Educators: Sign up for our K-14 educator emails for events and resources geared specifically towards teachers. 

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