This Week in Southeast Asian Studies (TWISEA)
March 8, 2016
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Market & (Un)employment
Allan Lumba received his PhD in History from UW in 2013. After a stint at Harvard, he’s currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Michigan Society of Fellows. Besides engaging in cutting-edge research, Allan has a lot of useful tips for graduate students who are writing their dissertations and entering the job market.
For his dissertation, Allan “explored the intersecting histories of racial ideologies, expert knowledge production, imperial and national sovereignties, and banking and finance institutions in the American colonial Philippines.” He came to this project with “one of the most unwieldy questions for any doctoral student: what is the relation between capital and the state?” Also, an “autobiographical impulse” led him to the project, as he wanted to “trace the historical, political and economic conditions” for his family’s migration from the Philippines to the US in the late 1980’s.
Allan thus advises those who are shaping their dissertation projects to “have some aspect…be autobiographical” and “make… [the] driving questions be as large and unwieldy as possible.” “As a result of making it both personal and general, you can constantly find contemporary events and encounters that will consistently inspire you to keep going with your project,” Allan explained.
Currently, Allan is finishing up his book Monetary Authorities: Economic Policy and Policing in the American Colonial Philippines. He’s also started researching for a new project called “The Imperial Theory of Unemployment.” “It is a play on Keynes' book title [The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money],” he explained.
Speaking of “unemployment,” Allan has a few tips for those who are about to enter the job market. First, he thinks it’s best to “be honest” with your application materials and to yourself. In a sense, the job has to be a good fit for your research interests and future projects. Second, “don’t take the market too seriously” because it is out of our hands. Of course, in between submitting applications and searching for jobs, he suggests: “Definitely go for long walks without a device that gets emails!”
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Upcoming Events (3)

Past Lives Present, Tense: Past-Life Memory in Contemporary Cambodia

Erik W. Davis
Associate Professor, Religious Studies, Macalester College

Mon, April 4, 3:30-5 p.m.

Thomson, Room 317

Past-life memory in Cambodia is common. In Buddhist scriptural practices, past-life memory is usually thought of in terms of the Buddhist cycle of saṃsāra, where past-life memory is often a prerequisite for advanced stages of spiritual accomplishment. However, in practice, past-life memory is often deeply disturbing to the rememberer, their family and their community. This presentation discusses three examples of contemporary past-life memory out of Erik's fieldwork in Cambodia, highlighting the practices that surround such memory and uses to which such memories are put. Examples include a young girl who remembers being her own uncle, a spiritual leader who claims to be the most important Buddhist leader of the Cambodian twentieth century, and another woman who put two families together in her youth, and has maintained their connections into her eighties.

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Research in the New Myanmar

Patrick McCormick
Researcher and Representative of EFEO, Branch Office in Myanmar

Tue, April 5, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Location - TBA
As Burma begins to open up, there is great interest in doing research, both as foreign researchers doing their own projects, and as working with local researchers. Since 2010, many foreign governments and universities have tried to engage with local universities, but have found challenging an environment of low educational standards resulting from decades of neglect, not to mention difficult bureaucratic hurdles. Think tanks and civil society organizations act as centers of knowledge creation, not the universities. Patrick will speak both about the changing possibilities for engaging with local universities and about the social research of local organizations.

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Ideas of the nation, ethnicity, and the nation-state continue to shape how we write the past in Burma, even as history as a discipline has moved beyond those premises elsewhere. The histories of most Burmese minorities have never been confined only to the modern nation-state of Burma. The pasts of many, such as of the Mons—one of the oldest civilization of Southeast Asia—have become incorporated into a national past, bound to Burma, and largely relegated to “ancient times.” Strikingly, Mon nationalists and intellectuals largely embrace this situation as a way to promote their visions of the past and future.
What are the possibilities for moving beyond these confines to talk about Mons in the past without following the logic of a national or ethnic history? Whose interests would such a project serve?

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Book Launch | Untying Ethnic Pasts from the Nation: Writing New Histories for the Mons of Burma

Patrick McCormick
Researcher and Representative of EFEO, Branch Office in Myanmar

Wed, April 6, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Thomson Hall, Room 317

Featured Courses - Spring 2016

Sundanese Dance (1-3 Credits)
Mon 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. and Thurs 3:30-5:30 p.m., Music Building Rm 313
Students are invited to join Christina Sunardi (Ethnomusicology) and Tikka Sears (Southeast Asia Center) for West Javanese dance lessons. The class will culminate in a performance on Thursday, June 2, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at Meany Theater. The performance will be in conjunction with the Ethnomusicology Visiting Artist Concert featuring Ade Suparman, a master musician from West Java, Indonesia.
UW students should contact School of Music professor Christina Sunardi at to enroll for 1-3 credits of independent study (Music 499/Music 600). Students are also encouraged to enroll in MUSAP 389/589 to study Sundanese music with Ethnomusicology Visiting Artist Ade Suparman. 
History of Southeast Asia
JSIS A 221/HSTAS 221 with Christoph Giebel
MW 2:30-4:20 (with section on Friday)

Music of Indonesia
MUSIC 439 with Christina Sunardi
MW 1:30‐2:50

Islam, Mysticism, Politics & Performance in Indonesia
JSIS 462/586, HSTAS 466/566 with Laurie Sears
TTh 3:30-5:20

Non-Western Architecture
ARCH 251 with Vikram Prakash
TTh 9:30-11:20

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Recommended Resources (1)

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

New Item:

  • Digital Library of Northern Thai Manuscripts: "At present, the digital library contains images of over 4,200 manuscripts which can be searched and viewed online or freely downloaded, and to which more manuscripts will be added."

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Jobs (1)

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Fellowships and Funding (1)

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For general information on funding sources, including FLAS, visit the SEAC website
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Conferences and Calls for Papers (1)

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Study Abroad

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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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