This Week in Southeast Asian Studies (TWISEA)
January 18, 2017
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Re-thinking Latin American history through the lens of scholarship on Southeast Asia

This week we are featuring an article by our affiliated PhD student in the History department, Jorge Bayona. 

Back when I taught Peruvian history at a university in Lima, I had a chance to take a gander at the final examination a colleague of mine was giving. Her main question was a fill-in- the-blanks exercise in which students were to state the amount of square kilometers Peru had lost to each of its five neighbors. This kind of rhetoric of territorial loss had always intrigued me—every single South American nation partakes in it— and even inspired the topic of my Master’s seminar paper, in which I compared this trope in Peru and the Philippines. By reading more scholarship on Southeast Asia, this time on Thailand, I have found more concepts that historians of Latin America would do well to take into consideration when reproducing the discourse of “lost territories” in their own countries.

Thongchai Winichakul’s Siam Mapped is a keystone of Thai historical studies. In this book, he argues that Thai historians and officials in the 19 th and 20 th centuries ‘retrofitted’ the history of the “geo-body” of their country to conform to European standards of mapping: they were to feature uniform sovereignty and precise borders. In so doing, they were forsaking a far more ambiguous reality of diffuse borders and ambivalent sovereignty. Many of the territories that Thais would later lament as “lost” to British and French imperialisms were actually smaller statelets and kingdoms that enjoyed a large degree of sovereignty, and whose only attachment to the Royal court in Bangkok was a yearly tribute and promises of mutual defense. In their attempt to “preserve Thailand’s territorial integrity,” Bangkok eliminated their autonomy and proceeded to centralize power in itself. In this sense, this consolidation of the Thai “geo-body”, even though it “lost” large swathes of territory, was actually an expansion of territory directly ruled from Bangkok, rather than a reduction.

I find this to be a key idea to consider when studying South American claims of territorial loss. Unlike Southeast Asia, where Europeans and Thai elites had different ideas about what sovereignty was supposed to look like, in South America the élites all shared the same, “modern” notions. The ones who were overlooked were the native, indigenous inhabitants of the disputed (and eventually “lost” territories). Most of these territories were either in the Amazon basin or in Patagonia, and their inhabitants did not share the same notions of borders and sovereignty as did the ruling élites in Lima, Bogotá, or Buenos Aires. Much like the inhabitants of the Lao areas of “northeast Thailand” had foreign notions imposed on them—by both the French and Thai—, so did the natives of these regions in South America by Europeanized, Spanish-speaking élites in the capital cities.

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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)

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

Asia Pacific Cultural Center's 19th Annual New Year Celebration

Date:Saturday, February 11, 2017
Time: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Location: Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall


The Indonesian Cultural Association will be participating and performing at this event as well as other Southeast Asian groups. The event is free and family friendly!

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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
Previously Listed:
Previously Listed:
  • Matt Walton, a UW alumnus of the Political Science PhD program, published his book, Buddhism, Politics, and Political Thought in Myanmar.

  • The Guardian"Among the ghosts of Cambodia's killing fields: on the set of Angelina Jolie's new film" by Julian Borger

  • The Smithsonian: "The CIA is Celebrating Its Cartography Division's 75th Anniversary by Sharing Declassified Maps" by Danny Lewis

  • 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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Previously Listed:

  • Scientist - Sustainable Investment and Value Chains at CIFOR HQ in Bogor, Indonesia - deadline January 15

  • Consultant focused on Responsible and Innovative Finance at CIFOR HQ in Bogor, Indonesia

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Fellowships and Funding

Newly Listed:

Previously Listed:

  • Don't forget! The FLAS application is open until January 31. For more information, check out the upcoming info sessions:
    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

  • 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 UW graduate students conducting Southeast Asian research) SEAC is pleased to announce the 2017 Thomas W. & Mary C. Gething and Charles & Jane Keyes Fellowships for Southeast Asian Studies Graduate Student Travel. These awards, made possible by a generous gift from Tom & Mary Kay Gething and Charles & Jane Keyes, provide travel funds for graduate students who will either be presenting Southeast Asia-related papers at academic conferences or who are traveling for graduate research purposes. Awards amounts average $400-$500 and will be announced by March 1, 2017.

    The deadline for applications is January 23, 2017. To apply, please submit the following information either electronically ( or by mail (Box 353650):

    For conference travel:
    1) Your paper title and abstract, together with the conference title, date, and location. Please indicate whether your paper has been accepted for presentation.
    2) A brief cover letter that includes: your name, address, email address, discipline, level of graduate study and area(s) of research interest.
    3) Your requested funds from the budget, total estimated budget, and any other sources of funding.

    For research travel:
    1) The dates and location(s) of proposed travel.
    2) A one-page summary of your research plans and goals for the proposed travel.
    3) A brief cover letter that includes: your name, address, email address, discipline, level of graduate study and area(s) of research interest.
    4) Your requested funds from the budget, total estimated budget, and any other sources of funding.

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

Newly listed opportunities:

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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