This Week in Southeast Asian Studies (TWISEA)
November 12, 2016
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FLAS: Cyberjaya
This week our TWISEA editor and MA student Kasey Rackowitz is going to talk about the FLAS and her trip to Malaysia to get you excited about applying for the FLAS.

Midterms are (hopefully) wrapping up, the sakura tree leaves in the Quad have fallen and Winter Break is upon us. What better way to spend the next couple months than on applying for scholarships? Are you an undergraduate or graduate student who is interested in studying a Southeast Asian language (Indonesian, Burmese, Thai, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Khmer)? Why not apply for the FLAS? The application is open until January 31, 2017 so you still have plenty of time to work on it. The FLAS provides good funding (both tuition and stipend money) as well as good prospects for continuing school and getting a job.

When you see this scholarship opportunity, you may feel discouraged about it being too competitive. I felt the same way too when I was an undergrad. Then I learned that Southeast Asian languages are currently a priority, which means they get plenty of funding. When you apply for the FLAS, you also have the opportunity to apply to the Center of Southeast Asian Studies for your Southeast Asian language. That means you only compete with other students who study Southeast Asia. Also, undergraduates and graduates do not compete against each other. In the end, you actually have a good chance of getting it!

For example, over the summer, I traveled to Malaysia for two and a half months to do ethnographic fieldwork. I brought along no affiliations thanks to self-funding and three years of Indonesian language experience only made possible by receiving the FLAS. My home base was a city called Cyberjaya, which can be translated as “cyber success.” Described as a science park, Cyberjaya is made up of a network of wide roads with names like Jalan Teknocrat (Technocrat Road) and Jalan Silikon (Silicon Road). New eco-friendly gated communities and shopping centers are sprouting up before they can even fill the ones they have. Young men and women pass out fliers for bigger and better real estate investment opportunities within Cyberjaya and even over in Singapore. My first day I decided to explore the city in my boyfriend’s Perodua Nautica only to discover how empty Cyberjaya is (You know when you’re arriving in Cyberjaya/Putrajaya when the traffic suddenly disappears). Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed in Cyberjaya both as a place for research and as a place to relax and enjoy what Malaysia has to offer.

Then I spent more time outside. In Cyberjaya, there’s a recreational area everyone calls the Domain. Within a few blocks of space are modest boutiques, convenience stores, hookah lounges, mamak stalls and various restaurants. At night, this center becomes a major social hub that shows off Cyberjaya’s real beauty – it’s international diversity.

In Domain, there’s a hookah lounge and restaurant called Karyabhara that would make you feel like you’re in a hipster Seattle coffee shop, but in a good way. Murals of birds and prime ministers decorate the brick walls. They serve mocktails with Western-style treats to enjoy while you watch open-mic performances. The unforgettable part of Karyabhara, however, is the Malay family who owns it. They pride themselves in making their customers feel at home not only in their restaurant, but in Malaysia as a whole. More than half of the people who frequent Karyabhara are foreigners. Why do they feel at home at Karyabhara? The family makes an effort to introduce you to all of the regulars when you visit for the first time and you’re still feeling lost in an unknown land. They remember everyone’s birthdays and throw a party for them to ease the homesickness. And this is just one restaurant.

Cyberjaya is not the city of cyber success that Mahathir dreamed of where new international multi-billion dollar companies are born. It’s a city of young Malaysians fresh out of college trying to build their resumes at outsourced call centers and Vietnamese men working as construction workers to send money to their families back home. It’s bakeries run by Syrian refugees while they wait for the day they can return to Syria and work as the doctors they used to be. It’s churches in hotels where the African community can find solidarity together in faith and away from discrimination. It’s Tunisian and Algerian international students chasing their dreams of working in the “developed world.”

It’s the side of Malaysia that is shrugged off for being un-Malaysian, but keeps the Malaysia that the world knows running.

FLAS Fellowships are funded by the International and Foreign Language Education Office of the U.S. Department of Education.  FLAS fellowships support undergraduate, graduate and professional students in acquiring modern foreign languages and area or international studies competencies.   Students from all UW departments and professional schools are encouraged to apply.  Find out more about the FLAS Fellowship here.

Archived Stories
In this issue
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

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)

Election Fever
2016 in Global & Historical Perspective

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Location: Kane Hall (KNE), Walker-Ames Room

This year's unpredictable and groundbreaking presidential campaign inspired hyperbole, hysteria, and plenty of historical comparisons.

How history-making was this year's race?
How does it relate to broader trends around the world?

Join four UW History faculty members as they situate the US election amid broader global and historical trends. Moving from Duterte's Philippines to Fujimori's Peru to post-Brexit Europe to the America of Clinton and Trump, our panel will explore the broader historical forces shaping today's political landscape, and what it means for the global future.

Featured Faculty:
Prof. Vicente Rafael - Southeast Asia
Prof. Ray Jones - Modern Europe
Prof. Adam Warren - Latin America
Prof. Margaret O'Mara - United States

Refreshments will be provided. Suggested registration can be found here.


A Wandering Village: Explaining Settlement Relocation on Small Islands
Dissertation Colloquium with Joss R. Whitaker

Date: Friday, November 18, 2016
Time: 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Denny Hall (DEN) 313


This research will explore the relationship between climate, trade, ideology, and shifts in settlement location on two small islands over the past thousand years. Scholars have noted the relative ease with which Southeast Asian villages can relocate, yet the reasons for such movements are often obscure. This is especially true in Ujir, a community in the Aru Islands, Indonesia. Oral traditions and written history suggest that Ujir was an important trade entrepôt, that it was the first village in Aru to convert to Islam, and that it resisted the trade monopoly of the Dutch East India Company during the colonial period. Ujir's location has shifted several times, but only within the tightly bounded space of two small, neighboring islands; these shifts remain unexplained. However, stress and conflict due to climate change, ideological changes related to the arrival of Islam, or an increased specialization in trade may have spurred Ujir to relocate. I will investigate these factors' influence by comparing a 3500-year precipitation record with tradeware assemblages from Ujir's habitation sites, therefore also establishing their chronology and reconstructing their trade connections.

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Recommended Resources

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Fellowships and Funding

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For general information on funding sources, including FLAS, visit the SEAC website
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