This Week in Southeast Asian Studies (TWISEA)
January 12, 2016
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Counterfactual History!

This week we will hear from Jorge Bayona. He’s an international student from Peru and currently a PhD student in History. More importantly, he’s a co-creator of the website and podcast series called Speculation Theater (supported by a Digital History Summer Fellowship). Here's “Your historical alternative.”

Counterfactual history is the stuff that Speculation Theater is made of. What if Abraham Lincoln lost the 1864 election? What if Japan won World War II? What if the leftist coup in 1965 in Indonesia succeeded? These are some of the interesting “what if” scenarios that Jorge, his co-host Kirk Sharma and guests address in their podcasts.

Historians typically don’t take counterfactual history seriously because it does not address what actually happened. It’s for entertainment. But for Jorge, there’s value in speculating and questioning the importance of certain events. In a sense, speculation not only questions the chain of events but also evaluates their historical importance. For instance, had the leftist coup in 1965 in Indonesia succeeded, Jorge and his guest speculated that Indonesia would “descend into civil war” with heavy intervention from the US -- which would be very similar to the situation in Vietnam at the time.

Besides counterfactual history, Jorge is also “interested in researching comparative histories between Southeast Asia and Latin America, as well as the larger Asia Pacific region.” His father, a Peruvian diplomat, “was posted in Malaysia” from 1992 to 1998. During this time, Jorge “was able to finish high school and even get a technical diploma in audio engineering.” With such strong tie to the region, Jorge decided to pursue a PhD in Southeast Asian history to “fill the void created the dearth of scholars of Southeast Asia in Peru.”
Give Speculation Theater a listen. And check out the interview on our blog to learn more about Jorge.
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In this issue
Featured Courses
Study Abroad*

*Indicates new content this week


Featured Courses - Winter 2016

Our core faculty members will offer six (6) courses on Southeast Asia during Winter 2016. The course topics range from colonialism, modernity, state-society to trauma. Explore and sign up!  

Comparative Colonialism
CHID 480/HSTCMP 485 with Vicente Rafael
TTh     1:30-3:20

Indonesian History
HSTAS 534 with Laurie Sears
Th      3:30-5:20

Southeast Asia Studies
JSIS A 506 with Celia Lowe
T      11:30-1:20

Southeast Asian Modernities
ANTH 469 with Jenna Grant
TTh    3:30-5:20

State-Societies in Third World
JSIS B 310 with Mary Callahan
TTh      2:30-4:20

Violence, Myth and Memory
HSTAS 264/JSIS B 264 with Laurie Sears
MW    1:30-3:20
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Upcoming Events (3)

"Global Monday" Speaker Series

"Constitutional Change in Contemporary Asia:
Processes and Substance"

Thu, Jan 14, 12.30 - 1:20 p.m.
William H. Gates Hall, Room 127
  • Prof. Hendrianto Stefanus (Notre Dame), “Democratization through Incremental Constitutional Amendment: Indonesia’s Experience”

  • Prof. Nicholas Robinson (Yale University), “Heroic Judges and Grand Advocates: How India’s Legal Professionals Amended the Constitution through Reinterpretation”

  • Prof. Jiunn-rong Yeh (National Taiwan University), “Civil Constitutionalism in Contemporary Asia: The Case of Taiwan”

Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic regions in the world. This is true not only in terms of technological innovation and economic development, but in terms of constitutional innovation and legal development. In this panel, distinguished professors from National Taiwan University, Notre Dame and Yale will compare the different processes by which constitutional change has occurred recently in India, Indonesia and Taiwan. They will also discuss the impact these changes have had on people’s lives, and the implications of these developments for those who hope for see constitutional change in the U.S.

Event Link

Renato Rosaldo: The Day of Shelly's Death


Thu, Jan 14, 4 - 5:30 p.m.

Communications Building, Room 120

Event Link

Renato Rosaldo reads from The Day of Shelly’s Death (2013), a moving collection of poetry that focuses on the social impact of the accidental death of his then-wife, Michelle (Shelly) Zimbalist Rosaldo, on October 11, 1981. Shelly lost her footing and fell some sixty feet from a cliff into a swollen river. Rosaldo explores both his experience and that of others whose lives intersected with this traumatic event: from Shelly herself to the cliff from which she fell, from the two young boys who lost their mother to the strangers who carried and cared for them, from a tricycle taxi driver to a soldier, priests, and nuns. An accompanying essay, “Notes on Poetry and Ethnography,” is a manifesto in support of what Rosaldo calls antropoesía, verse with an ethnographic sensibility. In the Los Angeles Review of Books, US poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera calls Rosaldo’s book a “masterpiece.”

Renato Rosaldo is Professor Emeritus of Cultural Anthropology and Social & Cultural Analysis at New York University, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and past president of the American Ethnological Society. He is the author of two award-winning poetry collections, Diego Luna’s Insider Tips (2012) and Prayer to Spider Woman/Rezo a la Mujer Araña (2003), along with Headhunting, 1883–1974 (1980) and Culture and Truth (1989).

The Look of Silence

Mon, Jan 25, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
UW, Thomson Hall, Room 101
"The Look of Silence is Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to the Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing.

"Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence."

This event is organized by the Indonesian Student Association at UW with the support of the Southeast Asian Center. Popcorn and soft drinks will be provided.

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

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Jobs (4)

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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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Conferences and Calls for Papers (2)

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Study Abroad (1)

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Previously listed:

        Internships abroad with IE3 Global - deadline Jan 25

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

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