This Week in Southeast Asian Studies (TWISEA)
December 2, 2016
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History of the Southeast Asia Center
This week Charles F. Keyes, the founder of the Southeast Asia Center (SEAC), tells us the history of SEAC. A shortened version of this history was presented at the SEAC Fall Showcase & Reception on November 4, 2016. Dr. Keyes hopes that others will revise and add to this history.

Dr. Charles Keyes with Dr. Peter Geithner and Dr. Glenn May (who succeeded Gerry Fry as the head of Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Oregon) at the Anthropology Museum at UBC in 1989.

As the founding director of the Center for Southeast Asian studies at the University of Washington I would like to give a little background on the history of the Center.

When I first came to the UW in 1965, the three faculty members teaching about Southeast Asia in anthropology, history and political science were lucky if 10-12 students signed up for a course on Southeast Asia. Enrolments in the study of Thai language, the only Southeast Asian language then taught at UW were also small. Because the demand for courses on Southeast Asia was so limited, the Far Eastern and Russian Institute (the predecessor of the Jackson School) was reluctant to establish a formal structure for promoting Southeast Asian studies. Nonetheless, a Committee for Southeast Asian Studies was established – a committee that I chaired.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s as the American War in Vietnam expanded, student interest in Southeast Asia increased dramatically, primarily among students who wanted to know something about the region where the US was so deeply involved and where many male students would end up after being drafted. Then after 1975 when the War in Vietnam ended American student interest plummeted.

Beginning in 1976 Washington State – with the strong encouragement of then governor Daniel J. Evans, a liberal Republican (a now extinct species) – began to admit large numbers of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Some of these refugees metamorphized into what became known as ‘heritage’ students, that is students whose backgrounds were from countries other than the US. By the late 1980s there was strong student demand for courses on Southeast Asia, including courses in Southeast Asian languages. Several new faculty members whose research included Southeast Asia were hired in Sociology (Charles Hirschman), the Burke Museum (Karl Hutterer), Business (John Butler), and Anthropology (Carter Bentley, replaced by Jean-Paul Dumont), among others. Joseph Cooke was hired in Asian Languages and Literature to continue instruction in Thai that had been begun by Li Fang-kuei. Thus, by the late 1980s there were now sufficient faculty members to justify the establishment of a Southeast Asian Studies program under the Jackson School.

To read the full story, click 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

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)

Fireside Chat with Leadership of the Royal University of Phnom Penh
Partnering for Social Change in Cambodia

Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Location: Allen Library, Petersen Room

Hosted by the UW / RUPP Social Work Partnership

H.E. Rector Chealy Chet received his Ph.D. from Nagoya University in International Development with a focus on education. He was appointed as rector in October 2013.

Marry Kong received his Ph.D. in Global Information and Telecommunication Studies from Waseda University. He instructs in the Graduate Program for IT Training at RUPP and is a member of the newly formed Board of Trustees.

Soth Sok received his Ph.D. from Victoria University in Education. He is Dean of the Faculty of Education and Head of RUPP's Strategic and Planning Team.

The Royal University of Phnom Penh was established in 1960 and is the premier university in Cambodia. The UW has been in partnership with RUPP since 2004.

The reception begins at 5pm, at 5:30 our RUPP visitors will share briefly about current issues, successes and challenges in higher education in Cambodia and then we will open it up for continued informal conversation and Q&A.

Please join us in giving the RUPP delegation a warm PNW welcome.

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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
Newly Listed:
  • 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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Newly Listed:

Previously Listed:

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Fellowships and Funding

Newly Listed:

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

Previously Listed:

  • Don't forget! The FLAS application is open until January 31. For more information, check out the upcoming info sessions:
    Tue, November 29, 2-3 PM PST, Webchat (see website for instructions)
    Thu, December 8, 3:30-4:30 PM, Thomson Hall, 317
    Wed, December 14, 1-2 PST Webchat (see website for instructions)
    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:

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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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