This Week in Southeast Asian Studies (TWISEA)
March 15, 2016
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Food & War
Veronica Inveen (left) is a senior at UW, majoring in International Studies (Asia) and minoring in Southeast Asian Studies. Her interest in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, began in high school when she studied abroad in Thailand for a year. When she returned to the US, she “decided to pursue a degree in Asian studies to learn more about the region and build a foundation to be able to work there in the future.”
Veronica revisited Thailand in 2015 as a college student. Through CIEE (the Council on International Educational Exchange), she spent a semester in northeastern Thailand (Isan). She was “visiting rural areas of the farming region, learning about development and human rights issues… from villagers while also discovering the distinct culture of the Northeastern people.” “I’ve fallen in love with the kindness of the people and their willingness to help me and introduce their culture, the food…the non-stop chaos on the streets, and the color and light present in everyday life,” she said.
Veronica’s interest in Thailand led her to taking more classes on Southeast Asia at UW. One of the classes was on the Vietnam Wars with Christoph Giebel. She then joined his CHID Study Abroad Program in Vietnam last summer. On this trip, she “became fully aware of the devastating reality” that the people in Quang Tri were still dealing with the aftermath of war. “After learning that on an average week more than 60 unexploded pieces of artillery are collected in just one area of the province more than 40 years since the war ended, I was shocked,” she said. “I can’t help but to think about the future in the Middle East after the war we are current in ‘ends.’”
The experiences that Veronica had in Thailand and Vietnam varied greatly. But food was a constant. “Not only do Thai and Vietnamese people do food well, but it is also a distinct part of their culture,” she said. “I’ve come to find that mealtime is not only a time to eat, but what the meal consists of, the act of preparation and who is invited proves [it] is all carefully orchestrated.” Her two favorite dishes are: “pad-gra-prow, a Thai plate made with stir-fried minced pork with basil and chilies on top of rice with a fried egg,” and chè, “a  [Vietnamese] dessert with sweet beans and jellies.” And she's looking forward to trying new food this summer when she's studying Thai at Chulalongkorn University with her FLAS award.
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Upcoming Events (4)

Decolonizing Extinction:
Orangutans and the Work of Care in Sarawak, present-day Malaysia 

Dr. Juno (Rheana) Salazar Parreñas

Assistant Professor, Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, Ohio State University


Thurs, March 31, 2016 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

CMU 120

How can a living be made at the edge of extinction, when colonial legacies help determine who and what are in better positions to survive severe ecological impact?

This talk examines the rehabilitation of wildlife in Sarawak, present-day Malaysia, as a means to eke out a living for both endangered species native to Sarawak and the Sarawakian people whose job is to care for them. It looks at the everyday forms of enclosure at Sarawak’s orangutan rehabilitation centers that generate a political theory of decolonization and the embodied work of care at these sites in order to examine what kind of future is made possible for a species caught in an extinction economy.

This talk is based on seventeen months of ethnographic field research in Sarawak, Malaysia on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia between 2008 and 2010.


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.

Communications Building (CMU), Room 120

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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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
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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Featured Courses - Spring 2016

MUSAP 389A/589A World Music (2 credits)

Featuring UW School of Music Visiting Artist Ade Suparman

UW students are invited to study Sundanese music of West Java, Indonesia with master musician and composer Ade Suparman. The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:30-4:50 p.m., Music Building Room 58.  Students will also sign up for individual lessons with Ade, schedule TBA on the first day of class.
For add codes, contact Professor Christina Sunardi,
Ade Suparman was born in Purwakarta, West Java. He started playing the kacapi zither when he was 10 with his father. Then he studied music theory and classical music (including voice, suling [bamboo flute], drum and gamelan) at Indonesia Art School. He received his BA from Indonesian Art University, Surakarta and has been performing as a concert kacapist around the world.  He has also created a new learning method for suling and published several method books for Sundanese instruments.
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 (3)

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 Items:

Previously Listed:

  • 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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Previously Listed:
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Fellowships and Funding

Previously Listed:

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

New item:

  • CFP: Reducing Urban Poverty, 2016 Graduate Student Paper Competition, Policy Workshop, and Publication - abstract due May 15

Previously listed opportunities:

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Study Abroad

Previously listed:

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

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