Spring 2013 Lecture Series

Friday, January 25
Nicole Loring and Thomas Rhoden, Ph. D. candidates, Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University
Lecture title: The Blade and the Brahman: Deciphering a dha sword from Burma

This collaborative, interdisciplinary project explores the history of Southeast Asian dha swords and analyzes a dha sword from Burma. Through the cutting-edge use of historical accounts, linguistics, and metallurgy, we take a stab at explaining the origins and intended use of this sword.

Friday, February 1
Andi Irawan, Ph. D. candidate, Department of Urban & Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Lecture title: Assessing Indonesia's East Java Spatial Inequality and Convergence Process

Interregional inequality is Indonesia’s most challenging problem of long term structural transformation. Regional disparities in Indonesia are rather driven by the increase of disparities within provinces rather than between provinces (Akita & Alisjahbana 2002). Unfortunately, intra-province disparity study is very sparse.  This study intends to inform policy efforts addressing inequality, and to examine whether the notion of “Balanced Development” once attributed to East Java (Mackie 1993) and overly used by politicians is valid. 

Andi Irawan earned MSc in Regional Science from London School of Economics, UK, a Master in Public Policy degree from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and Sarjana Sains (S1) from Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS) Surabaya, Indonesia

Friday, February 8 - CANCELLED
Jordan York, M. A. candidate, Department of Anthropology, Northern Illinois University
Lecture title: Deported Khmer Americans and Their Stories

In 2002, under pressure from the United States, the government of Cambodia reluctantly agreed to take in a limited number of individuals facing deportation from the U.S., the only home they ever had ever really known, back to their “homeland.” After escaping the horrors of the Khmer Rouge and beginning their new lives as refugees in America, they would in time come to live as Americans. These new experiences did not prepare them for life in Cambodia. Some of those being deported to Cambodia had never even set foot in the country because they were born in refugee camps in Thailand; others were young children when they left Cambodia. Of those being deported, many have little if any connection to their “homeland” and possess limited knowledge and understanding of Khmer culture, including the language, local practices and general rules of behavior in Khmer society. After living marginalized lives in the United States, they now face re-marginalization in Cambodia and are not accepted as “real” Khmer by the society. In the summer of 2012, I conducted research, interviewing men and women who have been deported to Cambodia to examine how these events have affected their lives and shaped their cultural identities. This talk is a reflection of their stories.

Friday, February 15 - CANCELLED
Matt Jagel, Ph. D. candidate, Department of History, Northern Illinois University
Lecture title: The First Independence: Son Ngoc Thanh and Cambodia Under Japanese Rule

In the 1940s, the Cambodian nationalist resistance to France emerged to a degree not previously seen, although resistance to the French protectorate arose occasionally following France’s  takeover in 1863. One of the leaders of Cambodian resistance to France at the dawn of World War II was Son Ngoc Thanh. This talk will focus on the early years of Son Ngoc Thanh, his entry into political resistance to French rule, and his years abroad in Japan during the Second World War. His return to Cambodia in 1945, his rise to power as Prime Minister, and his eventual imprisonment by returning French forces will also be examined.

Friday, February 22 - CANCELLED
Prof. Mitch Hendrickson, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago
Lecture title: Tracking the Rise of Angkor from the Edge of Empire: Recent Investigations by the Industries of Angkor Project at Preah Khan of Kompong Svay (Preah Khan), Cambodia

Over the past four years, the Industries of Angkor Project (INDAP) has investigated the settlement, industrial and environmental histories of the remote Angkorian centre of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay (Preah Khan). Previous historical interpretations of Preah Khan have relied on a single architectural survey conducted in the early 20th century. Re-mapping and surveys of the water infrastructure, temple and settlement distribution within the enclosure provide new insight into the development of Preah Khan and highlight its unique nature in comparison with other regional Khmer centers. Our work has identified the potential role of the Kuay, an ethnic minority who produced traditional bloomery iron until the mid 20th century, in the expansion of the Khmer empire during the 10th to 13th centuries.

Special CSEAS 50th Anniversary Lecture - Please note time and venue **
Friday, March 1, 4 p.m., Pollock Ballroom, Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center
Prof. John Sidel, Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics and Political Science
Lecture title: Republicanism, Communism, Islam: Cosmopolitan Origins of Revolution in Southeast Asia
Co-sponsored by the NIU Graduate Colloquium and the Department of Political Science

For decades, the field of Southeast Asian Studies has been characterized by an emphasis on indigenous culture and conceptions of power, on the one hand, and narratives of national consciousness, nationalist struggle, and nation-building, on the other. This lecture, by contrast, presents a strikingly different picture of the long arc of modern Southeast Asian history. Emphasizing diverse cosmopolitan influences, diasporic networks, and commercial connections linking Southeast Asia to other regions of the world, the lecture recasts the ‘colonial era’ in terms of deepening integration into the world capitalist economy and the crystallization of distinctly modern forms of consciousness, association, and mobilization. Against this backdrop, the three major revolutions of modern Southeast Asian history – in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam – are reconceived not (only) as ‘nationalist’ struggles led by nationalists for national independence, but (also) as struggles with cosmopolitan origins and influences, enabled and impelled by the diverse currents of republicanism, Communism, and Islam linking Southeast Asians to broader ideological currents, social networks, and political projects in other parts of the world. Tracing the trajectories of these revolutions from Bohemia to Balintawak, Baku to Bandung, and Cotonou and Guangzhou to Hanoi and Saigon, this lecture suggests a new way of understanding Southeast Asian history – and practicing Southeast Asian Studies -- in the context of what today is so glibly glossed as ‘globalization’.

Friday, March 8
No lecture - Spring Break
Friday, March 15
No lecture - Spring Break
Friday, March 22
Prof. Megan Sinnott, Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Georgia State University
Lecture title: Kumanthong: Child Spirits, Gender and Middle Class Conceptions of Childhood in Thailand

Childhood,  a socially constructed concept that varies according to cultural and historical contexts, is framed by larger social processes, including emerging neoliberalism and transnational discourses of middle class consumption and aesthetics.  This project explores one set of images, discourses and practices that construct childhood in contemporary Thailand -- the popular practice of propitiating, adopting, and raising fetal/baby/child ghosts, called kumanthong.  Transnational narratives of childhood’s innocence and the inherent need of adult protection and guidance inform current fascinations with kumanthong.  This practice holds that children, especially very young children, babies and even fetuses, acquire supernatural powers through their death that can be accessed and managed by adults for the goals of security, prosperity, and companionship.  The child spirit is considered to be controllable, yet at times volatile, relatively pure (even angelic for some practitioners), in need of adult care, and supernaturally powerful.  Current developments in the belief and practice of propitiating child/baby spirits reflects larger cultural shifts in which ideals of commodity production, aesthetics, and companionship models of childrearing are reflected.  This study is based on anthropological research in Thailand since 2009.

Friday, March 29
Prof. Kikue Hamayotsu, Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University
Lecture title: Explaining Religious Violence in the Context of Democratic Consolidation: Comparative Cases from West Java, Indonesia

The growing incidence of violence and intolerance against religious minorities in Indonesia, both Muslim and non-Muslim, poses a serious threat to the constitutional rights of freedom and quality of democracy in the country.  What explains the growing incidence of violence against religious minorities in Indonesia in recent years? Conventional explanations broadly fall under two categories: (1) weak and corrupt state security apparatuses and their close relations with Islamic hardliners; and (2) the political use of religion by opportunistic political elites in the context of decentralized elections.  Based on fieldwork and comparative case studies conducted in various localities in West Java, Hamayotsu tests those contending claims. Her case study of anti-Ahmadiyah violence in the province of West Java shows that these two factors are not sufficient in explaining significant variation in anti-minority violence across regions. Instead, her research found that the varying outcomes of anti-minority violence in the region are shaped by decentralized religious authority and institutions, as well as competition among various religious organizations over religious authority and political power.

Friday, April 5
Prof. Emeritus Richard Cooler, Department of Art History, Northern Illinois University
Lecture title: The Emblem of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies: The Sarimonok - Hen's Teeth and a Snake Bridge to the Sun

The Sarimonok motif was chosen as the emblem for NIU’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies by anthropologist and Philippine specialist Donn V. Hart during his tenure as Center director from 1971 to 1981. The varied forms of the emblem have held a profound meaning for the people of Southeast Asia for more than a millennium. The Center’s adaption of the ancient motif symbolizes prosperity and fertility as used by animists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians in both mainland and island Southeast Asia. This presentation traces the forms and meaning of the motif from early animist beginnings to its adoption as the Center’s symbol.

Friday, April 12
Prof. Allen Hicken, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan
Lecture title: Late to the Party: The Development of 'Partisanship' in Thailand
(Also presenting at SEA Student Conference on April 13)

Using data from Thailand’s last several elections, I trace the emergence of partisanship over the last 15 years, particularly in the North and Northeast. The change in the nature of partisanship has helped turn long-simmering tensions into an increasingly intractable political conflict. This mass partisan alignment has upset the equilibrium of Thai politics—transforming what was once an inefficient but modest-stakes game of political horse-trading into a zero sum game with extremely high stakes.

Prof. Hicken will also be the keynote speaker at the Southeast Asian Studies Student Conference, Saturday April 13 at 1 pm in Altgeld 315.  His talk will be The Weakest Link? A Necessary Evil?: Political Parties, Growth and Development in Southeast Asia.

Friday, April 19
Prof. Ellen Rafferty, Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lecture title: The Post-Suharto Linguistic Landscape

In post-Suharto Indonesia, there is an increasing diversity of linguistic repertoires found in oral and written contexts where standard Indonesian was previously the only acceptable code.  Reflecting this diverse linguistic landscape, one finds contradictory attitudes regarding the roles of local, national, and international languages held by government officials, editorial boards, and individual authors/speakers. After a brief sociolinguistic description of the role of the Indonesian language in the post-Suharto era, I examine a number of Indonesian registers used in written and spoken contexts from contemporary television, internet, radio, newspaper, and literature sources.  This overview of language usage shows a broadening of the domains in which non-standard varieties of Indonesian are accepted.  The borrowed elements include lexical items from local languages (especially from Javanese and Jakartanese) and English, verb morphology (from Jakartanese and Javanese), and phrases (mostly from English).

In this post-nation state era as cultural hegemony shifts, citizens are questioning long held assumptions about language ideologies. Paradigms are shifting away from top-down national language planning toward a bottom-up policy that respects the wishes of the people who may decide to embrace local languages and/or international languages rather than the standard national language for many contexts.

Friday, April 26
NIU Myanmar (Burma) Initiative Update