Fall 2013 Lecture Series

Friday, September 6
Kheang Un,
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University
Lecture title: What Will Be Next for Hun Sen - the Strong Man of Cambodia? Reflecting on the Recent Cambodian Election

Even one month before the election date scheduled for July 28, 2013, all political pundits and scholars believed that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen—the long time ruler of Cambodia—would win a landslide victory. It is argued such victory would stem from CPP’s many advantages such as: (1) its control over all levels of government institutions including the National Election Committee, (2) its near-monopoly over the media, (3) a favorable rate of economic growth, (4) a strong party with entrenched patronage based grassroots networks, and (5) a new and at times leaderless opposition party—the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP).

The election outcome took everyone by surprise. The preliminary result showed that the CPP captured only 68 seats compared to the CNRP’s 55. The CNRP rejected the results citing massive irregularities, namely the alleged deletion of 1.2 million names from voter list. The opposition demanded an independent investigation into the alleged irregularities under the auspices of the United Nations and civil society organizations. It threatened mass demonstrations if its demands would not be met. The ruling party objected opposition party’s demand for an independent investigation involving independent bodies, threatened to use force to block any mass demonstrations and declared that it would form a new government even the opposition boycotted the new parliament.

This presentation will provide a brief description of Cambodia’s democratic development, outline key actors and parties. It will then offer analysis of (1) factors that led to CPP’s declining popularity; (3) factors that contributed to CNRP’s popularity; and (3) the current political stalemate. The presentation will conclude with discussion of changes that Hun Sen will likely undetake in light of his recent decline in popularity.

Friday, September 13
Dipika Mukherjee, Affiliate, Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, Northwestern University 
Lecture title: The Effects of Religious Identity on Language Variation: Case Studies from Malaysia

Although language variation studies have moved from description to causality, and ethnographic field-methods have contributed to the analysis of styles and communities of practice, there is still very little attention to the effect of religion on sociolinguistic research. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multilingual country and the population of Malaysia comprises three major ethnic groups; because the country is so culturally and linguistically diverse, language policies have been formulated to promote national unity among people through the use of a single common language.

Currently, Malaysia is trying hard to maintain a unified nation through the national language (Bahasa Malaysia) despite the primacy of the English language in a globalizing world. In Malaysia, however, religious affiliation and the subsequent benefits of that affiliation, appear to be a strong determinator of the language a migrant community is likely to shift to. This phenomenon is unique in sociolinguistic studies. Unfortunately, it also attests to a non-negotiable stratification of Malaysian society on linguistic lines, despite the strenuous efforts of the language planners of the country. Drawing on data from Language Shifts Among Malaysian Minorities as Effects Of National Language Planning: Speaking in Many Tongues (2011), this talk will investigate some trends in the language variation of Malaysian communities.

Friday, September 20
Mitch Hendrickson, Assistant Professor, 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 and focussed largely on the city’s role in the rise of Jayavarman VII. Re-mapping and survey 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 centres. Extensive investigation of iron production sites inside Preah Khan continue to demonstrate the dynamic role that it played in ensuring access to this key metal resource in the Angkorian and Post-Angkorian periods. Perhaps more significantly 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. This represents the first attempt to document evidence of non-Khmer activities in the Angkorian Period and highlights the diverse relationships that existed between the floodplain and forested regions of Cambodia.

Friday, September 27
Tuong Vu,
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Oregon 
Lecture title: Rethinking Revolution in Vietnam: Triumphs or Tragedies on the Road to Socialism

A new perspective on the Vietnamese revolution has begun to challenge both the conventional portrayal of the Vietnamese revolution and the communist account of their revolutionary success. This talk takes stock of the new research that presents revolutionary Vietnam in a more complex and less triumphal way. New evidence suggests that Vietnam’s nationalist revolution (1945-1946) should be conceptually distinguished from the subsequent socialist revolution (1948-1988). The former had a distinctly urban and bourgeois character, was led by a coalition of upper and middle classes, and lacked ideological intensity. The latter was imposed from above, based on socialist visions, and promoted class struggle. The failure to disentangle the two revolutions in existing narratives assigns little agency to Vietnamese actors and leads to triumphs being exaggerated while tragedies overlooked.

Friday, October 4
Matt Jagel, Ph. D. candidate, Department of History, Northern Illinois University
Lecture title: The First Independence: Son Ngoc Thanh and Cambodia under Japanese Rule 

Although sporadic incidents of resistance to the French protectorate arose occasionally in the years following its takeover of Cambodia in 1863, during the 1940s nationalist resistance to France emerged to a degree not previously seen. One of the leaders of Cambodian resistance to France at the dawn of World War II was Son Ngoc Thanh. My 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, rise to power as Prime Minister, and eventual imprisonment by returning French forces will also be examined.

Friday, October 11
Bai Xuefeng, Assistant Professor, Xiamen University, China (currently Visiting Scholar at Northern Illinois University)
Lecture title: Competing for Influence or Peaceful Coexistence? The Policy Adjustment of the United States and China toward Myanmar

Since mid-2011, the relations between Myanmar and the United States have been on a fast and promising path toward normalization. Both sides have made previously unthinkable moves to establish closer relations. The rapprochement between Myanmar and the US eased Myanmar’s dependence on China for both economic and political support. China, as Myanmar’s long term benefactor (or Pauk-Phaw as termed by  the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar), has borne the brunt of the impact of political changes underway in Myanmar, including the sudden suspension of Myitsone Dam, controversy and protests at the Latpadaung copper mine and a rising discontent around China’s presence and purpose in Myanmar. In addition to China's economic interests in Myanmar, the possibility of China’s strategic extension into Indian Ocean via Myanmar, and the remote but visionary establishment of naval foothold in the Bay of Bengal, are also hampered. The new American foreign policy in Myanmar has significantly reduced the external pressure on Myanmar’s government, enabling it to distance itself from China and putting it in a better bargaining position with the major investor.  The amelioration of Myanmar’s domestic political environment, which is a precondition for the US to lift the sanctions, has also contributed to the civilian call for better compensation to the local people and more corporate social responsibility in ongoing projects. Questions remain if the closer ties between US and Myanmar present an obstacle for China in its attempts to further its interests in Myanmar and if Myanmar can become a test ground for peaceful coexistence between China and US in Southeast Asia.

*Special lecture: Please note location*
Friday, October 18, Noon, Pollock Ballroom, Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center, Start of Council on Thai Studies Annual Meeting
Srisompob Jitpiromsri, Professor, Faculty of Political Science, Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani, Thailand; 2013 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni, Northern Illinois University
Lecture title: The Formation of Peace Discourse and the Politics of Recognition in the Patani Peace Process

Peace-building efforts are considered discursive processes that bring about simultaneous and successive discursive objects that are named, described, analyzed, appreciated or judged in terms of relations. Constructing objects of discourse, the peace-building in Thailand’s southern violence, needs expanded interactive networks of civil society organizations, academics and communication networks. In fact, the process features the interplay between the formation of objects of discourse in order to transform the conflicts through ideas and thought. By interplay, new agents are constructing the fields of play for the social forces within and without the stretches of the deep southern region, bringing about a common ground for conflict transformation, presupposing that the existence of conflict may be an indispensable element of social change and development, while violence is avoidable. It does not see the “resolution” of conflict as the most important or ultimate goal of engagement. The peace process is an effort for formulating structures to support and contribute to peace, which influence causes of conflict. Building public space for constructing discourse or objects of discourses would thus facilitate peace-building. Creating powerful and persuasive discourse involves discursive processes, the interactions between thoughts, representing ideas and perceptions, and language, comprised of words and sentences. The interplay of thoughts and language has been long-windedly mediated through fields of exchange in the safe and sound public space. This process is going on now in the Deep South provinces amidst the protracted violence.

*CANCELLED* Thursday, October 24 and Friday, October 25
Mansor bin Puteh, Filmmaker and Author, Malaysia
Four films from Malaysia: Seman: A Lost Hero, The Seventh Child, The Residency Years (Documentary on the first prime minister of Malaysia) and Writing in the Sand...

*Special lecture: Please note date, time and location* 
Tuesday, October 29, 4 PM, Capitol Room South, Holmes Student Center
Rosalie Arcala Hall,
Professor, Division of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines Visayas
Lecture title: The Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro: Prospects for Peace in Southern Philippines

In October 2012, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an Islamic armed group operating in Central Mindanao (Southern Philippines) signed the landmark Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro. The agreement, brokered by Malaysia and with international involvement by the US and Japan, charted the talking points, pathways, timetable between the two parties. The agreement was a watershed event in that it builds upon several prior agreements on ceasefire as well as reconstruction activities that have yielded relatively peaceful conditions in the region. Various mechanisms such as the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities and Ad Hoc Joint Advisory Group in place since 1997 have created greater security cooperation between the Philippine military and MILF. In turn, security gains were strengthened by the influx of foreign assistance towards
reconstruction and peace building activities in the area.

The lecture will explore the implications of the Framework Agreement and proposed normalization tracks (disarmament and demobilization of the MILF) to the prospects of enduring peace in Mindanao. The roles played by international actors in pushing for a political settlement and post-conflict reconstruction are discussed. Given the complex nature of conflict in Bangsamoro communities, how the new political arrangements, whether sub-state or robust autonomy, will deal with non-insurgent related security concerns (e.g. clan wars; law enforcement challenges) are examined. The lecture will draw upon findings from two research projects: (1) parallelism with the dynamics and challenges in a prior peace agreement with another Islamic group, the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF; and (2) local conflict management strategies in Bangsamoro areas.

Friday, November 1
Iza Hussin,
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, The University of Chicago
Lecture title: Making the Muslim State

Friday, November 8
Joanna Catherine Scott,
Prize-winning Poet, Social Activist and Writer
Lecture title: Across Feats of Darkness and Turbulent Seas: Personal Accounts from Refugees Fleeing Oppression after the Communist Takeover of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam

* International Education Week Special Lecture: please note time and place, light lunch provided*
Friday, November 15, 11:30 AM, Sky Room, Holmes Student Center
GRADUATE COLLOQUIUM SPEAKER, Co-sponsored by the Division of International Programs

Chie Ikeya, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University
Lecture title: Intra-Asian Families and Conjugalities in Colonial Burma and Southeast Asia: A History of Intimacies in the Age of Global Empire

The last two decades have given rise to a flourishing literature on the manipulation of sex, sentiment, and domestic arrangements in the making of race and empire. Yet, historians of the "tense and tender ties" of empire remain preoccupied with the white male colonizer-native woman coupling and have seldom felt compelled to explore unions between locals and "Asiatic" foreigners (namely Chinese and South Asian) which were by far the most prevalent form of intermarriage in colonial Southeast Asia. Through an examination of 19th and 20th century archival and literary sources, this talk offers a comparative analysis of intra-Asian intimacies in colonial Burma and Southeast Asia. It illuminates the richly textured social lives of the women and men in these transcultural companionships and families as they confronted imperialist, nationalist, and masculinist projects of disciplining difference, desire, and intimacy. It suggests important commonalities in the way that affective ties, family affairs, and communal identities were managed in colonial societies ordered by cultural racism. This talk is part of a larger project on intra-Asian conjugalities, domesticities, and collaborations in colonial Burma and Southeast Asia that argues for consideration of a fuller range of intimate encounters that characterized the age of global empire.