Episodes
What is the journalism culture in Vietnam? What role does Sweden play in the transformation of Vietnamese journalism? How has Swedish media aid fulfilled its political aim to contribute to the democratic development of media in Vietnam? Andreas Mattsson speaks about how two media aid projects from Sweden were used to intervene in the development of journalism in Vietnam between 1993 and 2007. In a conversation with Joanne Kuai, PhD candidate at Karlstad University, Sweden and an affiliated...
Published 12/02/22
Vietnam and Russia share a common socialist history dating back to the Cold War. But since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Vietnam’s đổi mới reforms, Russia has also become a destination for Vietnamese labour migrants who dream of making their fortune. Working in markets, garment factories, and as small traders – both legally and illegally - they live precarious lives, harassed by police, loan sharks, market bosses, and criminals. While huge profits can be made, these migrants...
Published 12/01/22
Anthropological Witness: Lessons from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (Cornell UP, 2022) tells the story of Alexander Laban Hinton's encounter with an accused architect of genocide and, more broadly, Hinton's attempt to navigate the promises and perils of expert testimony. In March 2016, Hinton served as an expert witness at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, an international tribunal established to try senior Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes committed during the 1975–79 Cambodian...
Published 11/25/22
Regional demand for renewable hydropower from the Mekong River and its tributaries in Laos is on the rise. In June 2022, Laos exported one hundred megawatts of hydropower to Singapore via Thailand and Malaysia – a historic milestone that further establishes Laos as the battery of Asia. However, these developments take place amid rising concerns for the ecological future of the transboundary Mekong River and the millions of people who depend on it. Joining Dr Natali Pearson on SSEAC Stories,...
Published 11/24/22
In the nineteenth century, one group of American merchants reported an odd request from the Vietnamese emperor. An envoy asked if the traders could help procure a commodity brought by a previous delegation: a precious good that turned out to be a bottle of Best Durham bottled mustard. That’s one small anecdote in Eric Tagliocozzo’s latest book, In Asian Waters: Oceanic Worlds from Yemen to Yokohama (Princeton University Press: 2022), which charts hundreds of years of history across Asia’s...
Published 11/17/22
In 1998, the Belitung, a ninth-century western Indian Ocean–style vessel, was discovered in Indonesian waters. Onboard was a full cargo load, likely intended for the Middle Eastern market, of over 60,000 Chinese Tang-dynasty ceramics, gold, and other precious objects. It is one of the most significant shipwreck discoveries of recent times, revealing the global scale of ancient commercial endeavors and the centrality of the ocean within the Silk Road story. But this shipwreck also has a modern...
Published 11/15/22
How do transnational Filipino families remain connected through mobile media technologies? In (Im)mobile Homes: Family Life at a Distance in the Age of Mobile Media (Oxford UP, 2022), Earvin Charles B. Cabalquinto explains the different ways in which smartphones, messaging apps, and social media facilitate transnational connectivity. He explains how relationships of care, intimacy, and connection to the homeland are established through digital routines shaped by power relations and familial...
Published 11/14/22
In March 2022 the U.S. government announced its determination that genocide was committed by the Myanmar military against Rohingya communities in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2017. What will this mean for the roughly one million Rohingya refugees living in neighboring countries, for Rohingya IDPs in Rakhine, and for post-coup Myanmar? In this episode, part two of a two-part series, Terese Gagnon speaks with Kyaw Zeyar Win about this long-awaited determination and the possible implications for...
Published 11/11/22
Indonesian citizens, and those of neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, have long suffered recurring haze pollution caused by peatland fires in Indonesia. To avoid these forest fires, and reduce the environmental harm and negative health impacts that transboundary haze gives rise to, Indonesia needs to restore its degraded peatlands. President Joko Widodo started this task in 2016 when he established the Peatland Restoration Agency, tasked with rehabilitating 2 million hectares of degraded...
Published 11/10/22
In Subversive Archaism: Troubling Traditionalists and the Politics of National Heritage (Duke UP, 2022), Michael Herzfeld explores how individuals and communities living at the margins of the modern nation-state use nationalist discourses of tradition to challenge state authority under both democratic and authoritarian governments. Through close attention to the claims and experiences of mountain shepherds in Greece and urban slum dwellers in Thailand, Herzfeld shows how these subversive...
Published 11/02/22
Working on Southeast Asia, one thing we tend to hear a lot of is the notion that civil society is shrinking, and that authoritarianism is on the rise. In fact the rise of anti-democratic and anti-liberal forces and ideas seems to be on the rise around the world, not just in the region. Joining Dr Natali Pearson on SSEAC Stories, Professor Garry Rodan argues that contrary to popular claims, civil society is not generally shrinking in Southeast Asia. It is instead transforming, resulting in...
Published 10/27/22
Michael Francis Laffan’s Under Empire: Muslim Lives and Loyalties Across the Indian Ocean World, 1775–1945 (Columbia University Press, 2022) traces a tapestry of historical actors, empires, and ideas across the Indian Ocean world. Starting with an imam banished from eastern Indonesia to the Cape of Good Hope in 1780 to build a new Muslim community with a mix of fellow exiles, enslaved people, and even the men tasked with supervising his detention. To nineteenth-century colonial chroniclers...
Published 10/24/22
The Asmat are an indigenous people of Indonesian Papua and are renowned for their artistic carving flair and complex life-cycle rituals. They also have big ambitions that reach as far as the Vatican. Over the past five decades, pressures from the state, religious authorities, and the global art market, have led to profound cultural changes and a widespread sense of predicament, dysphoria and disempowerment among the Asmat. In this episode of SSEAC Stories, Dr Natali Pearson is joined by Dr...
Published 10/13/22
In March of 2022 the U.S. government announced its determination that genocide was committed by the Myanmar military against Rohingya communities in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2017. What will this mean for the roughly one million Rohingya refugees living in neighboring countries, for Rohingya IDPs in Rakhine State, and for post-coup Myanmar? In this episode Terese Gagnon speaks with Kyaw Zeyar Win about this long-awaited determination. In this conversation we hear from Zeyar about the violent...
Published 10/07/22
The Vietnamese victory over the French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, which ended almost a century of French colonial rule in Indochina, is one of the most famous events in the history of anticolonialism. How were the Vietnamese communists able to achieve this remarkable victory over a much more powerful colonial force? This is the question Chris Goscha seeks to answer in his new book, The Road to Dien Bien Phu: A History of the First War for Vietnam (Princeton UP, 2022). In doing so,...
Published 10/03/22
The phenomenon of “war brides” from Japan moving to the West has been quite widely discussed, but this book tells the stories of women whose lives followed a rather different path after they married foreign occupiers. During Okinawa’s Occupation by the Allies from 1945 to 1972, many Okinawan women met and had relationships with non-Western men who were stationed in Okinawa as soldiers and base employees. Most of these men were from the Philippines. In Okinawan Women's Stories of Migration:...
Published 09/30/22
What explains the uneven meatification of diets in three of Asia’s core ‘emerging economies’? How and why is meat consumption changing today, and what role have American fast-food chains played? To discuss these questions and more, Helene Ramnæs, coordinator for the Norwegian Network for Asian Studies, is joined by Marius Korsnes, Kenneth Bo Nielsen and Arve Hansen. Asian diets include considerably more meat now than in the recent past, but meat is a contested issue. China and Vietnam have...
Published 09/30/22
We are all familiar with the spread of disinformation on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. But just when we thought we’d seen the worst of it, along comes TikTok. What started out as an app for dance challenges and musical duets has, in recent times, emerged as one of the most concerning tools for amplifying political propaganda and lies. What does this mean in a country like the Philippines, where there are more than 89 million social media users? Joining Dr...
Published 09/29/22
How did superpower competition and the cold war affect writers in the decolonizing world? In The Aesthetic Cold War: Decolonization and Global Literature (Princeton UP, 2022), Peter Kalliney explores the various ways that rival states used cultural diplomacy and the political police to influence writers. In response, many writers from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean—such as Chinua Achebe, Mulk Raj Anand, Eileen Chang, C.L.R. James, Alex La Guma, Doris Lessing, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and Wole...
Published 09/26/22
Tanya Jakimow's book Susceptibility in Development: Micropolitics of Local Development in India and Indonesia (Oxford UP, 2020) offers a novel approach to understanding power in development through theories of affect and emotion. Development agents - people tasked with designing or delivering development - are susceptible to being affected in ways that may derail or threaten their 'sense of self'. This susceptibility is in direct relation to the capacity of others to engender feelings in...
Published 09/22/22
Can spiritually and religiously inspired environmental movements in Asia help reach the global goal of environmental sustainability? This question lies at the heart of the research project “Transcendence and Sustainability: Asian Visions with Global Promise” that we focus on in this episode. Also known as TRANSSUSTAIN, the project builds on the observation that scholars, activists, and even politicians in many Asian countries have found inspiration in traditional knowledge and in the...
Published 09/16/22
To Remain Myself: The History of Onghokham (ASAA Southeast Asia Publications Series / NUS Press, 2022) is a particularly vivid biography of a remarkable individual, an Indonesian historian and public intellectual who was both a public figure and a multi-minority member, being Dutch educated, Indonesian Chinese, gay, alcoholic, irreligious and hedonist, in a conservative society. This is the first Indonesian biography where the interior life is closely recorded: the fears, doubts, confusions;...
Published 09/15/22
Despite decades of research into the historic settlements of Mainland Southeast Asia, our understanding of the region’s long-term settlement history remains incomplete. We know, for example, that mainland Southeast Asia was home to the world’s most extensive pre-industrial low-density urban complex at the site of Greater Angkor in Cambodia – but we don’t know how the site, and its low-density configuration, fits within the broader settlement history of the region. Yet understanding these...
Published 09/15/22
In The City in Time: Contemporary Art and Urban Form in Vietnam and Cambodia (U Washington Press, 2021), Pamela N. Corey provides new ways of understanding contemporary artistic practices in a region that continues to linger in international perceptions as perpetually “postwar.” Focusing on art from the last two decades, Corey connects artistic developments with social transformations as reflected through the urban landscapes of Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. As she argues, artists’...
Published 09/13/22
How did the Cold War shape culture and political power in decolonizing countries and give rise to authoritarian regimes in the so-called free world? Cold War Reckonings: Authoritarianism and the Genres of Decolonization (Fordham UP, 2021) tells a new story about the Cold War and the global shift from colonialism to independent nation-states. Assembling a body of transpacific cultural works that speak to this historical conjuncture, Jini Kim Watson reveals autocracy to be not a deficient form...
Published 09/08/22