“Which interests should the Southeast Asian scholar serve?”

… asks Pingtjin Thum in his impassionate article on “Southeast Asian studies as a form of power”.
Inspired by Howard Zinn’s writings on the uses and responsibilities of scholarship, Thum, co-ordinater of Project Southeast Asia at the University of Oxford, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, urges Southeast Asian scholars to “be critics of power, rather than its perpetuators and apologists”.
After a short historical sketch of Southeast Asian studies he discusses more recent developments in the field, locating them within larger trends inside and outside academia. Thus, confronted with issues of knowledge (production) and (political) power and their relationship with each other he poses the question cited above in the blog title.
“It is inevitable”, Thum concludes, “that Southeast Asian studies will continue to be shaped by values and agenda. It should be.” What kind of values one should promote through one’s work, however, is for him a matter of personal choice. While he thinks scholars should serve “fundamental humanistic interests” like fighting “poverty, war, racism, and restrictions on individual freedom”, he knows that these are not the only ones scholarly work will and should focus on. What is important for all Southeast Asian scholars though, Thum emphasizes, is that “they are self-aware and understand what values they are working for”.

The thought-provoking piece has been published in the recent International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) Newsletter #62 and is available for download here…

For more information on the current issue of “The Newsletter” see here…


The new book edited by DORISEA researchers Prof. Dr. Volker Grabowsky, Bounleuth Sengsoulin, Khamvone Boulyaphonh, together with Kongdeuane Nettavong, and Hans Georg Berger has just been published by Anantha Publishing:

The first book on Lao Philology and Linguistics to be published for decades.  Includes a facsimile of an early dictionary of Lao and Pali terms compiled by a Buddhist monk, historic photographs from the Buddhist Archive of Photography and scholarly texts by Lao and German researchers.  An Academic Landmark!
(Publisher’s description)

Editors: Kongdeuane Nettavong; Bounleuth Sengsoulin; Khamvone Boulyaphonh; Volker Grabowsky; Hans Georg Berger
Publisher: Anantha Publishing
Series: Publications of the Buddhist Archive of Photography
Publishing date: May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9844483-9-5 (Soft Cover)
Pages: 269

“anthropology inevitably blurs the boundaries between the religious and the secular”

… says Michael Lambek, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, in his essay “Facing religion, from anthropology” in the new issue of Anthropology of this Century, an online journal that “publishes reviews of recent works in anthropology and related disciplines, as well as occasional feature articles” three times a year.

An video-interview with Professor Lambek can be found at “Interviews with Anthropologists”, a website featuring 15 interviews with prominent anthropologists (Maurice Bloch, Henrietta Moore, Peter van der Veer et al.). The interviews were conducted by Clarinda Still in 2008 for the Digital Anthropology Resources for Teaching (DART) project – an international collaboration between Columbia University and the London School of Economics.

Nation Building and the Challenges of Ethnic and Religious Diversity

Many post-colonial nations in Southeast Asia and beyond struggle with nation-building in the face of multi-ethnic populations. DORISEA-researcher Prof. Dr. Jörg Thomas Engelbert discusses this topic for the Southeast-Asian context in his presentation “Nation Building and the Challenges of Ethnic and Religious Diversity”. It can be accessed through the official homepage of the Bertelsmann Stiftung

The paper is based on a lecture given at the International Cultural Forum South East Asia on “Responses to Rapid Social Change in South East Asia”, held on November 12 and 13, 2008 in Hanoi, Vietnam. For more information see here.

Neuerscheinung: Peter J. Bräunlein – “Zur Aktualität von Victor W. Turner”

Das neue Buch von DORISEA-Forscher Prof. Dr. Peter J. Bräunlein ist erschienen:

Zur Aktualität von Victor W. Turner
Einleitung in sein Werk

Aus der Reihe: Aktuelle und klassische Sozial- und Kulturwissenschaftler|innen

Verlag Springer VS, 2012. 187 S. Br.
ISBN: 978-3-531-16907-1

Einen digitalen Einblick ins Buch gibt es bei Google Books, erhältlich ist es z.B. über amazon.de.


GIGA – Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs – Vol 30, No 3 (2011)

Research Articles

  • Reaching across the Mekong: Local Socioeconomic and Gender Effects of Lao-Thai Crossborder Linkages
    José Edgardo Gomez, Jr., Nittana Southiseng, John Walsh, Samuel Sapuay
  • Lessons from Preah Vihear: Thailand, Cambodia, and the Nature of Low-Intensity Border Conflicts
    Martin Wagener
  • Skilled Migration, Knowledge Transfer and Development: The Case of the Highly Skilled Filipino Migrants in New Zealand and Australia
    Sheila V. Siar
  • Multiplicity within Singularity: Racial Categorization and Recognizing “Mixed Race” in Singapore
    Zarine L. Rocha
  • The End of Political Islam? A Comparative Analysis of Religious Parties in the Muslim Democracy of Indonesia
    Kikue Hamayotsu

The Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs is an Open Access publication.
All the articles are avaiable online here.

Social Structure and Differentiation in Contemporary Laos

Prof. Dr. Boike Rehbein has edited the October 2011 Issue of Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia on “Social Structure and Differentiaion in Contemporary Laos” – with articles by Prof. Dr. Guido Sprenger and by himself.

The Table of Contents you can find here.

(Access to articles is restricted)