SEASSI Lecture Series



2017 Lecture Series


Wednesday, June 28, 2017
3:00pm, 8417 Social Sciences Building
Combating Human Trafficking from a Southeast Asian Periphery by Dr. Amelia Joan Liwe, (Senior Lecturer, International Relations, Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH), Karawaci, Indonesia and SEASSI Indonesian Language Coordinator).
      Human trafficking is an extraordinary crime that involves transnational activities and actors. Southeast Asia is one of the world regions that becomes the supplier, transit and destination for the regional and global human trafficking. International community has taken a number of initiatives to tackle this problem. Nevertheless, the local government and communities are on the frontline to combat human trafficking. This presentation highlights such efforts from the northern peninsula of Sulawesi. Using biographical approach, my research follows the life story of a women's right activist and a former high rank official of North Sulawesi who proposed the bill that addressed human trafficking. Her efforts made North Sulawesi the first province in Indonesia that passed a local regulation on human trafficking. In 2013, the US Embassy in Jakarta nominated her as a local hero on combatting human trafficking. This study also shows the importance and relevance of area studies, particularly the study of language and culture, in tackling international problems such as human trafficking.

Free and open to the public.


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Wednesday, July 5, 2017
3:00-4:30pm, 260 Bascom Hall
Rethinking Equality: Legibility, Belonging, and the Politics of Marriage in Minnesota by Kong P. Pha (PhD Candidate in American Studies, University of Minnesota)
     In 2012, a ballot initiative was enacted in Minnesota in order to determine whether or not residents wanted to define marriage as being a union between one man and one woman. Opponents and proponents both established gigantic campaigns on their respective sides. Minnesotans United for All Families was the organization established to defeat this ballot imitative. I was involved in the efforts to defeat of the ballot imitative with several other queer and allied activists, organizers, and community members. Through my ethnographic and activist participation, I examine the efforts of queer Hmong American youths in defeating this ballot initative. In doing so, I show how queer Hmong American youths are remaking the very notions of queerness, gender, and sexuality in relation to Hmong American social and political belonging at the dawn of the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S.

Free and open to the public.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017
3:00-4:30pm, 260 Bascom Hall
Centering Southeast Asian Perspectives in the Teaching of Southeast Asia: A Methodology by Dr. Margaret Bodemer (History & Asian Studies California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo).
     Asia, and particularly Southeast Asia, seem to occupy a unique position in the imagination of most Americans today. On the one hand for the Vietnam War generation there is war and suffering; for the younger generations there are contradictory notions of white-sand beaches and tourist destinations. Of course both of these “gazes” obscure local socio-cultural, historical and political complexities. Beyond American perspectives and remembrances of Asia and Southeast Asia, how have inhabitants of those places understood and viewed their own pasts, cultures and politics? What about Southeast Asians abroad, including what many scholars have called a diaspora, and the next generations of those refugees and immigrants? What acts of memory and identity are meaningful for them? In this talk, I illustrate how autobiographical, first-hand narrative accounts can be effectively used to understand these complex and multifaceted realities, both in a classroom setting and for research. I argue that Southeast Asian experiences should be repositioned as central to our explorations of this fascinating region and beyond; in order to de-Orientalize our own gazes and to create a more inclusive understanding of the past, present and future.

Free and open to the public.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017
12:00-1:15pm, Pyle Center rooms 325/326.
WISLI Student Conference keynote Lecture:
Music, Language, and the Aesthetics of Virtuosity by Dr. Christi-Anne Castro (Associate Professor, Ethnomusicology, and Director, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan)
     That music is a language is a common trope and the subject of much prose. Whether the question is a science-based one on the possible co-evolution of music and spoken language or a philosophical one on sound epistemologies, the nature of how music communicates is a dominant theme in musicological discourse. More than merely sound, music performance conveys waves of meaning on multiple levels, triggering individual interpretations as well as tying into collective memories. Aesthetics, judged in this paper as arising from practice rather than universal principles, communicate not only perceptions of what is beautiful and good, but also narratives of Self and Other. Using three case studies from the Philippines, this paper explores virtuosity as a language of access made possible through command over very specific performance aesthetics. In particular, an examination of the vocalists Jovita Fuentes, Lea Salonga, and Charice uncovers essentialisms about race along with strategies to overcome them.

Free and open to the public.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017
3:00-4:30pm, 260 Bascom Hall
From the Vietnam War to the Dirty War: The Resettlement of Southeast Asian Refugees and the Politics of Cold War Humanitarianism, 1979-1985 Lecture by Dr. Sam Vong (Assistant Professor, History, University of Texas at Austin)
      This presentation examines the little-known history of the migration and resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos to Argentina, between 1979 and 1985. I argue that Argentina’s military government resettled Southeast Asian refugees to project a positive international image as an advocate and a humanitarian nation in order to divert attention away from the atrocities committed during the ongoing Dirty War. I show how refugees contested the politicization and manipulation of refugees as humanitarian objects, and how refugees exerted influence in the resettlement process, calling into question the credibility of the military junta’s claims of humanitarianism. This article is significant because it shows how humanitarianism was employed by a military regime in South America with ulterior motives to advance other political, economic, and ideological agendas. The façade of humanitarianism ultimately led to the program’s breakdown.

Free and open to the public.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017
3:00-4:30pm, 260 Bascom Hall
The Russian Revolution in the Eyes of a Thai Royal Lecture by Mr. Jeffrey Shane (Southeast Asia Reference Librarian, Thai Studies & History Subject Specialist; Curator of the David K. Wyatt Thai Collection; and Southeast Asian Studies Affiliated Faculty at Ohio University)
      In 1974, a cremation ceremony was held in Bangkok in memory of a certain Mom Chao Surawutprawat Thewakun. As is customary, a cremation volume was prepared and distributed to the guests. The title of the volume was Kanpatiwat nai Ratsia mua songkhram lok khrang thi 1 [The Russian Revolution at the Time of the First World War]. This obscure volume, of which only four copies are believed to have survived, contains a first-hand account of the Russian Revolution, written by Surawutprawat Thewakun almost a century ago, while studying at the Aleksandrovsky Cadet Corps in Petrograd, Russia. It is believed to be the only autobiographical account of the Russian Revolution ever published by a Thai, or for that matter, any Southeast Asian author.
     The talk will examine this extraordinary account and the previously unknown chapter in Thai history it reveals. It is the history of Siamese-Russian relations during the sixth reign. More specifically, it is the story of a young Siamese royal who found himself caught up in the violent upheaval of the Russian Revolution. The importance of this memoir, however, lies not so much in its contribution to the historiography of the Russian Revolution, for in truth it contains few revelations of any real significance, but rather, what it tells about the author and the refracted light it sheds on the history of Siam, its political culture, and the worldview of Thai privileged society in the early 20th century.

Free and open to the public.

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Previous Lecture Series

2016 Lecture Series:

  • Whatever Happened to 'Comrade'? The Politics of Gender and Development in Vietnam by Dr. Kristy Kelly (Assistant Professor of Global and International Education, Drexel University)

  • Dissonant Voices: Music and Identity in the Tagalog Zarzuelas of Early Twentieth Century Manila by Isidora Miranda (PhD candidate, Historical Musicology University of Wisconsin-Madison)

  • Smoke, Fire and Rain in Muslim Southeast Asia: Environmental Ethics in a Time of Burning by Anna M. Gade, (Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison)


2015 Lecture Series:

  • Human Trafficking in South-East Asia: Seeking Lasting Solutions by Michael Nowlin, Interim Deputy Country Director for Cambodia, Hagar International

  • To the Medical Archipelago: Stratification in Vietnam’s Health Care Sector by Dr. Martha Lincoln, Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley School of Public Health

  • Indonesian Media Ownership in the Digital Era by Dr Ross Tapsell, Lecturer in Asian Studies, The Australian National University


2014 Lecture Series:

  • Campaigning for All Indonesians: The Politics of Social Welfare in Indonesia by Eunsook Jung, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science,University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


2013 Lecture Series:

  • Books and Book Collecting in 19th Century Vietnam by Prof. George Dutton, Associate Professor of Southeast Asian Studies, and Incoming Director, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Univ. of California-Los Angeles

  • Travel Writing in Southeast Asian Perspectives. by Ian Lowman (Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, UW-Madison)

  • Reform of Economic Law in Southeast Asia: Cases from Three Countries -- Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand. by John Davis (Counsel, YKVN Lawyers, Hanoi, Vietnam and Lecturer, EBA Program, Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University)


2012 Lecture Series:

  • Political Humor: The Vessantara Jataka In Historical Perspective. by Katherine Bowie (Professor, Department of Anthropology and Director, Center for SE Asian Studies)

  • "Green Islam" in Indonesia. by Prof. Anna M. Gade (Associate Professor of Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

  • The Phu Nyai Politics: Social Mobility of Ethnic Minority Students in Laos. by Dr. Manynooch Faming (Honorary Lecturer, Anthropology Research Center, Sociology Department, University of Hong Kong)

  • Indonesian Heritage Lost, Found and Sold: Reinventing Indentity-Inspired Arts in Post-Touristic Times. by Kathleen M. Adams (Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies, Loyola University Chicago)


2011 Lecture Series:

  • Rice Plus: Widows' Economic Practices in Rural Cambodia by Dr. Susan H. Lee (Senior Lecturer, Social Sciences, Boston University)

  • Interpreting an Event: The funeral of Gen. Vang Pao. by Prof. Kao-Ly Yang, Anthropology (Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, California State University-Fresno)

  • Besmirched with Blood: an Emotional History of Transnational Romance in Colonial Singapore. by Prof. Tamara Loos, (Associate Professor, History and Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University)

  • Archaeological Investigations of Vietnam’s Ancient Capital by Prof. Nam Kim, (Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology University of Wisconsin-Madison)


2010 Lecture Series:

  • Sodomy II, or what do one Mongolian model (blowed up real good), three frogs, 12 hydroelectric power plants, and millions (allegedly) of freshly-documented Filipino immigrants have to do with the political situation in Malaysia today? by Clare Boulanger

  • Thailand's Crisis (not over yet) by Prof. Thongchai Winichakul (History, UW-Madison)

  • Philiphe Binh and the Problem of Vietnamese Historical Biography by Prof. George Dutton (Associate Professor, Dept. of Asian Languages & Cultures, UCLA)

  • The Social Life of Companionable Objects: Living with Indonesian Things by Prof. Kenneth George (Anthropology, UW-Madison)


2009 Lecture Series:

  • Opium, Power, People: Anthropological Understandings of a Drug Interdiction Project in Thailand. by Prof. Kathleen Gillogly (Department of Anthropology and Sociology, UW-Parkside)

  • Policing America's Empire: Philippine Pacification and the Rise of the Surveillance State. by Prof. Alfred W. McCoy (Department of History, UW-Madison)

  • Cannibalism and Race Transformation in a Mekong Delta at War, 1945-52 . by Shawn McHale (Director, Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, George Washington University)

  • Holy Matrimony? The Politics of Polygamy in Indonesia. by Prof. Suzanne A Brenner (Department of Anthropology, UC-San Diego)

  • Cambodian Buddhism and Cambodian Magic - Conceiving Religion. by Prof. Erik Davis (Department of Religious Studies, Macalester College)


2008 Lecture Series:

  • Moving Costs: Internal migration in Vietnam since Doi Moi by Ian Coxhead, Professor of Agricutural and Applied Economics, UW-Madison.

  • The Price of Rice: Has globalization hurt Southeast Asia's poor? Ian Coxhead, Professor of Agricutural and Applied Economics, UW-Madison.


2007 Lecture Series:

  • Gender and Vietnam by Giang Han Tran, Fulbright Scholar of Sociology at Temple University

  • The Study of Religion and the Understanding of Southeast Asia: Three Lectures on Three Challenges by Charles Hallisey, Professor, Languages and Cultures of Asia at UW-Madison

  • Three Lectures on Politics in the Philippines by Paul Hutchcroft, Professor of Politics at UW-Madison

  • Special Lecture: Like a Paid Prison Sentence with a Good Chance of Drowning by Steve McKay, Professor of Sociology

  • Two Lectures on Globalization and Development in Southeast Asia by Ian Coxhead, Professor of Applied and Agricultural Economics at UW-Madison


2006 -"Dictatorship and Democracy in Burma" by Ian Holliday, Humanities & Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong; "Southeast Asian Theater in the 21st Century" by Evan Winnet, Theater and Dance, Macalester College

2005 - "The Ramayana" taught by Frank Smith (Khmer coordinator) and Amelia Liwe (Indonesian Coordinator)

2004 - "Islam in Southeast Asia" taught by Anna Gade (Religion, Oberlin College)


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Contact Us!
Please direct any questions to the SEASSI Program Coordinator:

Jinda Moore
Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
207 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Dr.
Madison, WI 53706
phone: (608) 263-1755 email: