An introduction to UW Luce-SEA

Exploring the consequences of authoritarianism in Southeast Asia and on Southeast Asian American communities in the US.

Age of the Kampuchea Picture video installation, which won the Center for Research Libraries’ Primary Source Award, primarily created by M.A. in Southeast Asian Studies Alumnus Adrian Allarilla, a Filipino American filmmaker. Alarilla’s work with visual archives speaks directly to the questions of the representation of violence that our focus on authoritarianism seeks to address. UW Libraries/Judith Henchy

Thanks to a $1 million grant by the Henry Luce Foundation in June 2020, the Center for Southeast Asia & its Diasporas at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and University of Washington Libraries are spearheading collaborations to explore the effects and consequences of authoritarianism in Southeast Asia and on Southeast Asian American communities in the United States. As implemented at the UW, the four-year Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia encompasses multiple projects that engage underrepresented students, faculty, future librarians, and the regional Southeast Asian American community with Southeast Asian history, language, and culture.

Several projects amplify critical archival studies and involve collaboration between UW Libraries and the UW Burke Museum. A series of fellowships introduce students of Southeast Asian Studies to critical archival practices in archives at UW and abroad. Luce-SEA will also train a Southeast Asia librarian through a two-year MLIS program supported by a partial-tuition fellowship from the UW iSchool. Additionally, an undergraduate research class studies museum artifacts with a focus on making collections meaningful and accessible to communities of Southeast Asian heritage, and in Southeast Asia. These archival and museum-oriented programs grapple with histories of violence and dislocation while striving toward healing and reconciliation.

UW Asian Languages & Literature Department is also creating a new faculty position to connect language study to community engagement. 

Read more about UW Luce-SEA initiatives and partners here.

Key faculty

Celia Lowe, Chair of the Center for Southeast Asia & its Diasporas, is the grant’s principal investigator and Judith Henchy, head of the Southeast Asia Section of UW Libraries and affiliate faculty at the Jackson School, is co-investigator.

Jenna Grant, Assistant Professor in Anthropology, and Vicente L. Rafael, Professor of History, are leading a collaboration with filmmakers, archivists, and documentation specialists from partner institutions in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Burma. 

Other partners in the project include a Southeast Asia Research Family course at the Burke Museum with UW Center for Southeast Asia & its Diasporas’ Senior Lecturer, Raissa DeSmet. Pauli Sandjaja, Teaching Professor and Coordinator of the Southeast Asia program at UW’s Asian Languages & Literature, is lead recruiter for a new faculty member who studies new media, digital humanities, translation, popular culture, film or literature. 

Linh Thủy Nguyễn, Assistant Professor with UW’s American Ethnic Studies Department, will bring together faculty from UW, University California, Irvine, University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Riverside to explore intersections of Southeast Asian and ethnic studies to inform new curriculum, research, and other pedagogies that have previously lacked interdisciplinary coordination.

Please explore our Luce-SEA webpages to learn more about the project.