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Southeast Asia Center News


This page contains occasional news  about Southeast Asian Studies at UW. For more frequent updates, please subscribe to our mailing list or visit our Facebook page.


Emily Peterson is UW's latest PhD with a SEA focus

March 26, 2015

Emily Peterson doing isotope analysis for her dissertation researchEmily Peterson successfully defended her dissertation titled "Insularity and Adaptation: Investigating the role of exchange and inter-island interaction in the Banda Islands, Indonesia” on March 17. This is an innovative study of changes in social “connectedness” in these small and geographically isolated islands in eastern Indonesia, over the period from initial Neolithic occupation about 3500 years ago up to about 1000 years ago (when the islands become connected to the global spice trade). Emily handled tough questions from her committee with her signature thoughtful competence. Committee members included Peter Lape, Jim Feathers, Ben Marwick, and Laurie Sears (History-GFR). She is pictured here doing isotope analysis for her dissertation research. 

Congratulations Dr. Peterson!!

SEAC secures four more years of Title VI funding

October 8, 2014

We are very pleased to announce that the UW Southeast Asia Center once again secured Title VI funding for our Center as well as for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships.  This four-year, 2 million dollar grant will help support UW students studying Southeast Asian languages and will allow us to continue to offer quality innovative programming and activities about Southeast to the UW campus community and the broader public.  We will be offering advanced levels of Tagalog and Khmer as well as strengthening our other Southeast Asian languages, initiating new collaborations with Highline Community College, the Suquamish Museum, and the Northwest Indian College, strengthening collaborations with the Philippine Women's University and the Indonesian Institution of Arts Education, and running a Search for a new Anthropologist of Theravada Buddhist Mainland Southeast Asia among our many initiatives.

To learn more about Title VI funding, please refer to the US Department of Education website:

More than $63.3 Million Awarded to Colleges and Universities to Strengthen Global Competitiveness through International Studies and World Language Training

UW field course in Chiang Rai explores how to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in conservation biology

Prof. Randy Kyes demonstrating a UAV and its potential uses/applications in conservation biology and global health for Thai high school students from local villages in Chiang Rai, Thailand. This outreach education program was conducted as part of a collaborative field training program with Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai. (Photo by Dr. Pensri Kyes, 24 July 2014).

Read more on the Center for Global Field Study Website

A Pacific Connection, Museum Style 

In the Philippines, Suquamish delegate Kate Ahvakana shows photos of the
Suquamish tribe to members of the Sibaltan Weaving Cooperative.
Photo by Angela Flemming

Perspectives, the newsletter of the The College of Arts and Sciences, published a piece about the Ancient Shores, Changing Tides museum exchange, which the Southeast Asia Center supported. From the article:

"When children on Palawan Island in the Philippines gathered earlier this year to practice traditional songs and dances of their Cuyonon culture, their inspiration came from an unlikely source: the Suquamish Tribe in Washington state.

Residents of Sibaltan, a village at the remote northern tip of Palawan Island, and Suquamish, a tribal community on Washington's Kitsap Peninsula, became acquainted over the past year through Ancient Shores, Changing Tides, a project facilitated by the Burke Museum that included cultural exchanges, workshops, mentorship, and exhibition support. The project was funded through the Museums Connect* program, which fosters connections between people in the U.S. and abroad through innovative, museum-based exchanges." Read the full story on the Perspectives website

UW Student Receives Fulbright Grant to Cambodia

Anne Crylen

August 1, 2014

Anne Crylen, a doctoral student in the College of Education, received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to spend the coming year in Cambodia conducting research on children's re-entry into school following traumatic injury. Read more about Anne's project on the College of Education's website

The Politics of Information in Myanmar (Burma)

The Politics of Information in Myanmar (Burma) from Technology & Social Change Group on Vimeo.

Myanmar (Burma) has spent decades under authoritarian rule. It was isolated politically and economically from the rest of the world and home to one of the world’s longest civil wars. In the last few years, Myanmar has begun a transformation from authoritarian to democratic rule, from economic isolation and underdevelopment to an integrated market economy, and from war to peace.

Watch Myanmar expert and Jackson School of International Studies Professor Mary Callahan speak about her experiences living, researching, and working in Myanmar as this process has unfolded. She will also discuss a new USAID/Microsoft-supported information literacy project, housed in the Jackson School and initiated in collaboration with Burmese civil society groups and the Information School’s Technology & Social Change Group (more details on the project coming soon!).


The Winter 2014 newsletter is available online 

View the Winter 2014 newsletter


Better outlook for dwindling black macaque population in Indonesia, An article featuring Prof. Randy Kyes

January 23, 2013

Since at least the 1970s, the population of critically endangered Sulawesi black macaques living in an Indonesian nature reserve has been dropping. But a new study by researchers at the University of Washington and in Indonesia shows that the population has stabilized over the past decade.

The findings, published in the January issue of the American Journal of Primatology, are from the longest ongoing survey of Macaca nigra and are among the first evidence that the monkeys may be in better shape. 

“Fifteen years ago it looked like this macaque population would continue its decline and eventually disappear,” said Randall Kyes, lead author and UW research professor of psychology. This study “doesn’t mean that everything is fine now and that we no longer need to worry about the fate of these animals, but it is good news compared with what we’ve seen over the past 30-plus years in this reserve.”

Since 1997, Kyes and his Indonesian colleagues have conducted conservation-related studies of the black macaques at the Tangkoko Nature Reserve in North Sulawesi, Indonesia – an area known for its biodiversity, which attracts flocks of tourists each year. He and his team began the newly published population survey in 1999 and collected data through 2011.  Read more...

UW as part of IIE's Myanmar Higher Education Initiative 

November 2012
Image Information:  CAROLYN KASTER / AP.TIME Magazine. "U.S. President Barack Obama tours the Shwedagon Pagoda with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Rangoon, Burma, on Nov. 19, 2012. It is the first visit to Burma by a sitting U.S. President."

Press Release
IIE Launches Myanmar Higher Education Initiative

9 U.S. Universities Join to Develop Academic Partnerships and Rebuild Higher Education Capacity in Myanmar

NEW YORK, November 20, 2012—Following on the heels of President Obama’s historic trip to Myanmar this week and his stated commitment to advance education, the Institute of International Education has launched an institute-wide initiative involving the participation of nine U.S. higher education institutions in a strategic planning process for developing institutional partnerships with universities in Myanmar and to assist in rebuilding higher education capacity in the country.

The nine U.S. colleges and universities that will be part of the 2012 Myanmar initiative of the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) were announced today.

The participating U.S. campuses are: American University, Arizona State University, Ball State University, Hawaii Pacific University, Northern Illinois University, Northern Arizona University, Samford University, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and University of Washington.  

IIE’s Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education, which administers IAPP, selected the nine schools based on successful applications that outlined their strong ability to develop linkages with institutions in Myanmar and their interest in providing capacity building services.

In contrast to previous IAPP programs on Brazil, China and India, the institutions selected for IAPP Myanmar have fairly significant experience with the country, whether through diaspora students and faculty on their campuses or through previous work in the country, and the initiative is broader in scope than the previous partnership programs.

Over the next six months, the initiative will take a multi-pronged approach aimed at helping each institution build partnerships with institutions in Myanmar, while also helping the country rebuild its higher education capacity.

The initiative will include a series of bi-national conference calls in December about higher education in Myanmar. IIE will arrange the conference call and invite institutions from its 1,100-member IIENetwork to join.

To read the full article, click here.

Fulbright-DIKTI Indonesian Senior Scholar Recharging Program at the University of Washington, Fall 2012.

July 2012

The Fulbright-DIKTI Indonesian Senior Scholar Recharging Program is an experimental program that allows selected Indonesian senior scholars to spend 10 weeks in the U.S. at a research university. The University of Washington was chosen as the first site for the program because of the excellence and quantity of scholars who specialize on Indonesia in Anthropology, the Asian Law Center, Archaeology, Ethnomusicology, Environmental Science and Conservation, Global Health, History, Literature and Film, Marine Affairs, Political Science, and Primatology. The Indonesian scholars will be matched with UW faculty mentors for an intensive program of academic collaboration. The program will include weekly seminar series both for and by the scholars, exposure to university research facilities, and opportunities to visit other institutions around Washington. The Scholars will arrive in mid-September and leave at the end of November. If this pilot program is successful, it will spread to other campuses in the U.S. The program is sponsored by CIEE Fulbright, AMINEF Indonesia, The Center for Global Field Study, the Jackson School and the Southeast Asia Center. Professor Randy Kyes of the Departments of Psychology and Global Health, the Washington National Primate Center and Director of the Center for Global Field Study is heading up the new program.

Welcome to our Indonesian Senior Scholars. 

For more information, please visit:

Offered through the partnership of: Fulbright International Education Exchange Program, U.S. Department of State (Fulbright), The Center for Global Field Study (CGFS), The Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS), The Southeast Asia Center (SEAC), American Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF), Institute of International education, Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) and the Direktorat Pendidik dan Tenaga Kependidikan, Direktorat Jenderal Pendidikan Tinggi (DIKTI)(Indonesian Ministry of Education), in collaboration with Seattle-Surabaya Sister City Association.

The Influence Of Research Abroad: Letting the country teach you

By Sandi Halimuddin

April, 2012

For the first two weeks of winter quarter, my academic studies occurred in government buildings and NGO offices, my homework involved trekking through rice paddies and mountainous forests, and my teacher was the beautiful country of Indonesia.

As part of the Jackson School of International Studies’ task force program on climate change in Indonesia, I traveled with UW associate professor Celia Lowe and seven undergraduates to Indonesia with the goal of researching carbon emissions from deforestation and land-use more

UW Southeast Asia Community Celebrates Book Launch 

By Southeast Asia Center Director, Laurie J. Sears, (History) and Introduction of Professor Benedict Anderson by Allan Lumba (PhC, History)

November 2011

The highlight of the 2011-2012 year at SEAC was the book launch of the late and beloved Professor Emeritus Daniel S. Lev’s new book No Concessions: The Life of Yap Thiam Hien, Human Rights Lawyer. In the photo below, Professor Emeritus Benedict O' G. Anderson and Yap Thiam Hien's grandson Sigfried Looho offer a toast to the work of Arlene Lev. Arlene worked with Ben Anderson and Audrey Kahin to bring her late husband Dan Lev's biography of Yap to completion. Ibu Ertie N. Oei, who formerly taught Indonesian at UW in the 1980s and early 1990s, holds a copy of the new book in the background (and see above).As part of this moving event, Dan’s close friend Ben Anderson came to celebrate the new book and to present a lecture for the University of Washington’s prestigious Jessie and John Danz Lectures Series. The title of Ben Anderson’s wonderful lecture was: “Long Live Shame! The Good Side of Nations and Nationalism.” The Danz Lecture Series now asks faculty to choose a graduate student to introduce the distinguished visiting faculty. We chose Allan Lumba of the History department. Lumba is writing a dissertation on “Monetary Authorities: Market Knowledge and Imperial Government in the Colonial Philippines, 1892-1942.”

Comments by Allan Lumba, PhC, History, UW, on the introduction of Emeritus Professor Benedict Anderson, recent recipient of the Albert O. Hirschman Award. Professor Anderson gave a 2011 Danz Lecture at the University of Washington.

For almost three decades Professor Benedict Anderson was banned from Indonesia. He was banned because he helped research and write a confidential preliminary analysis critiquing the government narrative of the failed October first, 1965 Indonesian coup. The analysis turns the official military stories upside down, asserting that the Communist Party might not have been behind the coup, but instead, possibly the scapegoat of discontented army officers. Although he was a young scholar and his academic career was at risk, he refused to comply with the Indonesian government’s wishes.

Professor Anderson’s consistent critique of power remains one of the most inspirational aspects of his transdisciplinary and transnational scholarship. His most famous works, such as Imagined Communities, Language and Power, The Spectre of Comparisons , and Under Three Flags, to name but a few, emphasize the types of social relations and political identities only imaginable through confronting imperial, colonial, and authoritarian power. He is best known, however, for transforming our understanding of nationalism.

According to Imagined Communities, the popular creation of a political community, such as the nation, could only come about through a reconceptualization of time, language, and writing, within a capitalist world system. Indeed, the circulation of anti-colonial and anti-imperial ideas within a public sphere and the feeling of belonging to a nation would remain impossible if not for the emergence of a new technological era that brought into focus a system of newspaper and novel production he ingeniously termed “print capitalism.”

In Professor Anderson’s later writings, such as The Spectre of Comparisons and Under Three Flags, he provocatively asserts that within the very nature of nationalism lies a cosmopolitan world-view. He illustrates this worldliness by tracing the political practices and historical effects of those who saw themselves as belonging not only to a specific nation, but a world of nations, made up of universally recognized identities, such as patriot, revolutionary, or anti-colonialist. In other words, revolutionary nationalism entailed drawing from universal political struggles in order to transform local conditions.

In this urgent moment when newer articulations of the public sphere and “print capitalism”—such as social networking sites—are utilized as a critique of official narratives; when the direct action of “occupying” is a modular form of national organizing; and when the identification with the “99%” reinvigorates the popular imagining of a cosmopolitan community: it is without any doubt just how fundamental and powerful the thoughts and writings of Professor Anderson remain. I am thus immensely honored, to introduce to all of you, Aaron L. Binenkorb Professor Emeritus of International Studies, Benedict Anderson.

2011-2012 Academic Year Kicks Off With Visit of Indonesian Ambassador

October 2012

The Southeast Asia Center began its 2011-2012 year by hosting the Honorable Dino Patti Djalal, Indonesian Ambassador to the United States, on October 17. The University of Washington, as one of the strongest Indonesia-focused programs in the U.S, not only in the Arts & Sciences, but also in the humanities, Asian Law Center, Global Health programs, human rights work, the Primate Center and Health Science programs, was a natural first stop for the Ambassador’s U.S. trip. Upon arrival, Ambassador Djalal met with SEAC faculty and students, as well as with members of the UW Indonesian Student Association, to discuss Indonesian studies at UW. After a warm welcome and introduction by UW Provost Doug Wadden, Ambassador Djalal gave a lively presentation entitled “Islam and Democracy: Evolving Compatibility in the 21st Century” to over 150 students, faculty, staff and community members. The presentation was followed by our annual fall reception.

Southeast Asia Center
University of Washington
303 Thomson Hall
Box 353650
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-9606 tel
(206) 685-0668 fax

Laurie Sears, Director

Rick Bonus, Director of Graduate Studies

Sara Van Fleet, Associate Director

Tikka Sears, Outreach Coordinator

Mary Barnes, Program Assistant

Linda Cuadra, Graduate Student Assistant