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pISSN : 2092-738X / eISSN : 2799-7839
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2018, Vol.10, No.2

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    From Southeast Asian Studies to ASEAN Studies: What’s in a Name Change?

    Rommel A. Curaming | 2018, 10(2) | pp.31~55 | number of Cited : 1
    Abstract PDF
    This paper is a preliminary attempt at making sense of the increasingly common use of the term ASEAN Studies as interchangeable with, or as replacement for the older and more established counterpart. It speculates on whether this development represents the beginning among local people of “owning” the region, as well as whether this forms part of the continuing effort to wrest the initiative or control of knowledge production in and about Southeast Asia.
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    Other Southeast Asias? Beyond and Within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations

    Victor T. King | 2018, 10(2) | pp.57~85 | number of Cited : 1
    Abstract PDF
    The debates continue on the conceptualization of Southeast Asia and the ways in which those of us who are concerned to attempt scholarly interventions in the region define, conceive, understand and engage with it. But, in an important sense, the region has now been defined for us by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and whatever academic researchers might wish to impose on Southeast Asia in regard to their priorities and interests, it may make little difference. Given the politically-derived, nation-state definition of Southeast Asia, are all our problems of regional definition resolved? In some respects, they have been. ASEAN has constructed and institutionalized a regional organization and an associated regional culture. But in certain fields of research we still require academic flexibility. We cannot always be confined by an ASEAN-derived regional definition. The paper will explore other configurations of ‘region’ and its sub-divisions and propose, that in the spirit of academic freedom, we can continue to generate imaginative depictions of Southeast Asia and its constituents both within and beyond the region.
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    Between Philippine Studies and Filipino-American Studies: The Transpacific as an Area and the Transformation of Area Studies in the 21st Century

    Janus Isaac Nolasco | 2018, 10(2) | pp.89~114 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    In this paper, I argue that while area studies in the United States has declined since the end of the Cold War, its area impulse of has emerged in other fields of inquiry, particularly Asian-American Studies. Accordingly, I explain how the collective reflections of Filipino-American scholars on empire, migration, diaspora, and identity point to the consolidation and viability of the transpacific as an area, which spans both the United States and the Philippines. Addressing several problems with this straddling—mainly as criticisms of Filipino-American Studies—I show how the transpacific serves as a bridge between Philippine Studies and Filipino-American Studies, and helps define the boundaries and overlaps between both fields of inquiry.
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    Transnational Studies and Attempts at Inclusivity

    Maria Serena I. Diokno | 2018, 10(2) | pp.115~120 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    This paper provides comments on Janus Nolasco’s paper and the role that transnational or transpacific studies can play in overcoming the division between Philippine Studies (area studies) and Filipino-American scholarship. It draws attention to the fact that the crossing of localities and boundaries is always historically grounded and that the historical contexts in which Filipino diasporic communities are located vary one from another. It also considers the antecedents of more inclusive approaches to understanding the past and the present, and historical agency.
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    Southeast Asia as Theoretical Laboratory for the World

    Oscar Salemink | 2018, 10(2) | pp.121~142 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    Area studies are sometimes framed as focused on specific localities, rooted in deep linguistic, cultural and historical knowledge, and hence empirically rich but, as a result, as yielding non-transferable/non-translatable findings and hence as theoretically poor. In Europe and North America some social science disciplines like sociology, economics and political science routinely dismiss any reference to local specifics as parochial “noise” interfering with their universalizing pretensions which in reality obscure their own Euro-American parochialism. For more qualitatively oriented disciplines like history, anthropology and cultural studies the inherent non-universality of (geographically constricted) area studies presents a predicament which is increasingly fought out by resorting to philosophical concepts which usually have a Eurocentric pedigree. In this paper, however, I argue that concepts with arguably European pedigree – like religion, culture, identity, heritage and art – travel around the world and are adopted through vernacular discourses that are specific to locally inflected histories and cultural contexts by annexing existing vocabularies as linguistic vehicles. In the process, these vernacularized “universal” concepts acquire different meanings or connotations, and can be used as powerful devices in local discursive fields. The study of these processes offer at once a powerful antidote against simplistic notions of “global”/”universal” and “local,” and a potential corrective to localizing parochialism and blindly Eurocentric universalism. I develop this substantive argument with reference to my own professional, disciplinary and theoretical trajectory as an anthropologist and historian focusing on Vietnam, who used that experience – and the empirical puzzles and wonder encountered – in order to develop theoretical interests and questions that became the basis for larger-scale, comparative research projects in Japan, China, India, South Africa, Brazil and Europe. The subsequent challenge is to bring the results of such larger, comparative research “home” to Vietnam in a meaningful way, and thus overcome the limitations of both area studies and Eurocentric disciplines.
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    Rethinking the Field: Locality and Connectivity in Southeast Asian Studies

    Maitrii Aung-Thwin | 2018, 10(2) | pp.143~153 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    The paper comments on the contribution of Oscar Salemink on his personal intellectual journal from Vietnam to Europe and back again. This then leads to the contemplation of the construction of Southeast Asia as a “place” or “locality”, early preoccupations within the region of the national dimension. And more recent developments in universities in Singapore, examining the continuing perceptions of Southeast Asia as a region and Singapore as its “gateway”, and the increasing interest in “connectivities” and transnational relations between the region and other parts of Asia and the wider world.
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    Southeast Asian Studies in the Age of STEM Education and Hyper-utilitarianism

    Thongchai Winichaku | 2018, 10(2) | pp.157~180 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    Area studies, including Asian and Southeast Asian studies, in the post-Cold War era have been facing an epochal challenge that is rooted in two conditions: on the one hand, the end of the Cold War and the fading geopolitical rationale, and on the other, the emergence of the technology-driven transformation of the global economy and society. The consequences thus far are paradoxical: 1) While the technology-led transformation needs a workforce with critical and innovative abilities, higher education becomes more hyper-utilitarian; 2) While the transformation instigates increasing diversity of identities in global cultures, many countries thrive for STEM education at the expense of learning languages and cultures, including area studies which are essential for diversity. Southeast Asian studies programs need to change in response to these new conditions. These changing conditions and paradoxes, nevertheless, take different forms and degrees in the American, European and Asian academies, thanks to their different histories of higher education. The prospects for Southeast Asian Studies in these various academies are likely to be different too.
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    Introducing SEABOT: Methodological Quests in Southeast Asian Studies

    Stephen KECK | 2018, 10(2) | pp.181~213 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    How to study Southeast Asia (SEA)? The need to explore and identify methodologies for studying SEA are inherent in its multifaceted subject matter. At a minimum, the region’s rich cultural diversity inhibits both the articulation of decisive defining characteristics and the training of scholars who can write with confidence beyond their specialisms. Consequently, the challenges of understanding the region remain and a consensus regarding the most effective approaches to studying its history, identity and future seem quite unlikely. Furthermore, “Area Studies” more generally, has proved to be a less attractive frame of reference for burgeoning scholarly trends. This paper will propose a new tool to help address these challenges. Even though the science of artificial intelligence (AI) is in its infancy, it has already yielded new approaches to many commercial, scientific and humanistic questions. At this point, AI has been used to produce news, generate better smart phones, deliver more entertainment choices, analyze earthquakes and write fiction. The time has come to explore the possibility that AI can be put at the service of the study of SEA. The paper intends to lay out what would be required to develop SEABOT. This instrument might exist as a robot on the web which might be called upon to make the study of SEA both broader and more comprehensive. The discussion will explore the financial resources, ownership and timeline needed to make SEABOT go from an idea to a reality. SEABOT would draw upon artificial neural networks (ANNs) to mine the region’s “Big Data”, while synthesizing the information to form new and useful perspectives on SEA. Overcoming significant language issues, applying multidisciplinary methods and drawing upon new yields of information should produce new questions and ways to conceptualize SEA. SEABOT could lead to findings which might not otherwise be achieved. SEABOT’s work might well produce outcomes which could open up solutions to immediate regional problems, provide ASEAN planners with new resources and make it possible to eventually define and capitalize on SEA’s “soft power”. That is, new findings should provide the basis for ASEAN diplomats and policy-makers to develop new modalities of cultural diplomacy and improved governance. Last, SEABOT might also open up avenues to tell the SEA story in new distinctive ways. SEABOT is seen as a heuristic device to explore the results which this instrument might yield. More important the discussion will also raise the possibility that an AI-driven perspective on SEA may prove to be even more problematic than it is beneficial.
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    Southeast Asianist in the Digital Age

    Sinae Hyun | 2018, 10(2) | pp.215~228 | number of Cited : 0
    Abstract PDF
    The paper provides an appreciation and critical commentary on Stephen Keck’s fictional product, the SEABOT. It examines the problems of regional definition, given Southeast Asia’s diversity, and provides a positive gloss on this diversity. It also considers certain conceptual and methodological issues raised by SEABOT, and the advantages and disadvantages of this online platform.