Spring 2014 Lecture Series 


►All lectures take place on Fridays at 12 noon in the Campus Life Building, Room 110 (Honors), unless otherwise noted.

►All lectures are free and open to the public.

Cambodian lunches are now available. Lunches MUST be ordered online through the website, CSEAS Brown Bag Lunch Order, by 6 p.m. Thursday. Orders must be cancelled by 10 a.m. Friday online. Lunches that are not picked up and have not been cancelled must still be paid for. Cost is $6 for faculty, $5 for students. Payment may be paid by cash or check. For all inquiries, please email seabrownbag@gmail.com.

►All are welcome to bring a lunch and beverage if not ordering a lunch.

Friday, January 24

NIU FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) Fellows, Summer 2013

Lecture title: Panel of Summer 2013 FLAS Fellows Share Summer Language Experiences

Friday, January 31

Prof. Kathleen Gillogly, Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Lecture title: Global Sustainability and Thai Localism: Thai Buddhist Environmentalisms

The concept of sustainability – meeting current needs without compromising future resource access – has become a predominant concept in global economic development. Yet as a concept that relates to the world and the future, it holistically subsumes a range of complex social and ecological concepts. As a result, how sustainability is applied is a political process in that actors make choices among different scales (from local interactions to long-term resiliency of global ecosystems) and specific facets to emphasize. Considering the application of sustainability in Thailand allows us to examine different worldviews and imagined political and economic futures of various groups.  Buddhism provides the fundamental organizing concepts in the application of sustainability; the Buddhist Middle Path is remarkably congruent with global sustainability. Nevertheless, these groups take different positions about the role of the state and citizens in development.  Sustainability can be glossed as decentralization and democracy, or legitimate moral leadership. In particular, there is a paradox between attention to global environmental degradation and Thai emphasis on localism rooted in resistance to globalization; and a tension between the national drive to industrialize the economy and the national self-imagery of self-sufficient rural communities.

Friday, February 7

Santikaro lived at Wat Suan Mokkh International Dharma Hermitage in Chaiya, Thailand for 14 years, including the final 9 years of Ajahn Buddhadasa's life. He trained under Ajahn Buddhadasa's guidance and spent many hundreds of hours in Dhamma conversation with him. He continues to translate the works of his teacher, teaches Buddhism and meditation around the Midwest, and lives at Liberation Park in Norwalk, Wisconsin.  

Lecture title: Buddhadasa on His Own Terms: a Response to Academic Appropriation

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu exemplified the Buddhist scholar-practitioner who lived life on his own terms and was very much his own person. Yet he did so well grounded in Southern Thai culture and Theravada Buddhism. He creatively critiqued and adapted monastic habits and traditions, sifted through Thai Buddhism for what was true to the Buddha's mission, and innovated in numerous ways. At the same time, he worked to understand the Buddha on his own terms. Yet in the writings of some academic scholars, this life is fit into the categories and theoretical interests of the scholar, with some conclusions based more on speculation and academic trendiness than the actual life and evidence supports. This presentation will highlight certain examples of such appropriation in Peter Jackson's Buddhadasa: Theravada Buddhism and Modernist Reform in Thailand and will give alternate perspectives.

Friday, February 14

Prof. Bryce Beemer, History, Colby College

Lecture Title: The Creole City in Burma: A History of Burma-Manipur Slave Gathering Warfare and Manipuri Descendants in Modern Myanmar

In lightly populated mainland Southeast Asia, people were power and warfare was often dedicated to the capture and relocation of rival population centers. Beginning in 1752, the expansionary Konbaung dynasty in upper Burma sacked and seized many thousands of captives from its neighboring rivals. Significant amongst these was the mountain kingdom of Manipur (now a state in northeast India) that was almost completely depopulated by slave gathering warfare. Today, the Mandalay area of upper Burma is dotted with villages and urban neighborhoods inhabited by descendants of these war captives.

This talk will review the history of slave gathering warfare in Southeast Asia and discuss the ways that skilled captives (such as artisans, soldiers and intellectuals) were incorporated into the social hierarchy and could become potent agents for cultural exchange. However, the focus will also be on the present-day religious culture of Manipuri descendants. Manipuri Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhist all participate in hybrid religious practices that both sustain their community identity as non-Burmese, but also reflect the profound processes of assimilation and accommodation of their communities to the cultural world of upper-Burma.

Friday, February 21

Mohammed Labadi, President, Islamic Society of Northern Illinois University

Lecture title: Get to Know Your Neighbor: The New Mosque Project in DeKalb

This presentation is about the Islamic Society of Northern Illinois University (ISNIU) and its new mosque project in DeKalb.  ISNIU was established in the 1980s to fulfill the needs of NIU students and staff as well as Muslims living in the town. A non-profit certified by the IRS and Illinois Secretary of State, ISNIU owns two properties on Normal Road, which are used for religious worship and community meetings.  The ISNIU is currently undertaking a project to build a new mosque and Islamic center on one of the properties in order to accommodate a growing Muslim community in the town. The new center is also intended to better serve the entire NIU community by fostering more interfaith activities and discussions.

Friday, February 28

Prof. Kikue Hamayotsu, Political Science, Northern Illinois University

Lecture title: Why Islam is Not Winning: Elections, Religion and Democracy in Indonesia

Present scholarly and policy debates about democracy prospects in the Muslim world center on an “Islam’s political advantage” in winning popular support in opposition to secular autocrats or in support of religious parties. Against our earlier expectations, and in contrast to many Muslim-majority states elsewhere, Indonesia, the world largest Muslim-majority country, is seeing a somewhat opposite trend: Islamic parties are not winning as much popular support in national elections as predicted. In fact, a number of observers, surveys and local media suggest that they are on the decline. In this presentation, I offer and discuss explanations for this trend based on regional-level data of the national legislative elections (1999-2009), profiles of members of parliaments (DPR), as well as fieldwork and in-depth interviews with political and religious elites I have conducted across Indonesia between 2008 and 2013. I also discuss key strategies that major religious parties, especially the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the United Development Party (PPP), have adopted to overcome their respective ideological and organizational constraints – with varying degrees of success. Lastly, I offer some preliminary predictions about the upcoming legislative elections and the fate of political Islam in an Indonesian democracy.

Friday, March 7

No lecture - Spring Break

Friday, March 14

No lecture - Spring Break

Friday, March 21

William Noseworthy, Graduate student, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Lecture title: Implications of the Discourse of Anthropology of Religion on the Study of History: Case Studies from the ‘Islamicized Bani’ of Vietnam and Cambodia

‘The Islamicized Bani’ of Vietnam and the ‘Kaum Imam San group’ or the ‘Bani of Cambodia’ have appeared at the forefront of discourse on the anthropology of religion. Yosuko Yoshimoto (2012) recently argued that the ‘Bani of Vietnam’ otherwise known as the ‘Awal’ community proved that ‘Islam in Vietnam’ was polythetic in nature and hence individual members of the community did not share even one practice with ‘the Islamic community’ as a whole. Meanwhile, Bruckmayr (2013) has argued in favor of the application of ‘syncretism’ in order to describe the ‘Cham Bani of Vietnam’ – while he referred to the ‘Kaum Imam San’ or the ‘Bani of Cambodia.’ In this presentation we combine a critical analysis of the most commonly discussed topics related to these two communities: the history of Champa and Bani culture, gradients of Cham religion and the study of Cham manuscripts in order to argue that the culture and history of these two communities are still not well understood and deserve continued scholarly attention.

Friday, March 28

No lecture - AAS, Philadelphia

Friday, April 4, Heritage Room, Holmes Student Center

Prof. James Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science, Anthropology, Forestry, and Environmental Studies, Yale University 

Lecture title: History and Ecology of the Irrawaddy River

Rivers, in the long view, are living things. They are born; they die; they are occasionally maimed or even murdered; they move both gradually and violently, they teem (usually) with life. Historically, they along with seacoasts were the main arteries of commerce, of social connection, of cultural influence. They provided silt and hence the alluvial soils on which all the great grain-based states were founded.

The Irrawaddy is no exception. What makes the Irrawaddy different from most rivers in the world is that it has not, until recently, been engineered by dams, dikes, large irrigation works, canalization, and used as an industrial sewage system. I’ll examine several themes: the importance of the river as the historical artery of travel, commerce, and cultural expansion; the uses of the flood plain; the problems of navigation on the river; deforestation of the watershed and its consequences, fisheries, etc. Finally, I’ll make a brief argument for deep histories of rivers in which the river itself and all the life forms which live in, on, and around rivers (not homo sapiens) are the center of attention.

Prof. Scott will also be speaking at the NIU Southeast Asia Student Conference, Saturday, April 5th.  

Co-sponsored by the Graduate Colloquium Committee, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, the Center for Burma Studies, the Southeast Club, the Burma Interest Group (BIG-NIU), and the Department of Political Science. 

Friday, April 11

Julien Ehrenkönig, MA candidate, Anthropology, Northern Illinois University

Lecture title: The Prospective Role of Specialized Graphic Book Narratives in Mitigating Social Conflicts in Indonesia

In recent years, the usage of graphic books in Indonesia has become a tool to assist the possible mitigation of religious and ethnic differences by providing interfaith education and knowledge to the masses. Through an analysis of graphic book narratives, pictorial representation, and forms of language used within graphic books, the focus of my study is to examine the underlying knowledge being delivered to readers of graphic books in the form of engaging stories and popular graphics.  The purpose of this research is to examine how graphic books are being used as an indirect way of communicating various discourses on traditions of  Islam, and the ways graphic books might help as educational tools to mitigate ethnic-religious conflict in Indonesia. The aim of this research is to answer how these graphic books address issues of ethnic and religious conflict by examining how the narratives within graphic books can change ideas, shape identities, and provide education and knowledge to the public. Through understanding the underlying knowledge being delivered to readers, and how those with power are dispensing their narratives, one can uncover how these graphic books can potentially influence readers into reorienting aspects of their religious beliefs and perceived cultural identity.

Friday, April 18

Thomas Rhoden, PhD candidate, Political Science, Northern Illinois University and Best Graduate Paper Award winner, Southeast Asia Student Conference 2014, Northern Illinois University

Lecture title: Asian Oligarchy and Political Carnival: Thailand Case Study

A modern conception of oligarchy, which can be housed under an authoritarian regime as easily as it can under a liberal democratic one, has far reaching consequences for any researcher who wishes to have a better understanding of how extreme inequalities of wealth may have political repercussions on the national stage in many countries across Asia. This paper has two goals: 1) to question whether Jeffrey A. Winters’ Aristotelian-grounded conception of oligarchy can be extended across cases in Asia, and in particular, to the national state of Thailand; and 2) to question whether the current round of national protests, what is termed “political carnival” here, are in any way affected by this Thai oligarchy. With an analytical shift in focus from the generation of wealth to the defense of wealth, new causal effects of an oligarchic material source of power can be examined that otherwise might have stayed hidden from view.


Weekly lecture series ends April 18; additional spring lectures to be announced as confirmed.