Preah Vihear or Phra Viharn?: Notes from a Troubled Border – a seminar by Dr. Peter Vail (Wed, 15 September 2010)

Speaker: Dr Peter Vail (University Scholars Programme, NUS)
Date: Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Time: 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

Synopsis
For more than 50 years, Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over the Preah Vihear Temple and its surrounding territory. The dispute has periodically become violent, most recently in 2008 when Cambodia (successfully) petitioned to have the temple listed as a World Heritage Site with UNESCO. This talk will discuss some of the more salient points of the conflict – e.g. its root causes, and Thailand’s stubborn insistence on a bilateral solution – as well as some of its more subtle dimensions, especially as they pertain to local and national identity politics in both Thailand and Cambodia.

About the speaker
Peter Vail teaches in the University Scholars Programme at NUS. He completed his PhD at Cornell U in Anthropology, and a subsequent MS in Linguistics from Georgetown U. Before coming to NUS, he taught for several years at Ubon Ratchathani University in NE Thailand, not far from the Thai-Cambodia border. He has worked on issues of language shift among Khmer speakers in Thailand, discourse and power in rural Isan, and Muay Thai. He recently completed an eight-month project, funded by the Thai Research Fund, examining border relations and Cambodian views of Thailand.

Methods of Vilification: Cam Perceptions of the Enemy or “Masuh” in Historical Perspective – a seminar by Mohamed Effendy Bin Abdul Hamid (Wed, 18 August 2010)

Speaker: Mohamed Effendy Bin Abdul Hamid (PhD Candidate, University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Date: Wednesday, 18 August 2010
Time: 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

Synopsis
According to the Vietnamese chronicle, Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu, on March 22, 1471 A.D, King Lê Thánh Tông entered the Cam capital Cha-ban (Vijaya) which collapsed after a four-day siege. More than 30,000 Cams were captured, including King Tra Toan and his family members, and over 40,000 Cam soldiers were killed. Sporadic and ineffectual resistance was conducted by the Cam even after 1471 A.D (recorded in primary Cam and Vietnamese sources) until the 19th century when the last Cam king was executed by Emperor Minh Mang.

“Masuh” or enemy is one of the terms often used by the Cam in their manuscripts to describe the “Yun” (Vietnamese) Vietnamese. However there are other terms that are used to describe the Vietnamese such “Patao Jek”, “Anak Yun” and “baol jek”. In light of the tumultuous history of the Cam with the Vietnamese, my presentation attempts to understand the Cam perspective of the Vietnamese contained in the Cam manuscripts. How were the Vietnamese portrayed in such manuscripts? Why were they portrayed as such? When did such perceptions develop and what are the processes involved in the developments of such portrayals? What are the issues surrounding such portrayals of the Vietnamese?

How the Cam have historically perceived the Vietnamese has not been adequately understood. In this presentation, Mr Mohamed Effendy highlights the existence and reading of several Cam manuscripts that he is currently analyzing for his PhD dissertation and discusses how the manuscripts shed more light to this grey area of Cam history.

About the speaker
Mohamed Effendy Bin Abdul Hamid is a PhD Candidate of the History Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa. He attained a Master’s degree in 2007 from the Southeast Asian Studies Program, National University of Singapore. He is a winner of several awards and prizes, including the Daniel Kwok Prize for Best Teaching Assistant Award (History Department, University of Hawaii), the Daniel W.Y. Kwok Endowed Fund in History, John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellowship in History, and the Moscotti Fellowship (University of Hawaii at Manoa).

Religion, Nation and Mother-Love: The Malay Peninsular Past and Present – a seminar by Maila Stivens (Wed, 31 March 2010)

Speaker: Maila Stivens (Principal Research Fellow, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne & William Lim Siew Wai Fellow in Cultural Studies, National University of Singapore)
Date: Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Time: 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

Synopsis
This paper reflects on the ways in which ideas about women – especially mother-love – and children have been at the epicentres of intersections of religion and nation within the high-level politics surrounding some prominent child custody cases in Malaysia and Singapore. While scholarly accounts have tended to gloss over affective dimensions, it is argued that an enriched understanding of the forces at work can result from paying attention to the ways that ‘family’, the ‘domestic’, ‘intimate’ and structures of feeling can be seen to configure these events and their popular representations.

About the speaker
Maila Stivens, a Principal Research Fellow at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne is visiting NUS for 2010 as William Lim Siew Wai Fellow in Cultural Studies in Sociology and has also taught at Melbourne University, UCL, London and Sussex University. She has research in and published widely on Australian kinship; on matriliny; on modernity, work and family among the new Malay middle classes; ‘Public’ and ‘Private’ in Southeast Asia; Family Values East and West; and ‘New Asian Childhoods’.

Hidden to the Eye: Understanding Spatial Configurations at Angkor using Ground-Penetrating Radar – a seminar by Till F. Sonnemann (Wed, 24 February 2010)

Speaker: Till F. Sonnemann (Geophysicist & PhD Candidate, University of Sydney)
Date: Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Time: 3:30pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

Synopsis
For the first time, Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveys have been used in Angkor on a broad scale. Nevertheless even a fast surveying method such as GPR has limitations considering the extent of Angkor’s archaeological park. GPR survey, conducted over three field seasons aimed at validating and and evaluating archaeological features known from maps and aerial images, also revealed ancient river beds, engineered channels and structures. What is visible to the eye is sometimes only a small part of a feature. This talk will cover the usefulness and weaknesses of GPR work, and interpretations drawn from the results. It will show results from some major enclosures including Banteay Srei, Chau Srei Vibol, and the latest discoveries at the Angkor Wat.

About the speaker
Till Sonnemann is currently working on his PhD in the Department or Archaeology at the University of Sydney. He received a degree in Geophysics from the University of Münster in Germany in 2005 where he wrote his diploma thesis at the DLR (German Aerospace Center) about lunar seismology. After short excursions into Volcanology and Photogrammetry he became interested in the possibilities of Ground-penetrating Radar (GPR) in Archaeology.

The Demise of the Civil Society Movement in Thailand: Preliminary Thoughts – a seminar by Assoc Prof Jim Ockey (Wed, 20 January 2010)

Speaker: Assoc Prof Jim Ockey (University of Canterbury)
Date: Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Time: 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

Synopsis
In 1973, students in Thailand overthrew a longtime dictatorship, a “people’s power” revolution 13 years ahead of that in the Philippines. During the 1980s, those same student leaders watched “their” democracy become sullied by money politics and then fall to a military coup in 1992. They began seeking a way to redeem democracy from corrupt politicians and bureaucrats alike. The result was the Civil Society Movement, led by former student leaders become academics and activists, who set out to change Thai society and politics. The Thaksin regime and the subsequent conflict between Yellow Shirts and Red Shirts has divided the Civil Society Movement, perhaps ending it permanently. We will consider the nature of the movement, its flaws, and its future, in light of the current divide in Thai society and politics.

About the speaker
Jim Ockey is the coordinator of the Department of Political Science at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.