141 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Southeast Asia about their New Books

New Books in Southeast Asian Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6, 9 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Southeast Asia about their New Books

    Chiara Formichi, "Islam and Asia: A History" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Chiara Formichi, "Islam and Asia: A History" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Challenging the geographical narrative of the history of Islam, Chiara Formichi’s new book Islam and Asia: A History (Cambridge University Press, 2020), helps us to rethink how we tell the story of Islam and the lived expressions of Muslims without privileging certain linguistic, cultural, and geographic realities. Focusing on themes of reform, political Islamism, Sufism, gender, as well as a rich array of material culture (such as sacred spaces and art), the book maps the development of Islam in Asia, such as in Kashmir, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China. It considers both transnational and transregional ebbs and flows that have defined the expansion and institutionalization of Islam in Asia, while attending to factors such as ethnicity, linguistic identity and even food cultures as important realities that have informed the translation of Islam into new regions. It is the “convergence and conversation” between the “local” and “foreign” or better yet between the theoretical notions of “centre” and “periphery” of Islam and Muslim societies that are dismantled in the book, defying any notions of Asian expressions of Islam as a “derivative reality.” The book is accessibly written and will be extremely useful in any undergraduate or graduate courses on Islam, Islam in Asia, or political Islam. The book will also be of interest to those who work on Islamic Studies and Asia Studies.
    Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. Her research areas are on contemporary Sufism in North America and South Asia. She is the author of Sacred Spaces and Transnational Networks in American Sufism (Bloombsury Press, 2018) and a co-author of Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2017). More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at shobhana.xavier@queensu.ca . You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Viet Thanh Nguyen, "Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War" (Harvard UP, 2016)

    Viet Thanh Nguyen, "Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War" (Harvard UP, 2016)

    According to Viet Thanh Nguyen, all wars are fought twice: first on the field of battle, and then in the struggles over memory. In Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (Harvard University Press, 2016) he explores the various ways in which the American War in Vietnam has been remembered and forgotten. But this wide-ranging, erudite, and joyously inter-disciplinary book is more than just a study of how we talk about this war. Professor Nguyen argues that we need to create a new ethics based on a “just memory” that recognizes not only ourselves and our own humanity but includes the humanity of others and also our own inhumanity. Nothing Ever Dies critiques what he terms the “industries” of memory production. As with the actual war which pitted lightly armed guerrilla fighters against the vast American war machine, asymmetry characterizes memory production. Nguyen contrasts the success of Hollywood films such as “Apocalypse Now” in globalizing the American narrative of the war with the more localized efforts of the Vietnamese Communist Party to promote their version of the war through monuments, museums, and massive graveyards. Nothing Ever Dies is a transnational project that engages both the United States of America and north and south Vietnam, but also brings South Korea, Laos, and Cambodia into the discussion. The book combines history, literary and film criticism, and museum studies into a larger philosophical exploration of ethics and a call for peace grounded in justice.
    While Nothing Ever Dies is an impressive book and was a finalist for the National Book Award for non-fiction, Viet Thanh Nguyen is best known for The Sympathizer. This novel won the 2016 Pulitzer for fiction and a host of other awards. Professor Nguyen, who holds the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and is a Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, was been awarded fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim Foundations in 2017. Importantly, Nothing Ever Dies is a very personal work. The author places his identity as a refugee born in Vietnam but airlifted to the United States of America in 1975 at the center of the text. Growing up in San José, California, he learned about the war that shaped his life through American film and fiction. However, he often felt otherized in these often-racist depictions of the war. Nothing Ever Dies is his contribution to writing diverse Vietnamese experiences into our memory of Vietnam.
    Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford, 2018). When he’s not quietly reading or happily talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.
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    • 1 hr 10 min
    Wasana Wongsurawat, "The Crown and the Capitalists: The Ethnic Chinese and the Founding of the Thai Nation" (U Washington Press, 2019)

    Wasana Wongsurawat, "The Crown and the Capitalists: The Ethnic Chinese and the Founding of the Thai Nation" (U Washington Press, 2019)

    One can’t understand modern Thailand without understanding the role of the ethnic Chinese. And one can’t understand the role of the ethnic Chinese without understanding the history of their relationship to the Thai monarchy. This is exactly what Wasana Wongsurawat has documented in her new book, The Crown and the Capitalists: The Ethnic Chinese and the Founding of the Thai Nation (University of Washington Press, 2019). The book explores this remarkable relationship against a backdrop of tumultuous changes in Thailand, Southeast Asia, and China: the Opium Wars, the European colonization of Southeast Asia, the rise of Chinese nationalism and the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911, the 1932 Revolution in Siam, Japanese imperialism, World War II, and the Cold War. While the relationship between the ethnic Chinese, the Thai monarchy, and China, has experienced stresses and strains throughout this long period, it has endured intact. And, arguably, today, it is stronger than ever. According to Wasana, this relationship lies at the heart of the Thai nation-state.
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    • 51 min
    Laurence Monnais, "The Colonial Life of Pharmaceuticals: Medicines and Modernity in Vietnam" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    Laurence Monnais, "The Colonial Life of Pharmaceuticals: Medicines and Modernity in Vietnam" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    Situated at the crossroads between the history of colonialism, of modern Southeast Asia, and of medical pluralism, this history of medicine and health traces the life of pharmaceuticals in Vietnam under French rule. In The Colonial Life of Pharmaceuticals: Medicines and Modernity in Vietnam (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Laurence Monnais examines the globalization of the pharmaceutical industry, looking at both circulation and consumption, considering access to drugs and the existence of multiple therapeutic options in a colonial context. She argues that colonialism was crucial to the worldwide diffusion of modern medicines and speaks to contemporary concerns regarding over-reliance on pharmaceuticals, drug toxicity, self-medication, and the accessibility of effective medicines. Retracing the steps by which pharmaceuticals were produced and distributed, readers meet the many players in the process, from colonial doctors to private pharmacists, from consumers to various drug traders and healers. Yet this is not primarily a history of medicines as objects of colonial science, but rather a history of medicines as tools of social change.
    Laurence Monnais is a Professor of History at the University of Montreal.
    Lucas Richert is an associate professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He studies intoxicating substances and the pharmaceutical industry. He also examines the history of mental health. 
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    • 49 min
    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)

    Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day.
    The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as Princeton University, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Emory University, and the University of Alabama. Though the roots of Slavery and the University stem from a 2011 conference at Emory University, the collection extends outward to incorporate recent findings. As such, it offers a roadmap to one of the most exciting developments in the field of U.S. slavery studies and to ways of thinking about racial diversity in the history and current practices of higher education.
    Today I spoke with Leslie Harris about the book. Dr. Harris is a professor of history at Northwestern University. She is the coeditor, with Ira Berlin, of Slavery in New York and the coeditor, with Daina Ramey Berry, of Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (Georgia).
    Adam McNeil is a History PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
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    • 59 min
    Sara E. Davies, "Containing Contagion: The Politics of Disease Outbreaks in Southeast Asia" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

    Sara E. Davies, "Containing Contagion: The Politics of Disease Outbreaks in Southeast Asia" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)

    At the start of 2020 few of us would have recognized the face of the current director general of the World Health Organization. Three months later, and in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic he and other senior WHO officials appear on television and online almost daily, exhorting governments around the world to take urgent measures to stop the spread of the virus, advising them on how to do so, and coordinating efforts. To these exhortations governments in Southeast Asia, like their counterparts elsewhere, have a duty to respond. This duty they owe not only to their citizens and neighbours, but also to the international community of states, via a special regulatory regime that has emerged in part out of experiences fighting recent contagions in East and Southeast Asia.
    In Containing Contagion: The Politics of Disease Outbreaks in Southeast Asia (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), Sara E. Davies explains how and why a duty to contain contagion at the source or within borders became central to the contemporary politics of disease control. She tracks regulatory changes for the control of contagion worldwide in tandem with the emergence in the 1990s of a new regional regime to respond to disease outbreaks among the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In ASEAN, she observes, agreement to combat contagious diseases rested on a shared understanding of contagion as a security threat that member states would have to combat in unison rather than apart. Notwithstanding the divergences in capacities and willingness to combat contagion among Southeast Asian states, securitization of disease outbreaks in the 2000s made member states better prepared, overall, to combat it. But it also carried risks of costs to civil liberties and democratic practices that, if anything, are even more pronounced today than they were a decade ago.
    Sara Davies joins us for a coronavirus pandemic special on New Books in Southeast Asian Studies to talk about health security and political sovereignty; the revised International Health Regulations; experiments with SARS and the avian influenza; surveillance of and reporting on contagious disease in Southeast Asia; democracy, transparency and trust in the wake of outbreaks; how endemic diseases risk being neglected and relatively unfunded in the wake of epidemics; and, the responses of China and Singapore to coronavirus, so far.
    Nick Cheesman is a Fellow in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. 
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    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

V.Train ,

Bookworm galore

This is one of those podcasts that I’m incredibly grateful for. It provides in depth conversation with Southeast Asian scholars regarding topics that have traditionally been inaccessible or unknown to the mainstream public, at least in the English speaking world. I truly hope more people get to listen to this amazing podcast. Keep up the awesome work! You’re truly making a difference :)

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