2017 Southeast Asia Symposium

September 20, 2017

Culture & Sustainability in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia;
Abidin Kusno, York University;
Oct. 6–7


TACOMA, Wash. – Disastrous flooding of a city can bring people together, as Americans watching the aftermath of hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria—and the generous spirit of volunteers—well know. But flooding can also be a highly political event, stoking tension and roiling governments.

At University of Puget Sound’s 2017 Southeast Asia Symposium, keynote speaker Abidin Kusno, from York University in Toronto, will examine both of these highly-charged effects of flooding in a talk titled “Leaky City: Political Culture of Flooding in Indonesia.”

The professor of environmental studies will focus on the Indonesia capital, Jakarta: the flood-prone home of more than 10 million people who come from a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Culture & Sustainability in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia—the fourth annual Southeast Asia Symposium at Puget Sound—runs from Friday, Oct. 6, to Saturday, Oct. 7, and is open to students and academics, and to the public. There will be scholarly talks, student research presentations, and a Southeast Asia “street food” banquet and culture faire, alongside a Thai music and dance performance by Chaopraya Ensemble and two contemporary Thai musical groups.

The Puget Sound students presenting at the symposium spent three weeks in Indonesia over the summer, working with Indonesian counterparts from the U.S. State Department’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) program to study aspects of local life that touch on topics ranging from the environment, to Islam, to minority Christians, to nationalism, to LBGT issues, to the problem of city trash.

Entrance is free to all, and registration is not required (except for the batik workshop: sign up for that here or from the symposium program link below). Many of the events will take place in Murray Boardroom, Wheelock Student Center. See the full program at pugetsound.edu/liase/2017-symposium. Directions and a map of campus are below.

“We have a wealth of expertise and some fascinating research, not least that of distinguished scholar and author Abidin Kusno,” said organizer Gareth Barkin, professor of anthropology at Puget Sound. “The cultural events will also give everyone a close-up experience with Southeast Asia’s rich heritage. Based on the past success of this symposium, I think there is a real desire in the Pacific Northwest to strengthen ties and share expertise with our Southeast Asian neighbors.”

Abidin Kusno is director of the York Centre for Asian Research at York University in Toronto. His work evolves around the issues of politics, culture, and the built environment. In particular he looks at the ways in which architecture and urban space represent political cultures, and how they shape politics, ideology, and the consciousness of different social groups. His recent work has focused on environmental issues in Indonesia-—in part to better understand how people experience and respond to such concerns. Kusno has taught in Indonesia, New York, and British Columbia. Among his many publications, he wrote the books Visual Cultures of the Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia (2016) and After the New Order: Space, Power and Jakarta (2013).

Other speakers include Puget Sound Professor of Biology Peter Wimberger, who will reveal what he learned about local conservation models while doing research in Malaysian Borneo, and Professor of International Political Economy Nick Kontogeorgopoulos, who will talk about his research on the local impact of short-term volunteers in Thailand.

The symposium is one of many activities at Puget Sound supported by the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE). Backed by the Henry Luce Foundation, LIASE makes grants to universities and colleges around the country to promote a deeper understanding of Asian cultural, linguistic, and environmental issues. Symposium attendees will include campus members from the Northwest Five Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges, which serves as a forum for numerous academic and resource-sharing collaborations.

For more about the symposium and a program visit: pugetsound.edu/liase/2017-symposium

For directions and a map of the University of Puget Sound campus: pugetsound.edu/directions
For accessibility information please contact accessibility@pugetsound.edu or 253.879.3236, or visit pugetsound.edu/accessibility.

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