Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Current Research

The Center for Southeast Asia Studies is an Organized Research Unit (ORU) in the University of California system, under the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at Berkeley. An advisory committee of UC Berkeley faculty members with research interests in Southeast Asia, led by a faculty Chair, supervises CSEAS, directing its outreach and research programs and strategic direction. The CSEAS research platform highlights both individual faculty member projects as well as interdisciplinary approaches involving faculty members working in different departments. 


Faculty Research

Pheng Cheah is the Chair of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. His latest book is What is a World?: Postcolonial Literature as World Literature (Duke University Press, 2016). This book was discussed in an extensive review in the Los Angeles Review of Books last year. Prof. Cheah was the keynote speaker at workshops at the University of British Columbia in February 2017 and at the University of Innsbruck in May 2017

Catherine Ceniza Choy chaired a UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix research team on "Migration, Racialization, and Gender” in Fall 2016 and was also the project director of a 2016-17 Institute of International Studies Interdisciplinary Faculty Group on "Gender and the Trans-Pacific World." Her most recent book is Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption (NYU Press, 2013). 

Penny Edwards is developing a book manuscript on the life in exile of Prince Myingun Min of Burma and received a Mellon Project Grant (2011-2013) awarded by UC Berkeley’s College of Letters and Sciences for a biographical project exploring the lives of Alexandra David Neel, Yongden Lama, Mirra Alfassa, Sri Aurobindo, Suzanne Karpeles and Chuon Nath. 

Aihwa Ong was the keynote speaker at the 10th International Convention of Asian Studies (ICAS) at Chiang Mai University in Thailand in July 2017 where she spoke on the topic "The Maritime Silk Road: Reterritorializing Politics in Southeast Asia." She gave the 25th Wertheim Lecture at the University of Amsterdam in May 2016. Her most recent book is Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life (Duke University Press, 2016).

Nancy Lee Peluso's research on small-scale gold mining in West Kalimantan was outlined in an article in the academic blog New Mandala in July 2015, with an accompanying video essay. She was the co-organizer, with Eric Sheppard and Helga Leitner at UCLA, of a special workshop on Indonesian land issues held at UCLA in October 2016. New publications include “Entangled Territories in Small-scale Gold Mining Frontiers: Labor Practices, Property and Secrets in Indonesian Gold Country” in World Development (2017), “Plantations and Mines: Resource Frontiers and the Politics of the Smallholder Slot,” in the Journal of Peasant Studies 44:4 (2017) and “The Remittance Forest: Turning Mobile Labor into Agrarian Capital” in the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography (forthcoming), as well as a review essay on E.P. Thompson’s classic study Whigs and Hunters: The Origin of the Black Act in the Journal of Peasant Studies 44:1 (2017).

Sylvia Tiwon contributed the article, “Lust of the Eye: The Act of Killing and Aesthetic Sensibility” to a special issue of Critical Asian Studies focused on the award-winning documentary about Indonesia. 

Khatharya Um is Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies. Her latest book is From the Land of Shadows: War, Revolution and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora (NYU Press, 2015). Prof. Um participated in the April 2013 Seasons of Cambodia festival in New York City, including moderating a symposium on Cambodian culture and the arts at the Asia Society, with Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, Him Sophy and Sopheap Pich. This discussion is available as a webcast

Peter Zinoman continues to serve as co-editor of the Journal of Vietnamese Studies. He was a co-organizer, with Prof. Tuong Vu (University of Oregon) and Porf. Nu-Anh Tran (University of Connecticut), of a symposium on nation-building in South Vietnam held at UC Berkeley in October 2016. His most recent book is Vietnamese Colonial Republican: The Political Vision of Vu Trong Phung (University of California Press, 2013).