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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 new book What is a World?: Postcolonial Literature as World Literature will be published in 2016 by Duke University Press. Prof. Cheah gave the Lacay Lecture at Georgetown University in September 2014 and was the keynote speaker at the Luce Irigaray Conference in Melbourne in December 2014. He participated at a special conference honoring Jonathan Culler at Cornell University in October 2014 and presented a paper at the international conference "Asia and Europe in Translation" at the University of Zurich in November 2014. He was the organizer of the international conference, 'Siting Postcolonialiity' held at the University of Hong Kong in June 2015.

Other recent publications include the following book chapters:“World as Picture and Ruination: On Jia Zhangke’s Still Life as World Cinema” in The Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas (Oxford University Press, 2013), edited by Carlos Rojas and Eileen Chow; “The Material World of Comparison,” in Comparison: Theories, Approaches, Uses (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), edited by Rita Felski and Susan Stanford Friedman; “To Open: Hospitality and Alienation,” in The Conditions of Hospitality: Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics on the Threshold of the Possible (Fordham University Press, 2013), edited by Thomas Claviez; “Acceptable Uses of People,” in Human Rights at the Crossroads (Oxford University Press, 2013), edited by Mark Goodale; and “The Physico-Material Bases of Cosmopolitanism,” in Varieties of Sovereignty and Citizenship (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), edited by Sigal R. Ben-Porath and Rogers Smith.

Catherine Ceniza Choy has received a Fulbright fellowship for 2015-16 and will be based in South Korea. Her book, Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption, was recently published by New York University Press. She is working with Michael Omi on a new book project to edit the writings of the late Ronald Takaki, founder of UC Berkeley's Ph.D. program in Ethnic Studies.

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. 

Jeffrey Hadler is on leave for 2015-16. He was awarded the Harry Benda Prize at the 2011 Association of Asian Studies annual meeting for his book, Muslims and Matriarchs: Cultural Resilience in Indonesia through Jihad and Colonialism (Cornell, 2008). The Benda Prize is given annually by the AAS Southeast Asia Council to an outstanding younger scholar for a first book in the field of Southeast Asian Studies. This was the third time this prestigious award has been given to a UC Berkeley faculty member. Prof. Hadler's new research project focuses on the Indonesian painter Nashar who was active in the 1960s and into the 1970s. 

Aihwa Ong was the Common Seminar Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh in April 2015, and the International Roundtable Plenary Speaker at Macalester College in 2014. She gave the Moses Memorial Lecture at UC Berkeley in March 2014 on the topic, "Where the Wild Genes Are". 

Prof. Ong’s recent articles include “What Marco Polo Forgot: Contemporary Chinese Art Negotiates the Global,” Current Anthropology 53:4 (2012); “A Milieu of Mutations: The Pluripotency and Fungibility of Life in Asia,” East Asian Science, Technology and Society 7 (2013) and “Powers of Sovereignty: State, People, Wealth, Life,” Focaal, Journal of Global & Historical Anthropology 62 (2012). She is co-editor, with Prof. Ananya Roy, of Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments in the Art of Being Global (Wiley, 2011) to which she also contributed the chapter, “Hyperbuilding: Spectacle, Speculation and the Hyperspace of Sovereignty”. 

Nancy Lee Peluso is working on a manuscript examining forests and land issues in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Her 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. Prof. Jeff Hadler and Prof. Peluso were the convenors for UCLA's April 2013 Indonesian Studies conference, "Critical Histories of Activism: Indonesia's New Order and Its Legacies". 

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 new book From the Land of Shadows: War, Revolution and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora was published by NYU Press in 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 presented papers at the international conference 'Engaging with Vietnam' in Hanoi in July 2015 and at the workshop 'The State in Vietnam and the State of Vietnamese Studies' at Harvard University in April 2015. His latest book is Vietnamese Colonial Republican: The Political Vision of Vu Trong Phung (University of California Press, 2013).