Through the US Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages (UISFL) grant, the CU Center for Asian Studies is working hard to create new opportunities to learn about Southeast Asia through new courses, languages, and study abroad opportunities. Click here for an article about the grant that appeared in the Arts & Sciences Magazine.

Below you will find information about grant-funded Southeast Asia-related courses and programming, as well as ongoing courses on the region. If you know of anything we should add to this resource, please email cas@colorado.edu

We will update this site as new developments arise, so keep checking back!

Southeast Asia Courses

Recent and Upcoming Southeast Asia Offerings

Southeast Asian Studies Courses

GEOG/ASIA 4842: Global Frontiers in Southeast Asia
Uses the theme of the global frontier to examine and compare three key moments in the modern history of Southeast Asia: the colonial encounter, the rise of the modern territorial state, and the age of contemporary globalization. Examines case studies from earlier eras to analyze emerging global frontiers at the junction of state territoriality and transnational economic expansion. Same as GEOG 5842.

Schedule and Location: Spring 2018, TTh 11am-12:15pm in GUGG 201E
Instructor: Mike Dwyer, Geography

Southeast Asian Language Courses

INDO 1110: Beginning Indonesian
Indonesia is one of the largest countries in the world, and is home to thousands of beautiful islands and traditions. Counts for 3 credits of coursework. If you have any questions about this course please contact altec@colorado.edu

Instructor: Fransiska Oktoprimasakti

Thai DILS
Do you want to learn how to order your favorite Thai dish in Thai? Are you travelling to Thailand? Do you want to learn more about Thai culture? The Center for Asian Studies and Anderson Language and Technology Center are offering Directed Independent Language Study (DILS) courses in Beginning Thai, starting February 5, 2018. The DILS model allows for smaller class sizes, more one-on-one attention and more interaction between the students and the instructor. The Beginning Thai language course is recommended for anyone interested in Thai or Lao studies, without prior experience with the Thai language. Intermediate and Advanced classes may be offered in the future. Classes will meet MWF, time pending, and are open to both CU students and non-students. There is no fee associated with this class this semester, so join us! Contact Mark Knowles (mark.knowles@colorado.edu) if you are interested. Classes starting the week of February 5. Free and open to everyone! Not eligible for course credit.

Instructor: Ben Cefkin, Ethnomusicology

Summer Study Abroad in Southeast Asia

ANTH 3760: Global Seminar: Cultural Transformations in Indonesia
Spend your Maymester studying the incredible cultural diversity of Indonesia, a country that consists of more than 16,000 islands: trek in the jungles of Sumatra to visit indigenous people and then enjoy the beaches of Bali while learning about Hindu-Buddhism and religious politics. The Cultural Transformations in Indonesia program is open to all majors and is particularly great for students in anthropology, the social sciences, humanities, and CMCI, or anyone with an interest in culture, religion, and politics in Asia.  It's also great for students with an interest in field-based research and documentary video production. It fulfills the Human Diversity A&S Core requirement. The program is led by Dr. Christian Hammons, from the Departments of Anthropology & Critical Media Practices, who will share with the group his extensive experience living and doing research in Indonesia. All applicants are eligible for a $500-$2,000 CAS Southeast Asia Study Abroad Scholarship. Check the Education Abroad website for more information.

Newly-Developed Southeast Asia Courses

Watch the catalog for these!

ANTH 4020: Statecraft & Resistance
A new course on governments and how to resist them, with special reference to anarchist anthropology, egalitarianism, and protest movements in places like Southeast Asia, where people have learned to live with – and change – authoritarian regimes

Instructor: Chris Hammons, Anthropology & Critical Media Practices

GEOG/ASIA 2852: Contemporary Southeast Asia: Environmental Politics
Should the Mekong River be dammed for development? Should Indonesian forests be cleared for industrial plantations? Who will control the natural resources of the South China Sea? Who will capture and consume the benefits, from electricity to timber, rubber to palm oil to fish fillets? Who will bear the costs – and when? Southeast Asia is rich with modern history and alive with contemporary politics. Today, much of this is wrapped up with questions of environmental governance: the management of waterways, forests, farmland and trade routes; the relations between cities and countrysides; and the influence of foreign state and corporate actors on the development pathways of others. This new course examines the politics of environmental governance and development across Southeast Asia, drawing examples from multiple sectors and countries. It is aimed at both Asian Studies majors and those with broader interests in global environment, development, and sustainability. Cross-listed as ASIA 2852

Semester(s) Offered: Fall 2017, Fall 2018

Instructor: Mike Dwyer, Geography

HIST/ASIA 4469/5469: World War II in Southeast Asia
This course examines the seminal experience of World War II from the perspective of Southeast Asia. Though we will cover some military history, our primary emphasis will be the political, social, economic, cultural, and ideological impact of the conflict. How have scholars and others defined and cohered the construct of “Southeast Asia”? What characteristics united and differentiated its various societies on the eve of combat? When and where did hostilities break out? In what ways did conflict affect men and women, soldiers and non-combatants, and ethnic, religious, and sexual majorities and minorities? How can we understand the war as a local, regional, and global experience, producing both change and continuity in the post-1945 world? 

Instructor: Miriam Kingsberg Kadia, History

Other Existing Courses on Southeast Asia

ANTH 4760: Ethnography of Southeast Asia and Indonesia
Introduces the historical, political, and cultural dimensions of Southeast Asia, focusing primarily on Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Indonesia, with some coverage of mainland Southeast Asia. Recommended prereq., ANTH 2100. Same as ANTH 5760. Requisites: Restricted to students with 57-180 credits (Juniors or Seniors).

Instructor: Carla Jones, Anthropology

HIST 4528: Islam in South and Southeast Asia (1000 to the Present)

Examines the history of Muslim societies in South and Southeast Asia from 1000 to the present. Focuses on themes such as the rise of Islamic empires in South Asia, Sufism, trade and the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia, the rise or Muslim nationalism and religious fundamentalism, and the impact of modernization and globalization on Muslims of the region. Recommended prereq., 6 hours of any history coursework. Requisites: Restricted to students with 27-180 credits (Sophomores, Juniors or Seniors) only.

Instructor: Carla Jones, Anthropology

PSCI 3072: Government and Politics in Southeast Asia

Surveys historical and contemporary forces shaping politics in Southeast Asia. Gives special attention to comparative political economy, including development strategies and transitions to democracy. Recommended prereq., PSCI 2012 or IAFS 1000. Requisites: Restricted to students with 27-180 credits (Sophomores, Juniors or Seniors) only.

Instructor: Selma Sonntag, Political Science

Education & Outreach

Faculty Working in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asian Events

2018.04.18 America, China, and the Retreat of Democracy in Southeast Asia: The Case of Cambodia

Lecture by Dr. Sophal Ear, Associate Professor, Diplomacy & World Affairs, Occidental College

In January of 2017, in one of the first acts of his new administration, President Donald Trump made the decision to pull the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signaling an end to US participation in multilateral trade agreements. Since then, Beijing has continued to exert greater influence in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Through initiatives like One Belt One Road (OBOR), China is increasingly capitalizing on American isolation as a means to advance its political interests. Using Cambodia as a case study, I examine how China has been able to simultaneously advance its political agenda in the Asia-Pacific region by politically needling an America on the wane. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs bureaucrats allegedly see the world very much as zero-sum; America’s loss is China’s gain, and countries like Cambodia serve as proxies for China. China has already used its growing economic influence to encroach on existing hegemonic relationships, exerting increasing control over the South China Sea and Mekong River and through special economic zones and massive investment focused locally. With Cambodia as an example, I show that China has stepped beyond a purely economic partnership and has become a beacon for autocracy, resulting in democratic retreat.

2018.03.01 Territorial Affairs: Grounding the Global Land Rush in Postwar Laos

In this talk, Mike Dwyer (Geography) presents an overview of his current book project, which uses the case of Chinese agribusiness investment in northern Lao PDR to unpack what has been widely labeled as a new global land rush. Transnational land deals are often framed in terms of sovereignty threats to host countries like Laos, but have been plagued by opacity, despite a growing critical literature. Drawing on a mix of ethnographic and archival work, this project highlights the ways that Cold War-era conflict continues to determine the winners and losers in today’s transnational land deals; and argues that ongoing struggles within the state help explain the lack of transparency around an increasingly common feature of the international development landscape.

2017.09.21 Divorce in Contemporary Indonesia with Rachel Rinaldo

In this talk, I discuss my recent research on the rising divorce rate in Indonesia. While many Indonesian Muslim women aspire to fulfill the Islamic edict to be obedient to their husbands, they also have increasingly high expectations for their husbands. And while Indonesian marriage law and Islamic law are deeply gendered and treat women unequally, many judges in the Islamic courts are fairly sympathetic to women in divorce cases and see divorce as better option than staying in an abusive marriage. I argue that this demonstrates an ongoing shift in Indonesian to a more companionate ideal of marriage, rooted not in secular ideals of equality but in religious ideals of harmony and mutuality. 

2016.12.02 Infrastructures of Eviction: Indonesian Migrant Labor in the Transnational City

This talk examines the multiple scales and spaces of eviction that shape Indonesian migrant workers' journeys from urban margins to work sites in global cities. It traces migrants' life histories as a lens onto the spatial struggles that animate their marginal positions across multiple landscapes of urban redevelopment. The paper engages the growing body of literature on "migration infrastructures," with an emphasis on the social texture and material details of the built environment tasked with managing migration. Based on extended fieldwork in West Java, and shorter-term research in Singapore and the UAE, the analysis finds both longstanding patterns of sociospatial exclusion and some surprising elements of transnational occupancy urbanism.

2016.11.30 Literacy Remains: Learning and Loss in the 'Brain Drain' of Filipino Migrant Labor

Eileen Lagman is an assistant professor with the English Department and the Program for Writing and Rhetoric (PWR). She received her PhD in English with a concentration in Writing Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on ethnographic studies of literacy learning with additional interest in migration, economics, and affect theory. Her current project, Literacy Remains: Learning and Loss in the Brain Drain of Filipino Migrant Labor, examines the effects of “brain drain,” or the mass migration of skilled labor on literacy education in the Philippines.

2016.11.17 My Conscience: An Exile's Memoir of Burma

Since gaining its independence from British colonial rule in 1948, Burma's history has been cursed. The military raped the resource-rich country for fifty years and drove its people to penury. Activists who advocated for democracy were imprisoned, tortured, and exiled. Civil society institutions were ground into oblivion. My Conscience: An Exile's Memoir of Burma is U Kyaw Win's compelling account of the bleeding of his homeland by the military. Born during the waning days of colonial rule, he experienced the brutality of Japanese occupation and the heady early days of independence. He studied abroad and acquired the skills that his country would need, but when the military seized power in 1962, he was made stateless and not allowed to return home for forty years. This memoir tells the story of his lifelong efforts to attract international attention to Burma's destruction and to restore freedom to his homeland. Win's memoir chronicles the struggles that he and those who fought for their country's freedom faced. He recounts the giants in Burma's struggle he met in his pursuit.

2016.10.27 Vote-Buying in Indonesian Elections

George Tawakkal has worked for the Central Java government for the past several years doing data analysis of elections and voter turnout. He also has several research projects that he conducted both for the Central Java government as well as his studies during his Ph.D. education. George currently is a Ph.D. student at Universitas Diponegoro and also lectures at Universita Brawijaya. He cofounded the Department of Government Studies at Universitas Brawijaya. He also occasionally lectures at Indonesia Open University. George's current research focuses on the role of brokers and gamblers in Indonesian elections. Brokers are intermediaries between candidates and voters, and often brokers are the ones who give money to citizens in exchange for their support for the candidate. This vote-buying behavior is common among many developing countries and is considered by many scholars to be subversive to democratic elections. Yet many citizens actually view the gifts and money from candidates as part of their conception of democracy. George's work explores the cultural factors underlying these attitudes among citizens and highlights significant differences across the public in the meaning of democracy in Indonesia. His most recent research examines the role of "gamblers" in Indonesian elections. Gamblers are individuals who make large monetary bets on the outcomes of local elections. The size of these bets are often in excess of $25,000 USD. Research has found that gamblers often hire brokers to distribute money to voters as a "hedge" to make sure their candidate wins the election (and they win their bet).

2016.10.14 Forgetting Vietnam Screening & Talk with Trinh Minh-ha

Shot in Hi-8 video in 1995 and in HD and SD in 2012, the images of "Forgetting Vietnam" unfold spatially as a dialogue between the two elements—land and water—that underlie the formation of the term “country” (đất nứớc). Carrying the histories of both visual technology and Vietnam’s political reality, these images are also meant to feature the encounter between the ancient as related to the solid earth, and the new as related to the liquid changes in a time of rapid globalization. In conversation with these two parts is a third space, that of historical and cultural rememory – or what local inhabitants, immigrants and veterans remember of yesterday’s stories to comment on today’s events. Through the insights of these witnesses to one of America’s most divisive wars, Vietnam’s specter and her contributions to world history remain both present and all too easy to forget. Touching on a trauma of international scale, Forgetting Vietnam is made in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the end of the war and of its survivors. Filmmaker Trinh Minh-ha will be present for the screening. This free event is sponsored by: Roser Visiting Artist Endowment, The Department of Critical Media Practices, Center for Documentary and Ethnographic Media, Department of Art and Art History Department of Anthropology, College of Media, Information and Communication, International Film Series (IFS) Center for Asian Studies

2016.09.22 Turtle Bites Tail: Mobility and Resilience in the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia

Christian S. Hammons (Instructor of Anthropology & Critical Media Practices) will share work in progress from Turtle Bites Tail, a film about mobility and resilience among the indigenous people of the Mentawai Islands off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Based on extensive ethnographic research, the film is a chronicle of life on the margins of the Indonesian state, focusing on one clan that refused to deal with the government for more than three decades. The story begins when the clan finally decides to leave its ancestral land and longhouse in the forest and move into a village built by the government. As they come to know their adversary, they discover that the state both is and is not what they imagined it to be. The film includes archival and ethnographic photographs, original video shot in the sensory ethnographic mode, and recurring elements from a popular mobile app. The project is scheduled to be completed early next year.