The First Annual Luce Foundation Symposium on Southeast Asia was held on the University of Puget Sound campus on October 24, and featured presentations by four SOAN students on research conducted last summer in Indonesia, as part of professor Gareth Barkin’s SOAN 312 course. Keynote speaker Professor Ravichandran Moorthy from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, spoke on research from his 2013 book, Environmental Ethics in Managing Resources in the Asia Pacific, before an audience of over 70 Puget Sound students, faculty and staff.
Following the keynote address, seven of the ten students who had participated in the LIASE (Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment) pilot Field School in Indonesia in spring 2014 were welcomed back to present research conducted during their field school experience. These presentations focused on each student’s original research, including key elements of the literature review they had all written prior to traveling, each student’s research experiences in Indonesia, and how they had synthesized their research findings together with existing scholarship. Recurring themes throughout the presentations included the influence of various global forces on topics ranging from Orientalist narratives (Logan Day) to tourism-related development (Chelsea Steiner) to Muslim fashion (Kasey Janousek). One student’s (Lenny Henderson) research into rap music in Indonesia revealed the ways in which Javanese instruments, such as the gamelan, are employed in a contemporary context to create a hybrid music styles that allow Indonesian youth new avenues for cultural identity development.
The symposium also featured research by Biology Department alumni Caryn Stein and Brenda Seymour, as well as IPE grad Claire Grubb. Participants and attendees subsequently enjoyed a Southeast Asian dinner catered by Indochine as they reminisced about their trip, spoke with other students about their experiences, and enjoyed the opportunity to engage with Professor Moorthy. Following dinner, Biology Professor Peter Wimberger led an information session to a packed room on the upcoming 2015 course and trip to Malaysia, modeled on the Indonesia course-trip design that Gareth Barkin developed within the SOAN Department.
Overall the Southeast Asia Symposium, exceeded its initial goals of sharing knowledge and experiences from student research in Southeast Asia with the broader campus community, while publicizing its ongoing work to create opportunities for students to gain valuable academic and field experience in the region. Gareth Barkin, Sunil Kukreja, and the whole LIASE team would like to thank our keynote speaker, Professor Ravi Moorthy, as well as all the student participants, for their help in making the event such a great success.
Here are some more photo highlights from the symposium, courtesy of Ross Mulhausen and Gareth Barkin.