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Local poll leaves Hun Sen looking vulnerable in 2018 election

Opposition CNRP youth activists at an election rally in Phnom Penh on June 2. (Photo by Duncan McCargo)

Local poll leaves Hun Sen looking vulnerable in 2018 election by Duncan McCargo, 08/06/2017, Nikkei Asian Review

Cambodia’s ruling party needs to woo disenchanted voters to retain hold on power.

The preliminary results of Cambodia’s June 4 local elections for its commune councils offer ambiguous signals for an all-important general election scheduled for July 2018.

Much depends on the choice of benchmark. In the 2012 elections for commune council chiefs, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party secured overwhelming control of local government, winning 1,592 contests with more than 70% of the vote, compared with just 40 contests won by opposition parties, which secured about 30% of the vote.

 By this standard, the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party’s twelvefold increase to 482 commune victories in 2017 is a remarkable turnaround, helped by the merger of the two opposition parties that challenged the ruling party in 2012.

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Lecturer position for Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan

Job Opportunity – Lecturer position for Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan

Deadline : 30 June 2017

Job Summary
The Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan invite applications for a one-semester Lecturer I position starting September 1, 2017 Responsibilities include: planning, teaching, and grading SEAS 501/SEAS-455, an undergraduate-graduate level interdisciplinary introduction to the study of Southeast Asia including geological, ecological, social, political, cultural, and language issues. The Lecturer will also teach an additional course related to their field of interest. The appointment level will be 66%.

Required Qualifications
Applicants must have a Ph.D. with a focus on Southeast Asia in a relevant field such as history, anthropology, literature, or political science.

Desired Qualifications
Teaching experience at the college/university level is preferred. Preference will be given to candidates who are familiar with current social, political, and cultural issues and are able to advise graduate students.

Full job posting and application:

Visual Documentary Project 2017 : Urban life in Southeast Asia

Visual Documentary Project

Call for short documentaries : Theme : Urban life in Southeast Asia

Deadline : 1st September 2017

Southeast is progressively urbanizing. By 2025 just under 50% of the region’s population will be urban. What kinds of life do people live in the rapidly transforming urban landscapes of Southeast? From life in slums to financial districts, informal settlements to gated communities, revitalization projects to mass urban restructuring, what values shape urban life in Southeast Asia? and how does cultural diversity, heritage, and aesthetics also define urban life? For 2017, we are looking for inspiring documentaries that deal with any aspect of urban life in Southeast Asia.

Kyoto :

Tokyo :

  • Date & Time:December 9, 2017
  • Venue: The Japan Foundation Hall SAKURA
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Why is Ahok in prison? A legal analysis of the decision

On 9 May, the North Jakarta District Court found that Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama had violated Article 156a of the Criminal Code (KUHP) and sentenced him to two years in prison. Photo by Dharma Wijayanto.
Gubernur nonaktif DKI Jakarta Basuki Tjahaja Purnama atau Ahok bersiap menjalani persidangan lanjutan kasus dugaan penistaan agama di auditorium Kementerian Pertanian, Jakarta, Selasa (3/1). Ahok menjalani sidang lanjutan dengan agenda pemeriksaan saksi. ANTARA FOTO/POOL/Dharma Wijayanto/kye/16.

Why is Ahok in prison? A legal analysis of the decision by Simon Butt, 06/06/2017, Indonesia at Melbourne

Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has had a rough few months. Until recently, the Christian and ethnic Chinese Ahok was the governor of Jakarta – and one of the most committed reformers and effective administrators to ever lead the capital. In April, he lost a run-off election for governor, for a second term that would have begun in October. Then, on 9 May, he was convicted for blasphemy, in what was the most significant use of Indonesia’s blasphemy laws for political ends in the country’s history. The election loss and his trial were undeniably linked.

The blasphemy charges were clearly brought against him to undermine his chances of election. Worse, they related to his alleged misuse of a Qur’anic verse that the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) and Islamist groups say prohibits Muslims from electing a non-Muslim as a leader. So every mention of his blasphemy case reinforced the message of his unelectability.

Many commentators have looked at the broader implications of Ahok’s loss and his conviction for blasphemy. In this article, I instead offer a legal analysis of the decision itself. What arguments did the court hear and what did it accept?

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Alcohol on pre-Islamic Java (800-1500 CE): Cultural, social and ritual uses of an ‘unholy’ brew

Alcohol on pre-Islamic Java (800-1500 CE): Cultural, social and ritual uses of an ‘unholy’ brew by Jirí Jákl, IIAS Lunch Lecture

In this lecture, Jirí Jákl will discuss five selected themes pertaining to the use of alcohol in Java, Indonesia, before 1500 CE. Each theme reflects one of the five chapters of his book project on a sociocultural history of alcohol and its use in pre-Islamic Java, studied in comparative perspective with the discourse on alcohol in medieval India.

Alcohol is extremely controversial in contemporary, Islamic, Java, and was an ambiguous substance even in pre-modern times. Texts in Old Javanese (800 – 1500 CE), in particular religious works and codes of ecclesiastical rules, present intoxicating drinks as forbidden, addictive, and impure. Other sources, including literary prose and poetry, law texts, texts on eroticism, and historical accounts, describe and represent alcohol as arousing, nourishing, and important in a variety of cultural and political contexts.

Apart from analysing Old Javanese and Sanskrit textual discourses on alcohol, additional insight has been gained by contextualising the pre-modern tradition with the uses of alcohol documented from modern Bali, a mainly Hindu society where palm wine and other fermented and distilled drinks continue to be consumed by many, and where alcohol has a great number of ritual uses, some traceable to pre-Islamic Java, some obviously of local pedigree.

In the lecture, Jirí will first briefly introduce an array of fermented and distilled beverages known and consumed in pre-modern Java, and discuss in more detail drinking comportment, vessels, and other paraphernalia associated with the consumption of alcohol. Then, he will give some details on the consumption of alcohol among the gentry, peasants, and inhabitants of urban centres. Adressed next, is the consumption of alcohol among the religious communities, and its use in ritual. Finally, Jirí will adopt a modern perspective and discuss the uses of alcohol in modern Hindu Bali, in secular as well as in ritual contexts.

Jirí Jákl (Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic) is an affiliate research fellow at IIAS from 15 March 2017 – 15 August 2017.

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Call for Papers : 7th international East Nusantara Conference

Call for Papers : 7th international East Nusantara Conference, 14-15/05/2018, Kupang, NTT, Indonesia

Deadline : 15 October 2017

The Seventh International East Nusantara Conference aims to create a platform whereby linguists and anthropologists can discuss the latest insights of their work relating to the languages and peoples of East Nusantara, Indonesia. The conference also seeks to bring together scholars from relevant fields such as (oral) history, archaeology, and genetics, with the specific aim of understanding migration patterns and the history of contact in the region. For the purposes of this conference, the East Nusantara region is taken to include Austronesian as well as non-Austronesian communities in eastern Indonesia (east of Bali) and Timor Leste.

Call for papers

Abstracts addressing any topic relating to to the languages and cultures of East Nusantara are especially welcome.

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La Communauté économique de l’ASEAN

La Communauté économique de l’ASEAN par Françoise Nicolas (directeur du Centre Asie de l’IFRI), 07/06/2017, Politique Etrangère (IFRI)

Suite au sondage réalisé sur ce blog, nous avons le plaisir de vous offrir avant la sortie officielle du numéro d’été de Politique étrangère (n° 2/2017), l’article que vous avez choisi d'(é)lire : « La Communauté économique de l’ASEAN : un modèle d’intégration original », par Françoise Nicolas, directeur du Centre Asie de l’Ifri.

À sa création en 1967, la principale préoccupation des cinq membres fondateurs de l’Association des nations d’Asie du Sud-Est (ASEAN) est d’ordre politique : aussi leurs ambitions sont-elles modestes sur le plan économique. Selon la Déclaration de Bangkok, le projet original de l’ASEAN avait pour objectif « de favoriser la croissance économique, le progrès social et le développement culturel dans la région et de promouvoir la paix et la stabilité ». Le développement étant perçu comme le meilleur rempart contre le danger communiste, l’objectif est alors de tout mettre en œuvre pour le faciliter ; mais il n’est aucunement question pour les cinq pays fondateurs de s’engager sur la voie de l’intégration économique sur base institutionnelle. Les initiatives gouvernementales de coopération économique n’interviendront que beaucoup plus tard. Au fil du temps, sous la pression de forces et d’événements extérieurs, les projets se sont pourtant précisés, aboutissant à la mise en place d’une Communauté économique qui constitue aujourd’hui l’un des trois piliers de la Communauté ASEAN.

Ce parcours singulier de l’ASEAN en matière d’intégration économique, qui mêle acteurs étatiques et non étatiques, mais aussi dynamique de marché et logique institutionnelle (voire capitalisme d’État), se démarque des expériences observées dans d’autres régions, et notamment en Europe. Il reflète en outre une constante oscillation entre la poursuite d’objectifs économiques purement nationaux (en premier lieu le développement), et une coopération régionale qui passe par de nécessaires compromis. Cette ambivalence explique aussi le décalage entre les ambitions affichées et les réalisations observées sur le terrain, même si de réels progrès ont été accomplis au cours des 50 dernières années. La question qui se pose aujourd’hui est de savoir si, et comment, les pays de l’ASEAN parviendront à maintenir leur stratégie dans un contexte régional mouvant où l’Association, en tant que groupe, pourrait jouer un rôle stabilisateur…

Article à télécharger sur : nicolas_communaute_economique_asean.pdf

Appel à contributions – Journal des anthropologues – Violences et terreurs instituées

Appel à contributions – Journal des anthropologues – Violences et terreurs instituées

La revue souhaiterait publier des articles sur la Birmanie en particulier, mais aussi sur d’autres pays de l’Asie du Sud-Est

Les résumés doivent être adressés aux trois coordinateurs au plus tard le 30 septembre 2017 et les articles le 31 janvier 2018.

Parution prévue : 2e semestre 2018.

Le terme de terrorisme a envahi l’actualité tout en recouvrant un ensemble de violences très diverses. Ce terme est néanmoins difficile à définir que ce soit sur le plan juridique, politique ou sociologique. La terreur peut être revendiquée comme un mode d’action tandis que le terrorisme peut être pour les gouvernements une arme de fustigation qui stigmatise l’ennemi à abattre. La confusion règne fréquemment sur les intentions et les inspirations des auteurs de violences et ajoute à la terreur des populations, autorisant les États à s’emparer de la thématique de la sécurité pour installer une gouvernance de crise. En quoi ces configurations appellent-elles un regard anthropologique ?

Ci-après les liens vers les textes en français et en anglais

Call JdA Instituted Violences & terrors_relu JH_MA

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Ethnic Media in Myanmar: Same Challenges, Different Environment, New Approaches

Ethnic Media in Myanmar: Same Challenges, Different Environment, New Approaches by Ko Htwe, 07/06/2017, Tea Circle (an Oxford forum for New Perspectives on Burma/Myanmar)

Ko Htwe describes ethnic media’s response to constraints on the press in Myanmar.

Ko Htwe is a postgraduate student at Cardiff University studying Journalism, Media and Communication. His research “The Role of Ethnic Media in New Myanmar” was published by Chiang Mai University, Thailand. He has also written articles for Bangkok Post, Asia Sentinel, Walkley Magazine, DVB, Irrawaddy and Karen news.

After reforms by Myanmar’s post-2011 government, the landscape for both mainstream and ethnic media has changed dramatically, with new media outlets blooming. Abolishing the country’s censor board and welcoming exiled media groups to publish in-country, the quasi-civilian Thein Sein government pursued major advances toward press freedom. More than 885 publications— including 50 published in ethnic languages— have been approved by the government, up from 300 registered in 2014. Among these publications are three Chin language daily newspapers, 40 ethnic language journals and seven ethnic language magazines, according to Pe Myint, Minister of Information.

The ethnic language publications, in particular, represent a notable expansion of ethnic media— a term I define elsewhere as “publications, broadcasts or websites that are associated with ethnic minority peoples and that focus on ethnic minority concerns, regardless of whether they use Burmese or an ethnic minority language.” Also included as part of “ethnic media” are “state-based” and “locally-based” periodicals, distributed in ethnic minority areas in Myanmar, that take up ethnic-minority concerns.

Under the present administration, led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD), many Burmese media onlookers believe that the media industry will see further progress. However, according to a recent PEN Myanmar press release on World Press Freedom Day, the country’s free expression score is only 8 out of 60 possible points. Limited access to information, markets, and funding, harassment of journalists and editors, as well as difficulties in securing long-term sustainability were the main barriers for media groups, both ethnic and mainstream Burmese. Moreover, journalists and editors face possible lawsuits under 66(d) of the Telecommunication Law, which can result in a prison sentence up to three years for defamation using a telecommunications network. At least 54 people have been charged under this law, with eight people sentenced to prison for their posts on social media, according to a letter from Human Rights Watch to the Attorney General and officials from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Recently, Yangon based The Voice Daily’s editor-in-chief and regular satire contributor faced a lawsuit filed by the military under 66(d).

Despite these difficulties, daily, weekly and monthly publications, covering news, sports, entertainment and astrology both in Burmese and in ethnic languages, are being published in Myanmar. Some publications survive, but many periodicals have disappeared.

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“There Are No Straight Lines in Nature” : Making Living Maps in West Papua

Droning destruction — aerial view of deforestation in Merauke. Source: Sophie Chao.

“There Are No Straight Lines in Nature” : Making Living Maps in West Papua by Sophie Chao, 17/05/2017, Anthropology Now

With land growing scarce in Sumatra and Borneo, the oil palm frontier is rapidly moving eastward into West Papua, where rainforest and savannah are being razed at an unprecedented rate [2]. In particular, oil palm expansion in the Papuan regency of Merauke, a remote region of swamplands and savannah on the border with Papua New Guinea, has been the subject of growing campaigns led by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including advocacy at the level of the United Nations [3]. Largely implemented without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous Marind-Anim people (hereafter the Marind), oil palm expansion has been facilitated by widespread collusion among corporate, state and military interests.

Along the banks of the Bian River in northern Merauke, I carried out fieldwork among several Marind communities whose lands and settlements are encircled by large-scale oil palm plantations established in the last decade. Participatory mapping with local communities is one of the key tools being used in the area to protect remaining forest areas in indigenous territories from oil palm incursion. This article explores maps as objects and mapping as practice, both of which are part ethnographic method, part advocacy tool.

As ethnographic tools, maps and mapping can provide important insight about how our research participants conceptualize place within their particular cultural value systems and cosmologies. Among the Marind, for example, mapmaking reveals that place is a dynamic entity shaped by the lives and doings of multiple actors, both human and nonhuman. In producing their own maps, the Marind convey this sense of place as a multispecies endeavor by emphasizing the role of different organisms in shaping it and giving it meaning. In this respect, places and the maps that represent them are lively entities, characterized by constant movement and transformation. The consequence of this is that Marind maps themselves keep morphing and never sit still, in the image of the multispecies world itself.

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Duterte’s peace hopes challenged in Mindanao

Filipino activists demonstrate against the recent declaration of martial law in Mindanao during a rally outside the residential palace in Manila on May 26. © AP

Duterte’s peace hopes challenged in Mindanao by Michael Vatikiotis, 28/05/2017, Nikkei Asian Review

Declaration of martial law by Philippine president raises broader concerns

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao on May 22. This came after a group of heavily armed men bearing the black flags of Islamic State stormed the mainly Muslim city of Marawi in the north of the island. They burned down a college, a hospital and prison, while taking hostages.

The army’s slow progress in flushing out the militants and the alacrity with which Duterte seemed ready to suspend civil rights is a worrying sign of renewed instability in a part of the country that has been plagued by decades of war.

 The crisis is embarrassing for Duterte. As the country’s first president from Mindanao, there were high expectations that he would make progress in restoring peace in the troubled region. But the attack on Marawi has raised fears of a concerted IS effort to establish a foothold in the Philippines.

The martial law decree in Mindanao highlights the lengths that Duterte, the former mayor of Davao City, is willing to go to address security issues. He has already been harshly criticized by human rights activists for sanctioning the extrajudicial killings of more than 7,000 people, mostly poor slum dwellers, for allegedly being drug users or pushers. His threat to impose martial law across the country has left rights advocates even more worried. He has already threatened to wield martial law as harshly as did former President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s.

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Truth and Fiction in the Age of the Strongman: Filipino Writers on Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines

Truth and Fiction in the Age of the Strongman: Filipino Writers on Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, 05/06/2017, SOAS

Miguel Syjuco & Candy Gourlay

This panel discussion looks at the interconnections between Philippine Fiction Writing and Journalism in the time of “tokhang,” schizophrenic populism and Duterte’s unique brand of nationalism. Filipino writers in the diaspora will seek to interrogate the ideas of Post-modernist knowledge construction and its end-games, activism and protest in a post-truth world and the role of fiction in a democracy.

Speaker Biography

Miguel Syjuco’s debut novel, Ilustrado (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature, the Filipino Readers’ Choice Award, the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and the Man Asian Literary Prize and has been translated into more than 10 languages. Miguel, who earned a PhD in literature from the University of Adelaide, was a writing fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard in 2013 and is currently a visiting professor in the Literature and Creative Writing department at New York University, Abu Dhabi. He is the literary editor of the Manila Review, a member of the Folio Prize Academy and regularly writes for the New York Times International.

Discussant Biography

Candy Gourlay  is a Filipino author based in the United Kingdom. Her debut novel Tall Story (2010) won the National Children’s Book Award of the Philippines in 2012 and the Crystal Kite Award for Europe in 2011. Tall Story was shortlisted for 13 prizes, notably: the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel Shine (2013) was long-listed for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. It won the Crystal Kite Award for the British Isles and Ireland in 2014. Candy was born and raised in the Philippines. From 1984 to 1989, she worked as a journalist in the Philippines, notably as a staff-writer and later associate editor of the weekly opposition tabloid Mr & Ms Special Edition, which played a significant role in the overthrow of the 21 year regime of Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos

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Current Anthropology is looking for a new Editor

Current Anthropology is looking for a new Editor


The Wenner-Gren Foundation in partnership with the University of Chicago Press is seeking applications for the position of Editor of Current Anthropology. The new Editor will begin to receive submissions on September 1, 2018 and take full responsibility for the journal on January 1, 2019. The Editor’s term is six years from January 1, 2019, with a possibility of renewal for an addition partial or complete term.

The Foundation and Press are open to the possibility of alternative editorship arrangements such as co-Editors and/or the use of an active editorial board to handle manuscripts. The applicant should clearly outline her/his ideas for the editorship in their letter of intent and if a co-editorship is proposed the application should come jointly from both potential editors.

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Female Ulama voice : a vision for Indonesia’s future

Female Ulama voice : a vision for Indonesia’s future by Kathryn Robinson, 30 May 2017, New Mandala

In April, Indonesian religious scholars and activists hosted a world first: a convention of female religious authorities (ulama). The conference title, KUPI (Kongres Ulama Perempuan Indonesia), played with a dual meaning: female religious authorities, and scholars (male and female) whose interpretations of the Qur’an and Hadith proclaim gender equity (kesetaraan jender) as a fundamental principle of Islam. Over three days, speakers and delegates discussed the history of female religious authority in Indonesia—a claim that is highly contentious to hard line groups who argue that male authority, as prayer leaders and hence as political leaders, is a fundamental Islamic principle. They also discussed the more abstract concepts of social justice and human rights, as fundamental Islamic values focusing on issues like sexual and domestic violence and child marriage.

The congress ended with a declaration of three fatwa, reinforcing the value of female religious authority. The first fatwa argued for a minimum age of marriage of 18; the second, that sexual violence against women, including within marriage, is haram (forbidden). The third fatwa picked up the theme of environmental protection: environmental destruction is haram as it can trigger social and economic imbalances and place burdens on women. The congress called on the government to stop allowing the destruction of natural resources for ‘development’. Congress attendees have strong links into the community, and the organisers hold significant institutional positions, respect and support from government. This movement has been slowly building for a long time and is a significant voice in defining the future of Indonesia.

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2017 Holland Prize Shortlist Pacific Affairs

2017 Holland Prize Shortlist Pacific Affairs

Professionals and Soldiers: Measuring Professionalism in the Thai Military by Punchada Sirivunnabood (Mahidol University, Nakhorn Phatom, Thailand), Jacob Isaac Ricks (Singapore Management University, Singapore), Pacific Affaires, vol. 89, n° 1, March 2016


Thailand’s military has recently reclaimed its role as the central pillar of Thai politics. This raises an enduring question in civil-military relations: why do people with guns choose to obey those without guns? One of the most prominent theories in both academic and policy circles is Samuel Huntington’s argument that professional militaries do not become involved in politics. We engage this premise in the Thai context. Utilizing data from a new and unique survey of 569 Thai military officers as well as results from focus groups and interviews with military officers, we evaluate the attitudes of Thai servicemen and develop a test of Huntington’s hypothesis. We demonstrate that increasing levels of professionalism are generally poor predictors as to whether or not a Thai military officer prefers an apolitical military. Indeed, our research suggests that higher levels of professionalism as described by Huntington may run counter to civilian control of the military. These findings provide a number of contributions. First, the survey allows us to operationalize and measure professionalism at the individual level. Second, using these measures we are able to empirically test Huntington’s hypothesis that more professional soldiers should prefer to remain apolitical. Finally, we provide an uncommon glimpse at the opinions of Thai military officers regarding military interventions, adding to the relatively sparse body of literature on factors internal to the Thai military which push officers toward politics.

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Why Are Gender Reforms Adopted in Singapore? Party Pragmatism and Electoral Incentives by Netina Tan (McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada), Pacific Affairs, vol. 89, n° 1, March 2016


In Singapore, the percentage of elected female politicians rose from 3.8 percent in 1984 to 22.5 percent after the 2015 general election. After years of exclusion, why were gender reforms adopted and how did they lead to more women in political office? Unlike South Korea and Taiwan, this paper shows that in Singapore party pragmatism rather than international diffusion of gender equality norms, feminist lobbying, or rival party pressures drove gender reforms. It is argued that the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) strategic and electoral calculations to maintain hegemonic rule drove its policy u-turn to nominate an average of about 17.6 percent female candidates in the last three elections. Similar to the PAP’s bid to capture women voters in the 1959 elections, it had to alter its patriarchal, conservative image to appeal to the younger, progressive electorate in the 2000s. Additionally, Singapore’s electoral system that includes multi-member constituencies based on plurality party bloc vote rule also makes it easier to include women and diversify the party slate. But despite the strategic and electoral incentives, a gender gap remains. Drawing from a range of public opinion data, this paper explains why traditional gender stereotypes, biased social norms, and unequal family responsibilities may hold women back from full political participation.

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