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2022 Publishing highlights: New books on Southeast Asia

New books by SSEAC’s academic members
From politics to history, education and the environment, these new books by SSEAC’s members showcase a diversity of interests and insight on all things Southeast Asia.

Several SSEAC members have seen the fruits of their research put into print in recent months, with a string of new books related to Southeast Asia either published or forthcoming.

Ranging across subjects, disciplines and countries, these new publications showcase the breadth of expertise and insight among our academic members, with subjects ranging from electoral campaigning in Indonesia to the legal landscape in Malaysia, the impact of oil palm plantations, histories of trauma, and underwater maritime heritage.

A range of these newly published gems are collated below. Listeners of our SSEAC Stories podcast will recognise some familiar themes and authors here, with many of these research areas serving as the basis for rich discussion over recent months.

Let’s dive in!

cover of sophie chao book

In the Shadow of the Palms

By Sophie Chao (Duke University Press, 2022)

Dr Sophie Chao’s In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua examines the multispecies entanglements of oil palm plantations in West Papua, Indonesia. Situating the plant and the transformations it has brought within the context of West Papua’s volatile history of colonization, ethnic domination and capitalist incursion, Dr Chao traces how Indigenous Marind communities understand and navigate the social, political, and environmental demands of the oil palm plant. By approaching cash crops as both drivers of destruction and subjects of human exploitation, Dr Chao rethinks capitalist violence as a multispecies act. Watch a trailer for the book, read an excerpt, or listen to a podcast.

elisabeth kramer book cover

The Candidate’s Dilemma

By Elisabeth Kramer (Cornell University Press, 2022)

In The Candidate's Dilemma, SSEAC’s Deputy Director Dr Elisabeth Kramer explores how three political candidates in Indonesia made decisions to resist, engage in, or otherwise incorporate money politics into their electioneering strategies over the course of their campaigns. As they campaign, candidates encounter pressure from the institutional rules that guide elections, political parties, and voters, and must also negotiate complex social relationships to remain competitive. Published in June 2022, the book delves into the lived experiences of candidates to offer a nuanced study of how the political and personal intersect when it comes to money politics, anticorruptionism, and electoral campaigning in Indonesia. Listen to Dr Kramer discuss the book here.

singapore book cover

Teacher Preparation in Singapore

By Yeow Tong Chia, Alistair Chew & Jason Tan (Emerald Group Publishing, 2022)

Co-authored by SSEAC’s Singapore Country Coordinator Dr Yeow-Tong Chia, Teacher Preparation in Singapore: A Concise Critical History explores the history and philosophy of teacher preparation, training, induction and development in Singapore, from the colonial era to the present day. The book trains a critical eye on the social and political forces influencing Singapore’s teacher education, and explores issues such as policy borrowing, diffusion of educational philosophies, and developments paralleling those in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Read the book’s introduction. 

law and justice malaysia book cover

Law and Justice in Malaysia – 2020 and Beyond

Edited by Salim Farrar & Paul Subramaniam (Thomson Reuters, 2021)

Law and Justice in Malaysia surveys the landscape of law and justice in Malaysia through a re-evaluation of Vision 2020, a set of ideals for the nation outlined by prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in the early 1990s. Co-edited by Associate Professor Salim Farrar, the book contains the analyses of pre-eminent legal thinkers and writers, from across the ethnic and religious divide, on the role of law and justice within a holistic view of Malaysia’s development. Pertinent issues in the Malaysian context are covered, including constitutional supremacy, legal pluralism, Indigenous law and Islamic law.

belitung book cover

Belitung: The Afterlives of a Shipwreck

By Natali Pearson (University of Hawaii Press, 2022—forthcoming)

In 1998, a ninth-century vessel was discovered in Indonesian waters, with a full cargo of over 60,000 Chinese Tang-dynasty ceramics, gold and other precious objects, likely intended for the Middle East. The Belitung is one of the most significant shipwreck discoveries of recent times, revealing the global scale of ancient commercial endeavours and the centrality of the ocean within the Silk Road story. In this thought-provoking reflection on underwater cultural heritage management, SSEAC’s Curriculum Coordinator Dr Natali Pearson traces the Belitung’s lives and afterlives. The book shifts our thinking about shipwrecks beyond popular tropes and toward an understanding of how the relationships between sites, objects and people shape the stories we tell of the past in the present.

queer in southeast asia book cover

Queer Southeast Asia

Edited by Shawna Tang & Hendri Yulius Wijaya (Routledge, 2022—forthcoming)

This groundbreaking collection, co-edited by Dr Shawna Tang, is a vital resource for students and scholars of gender and sexuality in Southeast Asia, or any Queer or LGBTQ+ studies looking beyond the West. The diversity of both the subject and the region is reflected in the broad scope of topics addressed, from the impact of Japanese queer popular culture on queer Filipinos, to the politics of public toilets in Singapore and the impact of digital governance on queer communities across ASEAN. Taken in combination, these investigations not only highlight the operations of queer politics in Southeast Asia, but also present a concrete basis to reflect on queer knowledge production in the region. Listen to a recent SSEAC Stories podcast with one of the authors, Dr Thomas Baudinette.

traumatic pasts book cover

Traumatic Pasts in Asia

Edited by Mark S. Micale and Hans Pols (Berghahn Books, 2021)

In the early twenty-first century, trauma is seemingly everywhere, whether as experience, diagnosis, concept, or buzzword. Yet historical research on the topic has overwhelmingly focused on cases such as World War I or the Holocaust in which Western experiences and actors are foregrounded. In Traumatic Pasts in Asia: History, Psychiatry, and Trauma from the 1930s to the Present, Euro-American paradigms of traumatic experience are extended to largely overlooked sites of world-historical suffering. Co-edited by Professor Hans Pols, the book features essays on sites and experiences of trauma in Japan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Korea, among other locales. Read a review of the book on New Mandala.

Also forthcoming…

Other members’ books to keep an eye out for in the months ahead are:

  • New Export China: Translations Across Time and Place in Contemporary Chinese Porcelain Art (University of California Press, 2023), by Dr Alex Burchmore, which traces the extent to which artists in China have used porcelain to shape their personal, historical, and cultural identities. Listen to a recent SSEAC Stories podcast with Dr Burchmore here.
  • Frontier Fieldwork: Building a Nation in China’s Borderlands, 1919–45 (University of Chicago Press, 2022), by Dr Andres Rodriguez, which explores how early twentieth-century fieldwork put the Sino-Tibetan borderlands at the center of China’s nation-making process.

The book descriptions above are adapted from the publisher’s abstracts.

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