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Activism, Disciplinary Formations and Transnational Southeast Asian Cultural Studies

Colloquium with Mariam B. Lam, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Media & Cultural Studies, and Director of the Southeast Asian Studies Research Program (SEATRiP) at the University of California, Riverside

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Image:  From Anousone SRISACKDA’s film, Sabaidee, Luang Prabang! (2008)

Gayatri Spivak has described “our Asias” as “a real mega-regional identity with its own archaic-residual-dominant-emergent flows” including diverse historical diasporas that take traditional area studies attempts at regionalism beyond the geographical outlines of the continent.  She suggests that we cannot expect nation-building, transnational identity formation and anti-colonialism to activate some new continentalism, but that we must “educate ourselves as educators” to think in a “not-pan- but pluralist-” imaginary, cultural, and political mode.  In Asia as Method, Kuan Hsing Chen insists upon the “painful process involving the practice of self-critique, self-negation, and self-rediscovery,” but one that manifests out of “the desire to form a less coerced and more reflective and dignified subjectivity.”   This project joins them in their call for critical intellectuals to undertake deimperialization movements by focusing specifically on the realm of Asian cultural education redevelopment at a time when higher education in Southeast Asian nation-states is undergoing huge growth and reconceptualization.  Always “interreferential” in relation to East Asian global economic development and transnational in its dependence on Western models, new Southeast Asian cultural studies rely on a combination of “affect, pedagogy and performativity” (Eve Sedgwick).  This presentation traces the attempts at intellectual/academic activism in Southeast Asian cultural education and the trope of Cold War trauma toward the production of a pluralized transnational Asia Pacific critical regionalism.

Mariam B. Lam is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Media & Cultural Studies, Cooperating Faculty in Ethnic Studies, and Director of the Southeast Asian Studies Research Program (SEATRiP) at the University of California, Riverside. She is founding Co-Editor of the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, President of the Riverside Asian American Community Association, Chair of the Southeast Asian Archive Board at UC Irvine, and Advisory Committee Member of the University of California Humanities Research Institute. She co-edited Vietnamese Americans: Lessons in American History (2001, and its second edition in 2004). Her monograph, Not Coming to Terms: Viet Nam, Post-Trauma and Cultural Politics (Duke UP), analyzes cultural production and community politics within and across Viet Nam, France, and the US, and she is working on her second book, Surfin’ the Cold Wave: New Circulations of Cold War Culture and Global Capital.

Cost : Free and open to the public.


Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies

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