Southeast Asian Studies Regional Exchange Program SEAS Bulletin

Welcome to SEASREP, an organization which aims to promote Southeast Asian studies through various research, study and exchange grants and establish a network of scholars in the region through universities and other channels.

Announcements and Updates

The following editorial was published in the July 2018 issue of RJSEAS vol. 3, issue 2. You may view the editorial from http://rjseas.org/current

Tribute to Prof. Dato' Shaharil Talib

We were about to put this issue to bed when we learned of the passing of Prof. Dato' Shaharil Talib, one of SEASREP's (Southeast Asian Studies Regional Exchange Program) four founders, who gave it its name, designed an ambitious blueprint for the advancement of Southeast Asian studies in the region, and helped us sort out problems in our early years in his inimitable and special way. Shaharil was committed to the idea of Southeast Asia not as a conglomeration of states brought together by common security and other interests, but as a place bound by seas and rivers, free of boundaries well before globalization came in vogue, and as peoples who were diverse yet similar to each other in countless ways. To him the Bugis epitomized the very idea of this dynamic region, connected rather than divided, and rich in intangible culture that wealth could never buy. Shaharil saw the region visually and in full color, not in drab black-and-white texts. Southeast Asia excited him no end.

Shaharil marched to his idea of Southeast Asia. SEASREP's mission, to promote the study of the region by Southeast Asians in the region, was Shaharil's baby. In our very first meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 1994, Shaharil impressed me-the fledgling in the group of four (the other two being Taufik Abdullah, then head of LIPI, and Charnvit Kasetsiri, soon-to-be rector of Thammasat University)-with the range and passion of his ideas. There was no limit to Shaharil's imagination and brainstorming with him literally meant a deluge of ideas. At first glance some of his proposals appeared out of this world, but if you heard the man out you would see the logic of his thinking. His unconventional approach to things was a constant source of attraction, especially as we were trying to build an organization that had been attempted before but somehow fizzled out.

Our original blueprint for SEASREP consisted of ten programs, ranging from academic exchanges to shared libraries. We secured funding for only four of the ten, not a bad achievement for an organization seeking to navigate uncharted waters. Of these four, most important to us were the language training program and support for MA/PhD study within the region-programs that were clearly geared toward budding scholars, young Southeast Asians desiring to learn beyond their immediate setting and about the broader world of Southeast Asia. As it turned out, these were our most successful programs, creating in the process a network of scholars across the region, mostly in universities and research institutes, who have kept ties alive.

As in any endeavor of academics, we initially grappled with definitions: what do we mean by Southeast Asian studies? Is a Southeast Asian expert on her or his country automatically a 'Southeast Asianist'? Our vision of Southeast Asian studies by Southeast Asians in and from the region necessarily had a practical consideration. Having been trained abroad (Monash University, Cornell, and SOAS), the four of us were aware of the increasingly prohibitive cost of graduate study outside the region. But this practical consideration was not our principal guide. It was the thought, rather, of a multi-faceted space of vigorous student and academic exchanges that moved us, where students would learn the languages of their neighbors from their neighbors, In between meetings I would seek his advice, which he gave freely and thoughtfully, and over the years our friendship developed. To others but always in my presence, he liked to recount my first meeting with Charnvit in Thammasat's newly built Rangsit campus, when I was (wrongly) assigned to Charnvit's room, which Charnvit just happened to occupy in a carefree manner of dress. (It was night time.) That first encounter remains enmeshed in my memory, thanks to Shaharil's constant retelling. Over cigarettes (we are former smokers) he and I shared many a story, about the past and the present, about others and ourselves. Even after a new Board came in, Shaharil and I kept in touch. He kept himself occupied with the University of Malaya Asia-Europe Institute and, after retirement, continued to work on archives relating to Malaysia's economic history. We were troubled when Shaharil got cancer. But he fought his way out of the illness as best as he could. In conversations he would write down his thoughts when speaking tired him out. In my last visit in 2016, Shaharil reverted to his longtime interest in Sabah, and in an email exchange that followed, emphasized how the meaning of padjak-repeatedly mentioned in the 1878 Sulu Agreement between Sultan Mohammed Jamalul Alam and Austrian Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Englishman Alfred Dent (representing a British company)-morphed from 'lease' to 'grant' in Maxwell and Gibson (1924). I again witnessed the historian at work, as he discussed the original agreement in jawi, followed by the official Romanized version produced by the Colonial Office, and then the official English translation. Shaharil hinted at a fourth version still in the works. In all the 1878 Sulu Agreement was, in his words, like "an Alfred Hitchcock thriller." Even in illness Shaharil saw history as real-life drama.

The man just would not allow the cancer to set him back completely. In typical Shaharil fashion, he carved out a new chapter in his life in a farm where he grew durian and other fruits. My one regret is that all I saw of his farm were photographs he shared. I never got to try Shaharil-grown durian, which he boasted about. Part of his Christmas greeting last year included a lament about how "the rains literally deflowered all the trees and we did not have fruits this season."

Shaharil ended our last exchange with a request that I extend his greetings to "all the other fellow katipunans whose numbers I do not have." And that is how I want to remember our man in black, an endearment coined by Taufik because of Shaharil's uni-toned wardrobe-a true Southeast Asian, a Southeast Asianist to the core, a katipunero, a kindred spirit, a fellow historian, a dear, dear friend.

Maria Serena I. Diokno
RJSEAS Editor


With deep sadness, the SEASREP Foundation announces the passing of Prof. Dato Shaharil Talib, a founding member of SEASREP. Prof. Shaharil drafted the original blueprint for SEASREP's promotion of Southeast Asian studies in the region through language training, postgraduate study, collaborative research and various other forms of regional exchange. He was a leading light of the organization in its early crucial years, and many of his ideas shaped what SEASREP is today. We fondly called him our "man in black," which was the only color he wore. His sense of humor and innovative perceptions are sorely missed. We invite all who knew and worked with Shaharil to share your condolences, thoughts, and memories to seasrepfoundation@gmail.com.

To read the messages and condolences, click Condolence Board




  • Final Workshop on From Nature to Natural Heritage: Law, Nation, and Identity in Southeast Asia

  • SEASREP held a final workshop for its research and publication project on From Nature to Natural Heritage: Law, Nation, and Identity in Southeast Asia on 26 May 2018 in Mandalay City, Myanmar. Eight (8) writers from Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines presented their final papers. The Japan Foundation Asia Center supported the workshop. For details, click here

  • SEASREP Board of Trustees Annual Meeting, 21 April 2018, Penang, Malaysia. For details, click here

  • Final Workshop on Hansen's Disease in Southeast Asia: Narratives of the Past and Present

    SEASREP held a final workshop for its research and publication project on Hansen's Disease in Southeast Asia: Narratives of the Past and Present on 3-4 March 2018 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Ten (10) writers from Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines presented their final papers. The participants and two Hansen's disease expert reviewers from Japan and Australia commented on the final papers. The Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation supported the workshop. For details, click here

  • SEASREP Roundtable Panel at ICAS10. Upon the invitation of ICAS (International Convention of Asia Scholars), SEASREP sponsored a panel on Emerging and Continuing Trends in Southeast Asian Studies, 20 July 2017, Chiang Mai, Thailand. For more details, click here

  • SEASREP signs MOU with the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), National Chengchi University, Taiwan. The two organizations have agreed to promote academic exchange and will work in partnership to further research and training on both sides. For the signed MOU, click here

  • SEASREP Board of Trustees Annual Meeting, 20 April 2017, Hue, Vietnam. For details, click here

  • SEASREP's brainstorming session on Nature and the Nation took place in Luang Prabang, Laos on 7 April 2017 and focused on the connection between nature and national identity. Regarded as an emblem of modernity, consciousness of natural heritage has been expressed and demonstrated by governments and private institutions in laws, policies, and practices that preserve and protect the lands, habitat, fauna, and waterways of the nation. The guiding principle rests on the idea of natural heritage as part of the nation's patrimony, to be cared for by the present generation and passed on to succeeding generations for them to also preserve. Thus in the process, in addition to museums and monuments, nature has become another venue for telling the story of Southeast Asian national identities. The brainstorming session produced concept notes and presentations from Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Japan Foundation Asia Center supported the session. For details, click here

  • SEASREP held a workshop for its research and publication project on Public History in Southeast Asia on 30-31 March 2017 at Sasa International House, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. The project explored the emerging field of public history in Southeast Asia, its principal actors and audience(s), the processes of engagement across various segments of the public, relations between academic and public historians, the evolution of public history as a legitimate discourse in the discipline of history, and the opportunities that public history offers toward more inclusive history. Fourteen (14) contributors from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines presented their papers. The Toyota Foundation supported the project. For details, click here

  • SEASREP held a workshop for its research and publication project on Place-making in Southeast Asia on 28-29 March 2017 at Sasa International House, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. This project explored how Southeast Asian communities are connected to the habitat/spaces in which they live. Eleven (11) contributors from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines presented their papers. The Toyota Foundation supported the project. For details, click here

  • SEASREP held a workshop for its research and publication project on Hybrid Communities in Southeast Asia: Identity Formation, Evolution and Transformation on 9-10 March 2017 in Pasig City, Philippines. The project aimed to interrogate the historical and contemporary role of hybrid communities in countries comprising the region, the evolution of their identities and the prospects for sustaining hybrid identities in the face of national identity-building. Twelve (12) contributors from Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines presented their papers. The Toyota Foundation supported the project. For details, click here

  • SEASREP held a Writing Workshop for Academic Publication on 22-24 February 2017 in Manila, Philippines. The goal of the workshop was to help researchers prepare manuscripts that will clear an initial screening, and that editors will send out for review.Twenty-six (26) postdoctoral students and researchers from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines participated in the workshop. The Japan Foundation Asia Center supported the workshop. For details, click here

  • SEASREP held an inception workshop for its research and publication project on Hansen's Disease in Southeast Asia: Narratives of the Past and Present on 27 January 2017 in Singapore. Thirteen (13) writers from Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines and represent the disciplines of anthropology, history, and the medical profession (mainly public health) presented their papers. The Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation supported the workshop. For details, click here

  • Southeast Asian Studies Association in Southeast Asia (SEAS in SEA).
    A regional organization of students, scholars, public intellectuals and others based in Southeast Asia with common interest in Southeast Asian studies. Formed in November 2015 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, the organization aims to promote Southeast Asian studies through regional collaboration and exchange, linkage building and knowledge production and dissemination. It has a seven-member Board of Trustees, based in different countries in the region. They are:

    Sittha Lertphaiboonsiri (Thailand)
    Thuy Chanthourn (Cambodia)
    Nguyen Thi Thu Huong (Vietnam)
    Misael Racines (Philippines)
    Betti Rosita Sari (Indonesia)
    Hanafi Hussin (Malaysia)
    Rommel Curaming (Brunei)

    The organization is in the process of registering the organization in the Philippines and is accepting membership. It is open to all interested in Southeast Asian studies who are based in Southeast Asia. The two-year membership fee is $25 for students, $50 for professionals. For membership form, download here. For more information, please contact Mr. Misael Racines at misaelracines@yahoo.com

  • Regional Journal of Southeast Asian Studies: The Southeast Asian Studies Regional Exchange Program (SEASREP) Foundation has launched the inaugural issue of its Regional Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (RJSEAS), an online, open access, peer-reviewed journal in English that aims to feature the work of scholars in the humanities and social sciences in the region.

    For the past 21 years, SEASREP has worked with and supported the development of many scholars in the region as Southeast Asian specialists. By offering this journal, SEASREP hopes to make a more tangible contribution to the body of work on Southeast Asia. The journal is published twice a year (January and July).

    The theme for the July 2016 issue of RJSEAS is Plural Identities in Southeast Asia. The journal may be viewed and downloaded from
    http://rjseas.org/current

  • Southeast Asia-Japan Advanced Seminar on Philippine Studies, 16-21 May 2016, Manila, Philippines. For details, click here

  • Final Workshop on Heritage Conservation in Southeast Asia: Issues and Responses

    SEASREP held its final workshop for its research and publication project on Heritage Conservation in Southeast Asia: Issues and Responses on 15-17 April 2016 in Hoi An, Vietnam. Fourteen (14) writers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam presented their final paper. The participants and two heritage expert reviewers from Japan commented on the final papers. For details, click here

  • SEASREP Board of Trustees Annual Meeting,
    1-2 March 2016, Bohol, Philippines. For details, click here

  • SEASREP Documentary: 20 Years of SEASREP
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTJ10d64K2k

  • Book Review: Studies in Thai and Southeast Asian Histories http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/book/758807/charnvit-in-a-nutshell

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