Becoming Arab: A Community Book Read by Sumit Mandal
April 26, 2021, hosted by GETSEA
A community book read with Sumit Mandal, author of Becoming Arab: Creole Histories and Modern Identity in the Malay World and winner of the 2020 Benda Prize.
Sumit Mandal is a historian at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. He is currently doing research on Muslim shrines as inscriptions in the landscape of transregional histories of the Malay world. He is working towards a book from this research that is tentatively titled “Saints of the Southern Indian Ocean: Sacred Geographies, Popular Faith Practices, and the Politics of Islam from Jakarta to Cape Town.”
As the AAS Southeast Asia Council (SEAC) describes it: Sumit Mandal’s Becoming Arab: Creole Histories and Modern Identity in the Malay World (2018) is a powerful and important work of history, the result of prodigious archival research. Beyond its importance in challenging conventional understandings of the category ‘Arab’ in the Malay world, it suggests new ways of thinking about the project of colonial racial categorization more broadly. Mandal importantly argues that most scholarship assumes that racial categorizations deployed in postcolonial nations stemmed from colonial practices aimed at dividing populations in order to rule them. He upends this argument by breaking down what the category, Arab, meant in historical contexts prior to, during, and after Dutch colonial rule. In particular, Mandal’s argument that colonial racial categories are not ‘totalizing’ but are subject to reinterpretation and subversion, encourages the reader to think hard about the historical processes through which such racial categories come to exist, and shift over time. Working from Malay, Dutch, French, and English language sources, this is a book whose importance will center the field of Southeast Asian studies in broader conversations about creole histories and racializing area studies.
PUBLIC READING: Public/Scholarship: A Reading of Translations in, of, and from Southeast Asia
November 18, 2020, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison CSEAS.
Since September, approximately thirty graduate students working inside and outside the university around the world met virtually every other week in a GETSEA mini-course to read and think critically and politically about translation and movement in language in and in critical opposition to Southeast Asian Studies. In this reading, members of the workshop shared their translations across Thai, Burmese, Indonesian, Tagalog, Balinese, Vietnamese, and Hokkien.
Uprising in Thailand
October 28, 2020, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison CSEAS.
A roundtable of experts from across the GETSEA consortium which discussed the current unrest in Thailand.
A Thousand Cuts: On Media, Policing, and Authoritarian Brutality
October 1, 2020, hosted by the Cornell Southeast Asia Program.
Part of a GETSEA Consortium series on press freedom in the Philippines, this post-screening panel focused on policing, state violence, and how the media and ideological landscapes enable populism and authoritarianism across the Philippines, U.S., and India. The discussion also served as the staging ground for transnational forms of creativity, solidarity, and resistance.
Press Freedom and the Pandemic in Duterte’s Philippines: Views from the Ground Up
September 18, 2020, hosted by the University of Michigan CSEAS.
Part of a GETSEA Consortium series on press freedom in the Philippines, this virtual roundtable discussion sought to make sense of the many overlaps from the ground up between the state of press freedom in the Philippines and the ongoing efforts of the Duterte administration to control the pandemic.