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A commitment to new and innovative work on South East Asia.

ISSN 0967-828X (print); 2043-6874 (online)

Editor: Dr Rachel Harrison,
Dept of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia, SOAS, University Of London

This journal is covered by Thomson Reuters in the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, and Current Contents/Arts & Humanities.

This journal is indexed in Scopus

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Other Sites Of Interest:

AAS Association of Asian Studies

ASEASUK Association of South-East Asian Studies

Cornell University Publications: Southeast Asia Program


Lontar Foundation

Royal Asiatic Society

SEARC Southeast Asia Research Centre

SEAS Society for South-East Asian Studies

SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

Editorial coverage

Published quarterly by IP Publishing on behalf of SOAS. South East Asia Research includes papers on all aspects of South East Asia within the disciplines of archaeology, art history, economics, geography, history, language and literature, law, music, political science, social anthropology and religious studies. Papers are based on original research or field work.

SOAS is the leading centre in this field in Europe and one of the most prestigious centres of South East Asian studies in the world.

Submissions - Notes for authors

Please send papers to Dr Rachel Harrison, Dept of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK. E-mail: rh6(at)soas.ac.uk.

Length and presentation of contributions

Papers may be submitted as e-mail attachments in Word or in hard copy. The text should be double-spaced and, for hard copy submissions, an electronic copy in Word should also be supplied on a disk or CD. Papers should be in the range of 6,000-8,000 words long.

The title page should contain the full names and addresses of the authors, their professional status or affiliation and the mailing address to which correspondence should be sent. As this page will not be forwarded to referees, the title of the article (without author names) should be repeated on the first page of the text.

An abstract should be provided, comprising 100-150 words. Between 3 and 6 keywords should appear below the abstract, highlighting the main topics of the paper. The text should be organized under appropriate cross-headings (not numbered paragraphs).

A citation should preferably be by footnote, but the Harvard system may be used. The following style should be applied to references:

  • Books:Peter Zinoman (2001), The Colonial Bastille: A History of Imprisonment in Vietnam, 1862-1940, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  • Journal articles: Martin van Bruinessen (2002), 'Genealogies of Islamic radicalism in post-Suharto Indonesia', South East Asia Research, Vol 10, No 2, pp 117-154.

If the Harvard system is used, the author's surname should appear first (Zinoman, Peter) and textual citation should take the form '(Zinoman, 1990)'. For textual citations, where there are two authors please use the word 'and', not the ampersand (thus: '(Smith and Jones, 2012)'. Where there are more than two authors, please use the first-named author only, followed by 'et al' in italics (thus: Smith et al, 2012).

In the case of a reference in a footnote to a work already cited, the note in which the full citation is given should be stated, with the use of 'supra': for example, 'Zinoman, supra note 9, at p 90'.

Tables and illustrations should be presented on separate pages at the end of the text: they will be placed as close as possible to the first textual reference to them.

South East Asia Research uses British spelling throughout (thus 'colour' not 'color'), with the '-ize' verb suffix (thus 'organize' not 'organise').

Prior Publication

Articles are received on the understanding that they are original contributions, and have not been published officially, either in print or electronic form, or submitted for publication elsewhere. In this respect, ‘discussion’ or ‘working’ papers, conference presentations and proceedings are not considered to be official publications, unless they have been formally deemed so by conference organizers, or presented as edited works through recognized publishing channels. If in doubt, authors are asked to draw the attention of the Editor to any prior dissemination of the paper in their letter of submission. Please note that articles should not be posted on personal Websites or social networking sites before or after submission.


 All papers submitted for publication are subject to a 'double blind' review; that is, the anonymity of both author and referees is maintained throughout the reviewing process.

Author Checklist for Final versions

Editorial Board

  • Editor: Dr Rachel Harrison, Dept of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK.
    E-mail: rh6(at)soas.ac.uk
  • Regional Editor: Professor Tony Day, Independent Scholar, Singapore, and CT, USA.
    E-mail: samdayweiss(at)gmail.com
  • Book Reviews Editor: Dr Ben Murtagh, Faculty of Languages and Cultures, SOAS, London, UK. E-mail: bm10(at)soas.ac.uk.

Editorial Advisory Board

  • Professor Peter Boomgaard
    KITLV, Leiden, The Netherlands
  • Professor Anne Booth
    SOAS, University of London, UK
  • Professor Chua Beng Huat
    National University of Singapore
  • Dr Angela Chiu
    SOAS, UK
  • Professor Michael Herzfeld
    Harvard University, USA
  • Dr Mark Johnson
    University of Hull, UK
  • Professor Benedict J. Kerkvliet
    Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • Professor V.T. King
    University of Leeds, UK
  • Dr Gerry van Klinken
    KITLV, The Netherlands
  • Dr Joseph Chinyong Liow
    Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Dr Tamara Loos,
    Cornell University, USA
  • Dr Michael J. Montesano
    Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
  • Dr Pavida Pananond
    Thammasat University, Thailand
  • Professor Michael G. Peletz
    Emory University, USA
  • Professor Bambang Purwanto
    Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
  • Professor Vicente L. Rafael
    University of Washington, USA
  • Dr Kostas Retsikas
    SOAS, UK
  • Professor J.D. Rigg
    National University of Singapore
  • Dr Mandy Sadan
    SOAS, UK
  • Professor Henk Schulte Nordholt
    KITLV, Leiden, The Netherlands
  • Professor John T. Sidel
    London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
  • Dr Thitinan Pongsudhirak
    Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  • Professor Thongchai Winichakul
    University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • Dr Ben Tran
    Vanderbilt University, USA
  • Dr Sarah Weiss
    Yale-NUS College, Singapore
  • Dr Jack Yeager
    Louisiana State University, USA
  • Professor Peter Zinoman
    University of California at Berkeley, USA
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March 2016 issue (Volume 24, Number 1)


5 Nuaulu ritual regulation of resources, sasi and forest conservation in eastern Indonesia

Roy Ellen

23 Decentralization and forestry in the Indonesian archipelago: beyond the big bang

Russell Warman

41 On track. Spontaneous privatization of public urban land in Bandung, Indonesia

Ari Nurman and Christian Lund

61 The kinship of everyday need: relatedness and survival in a Philippine fishing community

Nelson Turgo

77 Reproductive dilemmas, labour and remittances: gender and intimacies in Cavite, Philippines

Christianne F. Collantes

99 The radio and the non-citizen public sphere: exploring the Shan migrant public sphere in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand

Amporn Jirattikorn

119 Thai Buddhism as the promoter of spirit cults

Bernard Formoso

135 Governing the Chinese in multi-ethnic colonial Burma between the 1890s and 1920s

Yi Li

Book reviews

155 Protecting Siam’s Heritage, edited by Chris Baker
(reviewed by Victor T. King)
158 Political Authority and Provincial Identity in Thailand: The Making of Banharn- buri, by Yoshinori Nishizaki
(reviewed by Michael Buehler)

Title: Nuaulu ritual regulation of resources, sasi and forest conservation in eastern Indonesia

Author(s): Roy Ellen

Abstract: Nuaulu (Seram, Maluku, Indonesia) manage forest to provision sacred house building and ritual feasting through a system of protected areas (sin wesie), examined here in relation to sasi institutions and scare charms (matakau) that overlap in their functions. Sasi feature in wider debates about how customary practices might deliver conservation objectives. The paper analyses interconnections between these three forms of regulation in the context of deforestation, social change and the recent history of state management interventions.

Read the full article here

Title: Decentralization and forestry in the Indonesian archipelago: beyond the big bang

Author(s): Russell Warman

Abstract: The much studied 1999 big bang of Indonesian government decentralization was, in the end, relatively muted and quickly undone in forestry. This paper assesses the big bang as it relates to forestry. It reviews the extensive body of literature that was produced in the years immediately after the big bang occurred, as well as siting it in the longer sweep of Indonesian forestry history. The paper finds that there has been a long-term centralizing tendency in forestry governance, with nation-building and assertion of power over resources in the periphery being key centralizing forces. However, there are valid reasons for decentralized forestry management, such as improving rural development and respecting traditional rights through more accountable and responsive institutional arrangements. It is suggested here that a number of changing factors in Indonesia and in forestry could provide opportunities for a more enduring decentralization in forestry. These include strengthening democratic institutions, a declining role for natural forests in wood production as plantations replace supplies, and a shift to forms of governance built on systems thinking. For these reasons, it is suggested that the promises of decentralized forest governance might be delivered, not as a central government-ordained big bang, but rather as a progressive, paradigmatic evolution.

Read the full article here

Title: On track. Spontaneous privatization of public urban land in Bandung, Indonesia

Author(s): Ari Nurman and Christian Lund

Abstract: The history of land control in Indonesia is overwhelmingly one of colonial conquest, government enclosure and expropriation of traditional property rights. However, beneath these great transformations, counter-currents also flow. Encroachment on state land and its gradual privatization by ordinary people sometimes gnaw at government property. Through a series of small, sometimes innocuous actions, people manage to undo the previous ownership regime. This article shows how settlers over a period of some 30 years – through a strategic mixture of civic disobedience and civic compliance – managed to appropriate, formalize and effectively privatize land belonging to the state-owned railway company in the city of Bandung. The authors argue that disobedient occupation and subsequent obedient payment of taxes, documentation of residence and ‘normalization’ of the area have reduced the company’s ownership to thin formality, whereas new residents hold all the substantial elements of property rights to the land.

Read the full article here

Title: The kinship of everyday need: relatedness and survival in a Philippine fishing community

Author(s): Nelson Turgo

Abstract: Life in fishing communities is difficult in most countries in South East Asia. In the Philippines, where this study took place, income from fishing has become even more disastrously low in recent years, with more and more fishing grounds yielding less fish due to overexploitation and uncontrolled illegal fishing. In the fishing community considered in this paper, aside from diversifying sources of income, kinship ties provide a safety net in a rather different sense. People deploy kinship in a deliberately strategic way: they limit their everyday interactions with kin, choosing to be intimate only with a select few. The rationale behind this practice is clear: by choosing a select few with whom they have a reciprocal relationship when it comes to sharing goods and services, they are able to manage their resources well and survive tough economic times. Such a practice of ‘forgetting kin’, however, has implications for the community’s conceptualization of the configurations of kinship, as well as its social cohesion and prospects for political activism, undermining the very economic survival it tries so hard to serve.

Read the full article here

Title: Reproductive dilemmas, labour and remittances: gender and intimacies in Cavite, Philippines

Author(s): Christianne F. Collantes

Abstract: This paper explores the reproductive dilemmas of individuals from a communal compound in Cavite, which are impacted by the complicated intersection of economic globalization and prescriptions of gendered performances and spatialities. Specifically, it looks at how remittances from overseas Filipino worker (OFW) relatives and the personal desires for overseas mobility directly shape these individuals’ decisions regarding reproduction, relationships and intimacies. Wilson’s (2004) concept of intimate economies helps to frame and theoretically encase the ongoing dialogue between global labour economies and personal intimacies related to reproduction and family planning. Ethnographic data and narratives were collected while the Philippines’ Reproductive Health Law (commonly known as the RH Law) was being passed in December 2012. As it mandates public access to reproductive health services including artificial contraceptives, sex education and maternal care, the RH Law continues to face strong opposition from leaders of the Philippine Catholic Church and formidable ‘Anti-RH’ movements (approximately 81% of Filipinos identify themselves as Roman Catholic). This article highlights how reproductive dilemmas are dictated not only by religious beliefs and practices, but also by gendered and economic arrangements against a backdrop that is both politically polemical and rapidly globalizing.

Read the full article here

Title: The radio and the non-citizen public sphere: exploring the Shan migrant public sphere in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand

Author(s): Amporn Jirattikorn

Abstract: The recent influx of Shan migrants from Myanmar into the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, provides the conditions for migrant public spheres to emerge. This paper explores aspects of mass- mediated forms of Shan migrant public spheres by focusing on two Shan-language radio stations, one state-run and the other a community station. While much of the literature on public spheres emphasizes the role of the media in allowing citizens to express and publish opinions, it largely excludes those who are marginal to the mainstream public sphere, such as transnational migrant populations. This paper therefore investigates the operations of two Shan-language radio programmes, the community they serve and the effects they have on that community. The paper argues for a need to re-conceptualize the notion of ‘the public’ as communities of interest, and to expand the notion of the public sphere to include non-citizen space.

Read the full article here

Title: Thai Buddhism as the promoter of spirit cults

Author(s): Bernard Formoso

Abstract: Studies of religion in Buddhist societies of South East Asia have largely overlooked the role played by Buddhism in the growth of spirit cults. Through a comparison of Thai Buddhist and Tai pre- Buddhist conceptions of death and the afterlife, this paper shows how the theory of karmic causation introduced uncertainty about the status of rebirth and failed to erase previous conceptions about the afterlife. As a result, the belief in reincarnation coexists with the idea that the soul of the deceased may maintain an active presence among the living. Buddhism also imposed a redemption-cum-protection transactional pattern with spirits and deities, whose gradations of meaning are interpreted with reference to different variables. This pattern extends to supernatural patron–client bonds, a typical feature of the Thai social structure.

Read the full article here

Title: Governing the Chinese in multi-ethnic colonial Burma between the 1890s and 1920s

Author(s): Yi Li

Abstract: This article analyses the development of the governing mechanism in British Burma relating to one particular ethnic group, the Chinese, between the 1890s and 1920s. Recognizing its limited knowledge of China and the Chinese, British Burma relied in the early days on experiences from other colonies to govern its Chinese immigrants and to handle Sino-Burmese border issues. The transfer of colonial knowledge, however, proved insufficient when the state witnessed increasing localization at the turn of the twentieth century. Interlocutors and communal elites therefore replaced imperial expatriates to form the main governing body, and in turn to some extent undermined and reconstructed colonial knowledge, as well as practice.

Read the full article here

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