The National Foundation for Australia-China Relations 2020-21 Competitive Grants Program is calling for expressions of interest!

Details on applications can be found on GrantConnect or by downloading the guidelines here.

ASAA president Professor Edward Aspinall today announced the winners of the two new ASAA Book Prizes, and the John Legge Prize for the Best Thesis in Asian Studies:

Early Career book prize

Winner: Vannessa Hearman (2018) Unmarked Graves: Death and Survival in the Anti-Communist Violence in East Java, Indonesia. NUS Press.

Hearman offers an original and highly engaging account of anti-communist violence in East Java. This book weaves together rich narratives drawn from oral history interviews, appealing to a broad interdisciplinary audience. A critical contribution to the historiography of the Left in Indonesia, this book both reveals the suffering of the past while speaking to present hopes and struggles for the acknowledgement of the tragic massacre of 1965-66.

Highly commended:

Josh Stenberg (2019) Minority Stages: Sino-Indonesian Performance and Public Display. University of Hawaii Press. Members of the panel commended the book highly. They were impressed by the polished writing, the boldness in tackling six different genres of performance across a wide sweep of Indonesia and the author’s ability to use sources in Dutch, Chinese English and Indonesian.

Burhanuddin Muhtadi (2019) Vote Buying in Indonesia: The Mechanics of Electoral Bribery. Palgrave Macmillan. Members of the panel commended the book highly. They were impressed by the application of mixed methods, including quantitative analysis, to explain the patterns and effectiveness of vote-buying in Indonesia.

Hiroko Matsuda (2019) Liminality of the Japanese Empire: Border Crossings from Okinawa to Colonial Taiwan. University of Hawai’i Press. Members of the panel commended the book highly. They were impressed by the skilful weaving together of analysis at different scales, from the individual to the empire; the richness of the historical narrative that unfolds; and the author’s ability to combine oral history interviews with archival sources in Japanese, Chinese and English.

Mid-career Book Prize

Winner: Susie Protschky (2019) Photographic Subjects: Monarchy and Visual Culture in Colonial Indonesia. Manchester University Press.

Photographic Subjects undertakes a study of the regency of Queen Wilhelmina (1898-1948) through the lens of the medium of photography, which in the period revolutionised from being an elite studio practice to a mass medium. Susie Protschky’s study represents a fine intervention into the ‘visual turn’ in historiographies of empire, demonstrating how an ostensibly European technology became embedded in Javanese visual practices over the period. The book is firmly projected as an intervention into studies of Indonesian and Dutch societies, but also engages with other European empires. The author demonstrates how photographs of the Queen became used as proxies in colonial celebrations and in various political and social rituals, undertaking a fascinating analysis of gender politics as she demonstrates the projection of the ‘familiarisation’ of the House of Orange through portrait photography en famille. Protschky studies the visual rhetoric in ‘vernacular’ or amateur photography in the hands of Indonesian subjects, demonstrating their strong agency, cosmopolitan sensibilities and growing nationalist sentiments. She furthers the field through her coinage of terms such as ‘snapshot diplomacy’, by extending histories of ethnographic photographs in imperial contexts, and by analysing war photography, militarised parades and spectacles designed to celebrate Dutch sovereignty in Indonesia. Concluding, Protschky demonstrates that by projecting the Dutch queen into the Indies and demonstrating signs of enlightenment (literally through genres of snapshots featuring elaborate electrification) photography aided imperialism but was equally a medium which enabled elements of creativity and therefore subjectivity for Indonesians. The book is tightly organised, concise and the photography sprinkled liberally throughout carries the arguments beautifully. It makes strong contributions to histories of photography, within Asian Studies but also beyond.

John Legge Prize for Best Thesis in Asian Studies (2019)

Winner: Sophie Chao, In the Shadow of the Palms: Plant-Human Relations Among the Marind-Anim, West Papua.  (Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University).

In this remarkable thesis, Sophie Chao provides a ground-breaking exploration and analysis of dynamic plant-human-capital relationships in West Papua. The study centres on the devastation wrought by state-sponsored agro-industrial capitalism in the form of oil palm plantations, as experienced and perceived by the Marind-Anim people of Merauke District. Beautifully written, theoretically sophisticated, and deeply empathetic, the study shows how a lethal process of botanical colonization has disrupted existing multispecies networks and reconfigured people’s ways of being in the world. The effects on places, persons, time, and indeed dreams are persuasively explained as interlinked processes of deterritorialization and detemporalization. Rooted in cultural anthropological methods and informed by post-humanist theory, the analytical approach incorporates insights from environmental humanities, science and technology studies, plant science, ethnobotany, political economy and more. The thesis is extremely ambitious in its conceptual and theoretical aims, and required a high degree of political and ethical sensitivity in the associated fieldwork. It has emphatically delivered on all fronts. It seems destined to inform and provoke productive debate over sustainable environmental, economic and social systems, in Indonesia and elsewhere.

ASAA 2020 Conference Events Online

Together with the organisers of ASAA 2020 we are very pleased to announce a select online program of events. From late June until November the ASAA will host a series of roundtables, panels and discussions as webinars, to which you are all invited! Watch this space and your email inboxes in the weeks and months […]

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