Colonial Experiences and 
Their Legacies in Southeast Asia
An NEH Summer Institute ~ June 10 - July 5, 2019 ~ Honolulu, Hawai‘i ~ Hosted by Asian Studies Development Program

Colonialism Experiences and
Their Legacies in Southeast Asia
                                                                                     An NEH Summer Institute ~ June 10 to July 5, 2019 ~ Honolulu, Hawaii ~ Hosted by Asian Studies Development Program

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Directors' Message



Welcome to this site and thank you for your interest in our NEH-sponsored Summer Institute on Colonial Experiences and Their Legacies in Southeast Asia. We are convinced that this will be an exciting and timely academic opportunity for everyone involved, including the team of world-class scholars who will be guiding our explorations of the complex interplay of globalization, cultural diversity and agency through the colonial and postcolonial histories of Southeast Asia—one of the world’s most diverse and dynamic regions.


While today’s news items regarding Southeast Asia almost invariably focus on contemporary events, it is sometimes forgotten that the entire region except for Thailand was colonized, although even here colonial practices were often emulated. Because Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and the United States each controlled different countries, the colonial imprint varied according to the socio-political context. Nonetheless, it is also possible to track similarities in the colonial experience and to suggest generalizations that will help students better understand the long shadow cast by this unique period of human history.

As co-directors we engage with Southeast Asia in very different ways. One of us has primarily studied the history of the western Malay-Indonesia archipelago, with a focus on issues of gender and religious interaction, while the other has been primarily interested in understanding how religious traditions evolve in the context of global processes and cultural interaction, with an emphasis on Buddhist traditions. We also have quite different relationships with American higher education, with one of us enjoying a career centered on teaching and research as a university department member, and the other a career combining research and academic service designing and hosting multidisciplinary programs to enhance teaching and learning about Asian cultures and societies. Together we bring to this program many years of interaction with scholars and students, both within the United States and in Asia more generally. The internationally-known specialists we have invited to participate in this program are all skilled teachers and presenters who will inject their own enthusiasm and expertise into what promises to be an exciting and memorable four weeks.

ASDP hosted its first NEH summer institute on Chinese Culture and Society in 1993 and since then we’ve conducted nineteen more, most recently programs on Confucian Asia, Islam in Asia and Buddhist East Asia in 2016, 2017 and 2018. These institutes have invariably been profoundly rewarding experiences, attracting as they do the best teachers in the country committed to expanding their teaching expertise and research interests. Colonial Experiences and Their Legacies in Southeast Asia builds on insights gained by hosting three previous NEH Summer Institute programs on Southeast Asia for college and university faculty members—Southeast Asian Cultures (1997); Southeast Asia: The Interplay of Indigenous Cultures and Outside Influences (2005). and The Dynamics of Cultural Unity and Diversity in Southeast Asia (2011)—as well as sixteen other NEH Summer Institute programs that have addressed various other regions in Asia as well as such themes as religion and politics, cultures of authority, and the interplay of tradition and transformation. Both of us were deeply involved in the previous NEH programs on Southeast Asia, and one of us (Hershock) has been involved designing and hosting all nineteen of these NEH programs. We appreciate your interest in Colonial Experiences and Their Legacies in Southeast Asia and look forward to reading your applications carefully and to selecting a cohort to spend four weeks together in shared exploration of Southeast Asian engagements with the global phenomena of colonialism and its legacies.

Take care,
Barbara and Peter

Dr. Barbara Watson Andaya

Professor of Asian Studies

University of Hawai‘i

Dr. Peter D. Hershock

Director, Asian Studies Development Program

East-West Center