The latest issue of Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia is now available for download. "Changing Perspectives on the Philippines and Southeast Asia," the latest issue of Asian Studies contains four articles, six commentaries, four reviews, several poems, and a tribute essay to Benedict Anderson. Below are the titles and abstracts of the four articles.

The Southeast Asian Region and the Academe in Turbulent Times by Pasuk Phongpaichit

I AM HUGELY HONORED by the invitation to give this keynote. I wish to congratulate everyone who has helped to create this event. I salute its historical significance. I confess, I am also terrified by the responsibility. The organizers asked me to reflect on what we do. By “we” I mean academics working on Southeast Asia, wherever we were born, wherever we now live, whatever disciplines we choose. But I mean especially those who research, write, argue, attend conferences like these, and sometimes shout about our concerns because we care about the region, its people, and its future. I plan to do this in three phases. First, I will revisit the time when I was starting my academic career. Looking around this hall, I see some old friends and familiar faces of my own generation. I want to remind them of how much has changed over our academic lifetimes. For younger friends, I want to hint how much change they can expect—far more than in my generation. Second, I will sketch a few major changes over the past thirty years—economic, political, and intellectual—that have transformed how we think and work. Finally, I will outline some issues that would frame my thinking if I were embarking on my academic career right now.

“Temple of Dance?”: Interrogating the Sanskritization of Pangalay by MCM Santamaria

This paper interrogates the idea that pangalay, a Southern Philippine dance tradition of the Tausug (a.k.a. Suluk) people, means “temple of dance” in Sanskrit, arguing on the contrary that it is mainly Austronesian in origin. In the works of Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa, pangalay is presented as a pre-Christian and pre-Islamic dance tradition, and that the dance label means “temple of dance” in Sanskrit. This process of Sanskritization of what I argue is an Austronesian cultural artifact warrants a close review. To deconstruct this discourse on pangalay, I situate it within the scholarship on the Indianization of Southeast Asia, and on India-Philippine cultural relations. I also conduct a linguistic analysis of the phrase, “Temple of Dance” to show the pangalay does not carry that meaning. Part 1 gives a brief introduction to pangalay and related traditions in the southern Philippines. Part 2 discusses the frameworks of “Indianization.” Part 3 features the linguistic analysis of the phrase, “temple of dance.” The paper concludes by discussing alternative views culture and dance in the Philippines.

Disasters and State of Exception: Tacloban, Yolanda, and the Political Thought of Giorgio Agamben by Gerardo LANUZA and Jed Martin TINGSON

This paper applies and extends Giorgio Agamben’s concept of state of exception—the suspension of Law that makes the Sovereign more powerful and exposes its citizens to greater harm—to the social and political condition that obtained after the supertyphoon Yolanda devastated Tacloban. It argues that the people of Tacloban were subjected to a state of exception that featured two phenomena: (1) the inability of the national government to respond immediately to the horrendous damage created by the supertyphoon, and (2) the sending of police and military forces to stop crime, looting, and robbery, and to impose peace and order in Tacloban. We argue that Agamben’s political analysis is very apposite in bringing out the argument that the state of exception, normally an act by a sovereign government, could also result from its sheer ineptitude in carrying out rescue and relief operations in the aftermath of the devastation. In short, disaster analysis should be linked with the inability of the state to protect the welfare of the victims and survivors of disasters. 

Cannibalism among Japanese Soldiers in Bukidnon, Philippines, 1945–47 Rolando ESTEBAN

This paper examines why survival cannibalism occurred in Bukidnon, Philippines from 1945 to 1947 from the point of view of the Japanese. Utilizing contemporaneous sources such as the Japanese War Crimes and universal theories of cannibalism, the paper shows that starvation, malnutrition, and salt hunger impelled cannibalism. The paper questions the assumption that cannibalism during wartime is mere aggression, not for survival purposes. Keywords: Cannibalism, World War II, Japanese soldiers, salt hunger, starvation.