Good morning.

This week we talk with Nguyen Dinh Tuan Vuong about the recent Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in SEA ○ In the spirit of holiday giving, we have three member bios ○ On December 4th, Ik will present his work to SEARG ○ Let's first look at general updates and reminders

General Updates
We'd like to begin this newsletter by thanking our SEARG members for their participation throughout the semester. Many thanks to Tyler Lehrer for taking time to present his work to the SEARG community on Nov. 20th. We've appreciated everyone's contribution to our Member Bios, SEARG events, and survey responses.

This month's newsletter will be our last for the Fall semester. However, we will be back next year with more content, announcements, and events. To help us with next semester's planning, we ask that you fill out a brief, open-question survey, asking what professional and/or academic development webinars you would like offered. We are also looking for individuals to help facilitate and lead next semester's potential webinars. If you would like to get more involved in our low-stakes, informal events, let us know in the survey (you can also feel free to nominate someone else you think would be interested and we'll connect with them). Here is a link to the survey. Again, please find time to give us feedback. The strength of our SEARG community is because of all our members' input.

Lastly, if you enjoy our newsletters, but have not subscribed yet, please click on the button below! Reward yourself this year with a free subscription to our newsletter!
Mark Your Calendar:

Next Friday, December 4th, SEARG will host its second graduate student presentation. This week, Napakadol (Ik) Kittisenee will present “A Sacred Tribute amidst 1893 Franco-Siamese War.” Join us from 2:00 - 3:15pm via Zoom. You can find the link to join the Zoom presentation here. Below is a brief description of Ik's presentation:
    A Sacred Tribute amidst 1893 Franco-Siamese War
1893 marks a prominent incident of Franco-Siamese War, known in local sources as the crisis of Ratanakosin Sok (R.S.112). Historians both in homeland and abroad pay a heavy attention on the causality of dispute and its ripple effects, which in turn concluded with Siamese offer the French the west bank of Mekong as well as Battambang, Siem Reap and Sisophon of Cambodia. Few, however, accounts for another cultural incident of Siamese dissemination to the world—the first of its kind—a printing version of Tripitaka (Buddhist Sacred Text) donated to hundreds of leading university libraries at the time, through the assistance of embassies and consulates around the globe. This presentation will illustrate how this particular historical event can be read and interpreted at the intersected forces of war, colonialism, empire, tributary state and modern nation building at the turn of 20th century.  
Call for Filipino/Tagalog Language Table Interest

During our November meet-and-greet with FASO (Filipinx-American Student Organization), undergraduate students expressed interest in a Filipino language table. If you would like to either participate in a language table with FASO members or help, please contact Omar Dumdum.

SEARG Scripts: ASEAN Forms World's Largest Trade Bloc with 5 Other Countries
On the sidelines of the 37th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi two weeks ago, 10 Southeast Asian countries virtually signed a pact with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea to form the world's largest free trade bloc. In the history of mankind. Ever. (Brace for more superlatives.)
So how big is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)? For one, the 15 member-countries comprise almost a third of the world's population and global economy. RCEP is also the first free-trade agreement (FTA) between powerhouses China, Japan and South Korea. While China has several bilateral trade agreements, it is the country's first multilateral trade agreement. Ever.
The RCEP is not yet immediately effective, as some countries still need to ratify it domestically. Still, the trade pact is so significant that, once effective, it would eliminate as much as 90% of import tariffs among signatories within 20 years, and create a unified rules of origin for easier movement of goods.
We know that economics hasn't been the forte of SEARG, so we are grateful to have Nguyen Dinh Tuan Vuong, our new member and doctoral student in development economics, to help us tease out the issues surrounding the RCEP.
Welcome to our podcast, Nguyen. Before we delve into the RCEP, please give us first some brief explainers about free-trade agreements (FTAs). Some say that there are always "winners" and "losers" in trade. Generally speaking, what types of economies benefit the most and least in FTAs?
I'll start by saying that trade is not a zero-sum game, and a country has to use its comparative advantage to benefit from it as well as FTAs. In other words, its resource, namely labor force and capital, should be allocated strategically. A perfectly competitive market would do the job. Unfortunately, we are not living in a perfect world, as there are a lot of frictions that reduce the mobilities of labor and capital. The size of these frictions decides whether a country mobilizes resources to focus on its comparative advantage. Additionally, even though trade theories suggest that all countries gain from trade in terms of total welfare, there are "winners" and "losers" within a country. For instance, winners could be export-oriented industries, whereas losers are those that traditionally focus on the domestic market and now face more competition from foreign firms because of FTAs.
Analysts say that the RCEP will mostly benefit China geopolitically, as well as Japan and South Korea economically. How would RCEP benefit low- or middle-income ASEAN countries?
ASEAN already signed separate FTAs with South Korea, Japan, and China in the 2000s, so RCEP would not have any negative impact on ASEAN countries. What RCEP does is to unify the set of regulations on ASEAN's exporting products, thus reducing a great amount of unnecessary paperwork as well as the associated cost on exporting firms. Theoretically, it shifts the supply curve in the commodity market to the right, meaning that those industries are expanding, and thus labor demand increases. Eventually, it ends up with higher employment and higher wage in the labor market.
Another thing, the rule of product origins would increase foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to ASEAN countries. The rule requires at least 40% of a product that is produced within RCEP countries to be considered RCEP-made, which is probably the most lenient rule among major FTAs. Given that, it encourages non-RCEP firms to move part of their supply chain to RCEP countries. It creates a similar effect on the commodity market, then the labor demand increases. With the advantage of cheap labor, low- and middle-income ASEAN countries benefit from RCEP through this channel. Also, the downward movement of the supply curve in the commodity market would lead to lower prices, which benefit households in these countries.
India withdrew from RCEP negotiations last year over concerns of potential dumping of cheap Chinese imports and dairy products from Australia and New Zealand (ANZ). How should ASEAN countries "counter" such negative consequences?
Again, ASEAN economies have already signed bilateral FTAs with China. Practically, we don't need to worry about countering such negative consequences from "cheap Chinese imports," as ASEAN economies have been doing okay in the past decade. But since China is losing its advantage of cheap labor and shifting their production to a different and upscale set of products, ASEAN economies have seem to start producing these "cheap imports."
ANZ have a relatively different set of agricultural products to ASEAN economies. Given the regular diet in Southeast Asian cultures and since the dairy industry in ASEAN economies is relatively small, an "invasion" of ANZ's dairy products should not be a concern. But the competition would be tough in the husbandry industry, as beef from Australia is cheaper. However, since we do not have a comparative advantage in raising cows, shifting our focus to other products would be more fruitful in the long term.
Critics point out that the RCEP lacks provisions on labor and environmental regulations. More generally, why are such regulations important in any FTA?
Environmental issues and increasing income inequality are a few examples of market failure. Low-income countries are facing the trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection. With a sustainable path of economic development, a certain amount of damage to the environment is allowed. However, due to many political reasons, some governments could relax their environmental regulation in the name of economic growth, which creates a negative externality. The 2016 Vietnam marine life disaster that I studied is one typical example. Similarly, governments of poorer countries also have an incentive to alter their labor code to be less protective towards the labor force. But a good set of rules in any FTA could at least minimize these market failures. That is also the biggest contrast between RCEP and the current form of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which focused a lot more on labor rights, environmental protection, and intellectual property.
Finally, could you talk more about how your research intersects with all these issues?
My research focuses on environmental issues and the labor market in Vietnam. Since Vietnam changed dramatically in the last three decades from a command-and-control economy, trade liberalization and FTAs are important events that have significant impacts on the environment and the labor market. A better understanding of these impacts provides a more reliable set of policy recommendations to the governments of developing countries, including Vietnam.
Nguyen, thank you so much for gracing us with your presence this episode. Our listeners now feel more erudite on trade and economics. For those wanting to know more about international trade, we turn you over to our correspondent who'll guide you through the alphabet soup of trade deals.
SEARG Member Bios

Name: Napakadol (Ik) Kittisenee
Major Degree & Status: PhD student (1st yeat) in History
SEA Research Focus (countries): Cambodia, Thailand and Laos
Hometown: Nong Khai, Thailand

If asked about what you study while out on a Friday night, how would you explain without killing the party:
I'm interested in magic, apparition and miracles. Do you wanna join?

Name: Russell Chapman
Major Degree: Southeast Asian Studies MA
SEA Research Focus (countries): Laos and Thailand
Hometown: Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota
If asked about what you study while out on a Friday night, how would you explain without killing the party: 
I study sociopolitical issues in Laos and Thailand. (What else can you say to make it sound better?) 😅

Name: Nguyen Dinh Tuan Vuong
Major Degree & Status: 3rd PhD Student in Development Economics
SEA Research Focus (countries): Vietnam
Hometown: Quang Ngai, Vietnam
If asked about what you study while out on a Friday night, how would you explain without killing the party?
My job is to find and quantify the impact of environmental issues on health and employment, so affected communities could sue polluting entities :D


European Association for Southeast Asian Studies 11th Annual Conference 

Sept. 7-10, 2021 - Palacky University, Olomouc Czech Republic 

Abstracts Due: December 1, 2020 


23rd Cornell SEAP Graduate Student Conference 

Links and Fractures 

March 19-21, 2021 

Abstracts Due: December 18, 2020 


Louisiana State University Graduate History Conference 

March 5-6, 2021 – Louisiana State University (Held Virtually) 

Calls for history papers on any region or timeframe 

Abstracts Due: December 28, 2020 


Workshops on New Threats to Academic Freedom in Asia 

May 6, 2021 – AAS (Held Virtually) 

Abstracts Due: January 6, 2021 


Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints 

Special issue on Science and Technology Studies (STS) 

Submissions Due: January 8, 2021 


University of Hawaii, Manoa Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference 2021 

April 14-15, 2021 – Honolulu, Hawaii (Held Virtually) 

Abstracts Due: January 31, 2021 


2021 Chulalongkorn Asian Heritage Forum 

August 19-20, 2021 – Bangkok, Thailand 

Abstracts Due: February 14, 2021 


Ub-Ufok: Explorations on Philippine Folklore 2021 Conference 

Center for Philippine Studies at University of Hawaii, Manoa 

September 16-17, 2021 (Held Virtually) 

Abstracts Due: February 28, 2021 


2020 Asia Pacific Space Diplomacy Dialogue (APSDD) 

Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies & University of Hawaii, Manoa 

December 1, 2020 – 7:00pm (EST) 


Southeast Asia Research Group Winter Conference 

University of Hawaii, Manoa 

December 16-18, 2020 


East-West Center International Graduate Student Conference on the Asia-Pacific 

University of Hawaii, Manoa (Held in-person and virtually) 

February 11-13, 2021 


The Covid-19 Pandemic in Japanese and Southeast Asian Perspective: Histories, States, Markets, Societies 

March 1-2, 2021 – Kyoto University 


23rd Cornell SEAP Graduate Student Conference 

“Links and Fractures” 

March 19-21, 2021 (Held virtually) 


Empire Competition: Southeast Asia as Site of Imperial Contestation 

Pace University, NYC (Maybe held Virtually) 

April 8-9, 2021 


University of Hawaii Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference 2021 

“Innovation, Adaptation, and Resilience 

April 14-15, 2021 


Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) 

Apply by December 1, 2020 to meet the UW priority deadline 


ICM Global South Translation Fellowships 

Cornell Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM) is offering $1,000-5,000 outside of the university for translation work into English. 

Apply by December 10, 2020 


Student Research Grants Competition – Conference Presentations & Research Travel Grants 

Provides $600 or $1,200 for dissertators who are presenting their research at a minimum of two conferences – Provides $600, $1,200, or $1,500 for dissertators or final year MFA students conducting research outside of their home institution 

Apply by December 31, 2020 

Blakemore Freeman Fellowship  
Provides funding for an academic year of advanced language study in East and Southeast Asia  
Apply by December 30, 2020  

CAORC-NEH Senior Research Fellowship 

$5,000 per month for 4-6 months for PhDs conducting continuing research. 

Apply by January 12, 2021 


Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC)  
Two different Fellowships (including one for international students with U.S. residency)  
Apply by January 15, 2021  

Foreign Language and Areas Studies Scholarship (FLAS) 

Summer and Academic Year 

Apply by February 15, 2021 


Mansfield-Luce Asia Scholars Network Applications 

Provides funding to attend a number of academic events targeted towards the training and networking of tomorrow’s top US-Asia advisors – doctoral students, PhDs, and professionals 

Apply by February 16, 2021 

Scholarship for UW Hmong Studies in Thailand  
Provides four weeks of funding for students to engage with Hmong communities in Thailand  
Apply by March 1, 2021  

Center for Indonesian Policy Studies  
Doctoral and Post-graduate fellowships to conduct research in Indonesia for 3-6 months  
No Deadline  
SEALC Language Tuition Support  
Provides up to half of tuition ($1,000 per semester) for studying a Southeast Asian Language digitally at another university.  
Apply at least 6 week prior to the language program beginning 



Special Thai Update: Protests 2020
Australia National University (featuring UW's Tyrell Habberkorn!)
December 1, 2020 - 2:00-3:30pm (Sydney Time?)

Southeast Asia in Focus: Energy Sectors of SE Asia – Growth and Opportunities in Indonesia 

US-Asia Institute Initiative 

December 2, 2020 – 9:00-10:15am (EST) 


In the Name of Pluralism: Identity Conflict and State Repression in Indonesia 

National University of Singapore 

December 3, 2020 – 6:00pm (PST) 


FLAS Information Session 

IRIS – UW-Madison 

December 3, 2020 – 3:00pm (CST) 

December 9, 2020 – 5:00pm (CST) 

January 19, 2021 – 2:00pm (CST) 

February 1, 2021 – 4:00pm (CST) 


The Philippines, the United States and the World in the 20th Century 

Cornell University Press 

December 4, 2020 – 12:00pm (EST) 


In Praise of Floods – Hirschman Prize Speech (James Scott) 

Yale University 

December 4, 2020 – 4:30pm (EST) – RSVP by Dec 1st 


Tulisan Jawi: Decolonizing the “Modern” and the “Islamic” in Indonesian Art 

Cornell University 

December 3, 2020 – 12:40pm (EST) 


What Kind of Ecological Culture Do We Need?: Drought History and Lessons from Premodern Southeast Asia 

Cornell University 

December 4, 2020 – 12:00pm (EST) 


Democracy in Southeast Asia: Building Resilience Against Authoritarianism 

Asia Centre 

December 9, 2020 – 2:00-3:30pm (GMT +7) 


5th Benedict Anderson Memorial Round Table: COVID-19 & Vaccine Nationalism 

Asia Centre 

January 20, 2021 – 2:0-3:30pm (GMT +7) 



Assistant Professor in Asian History 

St. Norbert College (Wisconsin) 

Deadline: December 7, 2020 


Tenure Track Assistant Professorship in “Anthropology of Borderlands” in SE Asia 

National University of Singapore 

Deadline: December 12, 2020 


“Bridge to the Faculty” Postdoctoral Fellowship in Critical Refugee Studies 

University of Illinois at Chicago 

Deadline: December 15, 2020 


Assistant Professor – Southeast Asian Literature and Culture 

University of Washington at Seattle 

Deadline: December 16, 2020 


Visiting Fellow in Social Media in Southeast Asia 

ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute 

Deadline: December 18, 2020 


Doctoral Fellow & Post-Doctoral Fellow in Intra-Asian Interactions 

NYU Shanghai 

Deadline: December 31, 2020 


Open Rank Position in Malay Studies 

National University of Singapore 

Deadline: January 1, 2021 


Postdoctoral Fellowship in Contemporary Asia, 2021-22 

Asia-Pacific Research Center 

Deadline: January 4, 2021 

Stanford University 

The focus of the fellowship is on contemporary political, economic, or social change in the Asia-Pacific region (including Northeast, Southeast, and South Asia), or topics in international relations and international political economy. See the APARC website for details.  


Postdoctoral Associate in Southeast Asian Studies 

Yale University 

Deadline: January 15, 2021 


International Fellow 

Harvard Divinity School’s Buddhist Ministry Initiative 

Deadline: February 15, 2021 


Program Coordinator and Research Assistant – Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative 

Center for International and Strategic Studies (Washington DC) 

Deadline: N/A 





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