On 21 April 2021, I launched The Southeast Asianist as an academic blog of Southeast Asian Studies, for all Southeast Asianists. A year since then, it would be a good time to reflect upon this undertaking and talk about the future directions of this blog.
I still remembered how lost I felt coming out of my first Southeast Asian politics course four years ago. I was particularly interested in Timor-Leste then, a niche within a niche; I did not know where to start, nor did I have anyone to consult. How is wish there could have been someone to point me in the right direction! With The Southeast Asianist I published a handful of reviews from a student's perspective and will continue to do so. The hope is that aspiring Southeast Asia specialists like myself would have a potential resource they could turn to in their learning journey. Indeed, looking back at myself from a year or two ago, I would be overjoyed if there were something like The Southeast Asianist I could look up whenever I needed something.
I wanted to make ideas about Southeast Asian studies accessible and easily digestible for the typical undergrad student. Instead of long-form journal articles which take a long time to read and an even longer time to write, I wanted to be able to focus specifically on the key issues without the burden of having to survey all existing literature out there. The content should be bite-sized, such that one could easily finish reading while waiting for the bus, for example.
From the Diplomat to New Mandala, most publications out there tend to emphasize current issues or new discoveries. There has not been a space for people to re-read old readings such as José Rizal and Benedict Anderson; yet in fact these are exactly the kind of sources we should be consulting in our early stages of studying Southeast Asia.
One of the most important parts of learning is output. For the same reason we write essays for university, I believe writing about Southeast Asian studies through blog posts would be a way to consolidate our knowledge and develop our thoughts further. For me myself, it has also been a way to record my current perspectives to revisit in the future.
It would be such a huge waste of our intellect to simply absorb everything we learnt and keep them to ourselves without discussing or exchanging with others. It is not easy to find people who are interested in Southeast Asian studies for the sake of Southeast Asia itself. Hopefully, this could serve as a platform for the convergence of students and facilitate discussions.
The first year of the Southeast Asianist has been a lonely one for me, as this academic blog is neither affiliated with nor supported by any institution; I have done little to promote it beyond posting on my Instagram account. Featuring more writers would be our key objective for the upcoming year and we can then grow the community of readers. If you have any ideas worth sharing, please do consider writing to us!