The Henry Luce Foundation is pleased to announce six grants, totaling $3,100,000, awarded through the fifth and final round of the Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia (LuceSEA) competition. The six projects described below—along with the fourteen previously-supported by LuceSEA—represent a commitment of $15,460,000 awarded since 2019.
LuceSEA was designed to strengthen the study of Southeast Asia (SEA) in North American and Southeast Asian higher education by providing resources for the creation of models, strategies, and partnerships that bolster existing programs and help them explore new directions. The funded projects address the major objectives of the initiative: infrastructure, innovation, and collaboration. New consortia and networks are enhancing scholarly and digital infrastructure for teaching and research relevant to SEA. The grantees are advancing critical and interdisciplinary approaches, creating new resources and opportunities, adding new faculty positions, strengthening capacity, and linking North American and Southeast Asian institutions and scholars as well as connecting academic centers with partners outside academia. Some are expanding the scope of area-focused scholarship though engagement with local Asian American and diasporic communities. Collectively, the projects support both institution and field building.
Although the formal LuceSEA competition concludes with this fifth round of grants, the Foundation’s Asia Program is committed to continued investment in work on, in and with Southeast Asia. In fall 2023, with support from the Foundation, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA will organize a convening of LuceSEA’s twenty grantees. This gathering and its outputs will help reinforce networks, encourage exchange, and identify future directions for the field, as well as for the Foundation’s SEA-focused grantmaking.
Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD), Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand – Understanding the Present, Preparing New Beginnings: Co-Producing Knowledge on Inclusivity in Burma – a 48-month grant of $550,000
RCSD proposes a Center for an Inclusive Burma to support research and knowledge sharing among Myanmar’s ethnic groups on inclusive forms of governance that foster social equity and access to resources, rights, and opportunities. Training workshops and small research grants for community-based work, along with related conferences and publications, will strengthen RCSD as a regional hub for Burma studies.
The Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY), Albany, NY – Building the SUNY/CUNY Southeast Asia Consortium – a 48-month grant of $550,000
The grant will support development of institutional infrastructure for Southeast Asia across New York’s public university systems, with modular components focused on teaching, research, publication, outreach, and exchange with partners in SEA. Each year, lead faculty from throughout SUNY/CUNY will deliver a course on an interdisciplinary theme related to Southeast Asian politics, cultures, landscapes, and communities, followed by a research workshop and a field school in the region. Programming will reach undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and researchers. Research and publication grants will help nurture student and faculty interest and foster connections between Southeast Asian and diasporic studies. The Consortium will coordinate with the Luce-funded New York Southeast Asia Network on public events.
Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL – Expressions of Global Asia: Southeast Asian Americans in Illinois – a 60-month grant of $450,000
Funds will seed a tenure-track Southeast Asian/Southeast Asian American literature and media studies position at NIU. A joint hire between the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) and the English department, this community-engaged scholar will further CSEAS’s collaborations with Cambodian, Thai, Karen, and Indonesian communities in the Chicago area and lead the development of K-12 curriculum to fulfill new Illinois requirements on teaching Asian American history. Intergenerational Southeast Asian American and diaspora experiences will be highlighted through exhibitions, performances, and other resources for educator and community use. Through these activities, Southeast Asian Studies and Asian American Studies will be more closely coordinated, helping to reinvigorate the SEA program with new theoretical and methodological approaches while directly supporting university-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA – Southeast Asian Lives and Histories (SEALIVES) – a 42-month grant of $400,000
SEALIVES aims to generate new research, methods, teaching tools, and collections on Southeast Asia and the diaspora by foregrounding the lives of Southeast Asians across multiple sites and through the lenses of diverse disciplines. Life history interviews will give voice to Southeast Asians in their homelands, as well as feature Southeast Asians in the U.S. The project will create new pathways for training students and faculty to inspire and support collaboration between Southeast Asian Studies, Diaspora Studies, and other disciplines. Connections to scholars at other California institutions and within Southeast Asia will be strengthened through a small grants program and training workshops in media/methods/ethics for long-format interviews and storytelling forms including text, film, recordings, and podcasts. Additional components include a website/archiving project, colloquia, and a capstone conference.
University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada – Canadian Southeast Asian Studies Initiative (CSEASI) – a 60-month grant of $550,000
Canadian Southeast Asian Studies Initiative (CSEASI), a consortium of nine universities, will build capacity in, and raise the profile of, Southeast Asian Studies in Canada. Funds will enable the creation and delivery of Collaborative Online International Learning courses; blended online/in-person instruction in Tagalog and Indonesian; stipends for students at consortium institutions for language study and to attend collaborative summer field schools in SEA; graduate student workshops; research support; a visiting scholar program; and community outreach through the arts.
Columbia University, New York, NY – Digitizing Vietnam: The Virtual Future of Global Vietnam and Vietnamese Studies – a 48-month grant of $600,000
Columbia and Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV) propose to build a new infrastructure for Vietnamese Studies centered on an integrated hub for digital humanities (DH) research. The project will make available a large archive of digitized pre-modern manuscript collections and provide a comprehensive catalog for archival and library collections of the modern era located in Vietnam. It will develop DH tools for scholarly and public use. Our grant will support a “Digital Curator of Vietnam” at Columbia and a “Digital Humanities Librarian” at FUV. The former will work closely with Columbia Libraries and oversee all aspects of the digital hub, including construction, collection, curation, and management, while the latter will operate between FUV Libraries and FUV’s Vietnam Studies Center, as well as liaise with institutions in Vietnam.