The Channel: A Podcast from the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS)

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  • 38. Migrant Domestic Workers with Liberty Chee, Elsa Ramos Carbone, and Jec Sernande

    This episode is guest hosted by Liberty Chee, who is currently a visiting researcher here at the International Institute for Asian Studies. While in Leiden, Liberty is working on a book manuscript that examines recruitment and employment agencies in Southeast Asia, their relations to other state and non-state actors, and how these structure the experiences of domestic migrant workers themselves. For this episode of The Channel, Liberty organized a conversation about the ILO Convention on Domestic Work (C189), which is a global norm-setting instrument that formalizes domestic work and serves as an important advocacy tool. To date, only one country in Asia – The Philippines – has ratified the Convention, even though more than half of the world’s domestic workers live and reside in the wider region. Asia is also host to a significant number of migrant domestic workers, both moving within and across regions. In this episode, Liberty interviews two advocates and organizers: Elsa Ramos-Carbone and Jec Sernande. Elsa Ramos-Carbone is a founding member of Samahan ng Mga Manggagawang Pilipino sa Belgium (Association of Philippine Migrant Workers in Belgium). Previously, she was Director of Equality and Youth at the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICTFU), and Senior Specialist for Workers' Activities at the International Labour Organization (ILO), Asia-Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok. Jec Sernande is a migrant domestic worker of 17 years.  She is Secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Worker Union and Executive Committee Member of the International Domestic Workers Federation. In describing their experiences organizing as workers in and across different contexts, their discussion illuminates key moments, alliances, and discourses which made C189 and its ratification possible.

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  • 37. The Ta-u and their Island Home with Syaman Lamuran and Syaman Rapongan

    Here at IIAS, the upcoming edition of our flagship publication The Newsletter (June 2024, #98) comes out next month, just in time for the ICAS 13 conference in Surabaya, Indonesia. This edition of The Newsletter is meant to engage in various ways with the conference theme, “Crossways of Knowledge.” The special Focus section of this issue presents a collection of articles by authors from the Indigenous Ta-u community of Lanyu Island off the coast of Taiwan. Echoing the theme of maritime connections so central to this iteration of ICAS 13, the authors of The Focus reflect on multiple dimensions of Ta-u life, including traditional practices like fishing and boat-building as well as contemporary challenges posed by tourism, migration, and ecological disruption.  As a teaser for the Indigenous collection in the upcoming issue, we asked two authors – both members of the Ta-u community – to come on the podcast and give our audience a sense of the Ta-u language through its stories and poetry. In this episode, Syaman Lamuran gives a brief introduction before Syaman Rapongan, an elder of the community, offers two recitations: first, some ceremonial words spoken during the Summoning Flying Fish ritual; and second, a poem reflecting the importance of boats and fish to the Ta-u culture. Finally, Syaman Lamuran returns to reflect and translate these recitations into English.  If you'd like to know more about traditional Ta-u culture and contemporary Ta-u lives, be sure to pick up Issue #98 of The Newsletter. In addition to Syaman Lamuran and Syaman Rapongan, we'd also like to thank Eric Clark, Annika Pissin, and Huei-Min Tsai, who co-edited the upcoming Focus section in collaboration with members of the Ta-u community.
  • 36. Resource Extraction and State-Owned Enterprises with Jewellord Nem Singh and Pietro Erber

    This episode features a conversation about development, state-owned enterprises, and the political economy of resource extractivism, with a special focus on the case of Brazil. Jewellord “Jojo” Nem Singh is an Assistant Professor in International Development at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, part of Erasmus University Rotterdam. In 2020, Jojo was awarded a grant from the European Research Council for the five-year project Green Industrial Policy in the Age of Rare Metals: A Trans-regional Comparison of Growth Strategies in Rare Earths Mining (GRIP-ARM), for which he is also affiliated with us here at IIAS. His new book is Business of the State: Why State Ownership Matters for Resource Governance, forthcoming later this year from Oxford University Press. The book includes analysis of multiple sites, including the case of the State-Owned Enterprise (SEO) Petrogras in Brazil. The guest interviewer, Pietro Erber, worked for Eletrobras for many years and was a consultant for the World Bank and for the World Energy Council. He was also the director of the Brazilian Energy Efficiency Institute and writes for newspapers on economics and energy policy. In their conversation, Jojo and Pietro dive deep into the context of Brazil and its relationship to extraction, State-Owned Enterprises (SEOs), as well as corruption and the Lava Jato scandal in Brazil. In covering these topics, they also explore what it all might reveal about growth strategies for states in Global South more broadly, particularly in an era of decarbonization and the race for cleaner technologies.
  • 35. The Prejudice and Politics of Food in Northeast India (Guest Episode: The Chicken-Neck Podcast)

    On this episode of The Channel, we’re bringing you a full episode from our friends over at The Chicken-Neck (TCN) Podcast. TCN is Northeast India's first policy-based podcast offering an informed take on culture, language, food, clothes, history, politics, law, policy, and much more. The particular episode we're re-posting features an interview with Aditya Kiran Kakati, who was formerly a Research Fellow here at the International Institute for Asian Studies. Aditya's primary research project concerns the global history of Indo-Myanmar borderlands during and after World War II. Beyond this, as you'll hear in the interview, Aditya has wide-ranging interests, including a personal as well as academic engagement with food and culinary cultures. In this crossover episode, Aditya discusses the diverse cuisines of Northeast India, as well as the heritages, politics, and taboos that food brings to the fore. If you like this episode, subscribe to The Chicken-Neck (TCN) podcast.
  • 34. Reckoning with Historical Sexual Violence with Kate McGregor

    CONTENT WARNING: This episode contains discussion of trauma and sexual violence that some listeners may find difficult.On this episode, Kate McGregor joins for a discussion of so-called "comfort women" of Indonesia. McGregor's new book is Systemic Silencing: Activism, Memory and Sexual Violence in Indonesia, published in 2023 as part of the Critical Human Rights series at the University of Wisconsin Press. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Japanese military imposed a system of prostitution across East and Southeast Asia. Since the 1990s, survivors of the system, euphemistically called “comfort women,” have sought recognition of and redress for the sexual violence they endured. Systemic Silencing explores this history, its fallout, and ongoing activism of its survivors in the context of Indonesia. Kate McGregor is Professor in Southeast Asian History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. She specializes in Indonesian historiography, with particular interests in memories of violence, the Indonesian military, Islam, identity, and historical international links between Indonesia and the world.
  • 33. Political Geology in Java with Adam Bobbette

    This episode features a conversation about political geology with Adam Bobbette, who serves as a Lecturer in Political Geology at the University of Glasgow. After studying architecture and landscape at the University of Toronto, Adam earned his PhD in geography from Cambridge. His research examines the intersections between politics and environmental and earth sciences, with a special regional focus on Indonesia. His new book is The Pulse of the Earth, which was published in 2023 by Duke University Press. As many listeners of this podcast already know, the next meeting of our flagship conference, the International Convention of Asia Scholars, or ICAS 13, will take place in Surabaya, Indonesia from July 28th through August 1st, 2024. In the run-up to that conference, we are hoping to familiarize our network with the local Javanese context to enrich the ICAS experience and deepen our engagement with the city. This episode is part of that project. As you’ll hear, Adam’s work offers a unique and transdisciplinary view onto questions of science, imperialism, Indonesian cosmologies, and contemporary politics, all while introducing listeners to geologic features of the Javanese landscape.
  • 32. Muslim Caste Associations in India with Soheb Niazi and Julien Levesque

    In this episode, Soheb Niazi and Julien Levesque discuss Muslim caste organizations in India. Soheb Niazi is an historian who specializes in the social and economic history of modern India. He is particularly interested in studying the history of non-elite (non-ashrāf) Muslim actors in South Asia to understand the formation of caste and class relations among them. Soheb is currently a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). During his stay here in Leiden, he is working on his book manuscript, tentatively titled “Contesting Genealogies: Hierarch and Social Mobility among Muslim Occupational Classes in Colonial North India (1870-1940).” Julien Levesque is a political sociologist whose work focuses on socio-political dynamics in South Asian Muslim societies. His first monograph, published in French in 2022 by the Presses universitaires de Rennes, looks into nationalism and identity construction in Pakistan with a focus on the southern Sindh province. Julien currently serves as a Lecturer & Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. His ongoing work examines caste-based political mobilization among Muslims in India. In today’s conversation, Julien and Soheb talk about their recent collaboration as guest editors of a special section in the journal Contemporary South Asia, entitled “Caste Politics, Minority Representation, and Social Mobility: The Associational Life of Muslim Caste in India.” As guest editors, the two curated the collection and also co-authored its substantial introduction. In the following conversation, we discuss the topic of Muslim caste associations generally, and how these organizations reflect and contest political dynamics within the Muslim community, but also beyond into the broader Indian polity.