Thinking Beyond Boundaries: Around the Work of Benedict Anderson


Feb 09, 2016

Thinking Beyond Boundaries: Around the Work of Benedict Anderson

Conference/Symposium | February 19 | 9:15 a.m.-6 p.m. | Wheeler Hall, 315, Maude Fife Room

Panelist/Discussants: Nancy Lee Peluso, Henry J. Vaux Distinguished Professor of Forest Policy, UC Berkeley; Peter Zinoman, Professor of History, UC Berkeley; Penny Edwards, Associate Professor of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley; Hendrik Maier, Professor of Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages, UC Riverside; Danilyn Rutherford, Professor of Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz; Vicente Rafael, Professor of History, University of Washington; Thongchai Winichakul, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Douglas Kammen, Associate Professor of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore; Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Distinguished Professor of History; Irving and Jean Stone Endowed Chair in Social Sciences, UCLA; Rebecca Karl, Associate Professor of History, New York University

Moderator and Panelist: Pheng Cheah, Professor of Rhetoric, UC Berkeley

Sponsors: Center for Southeast Asia Studies, Department of English, Department of Rhetoric, Institute of International Studies, Townsend Center for the Humanities, Arts & Humanities, Letters & Science Division of

Benedict Anderson, who died suddenly in Indonesia this past December, was the pre-eminent scholar of Southeast Asia of the 20th and early 21st centuries. The comparative reach of Anderson’s work stretched across insular and mainland Southeast Asia. Like the best of area studies, it combined deep philological and linguistic knowledge with a truly interdisciplinary erudition. Anderson’s influence is felt across many disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences and in the study of other world areas. His work thus counteracts the artificial boundaries that hierarchically separate area knowledge from the disciplines and empirical and archival research from theory. Although he was skeptical of what he called the “theory marketplace”, Imagined Communities has become a locus classicus of modern and contemporary political theory and the theory of nationalism. Anderson’s greatest legacy is his attempt to give worldly phenomenality to Southeast Asia. He sought to make it part of the world, to emphasize why it is important for the world to include Southeast Asia, to give a general significance or universal value—in one word, exemplarity—to the political histories, cultures and literatures of Southeast Asian peoples. This commemorative symposium is being held to celebrate and develop his legacy of thinking beyond boundaries. Participants – including some of his former students – will discuss the influence of Anderson’s work in various disciplinary fields and sites of study and critically engage with the multiple strands of his thought.


The State and its Others
9:30 – 11:15 a.m.

"World-turned-upside-down: the ‘Cornell Paper’ and Benedict Anderson’s Writings on the Indonesian State”
Douglas Kammen (National University of Singapore)

“Benedict Anderson in Unlikely Environs: Imagined Communities and Spectres of Comparison in Forests and Other Agrarian Environments of Southeast Asia”
Nancy Lee Peluso (UC Berkeley)

“Noticing the Other Others: ‘The Plural Society, Revisited’ and the Things That Don’t Fit”
Danilyn Rutherford (UC Santa Cruz)

The Cultures of Area Studies
11:30 a.m. – 12:40 p.m.

"Benedict Anderson, the Journal Indonesia and the Culture of Southeast Asian Area Studies."
Peter Zinoman (UC Berkeley)

“What Nation Did Benedict Anderson Imagine? Language, Translation, Area Studies, and Reflections on the Spread of Imagined Communities”
Thongchai Winichakul (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Cosmos and World
2:00 – 3:10 p.m.

“Juxtapositions – Reading Benedict Anderson, Literary Astronomer”
Hendrik Maier (UC Riverside)

“Benedict Anderson’s Cosmopolitan Leanings”
Pheng Cheah (UC Berkeley)

Nation and Comparison
3:30 – 5:50 p.m.

"Benedict Anderson, Language and India: A Missed Opportunity"
Sanjay Subrahmanyam (UCLA)

“Memory and Forgetting in Auto/Biographies of Cambodia and Diaspora”
Penny Edwards (UC Berkeley)

"Comparative Advantages: In Appreciation of Benedict Anderson"
Rebecca Karl (New York University)

“Contingency and Comparison: Recalling Benedict Anderson”
Vicente L. Rafael (University of Washington)