Southeast Asia Program Seeks to Bring a New Major to CHASS

By Catherine Szilagyi, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

Although still in the planning stages, the Southeast Asia: Texts, Rituals, and Performance program (SEATRiP), an initiative hoping to bring an interdisciplinary Southeast Asian Studies program to UCR with a focus on Text, Ritual, and Performance, is slowly but surely coming to the forefront at the University.

The proposed program aims at developing new forms of engagement with Southeast Asia and its surrounding related areas, and has just begun to get off the ground, thanks to a handful of dedicated faculty members keen on making the program a realistic aspect of the University. Scholars advocating the program expect it to bring together faculty and students sharing an interest in the arts and humanities divisions of Southeast Asia studies. One of SEATRiP’s missions is to bring together people already actively engaged with the language and expressive cultures of Southeast Asia, which includes the countries of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as the rest of the Southeast Asian diasporas.

However, there is still a great deal of work to be done before the program can be fully implemented. While a minor for Southeast Asian Studies is in already place, a proposal for a Southeast Asian Studies major is still waiting for approval.

“Once the Graduate Studies proposal has been accepted, the future faculty of SEATRiP developed, and a graduate Southeast Asian Studies program initiated, SEATRiP will come into existence. Without students there is no vital program conceivable,” said Professor Hendrik Maier, head of the program.

In the past year, there have been a variety of activities organized at the University to encourage interest in Southeast Asian Studies, as well the development of a number of courses on Southeast Asian Studies available for students to take advantage of. Such activities have included talks, film shows, and conferences in relation to Southeast Asia and its diasporas. Luckily, now that SEATRiP has gathered a solid faculty with on which to build a foundation, the developers of the program hope to organize such activities on a more regular basis.

Another goal for SEATRiP, aside from creating a new major within CHASS, is to develop better understandings of the forms and practices through which ideas and ideologies are creatively expressed, shaped, and communicated within and among different societies of Southeast Asia. The entire initiative has been formed with interdisciplinary research interests in mind.

Those involved in the program initiative are hopeful that the next academic year at UCR will be able to attract students for the graduate program in Southeast Asian Studies. In the meantime, program developers will continue to get the word out about the initiative in order to encourage interest and inform students that, very soon, their options of study at CHASS will expand even further.

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