southeast as

The rhetoric that demonizes anti-Latino and anti-Asian immigrants is disturbing not only for what it says, but more so for what it does not say. By portraying immigration to the United States as a matter of desperate individuals seeking opportunities, it completely disregards the aggressive roles that the U.S. government and U.S. corporations have played— through colonialism, imperialist wars and occupations, capital investment and material extraction in Third World countries and through active recruitment of racialized and gendered immigrant labor— in generating out-migration from key sending countries. As Joe Feagin reminds us, “recent immigrants have mostly come from countries that have been substantially influenced by imperialistic efforts by U.S. corporations and by the U.S. government around the globe.” This portrayal of immigration stigmatizes the immigrants as desperate, undeserving, and even threatening, and delinks contemporary immigration from past U.S. corporate, military, or governmental actions abroad.

As I watched this spectacle of border making, I was reminded of my own bordercrossing experience. In 1975, when tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees, including my own family, arrived in the United States, the majority of Americans did not welcome us. A Harris poll taken in May 1975 indicated that more than 50 percent of the American public felt that Southeast Asian refugees should be excluded; only 26 percent favored their entry. Many seemed to share Congressman Burt Talcott’s conclusion that, “Damn it, we have too many Orientals.” Five years later, public opinion toward the refugees had not changed. A 1980 poll of American attitudes in nine cities revealed that nearly half of those surveyed believed that the Southeast Asian refugees should have settled in other Asian countries. This poll also found that more than 77 percent of the respondents would disapprove of the marriage of a Southeast Asian refugee into their family and 65 percent would not be willing to have a refugee as a guest in their home. Anti-Southeast Asian sentiment also took violent turns. Refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in many parts of the United States have been attacked and even killed; and their properties have been vandalized, firebombed, or burned. The antirefugee rhetoric was similar to that directed against Latino immigrants: Southeast Asians were morally, culturally, and economically deficient— an invading multitude, unwanted and undeserving.

- Yen Le Espiritu, “Homes, Borders, and Possibilities,” in Asian American Studies Now (2010) 

Hey guys I have to tell you all about this book I read. It’s called “Not Your Sidekick” by CB Lee! It’s about a Vietnamese-Chinese (nothing about the Chinese side in it) bisexual protagonist in a world where superheroes and villains are real. Jess lives in a small town of third rate villains and heroes. The story starts off in a light small town mood in a world where people cheer on their favorite heroes and curse their favorite villains. If you’re lucky, your parents have the gene for powers and you might inherit it. No such luck for Jess. Her role in a villain-hero world isn’t nonexistent though, because she ends up working an internship at a large tech corporation that sells products to every household in the country. There’s more to that than meets the eye.

There’s a happy ending, wlw romance plot, a black trans guy with a significant role in the story, and other gay characters populated throughout.

I was really surprised. I thought this would just be a casual light hearted read but I was totally gripped by the end as the hole of lies got deeper and deeper. I checked this out via my digital local library!

Mod W

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The Plain of Jars is an ancient megalithic archaeological site in Laos consisting of thousands of stone jars scattered through the valleys and foothills of the Xiankhoang Plateau. The Plain of Jars has been dated to the Iron Age, sometime between 500 BC and AD 500 and is considered to be one of the most important prehistoric sites in Southeast Asia.

Over 90 ‘jar sites’ have been discovered; each home to somewhere between 1 to 400 jars. Each of the jars vary in height and size, and are anywhere from 1 meter to 3 meters tall. They are hewn directly from rock, mostly sandstone, and are undecorated. While most of the jars have lipped rims, very few lids have ever been discovered.

The purpose of the jars can, of course, really only be theorized.

Lao legends describe a race of giants who, after winning a great battle, brewed huge amounts of rice wine to celebrate their victory, and built the jars to store it all. Another tells that the jars were simply molded from a mixture of clay, sand, and sugar to function as kilns for pottery. But perhaps the most practical of these explanations is that the jars were used to collect monsoon rainwater for caravan travellers. Even stagnant, the rain water in the jars could be boiled until potable, and archaeologists have observed this practice in many Eastern Eurasian countries already. Beads found inside the jars could have been a travellers offering, accompanied by a prayer for more rain.

More scientific study of the jars offers different insights. The initial study of the jars, conducted by Madeleine Colani in 1935, suggests that they were personal crematoriums. Inside many of the jars she studied, Colani found black organic soil, glass beads, and burnt teeth and bones. This conclusion was widely accepted namely because there wasn’t any further study of the site until 1994—almost 60 years later. While the 1994 study would ultimately corroborate Colani’s findings, it’s worth mentioning the nature of the delay: Laos has the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most bombed country, and of the hundreds of thousands of bombs dropped and planted during the Vietnam War and the Laotian Civil War, 30% did not detonate, leaving 10 of the 18 provinces in Laos “severely contaminated” by both bomb-related refuse and debris, and unexploded ordinance. Of the 90 jar sites, only 7 are open to the public as a result, and further research into the stones still proves incredibly difficult to this day.

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Lovely forested, likely limestone mountain, Laos

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A Centuries-Old Malaysian Puppet Show Puts a New Spin on Star Wars