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Additional Information for Prospective Applicants

October 1, 2009

We are searching for an assistant professor (tenure-track) of Hmong studies for the College of Letters and Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  More specifically:

The candidate, irrespective of field, should have a current or developing specialization in Hmong studies in Southeast Asia and/or adjacent regions. Duties include teaching and research regarding Hmong studies in Southeast Asia and/or adjacent regions. The successful candidate will develop active collaborative work in the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and be a full participating member of his or her home department.

This website provides some background material on the nature of this position, possible tenure homes, and other relevant units on campus. We will also include, at the end, some links so you can learn more about Madison as a place to live. Click on the Vacancy Advertisement tab above for the formal details.

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies


This tenure-track position was proposed by the faculty and staff at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, UW-Madison.  It is jointly funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and the College of Letters and Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison. This hire reflects many underlying factors and forces; some organizational, some intellectual (incl., James C Scott’s new book The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, Yale University Press, 2009), and some geographic (incl., Wisconsin’s history as a destination for Hmong immigrants).

LuceFdnThe Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) was established in 1973 and has been a Title VI National Resource Center (NRC) since 1981. CSEAS is administratively located in and funded by the College of Letters and Science and is a major program of the International Institute, where its activities are coordinated with 8 other area programs. CSEAS administers undergraduate (BA) and graduate (MA) degree programs in SE Asian Studies, as well as offering graduate and undergraduate Certificates and a PhD minor in SE Asian Studies. CSEAS coordinates area activities and course offerings of 25 core faculty in 15 departments. Expertise by internationally eminent faculty in top-ranked departments and extensive library holdings combine to provide a strong comprehensive coverage with considerable depth on Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Since 1995, over 100 PhDs have been awarded in various departments to students specializing on SE Asia.

SLIDE22The Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia offers multiple levels of instruction in five languages of Southeast Asia: Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese. The language programs in LCA are supervised by Dr. Erlin Barnard who offers language teaching pedagogy workshops and classroom support.

The campus is enriched by the language offerings at the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASSI), a national consortium for intensive language training and by the five summer advanced programs abroad (Filipino, Indonesian, Khmer, Thai, and Vietnamese). As the host of SEASSI in 1994-95, CSEAS registered the largest enrollments to date (total of 392), and has been selected by the SEASSI Consortium to host the institute from 2000 through 2014. SEASSI is an integral part of a nationwide network of language teaching faculty from the institutions that are members of the SEASSI Consortium: Arizona State University, Cornell University, Northern Illinois University, Ohio University, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, University of Hawaii-Manoa, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Yale University. Representatives from these institutions meet annually to discuss SEASSI, and all major decisions regarding the institute must be approved by the SEASSI Board.

SEASSI2009The CSEAS offers a program of over 60 non-language courses with over 25% SE Asian content (34 courses with 80-100%) at UW-Madison to undergraduate and graduate students in 29 social science, humanities, and professional school departments. In addition, ample opportunities exist for students to design multidisciplinary and intercollege programs on SE Asia in international business, development and environmental studies, natural resources management, forestry, rural sociology, public health, education, and international public policy studies. CSEAS actively supports the College Year in Thailand (for undergraduates) and a graduate study abroad program at Thammasat University, as well as actively participating in the CIEE programs in Indonesia and Vietnam.

CSEAS’s outreach program sponsors a well-attended weekly Friday Forum lecture series and numerous other lectures, workshops, conferences, symposia, and music and dance performances, with the latter being part of a uniquely comprehensive instructional program in classical Indonesian music and dance. Off-campus outreach activities include regular performances and workshops in the public and private schools, annual K-12 teacher training workshops, and a college faculty access program, in all reaching thousands of K-12 and post-secondary students each year. CSEAS also participates in the Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium, a cooperative statewide initiative to promote better global awareness in the schools and among regional and national business, media, and the general public.

UW maintains extensive library holdings, including a SE Asian Film and Video Archive (with over 1,600 videos) and vast microform collections of newspapers and primary documents, administered by a full-time, tenured SE Asia librarian. CSEAS also administers an active publications program and a permanent internet website that includes the first digital museum of SE Asian photographs (SEAiT) (from which the photograph below, taken in Luang Prabang in 1957 by Joel Halpern, was borrowed).

HalpernHmong1957Also, the regular Fall and Spring Southeast Asian Studies ‘potluck’ dinner parties, held at a faculty member’s house, provide an infamous and ample supply of delicious food & conversation.

Building Links at UW-Madison

If you are considering an application, it is also important to be aware of the many opportunities for forging linkages, and collaboration, on campus. UW-Madison is made up of several schools and colleges. Hundreds of units exist within these schools and colleges. The College of Letters and Sciences is made up of 39 departments, 5 professional schools, and several centers, programs, and institutes that offer courses for academic credit.

Key departments for this position, including likely tenure homes, include:

The Hmong studies position, however, could be located in any department in the arts and humanities or social sciences in the College of Letters and Sciences.

IMG_3354UW-Madison is also a relatively interdisciplinary site of knowledge production, so a wide variety of programs, centers, institutes, and initiatives are worth exploring on-line, or in person, if you are invited to visit the campus for an interview. Some links of interest include:

Link here for a complete list of units at UW-Madison.

At another level, it is worth checking out the various international and global programs and initiatives that exist on campus:

UW-Madison has one of the largest and most comprehensive international studies presences in the US, with Regional Programs:

  • African Studies Program*
  • Center for East Asian Studies*
  • Center for European Studies*
  • European Union Center of Excellence
  • Center for German and European Studies
  • Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies
  • Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program*
  • Middle East Studies Program
  • Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia*
  • Center for South Asia*
  • Center for Southeast Asian Studies*

and Global Programs:

  • Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy
  • Global Studies
  • Global Cultures Program
  • International Academic Programs (Study Abroad)
  • International Studies Major

The * designates that the programs are Title VI National Resource Centers (NRC). All of the units provide opportunities to both contribute to, and draw inspiration and resources from, should you wish to do so.

On the research and administrative front, it is important to be aware of the Graduate School, the Research and Sponsored Programs office, and International Faculty and Staff Services, can provide considerable support for faculty members. In addition, the overall UW-Madison library system, including Memorial Library, contains a stellar collection of material in the social sciences and humanities. The overall campus library collection is one of the largest in North America, and includes:

  • 7.3 million printed volumes
  • 55,000 serial titles
  • 6.2 million microforms
  • 160 linear feet of manuscript collections
  • 7 million + items in other formats, including government documents, maps, musical scores, and audiovisual materials, for example, plus access to numerous e-resources.

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Madison (pictured above, courtesy of Professor William Cronon), and to the right over top of the campus), is city of approximately 210,000 people, situated in Dane County which has approximately 450,000 people. There are four distinct seasons in Madison.

Madison is located in the Midwest of the USA, about three hours north of Chicago. Madison’s main airport – Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) – connects easily to national/international hubs in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Detroit. It takes 1.3 hours to drive to Milwaukee (eastwards), and 3-4 hours to drive southwards to Chicago, while a bus service (Van Galder) links UW-Madison directly to O’Hare Airport and downtown Chicago.

Madison’s character is strongly associated with, on a number of levels, the 42,000 students and thousands of faculty and staff who make up the university, as well as the State Government of Wisconsin, and a variety of white collar industries (including credit unions, and software development firms). Given this the unemployment rate tends to be relatively low and stable, while cultural life (especially film, music, art) is pleasantly vibrant given the population size. For example, see the Isthmus (a local entertainment weekly) for a broad lowdown on what is happening this week, Wisconsin Public Radio‘s excellent website, or the New York Times (‘36 Hours in Madison, Wis.’, 9 July 2009).

Anyone living in Madison also has ample opportunity to participate in a variety of active sports (including biking, cross-country skiing, running, sailing, skating), and spectator sports (including football, hockey, baseball) in the city-region.

The scale of the city means most venues or sites for activity are no more than 5-20 minutes away by car or indeed bike in the city or the region.

When thinking about the pros and cons of Madison as a potential home, here are several links that you might benefit from perusing:

This is but a brief introduction to select elements of life on and off campus. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have queries about the position, the Center, the university, the city-region, or the country (if you are a foreign applicant).

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies


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