Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it.
Now I understand 
why the old poets of China went so far
and high 
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.
"The Old Poets of China" by Mary Oliver

The replay of the webinar, “Trapped in the 19th Century: The Endless Reproduction of Colonial Stereotypes and Images in the Postcolonial Present” is now available on YouTube. The event was conducted on 11 November 2020 as part of the 65th anniversary celebration of the UP Asian Center.


The 19th century was a time when much of Southeast Asia came under colonial rule. It was also the century that witnessed an enormous amount of data-collecting on the part of the different colonial regimes in the region. During this period, a more sedimented understanding of Southeast Asians emerged, when Western Orientalist scholars were also exposed to theories of Western racial supremacy and innate racial-biological differences between themselves and the societies they ruled over.
This presentation looks at the representation of Southeast Asians before, during, and after the 19th century and argues that understandings of cultural/ethnic differences then was less a case of knowledge-production, but more of a process of endless repetition of the same colonial stereotypes and tropes. It ends by looking at Southeast Asian modes of self-representation/identification today and asks if we—postcolonial Southeast Asians—have really stepped out of the long shadow of the 19th century.


Dr Farish A Noor is Associate Professor at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University NTU, Singapore. His research interests include political history of Southeast Asia and religio-political movements in the region. He is a member of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Religion and Politics.
Among his recent publications are America’s Encounters With Southeast Asia 1800-1900: Before The Pivot (Amsterdam University Press, 2018),  The Discursive Construction of Southeast Asia in 19th Century Colonial-Capitalist Discourse (Amsterdam University Press, 2016) and The Tablighi Jama’at in Southeast Asia (Amsterdam University Press, 2014). View full profile.


This  activity is part of a webinar series held in celebration of Asian Center’s 65th Anniversary, with the theme “Asian Center @ 65: Zealously Cultivating Ideas, Ceaselessly Inspiring Minds Across Asia.

The UP Asian Center offers M.A. degrees in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. The Center offers a Ph.D.  program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. For an overview of these graduate programs, click here. The Asian Center also publishes Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia, the latest issue of which can be downloaded at the journal's website. For other news and upcoming events at the Asian Center, click here.