Vol 5, No. 2 Fall 2004
As world attention focuses on South and Southeast Asia in the aftermath of the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, many Westerners are gaining familiarity with the region for the first time. World response to the epic crisis in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia has been marked by unprecedented humanitarian aid, strong international cooperation and relentless news coverage.
Although the international response has been relatively swift, the relief effort has not been perfect and misunderstandings have arisen as nations have sought to coordinate with diverse governments and organizations throughout the region. Both the crisis and the response have revealed a greater need for in-depth scholarship on Southeast Asia in order to create a better understanding of the diverse peoples, cultures, and environments in this region.
The two papers in this issue of Explorations take a step in that direction. Jasmin Cheung-Gertler provides an historical analysis and argues for a critical re-evaluation of the relevance of Confucianism in the development of Vietnamese nationalism and communism. John Bradford's paper analyzes the professionalism of the Indonesian military, taking into account the specific historical, political and cultural characteristics of Indonesia instead of merely focusing on the issues from a purely Western standpoint.
Our mission at Explorations is to publish graduate research related to Southeast Asia which we believe will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the social, political and cultural contexts which make up the region. Although the long-term impacts of the tsunami on the fabric of life in South and Southeast Asia are difficult to measure, it is clear that recovery from this disaster will take many years. While the effects of the tsunami on scholarship in and of the region remain unclear, we believe that now, more than ever, in-depth knowledge of the region is essential.