October 2017
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JSIS Southeast Asia Center

Featured Article

A Tale of Two Jones Acts

Because of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more popularly known as the Jones Act, is a heated topic nowadays, with both conservative and liberal pundits calling it an “example of regressive regulation” as well as “obscure and protectionist”. But the Jones Act also has a lesser-known namesake, the Jones Act of the Philippines, enacted in 1916. How are they related? What caused these laws to be passed? And why are they still relevant today? In honor of Filipino American Heritage Month, this week’s feature article by Adrian Alarilla explores just that.

By the middle of the 19th century, the US had reached the limits of westward territorial expansion in continental America, and had growing imperialist notions. According to an essay by Thomas McCormick in the book “The Colonial Crucible” (edited by Alfred W. McCoy and Francisco A. Scarano), economic theories of the time posited that economic expansion was key to the maintenance of liberal capitalism in America, and since this expansion required political stability, it could only be obtained by the imposition of external power. After the US victory in the Spanish-American War in 1898, Spain seceded Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the US. While Cuba gained formal independence from the US in 1902, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines remained unincorporated territories. The US saw the maintenance of these territories as central to its goal of economic penetration of heavily populated, emerging market areas such as Mexico and China. Thus the beginnings of what McCormick called an “informal empire,” the imperialism of free trade.

In this plan, the Philippines was going to be an “American Hong Kong”. However, it was soon realized that China was never stable or attractive enough to encourage systematic American initiatives. In addition, the colonial administration of the Philippines was perceived by ordinary Americans as a drain to national resources. Although the US government knew that it wanted to give the Philippines up eventually, there was still a debate as to when. To compromise, the Chairman of the House Committee on Insular Affairs, William Atkinson Jones, drafted the Philippine Autonomy Act, or the Jones Act. When it was passed in 1916, it became the first formal declaration of the US granting eventual independence to the Philippines. It also allowed both the lower and upper houses of the Philippine Legislature to be elected, therefore granting greater autonomy.

I think it’s interesting to note that it was also William Atkinson Jones who co-wrote the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917, that granted US citizenship to Puerto Ricans, despite the entire Puerto Rican House of Delegates voting unanimously against it. This shows how differently the US thought about the Philippines and Puerto Rico. Whereas the Philippines may have been too distant, unwieldy, and unstable to be cost-effective, the smaller island territories of Guam and Puerto Rico may have been perceived to be more manageable. After losing Cuba, Puerto Rico became the American gateway to the Caribbean, as well as a source for cheap labor in the mainland. The US had to maintain its sphere of influence over Puerto Rico. One of the measures used to do so was the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act. This law allowed only US citizen-owned ships constructed in the US and flying US flags to transport goods to US ports such as those in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Despite US notions of “imperialism by free trade”, this law was actually enacted to protect the US commerical shipping industry, very important at the time because of World War I and maritime blockades. Today, however, despite this legislation intended to nurture the US commercial shipping industry, only 2% of the world’s cargo is carried by US ships. But this has even more dire consequences in Puerto Rico, where the Jones Act prohibits receipt of goods from international relief ships.

These two Jones Acts show how American colonialism has developed through multiple trajectories, and that the effects of these colonial policies can still be felt today. Let us hope that our leadership today learns from our history, enough so that an age of foolishness can one day be transformed into an age of wisdom.

A Poster advertising the passage of the Jones Law.
A Poster advertising the passage of the Jones Law. Attributed to the US government, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Ken Burns event tomorrow!

Ken Burns' documentary promises a fresh perspective on one of the most controversial wars in recent history.
Horst Faas Photography

Ken Burns’ Vietnam series:
Critical reflections by Veterans and Academics

Panel Discussion Saturday, October 7th from 6:00 – 9:00 pm, Jackson School of International Studies, 101 Thomson Hall

Please join us and the Seattle chapter of Veterans for Peace (VFP) tomorrow for a panel discussion and forum on the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary series “The Vietnam War.” Facebook event here.

NOTICE ON PARKING: There will be a Husky game going on at the same time. When you approach the gatehouse, be sure to let the attendant know that you are not there for the game. Mention that you are there for the panel discussion about Ken Burns' Vietnam documentary, or the Veterans for Peace event. You will then be directed to a West lot to park for free.


Symposium in Indonesian Studies

This year’s symposium brings together scholars working across many disciplines to share their research about “Indonesia: Past, Present, and Future.”

Symposium in Indonesian Studies
Indonesia: Past, Present, and Future
October 10th 2017
Odegaard Library, Room 220, University of Washington, Seattle Campus

This symposium will bring together scholars working across broad disciplines to share their research on Indonesia past, present, and future. Prof. Sears will discuss the work of Ayu Utami and her critique of rape, torture, political correctness, and police brutality. Prof Anwar will highlight the changing relationship between Islam and feminism in the history of women’s movements in Indonesia. Dr. Sihite will shed the light on the condition of orangutan in Indonesia and his organization’s effort to save them. A graduate student panel will address (1) human rights protection issues in Asia and (2) the transformation of the economy and the need of investment in its infrastructure.



9:15 AM – 10:00 AM Registration, breakfast, and opening remarks

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Prof. Laurie J. Sears (Walker Family Endowed Professor of History, University of Washington) “Critical Spirituality and a Critical Path: Ayu Utami’s Fu Numeral Series”

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Prof. Etin Anwar (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) “Islamic and Feminist Encounters: Pattern and Change in Indonesia”

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Lunch break

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Dr. Jamartin Sihite (CEO of Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation) “Making Indonesia Great by Saving Indonesian Orangutans and Tropical Forests”

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Graduate Student Panel:
Desi Hanara (LLM Candidate, Leiden School of Law, the Netherlands) “Promoting Human Rights Protection in Indonesia and Asia”

Adi Sarosa (Master’s Candidate, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University) “Fulfilling Indonesian Ambition in Infrastructure Development: Reflecting from Neighboring Countries”

Dr. Ba (Eddie) Win, “The Burmese Junta Through the Eyes of Living History”

Dr. Ba Win

October 12th 2017, Thomson Hall 317, 2:30 – 4:00 pm

Dr. Win’s talk will cover a wide range of topics about Burma's military juntas, and will include the opportunity for questions and discussion.  Dr. Eddie Win took part in the 8888 Movement and witnessed the military's violent oppression. Facebook event here.

Recommended Resources

Conferences, Study Abroad & Journals

Call For Papers: The Politics of Faith, Spirituality, and Religion in Southeast Asian Cinemas. Abstracts Due October 31, 2017.

10th Biennial Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference (ASEACC), July 23-26, 2018, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to:
-Representation of religion, religious themes, and spirituality in cinema
-Faiths, identity-based politics, sectarianism
-Cinema as a vehicle for the adaptation and continual development of religious or traditional ideologies and systems of thought
-Cinema as a mediator between religious and political authorities and the public
-Cinematic reference to, or quotation of, traditional systems of belief and forms of expression
-Cinema and Institutional investment in defining and promoting tradition
-Faith/religion and reception, exhibition, distribution (ex. themed festivals)
-Films as interventions into religious politics/cultures and sectarian politics
-Faith/religion/spirituality, film, and consumer culture
-Religion and censorship
-Islamic themed films as a contemporary phenomena in Indonesia and Malaysia (and elsewhere)

Abstract Submission Deadline: October 31, 2017. Please send an abstract (max. 300 words) and short bio (max. 100 words) to: Katinka Van Heeren (cvanheeren@hotmail.com), Patrick Campos (patrick.campos@gmail.com), and Sophia Harvey (soharvey@vassar.edu).

Ecologies in Southeast Asian Literatures: Histories, Myths and Societies, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam, January 26-27, 2018 - Abstracts due October 30, 2017

2018 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, Application due November 15, 2017.

Funding and Fellowships

International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF). Apply by November 7, 2017.

East-West Center-Graduate Degree Fellowship. Apply by December 1, 2017.

Blakemore Foundation Grants for the Study of East and Southeast Asian Languages.  Application Deadline December 30, 2017.


Tenure-Track Assistant Professor, International Studies, University of San Francisco (seeking regional focus on East Asia or Southeast Asia), Closing October 13, 2017

Tenure-Track Professor of Thai Studies, Dept. of Anthropology, Harvard University, Appointment begins July 1, 2018 - Appointment begins July 1, 2018 - Closing October 15, 2017

Advanced Associate Professor/Professor, East Asia and/or Southeast Asia before 1900, History Dept., University of Texas - Austin, Closing November 15, 2017

Assistant Professor Tenure Track in International Studies (East Asia or Southeast Asia), Simon Fraser University, Closing December 27, 2017

Southeast Asia Center
The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
Copyright © 2017  University of  Washington
Contact us: seac@uw.edu 
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