Southeast Asia Council (SEAC)

The Southeast Asia Council (SEAC) is one of four regional councils operating within the Association for Asian Studies (AAS). Created in 1970, these councils represent the interests of scholars working in their respective geographical areas.

Collectively, the four area councils and the Council of Conferences serve as the major policy body for the Association of Asian Studies, providing liaison between the Board of Directors and the members at large.


  • the Harry J. Benda Prize, given annually to an outstanding newer scholar from any discipline or country specialization of Southeast Asian studies for a first book in the field
  • the George McT. Kahin Prize, given biennially to an outstanding scholar of Southeast Asian studies from any discipline or country specialization to recognize distinguished scholarly work on Southeast Asia beyond the author's first book
  • the A.L. Becker Southeast Asian Literature in Translation Prize, to recognize an outstanding English translation of a work of Southeast Asian literature from any country of the region (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam). 




The AAS Southeast Asia Council's annual prize recognizes emerging scholarship in the field of Southeast Asian studies, from any disciplinary perspective. Graduate students at any stage, enrolled at the time of submission, are eligible and welcome to apply. The committee invites papers that fit the definition of "conference papers," i.e. of a length and scope that can be presented on an AAS panel, and that make an intellectual and/or methodological contribution to the study of Southeast Asia.

The prize honors the memory of Pattana Kitiarsa who was Associate Professor in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He was born in the northeastern Thai province of Nong Khai and maintained his roots in this Lao-speaking region. As a scholar, teacher, and friend he touched many people's lives. Sadly, Pattana passed away from cancer at the age of 46. With his passing the field lost one of its leading scholars of Southeast Asian labor, religion, class, and media.

Please submit your 2019 Denver, Colorado conference paper, proof of current doctoral program registration, and panel abstract in PDF format up until March 24, 2019 to Prof. Jane Ferguson at Submissions should be up to 10,000 words maximum. Papers received after March 24, 2019 will not be considered. Any questions regarding the prize can be sent to the same email address. The award of $500 and a certificate will be presented at the 2020 AAS Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. The Southeast Asia Asia Council of the AAS will also provide a sum of up to $400 to the winner of the prize to partially cover the cost of his or her travel to the 2020 Boston, Massachusetts Conference, where the winner will be recognized at the AAS Presidential Address/Awards Ceremony.

The winner of the 2018 AAS SEAC Graduate Student Paper Prize will be announced at the 2019 AAS Annual Conference Presidential Address & Awards Ceremony in Denver.

  • The winner of the 2017 AAS Toronto Conference SEAC Graduate Student Paper Prize was Kisho Tsuchiya, National University of Singapore, for “Converting Tetun: The Early Missionary Texts in a Timorese language and the Timorese Absent Presence 1875-1937”
  • The winner of the 2016 AAS Seattle Conference SEAC Graduate Student Paper Prize was Horapin Phuaphansawat (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) for “'My Eyes are Open but My Lips are Whispering’: Anti-Royalism in Thailand after the 2006 Coup D’état”
  • The winner of the 2015 AAS Chicago Conference SEAC Graduate Student Paper Prize was Michelle S. Eusebio (University of Florida) for "Why Rice Agriculture Did Not Reach the Pacific Islands During the Austronesian Expansion: Exploring Resistance, Foodways, and Identities in Enigmatic Territories."
  • The winner of the 2014 AAS Philadelphia Conference SEAC Graduate Student Paper Prize was Lupt Utama (Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art) for "Modernising the Monarch: The Adoption and Adaptation of Victorian Fashion and Military Dress Uniforms in the Siamese Royal Court of King Chulalongkorn."
  • The winner of the 2013 AAS San Diego Conference SEAC Graduate Student Paper Prize was Dredge Byung'chu Kang (Emory U.) for "Eastward Orientations: Thai Middle Class Desire for White Asians."
  • The winner of the 2012 AAS Toronto Conference SEAC Graduate Student Paper Prize was Joseph Harris, then doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (now at Boston University), who presented a paper entitled, "Who Governs? Autonomous Political Networks as a Challenge to Power in Thailand."
  • The winner of the 2011 AAS-ICAS Hawaii Joint Conference SEAC Graduate Student Paper Prize was Noer Fauzi Rachman, PhD Candidate in the Department of Environment, Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California at Berkeley (now at Bogor Agricultural University), who presented a paper entitled, "Struggle Over Land and Land Policy in Contemporary Indonesia."