The present issue of SOJOURN is the second to appear since the journal adopted a publishing schedule of three issues a year instead of the former two. Its contents make evident the rationale for that change. The five articles and one research note illustrate the growing range of important new work on social change in Southeast Asia for which SOJOURN serves as a vehicle, even as they underline its editors’ commitment to promoting certain areas of and approaches to research on the region.
This issue of the journal includes work from scholars working in the fields of history, anthropology, and communications. These scholars’ primary academic affiliations lie both within the region and outside Southeast Asia. This diversity notwithstanding, each of the pieces appearing in this issue of SOJOURN has one crucial feature in common with the others. It draws on its author’s or authors’ ability to meet the linguistic challenges fundamental to serious work on the region.
Chalong Soontravanich’s article on the rise of the cult of Buddhist amulets in post-1945 Thailand relates religious and social change, two matters of consistent interest to SOJOURN, with a deftness that sets a standard to which future contributors to this journal ought aspire. Similarly, in grounding developments of broad international interest firmly in an analysis of Cambodian society and politics, Alexandra Kent’s contribution on the Khmer Rouge tribunal affirms the importance that SOJOURN places on contextualizing the local with the global.
Three further contributions underline the journal’s interest in specific dimensions of change in the region. Annuska Derks addresses issues of migration and labour, issues on which SOJOURN’s editors are determined to keep the journal focused. Equal to that determination is their interest in featuring scholarship on Singapore, like Liew [End Page v] Kai Khiun’s and Brenda Chan’s article on the status of Hokkien music in the city-state, that both highlights the growing richness of Singapore studies and addresses questions of significance across Southeast Asia as a whole. And Christine Chan’s research note on the history of a Chinese-sponsored free school on Java embodies the interest at SOJOURN in education in Southeast Asia, not least as it mirrors broader patterns of social change in the region.
The sixth work of scholarship to appear in this issue of SOJOURN, David Gilbert’s pioneering and challenging consideration of categories of identity in gay Yangon, represents an early exploration of a contemporary Southeast Asian society whose study will inevitably grow richer and more rigorous in the near future. In both its raw immediacy and its cultural analysis, this article is certain to fuel discussion and debate.
We hope that this article on Myanmar, along with the five other pieces accompanying it in this issue of the journal, will signal to readers and potential contributors alike our determination to develop SOJOURN into an indispensable resource for the understanding of social change in Southeast Asia. [End Page vi]