After a little over two years as the day-to-day editor of New Mandala, it’s time for me to pull the pin so I can concentrate on finishing my long-neglected PhD thesis.
It’s been a pleasure to have had a role in continuing New Mandala’s 13 year long tradition of making the best scholarly insights on Southeast Asia accessible and relevant to a broad audience—and at times even helping nudge scholarly conversations themselves in new directions.
New Mandala’s success in this regard relies on the readiness of time-pressed academics, students and other researchers to write for the site, and I’m exceptionally thankful for their continued commitment to contributing to public understanding of Southeast Asian affairs through New Mandala.
Of course, New Mandala has always been a collaborative endeavour, and a major share of the credit for the site’s successes while I’ve been editor is due to the country and thematic editors who’ve brought their expertise and passion to areas and projects where I, frankly, would have little idea what I was doing.
Let me name some names. Catherine Yen has been indispensable in bringing readers commentaries on Thailand that transcend the simplistic depictions of that country you sometimes get in the western media. Dr Nicole Curato brought readers the perspectives of Filipinos both famous and overlooked on the complexities of Philippine politics and society under Duterte. (Do make time to revisit her excellent Philippines Beyond Clichés podcast, too). Kean Wong and Prof Meredith Weiss’ successive series on Malaysia’s 2018 election and its aftermath have been essential reading on why GE14 turned out the way it did, and what it has and hasn’t changed about Malaysia. Up in Jakarta, Cassandra Grant and Levriana Yustriani have been a huge help in coordinating, editing and translating the work of our Indonesia Correspondent Fellows throughout the 2019 Indonesian election season. Towheedul Islam, meanwhile, roped in some fascinating articles on South Asian politics at Near West, our South Asia guest section. The interns we’ve hosted through the ANU’s Editor’s Practicum course—Alex Yang, Kai Clark, Luke Courtois, Serena Ford and Jonathan Hiroki Hunter—have done great work helping editors get things through the pipeline. Last but not least, I’d like to say what a pleasure it’s been for New Mandala to have hosted the Perspectives on the Past history blog since October 2017.
Needless to say, getting all of this material online at New Mandala costs money. From 2019, the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific has provided core funding for the site. Some of the most popular publication series of the past two years have been made possible by grants from the Tifa Foundation, the ANU Malaysia Institute, the ANU South Asia Research Institute (SARI), the Department of Political and Social Change, and DFAT’s Knowledge Sector Initiative. I’d like to acknowledge and thank these benefactors for their trust in the New Mandala team and their support of the site’s mission, and particularly note my personal appreciation of the work that ANU’s Dr Ross Tapsell has done behind the scenes to get a number of important grants and projects off the ground.
I’ll sign off with good news: beginning on 1 August, my ANU colleague Dr Rebecca Gidley will be the new editor of New Mandala. Rebecca—or Becky, as she’s universally known—works at the Department of Political and Social Change, where her research and teaching covers politics, international relations and human rights in the Asia-Pacific. As a PhD student at the ANU School of Culture, History and Language, her research explored the ambiguous legacies of the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia; an adapted version of her thesis has just been published as a book, Illiberal Transitional Justice and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). You can follow her on Twitter at @beckra_giddon.
In Becky’s capable hands, New Mandala will continue to be the outlet of choice for researchers who want to showcase their work or contribute to (or start) a debate on a Southeast Asia-related topic. Please contact her at [email protected] if you have material you’d like to have considered for publication.
And with that I’ll just say I’m looking forward to, from next week, just being one of the thousands of people who visit this website every day to read analysis of Southeast Asian affairs that goes beyond the obvious.
Liam (the ex-editor)