In the United States since 9/11, there has been a tendency to reduce Southeast Asia's connections to the Middle East to religion: that is, to the Muslim faith shared by majori-ties east of the Mediterranean and south of the South China Sea, not to mention the Muslim minorities elsewhere in Southeast Asia. While addressing the changing nature and importance of this overlap, Professor von der Mehden will also analyze how and why these two regions, spatially so far apart, have been interacting on a range of economic, security, and political issues, including the question of Palestine. He will argue that there is more interaction today between the two regions than ever before. Each region has become more involved in the affairs of the other. But these burgeoning connections are not what they were expected to be. Nor are they all benign.
Fred von der Mehden is internationally known for his extensive scholarship on politics, religion, and development in Southeast Asia. His talk will update and expand on his 1993 book, Two Worlds of Islam: Interaction between Southeast Asia and the Middle East. A senior editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (1995), Professor von der Mehden's many other books include Religion and Modernization in Southeast Asia (1986); Southeast Asia 1930-1970 (1974); Comparative Political Violence (1973); and Religion and Nationalism in Southeast Asia (1963). He has just returned from Southeast Asia, where he has lectured or done research almost every year since the 1950s. He is California-trained, having earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley; an M.A. from Claremont Graduate School; and a B.A. from the University of the Pacific.