My research focuses on languages of mainland Southeast Asia, usually in Cambodia and Vietnam. In my dissertation, I analyzed words known as sesquisyllables in Khmer, Bunong (or Mnong or Phnong) and Burmese. I provided acoustic evidence that these words, which are supposedly one-and-a-half syllables in length, are in fact all either monosyllabic or disyllabic. I argue that this evidence can be used to critique the cold-war notion of world regions more generally.
Much of my work has been undertaken in conjunction with peoples living in the uplands of mainland Southeast Asia and their diasporic communities. I am interested in how individuals in these communities understand and interact with conceptions of indigeneity and self-determination.
Though far from Southeast Asia itself, North Carolina is a great place to be a Southeast Asianist because it is home to many communities of people from the across the region, including the largest Montagnard community outside of Southeast Asia. Here at UNC, I coordinate the Southeast Asian Approaches Faculty Working Group and its associated Carolina Seminar.
To converse about anything Southeast Asia related at UNC, please email SoutheastAsia@unc.edu.