The Globe as you know it is changing.
Coming June 2019

  • More thought-provoking stories that inspire
  • Independent, free and member-supported
  • Vote for, pitch and commission stories
  • Member engagement with our journalists

To understand more about why you are so important to our member-supported initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

Buddhist monks, death rituals and black magic in Cambodia

By: Erin Hale - Posted on: December 15, 2015 | Cambodia

Deathpower: Buddhism’s Ritual Imagination in Cambodia, by Erik W. Davis, is released this month. Here, he discusses some of his book’s otherworldly content, from black magic and ghosts to Cambodian death rituals and Buddhist monks’ spiritualism

Can you tell us about some of the themes covered in your book?
First is deathpower, which is about contemporary Cambodian Buddhist funeral rituals. Second, it covers how the particular understanding of death, and Buddhist monks’ particular relationship to death, ramifies throughout Cambodian culture. I sometimes discuss this as being not two separate levels but rather about “the image of death” in Cambodian society, and how that extends through culture in terms of religious rituals, black magic, understandings of kinship and reciprocity, as well as of sovereignty. The term ‘deathpower’ is the analytical term that holds the book together, and refers most broadly to the social power that accrues to those who interact with and manipulate the dead. Buddhist monks do this, and are the single-most culturally authorised group in this regard, but other people also engage the dead in similar ways.

As an academic you are distinguished for being able to speak fluent Khmer. How did this help your research?
I’m not sure if I like the idea of fluency – I’m not even sure if I’m fluent in English. Certainly having Chinese skills, to a large degree, is helpful. I’m not sure if it’s responsible to publish an anthropological work without being fluent. So much of life, and how much we see the world, is predicated by language. And having to deal with translators interpreting into English from Cambodian sense, it’s unfortunate.

Many parts of Southeast Asia have a dichotomy between Buddhism and spiritual belief. How is Cambodia different from the rest of the region?
In my opinion Cambodia isn’t that unique in that wherever Buddhism goes it finds a way to tame, to dominate, spirits of the dead. But what’s unique in Cambodia is how Buddhism deals with spirits of the dead, spirits of health and spirits of the forest. There’s a wealth of storytelling. In Cambodia, Buddhist monks have the capacity to live in the forest without fear of spirits. They can live with wild animals and ghosts.

You mentioned that Buddhist monks subjugate spirits. How do they do that?
The particular techniques vary widely, and even the logic will vary depending on whom you ask. It often includes specific mantragama (monokom) or meditative techniques. But the notion that some monks can and should have this power is widespread. In my book I discuss specifically the cases where a wild and malevolent spirit, the preay, is imagined to be captured, bound and domesticated, and placed under a central Buddha image in order to protect the temple.

Can you tell us more about Buddhist monks’ ability to live in the forest without fear of spirits?
The idea of a Buddhist monk who can dwell in the forests without fear, side-by-side with wild animals and spirits, is a very long-standing one. Although not widely practiced in Cambodia, the elective monastic dhutanga [ascetic] practices, which most famously include living in the forest, refer to this sort of life. In Thailand’s modernisation, forest monks became a very important part of the national Buddhist imagination. The basic notion here is that a monk who is a dedicated striver after enlightenment, wishing no harm to anyone, and endowed potentially with the higher accomplishments that come with achieving higher stages of meditation, will be ignored by beings such as large animals or spirits that might normally try to cause harm to humans. Instead, they will be drawn to the monk in a positive and non-harmful way, perhaps even trying to help him out.

We understand there will be a chapter on magic and curses. Can you tell us more about that?Deathpower is associated most legitimately with Buddhist monks but isn’t solely their preserve. A wide range of other actors, including ‘black magic’ practitioners, are imagined to engage in ways that are similar, but usually with a very different moral understanding. In my chapter on such things, for instance, I discuss a fortune teller who claimed to access knowledge about the future because of his noun krak [dried fetus amulet].

Keep reading:
Endangered elephants trek to raise awareness of their plight in Laos – Sébastien Duffillot co-organises the Elephant Caravan, an event that will see a team of 12 elephants trek 630km across Laos