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.

DNA testing / Where do the people of Southeast Asia come from?

By: Uffe Wilken - Posted on: July 12, 2018 | Best of 2018

A fascinating new study has potentially unlocked the secret of the origins of Southeast Asians, resolving a long-standing debate on the prehistory of the region

Skull from a Hòabìnhian person from Gua Cha archaeological site, Malaysian Peninsula Photo: Fabio Lahr

Southeast Asia is a melting pot of genetic diversity. One of the big questions about the origins of this diversity has until now been unresolved. In the groundbreaking study The Prehistoric Peopling of Southeast Asia, published in the scientific journal Science, 43 researchers from Thailand, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, France, Germany, the UK and Denmark shed light on this question.

Two main competing theories about the peopling of Southeast Asia have dominated academic discussions for a long time. Both are based on the fact that the first migration into the region consisted of descendants from the first people who left Africa 60,000 to 70,000 years ago. But from there, the theories take their own course.

One theory says that people from the Hòabìnhian culture – the original hunter-gatherers that peopled Southeast Asia about 44,000 years ago – gradually developed a farming society. Another theory says farmers coming from present-day China about 4,000 years ago pushed out the Hòabìnhians.

Decedents of the Hòabìnhians were thought to have remained in isolated pockets in Southeast Asia where today there are indigenous people with physical characteristics similar to those of African pygmies and Australian Aboriginals in places like the Andaman Archipelago and the Philippines.

However, according to the study’s leader, Professor Eske Willerslev from the University of Cambridge and the University of Copenhagen, neither of the two theories can fully explain the big genetic diversity found in Southeast Asia today.

The four migrations

Extracting ancient DNA from human teeth and bones buried for thousands of years in humid tropical environments is no easy task, as DNA degrades fast under these conditions. However, the researchers managed to extract samples from 8,000 year old ancient human remains from Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Japan and Vietnam, and compared it to DNA from present-day Southeast Asians. The results showed a more complex picture of the origin of the genetic diversity. According to the researchers, the genetic pattern found in Southeast Asia today has been formed by four migrations.

The first was by descendants of the first people who migrated out of Africa and settled in Southeast Asia about 40,000 years ago. These Hòabìnhians were widespread across Southeast Asia until 4,000 years ago, when the second migration – farmers from present-day China – migrated into the area, bringing rice with them.

The cave at Ujong Karong near Takengon, northern Sumatra, Indonesia, where ancient DNA was extracted from skeletal remains. The cave is situated at the foot of the hills Photo: Uffe Wilken

A third migration, originating in Taiwan and spreading Austronesian languages throughout Southeast Asia, is said to have occurred around 4,000 years ago, supported by the distinctly Austronesian ancient individuals present in the northern Philippines some 2,000 years ago. Finally, the arrival of a new East Asian genetic component centered in northern Vietnam historically accords with the imperial expansion of the Han Chinese.

“The populations that merged to form present-day Southeast Asians were from two genetic lineages that diverged a long way back in time,” said PhD student Hugh McColl of the University of Copenhagen, one of the leading authors of the study.

“The first are the Hòabìnhians, who we find are genetically most similar to the Onge from the Andaman Islands, and the second were the incoming farmers from the north, more closely related to the 40,000-year-old East Asian Tianyuan,” he added.

The researchers also found archaeological evidence connecting these populations.

“The diversity we refer to is genetic, although we do detect parallels with theories based on language and pottery,” said McColl. “Of the ancient individuals, the most genetically divergent populations were the Hòabìnhian hunter-gatherers and the East Asian farmers. However, within the multiple waves of migration from the north, there was also considerable genetic diversity.”

So what happened with the Hòabìnhians when the East Asian farmers arrived 4,000 years ago? Were they squeezed out of the region? Not quite. The DNA analyses show that the Hòabìnhians and migrating farmers interbred, both contributing to the diverse Southeast Asian gene pool.

This new study could just be the beginning of a much more complex scholarship to come, according to McColl.

“Previously, theories have been based on phenotypic differences (i.e., your physical appearance) and language within Southeast Asia, and more recently with present-day genetic data,” he said.

“Here, the ancient DNA method provides snapshots back in time, allowing us to directly investigate the complexities of Southeast Asia’s genetic history. Our work stands as a valuable starting dataset for future studies investigating Southeast Asia’s history.”

Uffe Wilken is a Danish science writer and communicator. His main focus is on science and nature in the Arctic and in Southeast Asia.