The Southeast Asia Collection highlights the regional wars from the 1970s to the 1980s, including a series on Southeast Asian refugees in America, along with materials on regional economic development, especially in the Mekong River Basin. The collection contains hundreds of reports on agricultural and industrial projects in the region, examining everything from the impact of electrification on village life in Thailand to a description of a Soviet-built hospital in Cambodia in 1961, to an assessment of herbicide in Vietnam in 1971.
Collected primarily by Joel Halpern and James Hafner, the collection includes background, field, and situation reports by U.S. Operations Missions and U.S. Agency for International Development; reports, publications, statistics, and background information from other U.S. government agencies, governments of Laos and Thailand, and the United Nations; correspondence, reports, and reference materials of nongovernmental organizations; reports and essays by individuals about Southeast Asia; news releases and newspapers; published and unpublished bibliographies; and interviews with U.S. military personnel. Most material comes from governmental and organizational sources, but there are papers by, and debriefs of, numerous individuals.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Joel M. Halpern and James Hafner
Following undergraduate study in history and anthropology at the University of Michigan (BA, 1950), Joel M. Halpern studied at the renowned anthropology department and Russian Institute, (renamed the Harriman Institute in 1982) at Columbia University. He received his doctorate in 1956 for a study of the village of Orasac in Serbia in the former Yugoslavia. The resulting work became the basis of his Ainsley award winning book, A Serbian Village (N.Y., 1958). He began his career with the Human Relations Area Files office at the American University in Washington, D.C. working on a Laos handbook. Subsequently, he went to that country as a Field Service Officer with the Community Development Division of the U.S. International Cooperation Administration. He served as chair of the Mekong Seminar of the Southeast Asia Development Advisory Group of the Asia Society which advised the U.S. Aid program. Halpern was a member of the faculty at UCLA, Brandeis, and the Russian Research Center at Harvard (1965-1967) before coming to UMass Amherst in 1967.
Halpern's work in Laos began as a Junior Foreign Service Officer with the US Operations Mission (USOM) in the late 1950s. He left in 1959 after completing some of the first American scholarship of the region including his twenty-two part study, the Laos Project Papers. He also produced numerous other works on Laos and relations between the United States and Laos during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Ultimately, Halpern returned to Southeast Asia in 1969 as the chair of the Southeast Asia Development Advisory Group (SEADAG) Mekong Seminar. The SEADAG Mekong Seminar focused on the creation of a number of dams along the Mekong River in Laos and Thailand. Joel Halpern remains a Professor Emeritus of the Anthropology Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
James A. Hafner received his B.A. from Miami University (Ohio) and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He became a member of the University of Massachusetts Amherst faculty in 1970. He has extensive experience in Southeast Asia, primarily in Laos and Thailand. His studies included working with the United Nations Mekong Committee studying the Pa Mong Dam project and its impact on the people of Laos and Thailand as well as other projec involving international development. Hafner's experience in Southeast Asia also includes working on U.S. Department of State Mekong Basin Development projects and a Senior Fulbright Fellowship to study on rural development at Khon Kaen University in Thailand.
Many of his teaching and research interests focused on processes of rural social and economic change in the context of the development process. His past research in Southeast Asia involved studies of traditional water transport systems, the impacts of highway development on the development process, population ecology and rural poverty, and new models and strategies for participatory and integrated rural development. He is currently completing work on a study of the political ecology of forest use and access in Thailand while working on a review of long-term population-land use dynamics in the northeast region of that country. This focus evolved from research begun in 1983 under his Fulbright Award and subsequent work begun in 1985 with an interdisciplinary team of Thai foresters and social scientists to study forest land encroachment and land use in upper watershed areas of northeast Thailand.
Collected and donated by both Joel M. Halpern and James A. Hafner, the Southeast Asia Collection highlights international development efforts focused on this specific region between the 1950s and the 1980s, with significant material on the Mekong River Basin. A secondary focus of the collection is the regional wars in Southeast Asia in the 1960s-1980s including numerous publications concerning the anti-war and social movements in the United States and a series on Southeast Asian Refugees in America.
The collection includes reports, propaganda, pamphlets, articles, memoranda, news releases, newspapers, journals, and bibliographies from governmental, non-governmental, and personal sources. Though not comprehensive, this collection offers a look at how the United States and other nations (including the UN) approached the idea of International Aid in the 1960s and 1970s. Various reports, writings and collections of pamphlets and printed materials provide numerous different aspects of international development during this period. Significantly, the collection also includes numerous pamphlets and writings of the anti-war movement of the 1960s as well as newspapers clippings of events related to the anti-war movement in the United States.
The collection also features publications and information issued from governmental organizations such as SEADAG, Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), the USOM and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as numerous articles, papers and other materials produced in support of international development efforts in Southeast Asia. Material concerning the wars in Southeast Asia from the 1960s through the 1980s takes the form of articles, pamphlets and other writings investigating the war and events during the war as well as anti-war materials from the United States. This also includes declassified or unclassified manuals from the U.S. Army, Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and other governmental organizations. With international development efforts often tied to the outcomes of the conflicts in Southeast Asia, there is considerable overlap between these materials.
Finally, items on the refugee population within the United States were drawn from Joel Halpern's work with Lucy Nguyen, then of the United Asia Learning Research Center at UMass. Materials in this series include newspapers, governmental and non-governmental papers and pamphlets, local events and other items related to refugees settled in the United States as a result of the wars in Southeast Asia.
Acquired from Joel M. Halpern and James A. Hafner.
Processed by Jason Fuller, May 2013.
For materials related to Southeast Asia, see:
Cite as: Southeast Asia Collection (MS 407). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.