Southeast Asia Studies, established at Yale in the 1940s, was the University's first area studies program of any kind, and it had a strong foundation. In addition to its distinctive language courses (Burmese, Indonesian, "Siamese," Tagalog and Vietnamese), the University had developed a superb library collection on Southeast Asia, much of it acquired from as early as 1899 when Clive Day (1871-1951), the first American historian of Indonesia, joined the Yale faculty. He published The Dutch in Java in 1904, and taught at the University until his retirement in 1936.
Between 1932 and 1947, the sociologist and anthropologist Raymond Kennedy (1906-50), the "founding father" of Southeast Asia Studies at Yale, was a "one-man center" of new scholarship and teaching on the region. He conducted fieldwork in Indonesia and the Philippines, and published "Bark Cloth in Indonesia" (1934), Ethnology of the Greater Sunda Islands (1935), and Islands and Peoples of the Indies (1943). Beginning with work on the collection of books on Indonesia already in Yale Library, he also assisted in assembling data on Southeast Asia for the Yale Cross Cultural Survey; and compiled an extensive bibliography on the peoples and cultures of Indonesia, which he published in 1945.
The army training program ended with the war, but the University, in response to the "driving force" of Raymond Kennedy, and recognizing that the increasing importance of Southeast Asia in world affairs had created the need for a pool of scholars and specialists who could understand and interpret the area, moved forward to strengthen its offerings on Southeast Asia.
From 1958-1971, through the turbulent years of the Vietnam War, the Ford Foundation along with the U.S. government, contributed several grants aimed at expansion of the program, ultimately including an endowment created by the Ford Foundation which is still in existence today.
Geographer Karl J. Pelzer served as director of Southeast Asia Studies from the late 1960's until his retirement in 1977. The Southeast Asia masters degree and most of the language courses were discontinued in 1972, as outside funding became less available.
In the early 1960s, the University had created a Concilium on International and Area Studies. In the 1980s, the Concilium, based at 85 Trumbull Street, New Haven, was further streamlined and given a new name, the "Yale Center for International and Area Studies," providing umbrella support for the growing number of area studies Councils and programs at Yale. In 1995, the expanding global programs of YCIAS moved into Henry R. Luce Hall, and in April 2006, YCIAS was re-named The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale. See: http://www.yale.edu/macmillan/history.htm
- Elizabeth Kodama (April 1974), "Southeast Asia Studies," Yale Alumni Magazine, Vol. XXXVII, no. 7 View Article
- George McT Kahin (April 1972): "In Memoriam: Harry J. Benda," Indonesia, volume 13 (April 1972), pp 211-212
- W.F. Wertheim (1972): "Harry J. Benda," Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Voldenkunde 128, nol 2/3, Leiden, pp 214-218
- John F. Embree (Feb 1951): "Raymond Kennedy, 1906-1950," The Far Eastern Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 170-172
- Gaddis Smith (1999), "Yale and the Vietnam War," University Seminar on the History of Columbia University, paper presented October 19, 1999
(quoted with permission of the author - see Raymond Kennedy)
- SEAS Archives: