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Making Sense of Religious Festivals

Scholars to Gather at Conference on the Culture of Southeast Asia

UC Riverside has one of the largest programs in Southeast Asian Studies in the nation

(February 9, 2007)

Patrick Alcedo, one of three conference organizersEnlarge

Patrick Alcedo, one of three conference organizers

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- At a time when religion seems to be a dividing factor around the world, UC Riverside will host a conference that will bring artists and scholars from a variety of faiths together.

A conference called “Religious Festivals in Contemporary Southeast Asia,” brings together Muslims from Indonesia and Malaysia, Christians from the Philippines and Buddhists from Thailand and Vietnam to talk about the color and pageantry of religious festivals, and what they mean to their cultures.

The conference, free and open to the public, is set for Feb.16, 17 and 18 at the UCR Extension Center, Conference Rooms D and E, 1200 University Ave. Parking costs $3.

The event includes panel discussions, dance performances, and showings of two documentaries, one of them a world premiere. On the final day, the group will travel to the “The Tet Festival” in Orange County.

“Religion is always so serious, and what we want to emphasize is religion’s playfulness and the capacity to bring people together,” said Hendrik Maier, a professor of comparative literature and the director of SEATRiP, the Southeast Asian Text, Ritual, and Performance program at UCR. “That is why we have chosen to focus on religious festivals.” He said these cultural festivals touch not only on religion, but on issues such as tourism, nationalism, politics, economy, and globalization.

“If you are a scholar of Southeast Asian dance, this is the one conference this year that will gather the entire field in one place.”

Speakers will come from Europe, Australia, North America, and from the different countries of Southeast Asia. The chair of Muslim Affairs for the Philippine House of Congress and four of his entourage are flying from Manila to participate. A former official of the premier state university of Thailand, Chulalongkorn University, will give a dance workshop.

“This will really provide common ground,” said one of the conference organizers Patrick Alcedo, who has just earned his Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory at UCR. “The speakers are not only artists, but they are scholars as well.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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