Readings on Southeast Asia

The University of Malaya Asia-Europe Institute, the University of the Philippines Center for International Studies, and the Southeast Asian Studies Regional Exchange Program (Manila Secretariat) organized the workshop on 1-2 February 2002 at the University of the Philippines. Participated in by 15 scholars from Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the workshop aimed:

  1. To produce an annotated bibliography of major works written by Southeast Asian scholars in various languages and used to teach “own country” studies;
  2. To organize the bibliographies by theme or discipline and country and identify gaps where they might exist;
  3. Using the organized bibliographies, to draw up a reading list for undergraduate and graduate courses on Southeast Asian studies based on an assessment of the level of difficulty of the content of the suggested works; and
  4. To explore other uses of the annotated bibliographies, for example:
  5. For teaching (e.g. development of instructional materials considering factors such as the intended audience, language to be used, whether for introductory or major course on Southeast Asia);
    • For publication (e.g. Southeast Asian reader, anthology of works on particular themes, annotated bibliographies themselves); and/or
    • Translation projects (for teaching and/or publication)
Southeast Asia Travelling Classroom

The SEASREP initiated a Traveling Classroom Program that broadly aimed to establish linkages among selected students of the MOU universities. Specifically, the traveling classroom aimed to develop an interest in Southeast Asian studies by providing first-hand exposure to Southeast Asian culture, history and contemporary reality; enable Southeast Asian students (undergraduate and graduate) to interact with and learn from one another; and serve as the basis for future networking in the region. The traveling class is composed of 24 students and 4 faculty coordinators from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.


On 7-18 April 1999, the first traveling classroom went to Thailand. On its second year, the traveling classroom visited Thailand and Malaysia from 26 April to 6 May 2000. For its third year, the traveling class will visit northern Philippines on 25 April to 5 May 2001.

Representations of Southeast Asia in Southeast Asian Pre-University Textbooks


On 8 May 2000, six Southeast Asian scholars analyzed the pre-university textbooks of Southeast Asian countries and presented a 30-page manuscript in a workshop held in Thammasat University, Bangkok. The project aimed to analyze how the pre-university textbooks (and teacher’s manuals) portray Southeast Asia.

The writers were:

  • For Indonesia: Muhamad Hisyam, Centre for Social and Cultural Studies, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI);
  • For Thailand: Warunee Osatharom, Thai Khadi Research Institute, Thammasat University;
  • For Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei: Vejai Balasubramaniam, Department of Southeast Asian Studies, University of Malaya;
  • For the Philippines: Luisa Mallari-Hall, Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of the Philippines;
  • For Vietnam: Nguyen Van Chinh, lecturer, Department of Anthropology, College of Social Science and Humanities, Vietnam National University;
  • For Myanmar: Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Government, Cornell University.
Regional Networking in Southeast Asia

From 1998-1999, the Foundation Members served as “ambassadors” of Southeast Asian studies and collaborative research. The Foundation Members traveled around the region to promote the SEASREP grants programs; assist the development of curricular programs in other Southeast Asian universities; attend regional conferences to forge new networks; and strengthen administrative arrangements within and among MOUs.

Conference on Southeast Asia

The International Conference on Southeast Asia in the 20th Century took place in University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City on 28-30 January 1998. The conference reviewed the developments in Southeast Asia in the last century. Six major themes were tackled: culture and societal transformation; economic development; politics, the state and civil society; women; environment, science and technology; and perspectives in the study of Southeast Asia. 93 scholars participated in the conference.

Asian Emporiums Course

In January 2004, the traveling classroom and visiting professors programs were reconfigured to complement the Asian Emporiums course. This is an introductory course which aims to familiarize undergraduate students with the world of Monsoon Asia throughout the centuries. 


Lectures are expected to be of a general nature, making use of many audio-visual aids, and providing guidelines for further reading. Special lectures will be organized, dealing with specific topics such as the Dongson Culture, Sriwijaya, the Rise and Fall of Ayuthia, the English Country Trade, the Armenian Diaspora, Tharekat, Nationalism & Revolution, and Piracy in Southeast Asian Waters.


The course breaks down into six big interrelated topics (8 hours each):

  • Monsoon Asia
  • Heritage
  • Religions and Beliefs
  • Cultural Expressions
  • Trade and Emporiums 
  • Government and Politics
Ethnic Minorities

A workshop series was launched in 2003 to bring together grant recipients of SEASREP and the Toyota Foundation National Research Program who were working on similar or related topics. The first workshop on Ethnic Minorities in Southeast Asia was held from 27–28 March 2003 at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in cooperation with the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization. Nineteen grantees presented their findings. The Indonesian Institute of Sciences hosted the second workshop on Borders and Borderlands in Southeast Asia in Jakarta on March 2004.

Mekong Project

A project on the Mekong was launched in March 2003, through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, which sought to re-examine the Mekong region in two ways: by reviewing the literature on the Mekong and annotating major works; and by analyzing major perspectives oft the Mekong beyond geography and the nation. Two teams of scholars from Southeast Asia carried out the project and produced (1) an annotated bibliography of works on the Mekong; and, (2) an anthology of original papers on the Mekong. Two publications resulted, namely: The Mekong Arranged and Rearranged in 2006, and Annotated Bibliography on the Mekong in 2008, both published by Mekong Press.

10th Year Anniversay Conference

In celebration of the 10th year of SEASREP, the conference on Southeast Asia, A Global Crossroads took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 8–9 December 2005. The conference aimed to showcase the achievements of SEASREP in its first ten years and launched its broader, more outward-looking vision for 2005–2014. It also aimed to strengthen its network in the region and establish links with scholars and institutions elsewhere. A total of 186 scholars participated in the conference, 128 of these read and presented their papers. Aside from the Toyota and Japan Foundation, the Ford Foundation also supported the conference.

Chinese Migration to Southeast Asia and Japan

From 2010–2011, SEASREP with funding from the Japan Foundation, embarked on a two-year project on “Contemporary Chinese Migration to Southeast Asia and Japan” to examine China’s looming presence in the region. Exploratory in nature, the project called attention to the forms and dynamics of Chinese migration to Southeast Asia and Japan after the initiation of China’s reform policy in 1978. This project was supported by the Japan Foundation. 


In the first year of the project, researchers identified some patterns of migration and fieldwork sites. The research focused inter alia on the following themes: state policies; patterns of migrations and the causal mechanisms; local reaction; and their relationships with the old overseas Chinese society.


In the second year of the project, in order to have a grasp of the migration situation in these cases, extended field research was made for the case studies of Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan. In addition, overview papers on Singapore, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, and China were commissioned.


Selected papers from the project were featured in a special issue, “The New Chinese Migration to Southeast Asia,” of the Asian and Pacific Migration Journal in 2013. Dr. Diana Wong was issue editor.

Toyota Foundation-Funded Fora

With support from the Toyota Foundation, a forum on “The Development of Southeast Asian Historical and Political Discourse” was held from 2–3 July 2012, in Bali, Indonesia. Eleven participants from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos presented think pieces that addressed the following:


  • What are the sources and traditions of Southeast Asian intellectual history?
  • How have religion/ideology, ethnicity/race, and the exercise of power affected Southeast Asian historical and political discourse?   
  • Are there Southeast Asian concepts of human history and society? How are these articulated?  


Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, Asia Research Instiute, National University of Singapore, served as resource person.


Another forum supported by the Toyota Foundation on “Plural Identities: The State and Globalization” was held in Manila, Philippines from 3–4 December 2012. Eleven participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia attended. The forum aimed to discuss the following questions:


  • What factors encourage or inhibit the development of plural identities? And how or under what circumstances are these identities formed?
  • How are these identities expressed or demonstrated? And how do they interface or conflict with one another?
  • Where and how does the State come in in the construction of identity at the national level? What about the impact of globalization on the formation of identity?


Both fora aimed to explore possible related collaborative research projects for publication. 

International Convention of Asia Scholars

A SEASREP panel on Chinese migration was formed for the ICAS 8 (International Convention of Asia Scholars) conference in Macau from 24–26 June 2013. The four presenters were Nguyen Van Chinh (Vietnam National University Hanoi), Gracia Liu-Farrer (Waseda University), Brenda Yeoh (National University of Singapore), and Satohiro Serizawa (Nara University). Dr. Diokno chaired the panel. The papers presented were from the earlier project of SEASREP on contemporary migration into Southeast Asia and Japan. Dr. Diokno noted that the panel was well attended.

SEASREP again took part in the ICAS 10 Conference through two panels: “Emerging and Continuing Trends in Southeast Asian Studies”, which contemplated the directions and state of the economic, political, and cultural dynamism of the Southeast Asian region both as an academic field of study as well as a geopolitical force in the globalizing and consolidating world of the twenty-first century. Twelve scholars comprising 5 senior and 7 emerging scholars from different countries in the region presented think pieces that were featured in July 2017 of RJSEAS. The conference was held at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre, Thailand from 22–23 July 2017. 


At the ICAS 11, SEASREP’s panel on “History of Hansen’s Disease in Colonial Southeast Asia”, presented on 17 July 2019, at Leiden University, the Netherlands. The panel proposed to examine the history of Hansen’s disease in selected Southeast Asian countries during the late colonial period (19th and 20th centuries). Three scholars presented their papers.

China's Soft Footprint in Southeast Asia

From 2013–2014, SEASREP conducted another research project on “China’s Soft Footprint in Southeast Asia.” The project aimed to produce new empirical information about China’s overwhelming and complex economic presence in Southeast Asia. The research project adopted interdisciplinary approaches to interrogate the notion of “soft power” from the standpoint of Southeast Asian experiences vis-à-vis China. Fourteen writers from Southeast Asia, Japan, and Taiwan were invited to write on the research themes: social, cultural, and institutional. The project resulted in China’s Footprints in Southeast Asia, edited by Maria Serena Diokno, Hsin Huang Michael Hsiao and Alan Yang, and published by the NUS Press in 2018.

Pre-Publication Workshops

With support from the Toyota Foundation, the pre-publication workshop on Role of Public Intellectuals in Southeast Asia took place at the Mercure Resort Sanur, Bali, Indonesia from 5–6 December 2014. A total of 11 participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam participated in the workshop. 

Another pre-publication workshop on Plural Identities took place at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines Manila, Philippines from 20–21 March 2014. Fifteen participants from Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam took part in the workshop. Prof. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Dr. Bambang Purwanto, Department of History, Gadjah Mada University, served as reviewers. Selected papers were published in the maiden issue of the RJSEAS (Regional Journal on Southeast Asian Studies)

Southeast Asian Concepts of Nationhood

Through a grant from the Toyota Foundation, “Southeast Asian Concepts of Nationhood” was held in Kuala Lumpur from 27–28 May 2015. Nine country editors attended the workshop, and an additional two were added after the workshop. The workshop sought to explore and express ideas of nationhood Southeast Asians from the late 18th or 19th century to the present understood. Central to these ideas were the formation of an independent nation-state, national identity as expressed in diverse ways, and love of country whether from a moral or “emotional” sense or as a necessary value of nationhood. The source book aimed to compile significant primary texts authored by Southeast Asians over the last century or so, introduced and contextualized by country editors, with an overall introduction to each set of readings.

Heritage Conservation

With funding from the Japan Foundation Asia Center, a research project on heritage conservation in the region commenced with an inception workshop that took place in Siem Reap, Cambodia from 25–27 July 2015. The writers presented their concept papers on various themes. The project examines the state of conservation in the region, laws and policies on conservation, methods and standards of conservation of both built and movable heritage, heritage management with focus on the role of stakeholders, issues including threats from disasters, and the impact of heritage conservation on communities. Papers presented ranged from the theoretical and scientific (or technical) subjects to case studies and empirically grounded policy recommendations. Writers were given time to write their papers, which they presented in the final workshop from 15–16 April 2016, in Hoi An, Vietnam, with two heritage expert reviewers from Japan.

20th Year Anniversary Conference

On its 20th anniversary, SEASREP held Celebrating 20 Years of SEASREP and Southeast Asian Studies in Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia from 4–5 November 2015. The conference aimed to reflect upon the achievements of SEASREP over the past 20 years by encouraging SEASREP grantees, participants, partners, and scholars of Southeast Asian studies to share their research findings. With an interest in new studies about the region, the conference featured special opening and closing panels where speakers discussed the state, progress, and prospects of Southeast Asian studies in the future. A total of 265 scholars participated in the conference, 89 of these read and presented their papers. Of the total participants, 51 were SEASREP “alumni” of the language, postgraduate study and research collaboration grants; former members of the Selection Committee; and participants of seminars or workshops that SEASREP organized.


In the same event, the Southeast Asian Studies Association in Southeast Asia (SEAS in SEA) was also established as a separate organization whose aim is to continue SEASREP’s vision of promoting and strengthening Southeast Asian studies in the region through research, training, cross-country collaboration, and academic exchange. The organization is currently being registered in the Philippines as not-for-profit non-government organization.

Hybrid Communities

In 2017, three research projects were started. The first was on Hybrid Communities in Southeast Asia, with a workshop held from 9–10 March 2017 in Pasig City, Philippines. The focus of the workshop was to examine the historical and contemporary role of hybrid communities in countries comprising the region, the evolution of their identities, and the prospects for sustaining hybrid identities in the face of national identity-building. A total of 12 paper proposals were chosen from the submissions following the issuance of the call for proposals. The papers were presented over two days over four sessions, and the outcome of the workshop was positive, particularly since the quality of some of the papers were very good and the rest were also generally above average. While most of the papers have met the expectations of the workshop’s concept, several of the papers had to be realigned to cohere as a volume, the eventual tangible outcome of the workshop. 

Place-Making in Southeast Asia

Place-making in Southeast Asia took place at the Sasa International House, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand from 28–29 March 2017. Twelve participants attended the workshop. The following is the workshop summary by the project coordinator, Dr. Maitrii Aung-Thwin:


  • Regional, national, and institutional representation was achieved via participants from or working on Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, and the Philippines.
  • The applicability of place-making as both a method and a framework for studying Southeast Asian community formation and identity was successfully tested.
  • The workshop’s scope covered regional, national, and local experiences over time (historical) and space (sub-regional) through different disciplinary perspectives.
  • The majority of papers have strong potential to be considered for publishing in an edited volume.
  • Significant editorial intervention at the conceptual level is required to achieve the integration of the papers for the desired deliverable (an edited volume). 
Southeast Asian History in the Eyes of the Public

Southeast Asian History Viewed through Public Lenses: Essays on Public History of Southeast Asia was held from 30–31 March 2017, in Bangkok, Thailand. There were 15 workshop participants. The workshop aimed to present an array of papers that view public history on the ground (i.e., as practiced in SEA) through four major lenses:


  • Commemorations and memorials 
  • Heritage, local communities and other stakeholders 
  • Museums 
  • Textbooks and official histories 


Currently, the papers from these three workshops are being copyedited.

Hansen's Disease

With support from the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, the project, “Hansen’s Disease in Southeast Asia: Narratives of the Past and Present,” commenced in 2016. Fourteen writers from seven Southeast Asian countries—Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines—attended the culminating activity of the year in the inception workshop in Singapore on 27 January 2017. The objectives of the workshop were to:


  • Present and comment upon the authors’ concept notes;
  • Refine/delineate the scope and focus of the papers vis-à-vis each other and the manuscript as a whole; 
  • Determine the use of terms related to the research, particularly pejorative terms;
  • Produce the outline of the manuscript as a guide; and
  • Discuss and agree upon project deadlines, editorial policies, and other requirements.


In the second year of the project, participants presented their papers in a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from 3–4 March. Of the original contributors, one—Noraini Binti Mohamed Hassan of the University of Malaya—dropped out of the project. Two external reviewers also took part in the workshop: Ms. Kazuko Yamaguchi, formerly of the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, who has had decades of experience in programs on Hansen’s disease; and Dr. Jo Robertson, affiliated with the University of Queensland, Australia, who has written extensively about the disease. The objectives of the workshop, all of which were met, were to:


  • Present and comment upon the authors’ papers;
  • Reorganize the manuscript based on the papers;
  • Discuss and agree upon deadlines, editorial policies, and other project requirements; and
  • Discuss the possibility of panel presentations in future conferences in the region.


Currently, the papers from Hansen’s Disease in Southeast Asia workshops are being copyedited


As a follow through activity from the earlier three-year research project on “Hansen’s Disease in Southeast Asia: Narratives of the Past and Present”, and with funding from the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, SEASREP selected project participants to present papers in international conferences. The project aimed to contribute to the scholarly development of Hansen’s disease within and outside the Southeast Asian region. 


At the ICAS 11, SEASREP’s panel on “History of Hansen’s Disease in Colonial Southeast Asia”, presented on 17 July 2019, at Leiden University, the Netherlands. The panel proposed to examine the history of Hansen’s disease in selected Southeast Asian countries during the late colonial period (19th and 20th centuries). Three scholars presented their papers.


Another SEASREP panel on “Narratives of Hansen’s Disease in Southeast Asia”, with four paper readers and a panel moderator, was organized at the International Leprosy Congress. The session took place on 12 September 2019 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Manila, Philippines. 

SEASREP held a one-day workshop for 20 journal editors on 21 February 2017 in Manila. The workshop was conducted by Dr. Paul Kratoska, retired Professor of History from the National University of Singapore and editor of the Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. The goal of the workshop was to discuss current trends in journal publication (relating to open access, citation indexes, impact factors, alt metrics, etc.) and exchange ideas on editorial and production arrangements. 


The writing workshop took place from 22–24 February 2017 in Manila. Twenty-six postdoctoral students and researchers from different universities and research institutions in Southeast Asia attended the workshop. The goal of the workshop was to help researchers improve their manuscripts so as to satisfy the standards of editorial review.  The workshop consisted of lectures, group sessions, and individual consultations. The workshop facilitators were Dr. Paul Kratoska, Publishing Director, NUS Press, National University of Singapore; Dr. Paul Nerney, Academic Writing Consultant; and Dr. Susan Lopez-Nerney, Academic Writing Consultant.

From Nature to Natural Heritage: Law, Nation and Identity in Southeast Asia


From 2017–2018, with a grant from the Japan Foundation, two workshops on “From Nature to Natural Heritage: Law, Nation and Identity in Southeast Asia” were conducted. The workshop examined how conservation and heritage practices in the past and in contemporary times have contributed to an identity, whether articulated in a national, local, ethnic, or religious sense, with focus on natural parks, preserves, and other significant environmental spaces. Using examples from around the Southeast Asian region, the papers explored the connections with national identity as demonstrated in the contexts, processes, legislation, legal cases, and by individuals, stakeholder parties, and environments connected to the establishment and/or conservation of national parks, preserves, or natural world heritage sites. Issues relating to national identity that have emerged in the course of recognizing and conserving these natural heritage sites were discussed.

Neighborhood Histories

In collaboration with Chulalongkorn University’s Social Research Institute, SEASREP organized a research and publication project on “Neighborhood Histories in Southeast Asia”, with a grant from the ASEAN Studies Center of Chulalongkorn University. Two workshops were conducted from 2018–2019, for the presentation of the concept and draft papers. After the workshops, contributors were asked to revise their drafts for the next phase, which is copyediting. 

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