About the Conference
In celebration of the 10th year of SEASREP (Southeast Asian Studies Regional Exchange Program), scholars in Southeast Asian studies are invited to submit papers for the forthcoming international conference on Southeast Asia, A Global Crossroads, to be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand on 8-9 December 2005.
Organized by the SEASREP Foundation, with support from the Toyota Foundation and Japan Foundation, the conference provides an occasion for SEASREP not merely to showcase its achievements over the years, but position itself as a regional institution and network in the next decade. The conference also allows the organization to situate itself within the broader intellectual development in the region. After independence, Southeast Asian scholarship focused on the construction of the state and the development of national identities that highlighted the departure from colonial rule. By the 1980s, however, there was an increasing consciousness among intellectuals of the linkages between Southeast Asian countries, their shared interests and traditions, the existence of regions within the region, and so on. This was part of a more general move among Southeast Asian states and societies towards regional cooperation and consciousness.
It was in response to this new awareness that SEASREP was born (and it was perhaps not coincidental that Southeast Asian historians initiated it, for they were particularly conscious of the precolonial "world" of Southeast Asia). The development of a Southeast Asian intellectual network and the investigation of problems of regional significance are SEASREP's central focus. While recognizing the value of "own country" studies, the SEASREP programs have created venues for multidisciplinary and cross-border studies, while making provisions for the basic tools of language and postgraduate study.
More recent changes in awareness now call for a re-orientation in approach, which SEASREP envisions in the next decade. Partly a product of the general process of globalization, there is a growing re-examination of Southeast Asia as a bounded entity. Indeed, the region's very origin speaks of Austronesian roots that span spaces and communities beyond the geography and political definitions of Southeast Asia. In the new century, it is more important to explore networks than to define boundaries, a move that, in turn, requires expanded rather than constricting intellectual frameworks and even greater collaboration among scholars and disciplines in and outside the Southeast Asian region. Consequently, while insisting on Southeast Asia as its point of intellectual departure, SEASREP hopes to open out the study of the region, acknowledging its ancient and continuing role as a global crossroads.