The Newsletter 62 Winter 2012

Southeast Asian studies as a form of power

Pingtjin P.J. Thum

The origins of Southeast Asian studies as a field are exogenous to Southeast Asia. It remains deeply embedded within Western academia and has been influenced by all the dominant trends that have shaped Western knowledge production. Its defining trait is that it is determined to a very significant extent by the funding priorities of establishment interests (both internal and external to Southeast Asia) and has no significant independent tradition of critical knowledge production. Where then does this leave Southeast Asian studies? How can the field become relevant to the people of Southeast Asia?

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