Just three months ago, I announced the formation of the Southeast Asia Research Group. I’m happy to report that our inaugural meeting was held at Duke on May 24-25. By all accounts it was a smashing success, in terms of intellectual exchange, focused discussion of interesting new research, networking, and building a community of Southeast Asianists in political science and related fields.
(On a personal level, I recall a passing remark about 8 months ago about how I wished that there was version of IPES or AALIMS for Southeast Asian politics. SEAREG is exactly that—although closer in format to AALIMS than to IPES—and it is great.)
One broad conclusion from the discussions, and in particular from the opening remarks by our local host and convener Eddy Malesky and the keynote address by Rick Doner, is that this is a truly exciting time for social scientists working in Southeast Asia. Many of the most significant disciplinary trends in political science and economics are consistent with the type of careful data collection and careful attention to theory, history, and context that come from having a strong area background alongside the standard disciplinary training. Doing Southeast Asia as a political scientist may even become rather mainstream.
I’m also happy to report that we are just getting started. We have secured partial funding for at least one more conference, tentatively scheduled for May 3-4, 2014 at Cornell. Watch this space and seareg.org for further updates about SEAREG 2014, and especially for information our next class of Southeast Asia Fellows.
Graduate students, post-docs, and new assistant professors: we especially hope that you will take note and attend, as you represent our main constituency. Contact us if you want more information.