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25-27 July 2006

organised by
Asia Research Institute
National University of Singapore

National Library Board
Imagination and Possibilities Room, Level 5
100 Victoria Street, Singapore

Cultural Resource Management (CRM) concerns the nexus between economic development, tourism, preservation, and commodification. The goal of CRM is sustainable management of cultural resources, which entails the need to generate some form of economic return. The convergence between development and preservation is often tense, demanding compromise and negotiation. The goals of the frequently used concept of ‘sustainability’ appear self-evident, but those who espouse them often find themselves caught in the midst of political, social and intellectual contestation. Conflicts between short-term versus long-term, local versus global, and restoration versus regeneration pose perennial quandaries.

Southeast Asian cultures are under intense pressure on many fronts. Many cultural resources are at critical junctures; their future existence depends on rapid development and implementation of effective management strategies. Culture and cultural resources represent a vital asset for tourism across Southeast Asia. Tourism, however, transforms while it entraps, restores while it erodes, cultivates while it restricts. Rapid socio-economic development creates constant flux in the cultural landscape of the region. Culture remains a contested territory where projects of nation building and localized identity constructions intersect with trans-national neo-liberal economic policies and cultural paradigms driven by a global civil society.

Understanding CRM in Southeast Asia in such terms requires an interdisciplinary approach. This conference promises to create a dialogue between scholars from numerous disciplines, ranging from geography to economics. Diverse representatives of various backgrounds, from inside and outside the region, will be brought together. The views of entrepreneurs will be solicited.

The conference will develop the themes of tourism and its alternatives as management strategies; mitigation of the effects of tourism and other developmental forces; museums; site preservation; and legal issues. One goal of the conference is to encourage contributors to propose innovative approaches to CRM in a Southeast Asian context–i.e. not an application of Euro-American concepts of CRM, which don’t work very well in many situations in Southeast Asia where funding is limited, concepts of ownership of land and cultural resources are different, governmental structure and authority have different roles, etc. The conference will also critically reflect upon how “cultural resources” come to be defined, the intersections between so-called tangible and intangible cultural forms and the complex relationship between community participation, cultural sovereignty and the politics of cultural utilization.

In a region characterized by post-colonial sensibilities and a number of post-conflict societies, the role of culture as a purveyor of identity, memory and historical continuity is of critical importance as flows of international capital increasingly embed themselves in, and thus transform, places at the local level. In examining such issues, the conference promises to focus upon CRM with an analytical sensitivity toward the local context as well as broader global processes. Examining CRM in such terms will ensure the concept of ‘sustainability’ is interrogated in a more rigorous and comprehensive manner than has been previously attempted.

The conference is aimed at two audiences: academics, including scholars and students, and CRM professionals including Euro-Americans who are interested in theoretical innovations and new ways of dealing with practical CRM issues.

Observers are welcome to attend the conference, with no registration fee. However, limited spaces are available. If you wish to attend as an observer, please kindly email your name, affiliation / organization, contact number and email address to Ms Rina Yap at

For more details visit the NUS: Asia Research Institute website.

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