No Comments

‘Continuity and Change: (Re)conceptualising Power in Southeast Asia’

March 26th-28th 2009
Hosted by CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities),
University of Cambridge, UK

Keynote Speakers:
James Scott (Sterling Professor of Political Science and Professor of Anthropology, Yale University)
Shelly Errington (Professor of Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz)

The study of power in contemporary Southeast Asia has never been more timely. Over the last half-century, the region has undergone innumerable far-reaching changes. It has witnessed the rise of postcolonial nation-states, rapid industrialization, economic growth and democratization but also genocide, political upheaval and widespread repression. Power lies at the core of these important developments, whether in the form of brute military force or as a more capillary ‘disciplinary’ influence on religious and political subjectivities. New religious, economic and political movements—all drawing deeply on local traditions while proposing new forms of personhood, civil and political society—cut across national, cultural, ideological and sectarian boundaries.

Yet for all that power can be detected in Southeast Asia, there seems to be little specifically Southeast Asian about it contemporary scholarly analyses. This is both puzzling and ironic given the central role that earlier ethnographic studies of Southeast Asia once played in identifying distinctively regional modalities of power, prompting us to reconsider how ‘power’ could be most profitably studied in Southeast Asian contexts.

‘Continuity and Change’ will be a major interdisciplinary and international conference on Southeast Asia. Its key aim is to reopen the debate on the issue of ‘power’—both in real life and academic scholarship—as it is manifest across the region. Conference themes and questions will include:

• Are there, or were there ever, distinctly ‘Southeast Asian’ notions of power that could still exist as alternatives—or complements—to Western folk and political models?
• Are scholars’ analytic imaginaries of power in relation to nationhood and governance congruent with the imaginaries of Southeast Asians witnessing or involved in such projects and processes?
• What are the shapes that power takes?
• How have recent theoretical developments within various disciplines reshaped our understanding of the nature and location of power?
• How useful is the concept of ‘Southeast Asia’ as a geographical, political and analytical entity in dealing with these issues?

We invite papers from scholars working in the arts, humanities and social sciences whose research illuminates novel, exciting and challenging dimensions of power in Southeast Asian contexts across space and time.

Abstracts, 250 words in length, should be submitted to

For further details, see our website: http//, or email us at the address above.

Key dates:
Submission of Proposal: 1st October 2008
Announcement of accepted proposals: 1st November 2008
Circulation of Paper Abstracts and Panels: 1st March 2009

Organizing Committee:
Liana Chua
Joanna Cook
Nick Long
Lee Wilson

University of Cambridge

Found this site useful? Show support by Buying Me a Coffee

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.